William Byron, Denny Hamlin Set to Face Off at Martinsville For Bid to the Championship 4

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The last race in the Round of 8, Martinsville. William Byron and Denny Hamlin are set to battle for a spot in the Championship 4. The NASCAR drivers have a little bit of bad blood and are on either end of the cutline. Byron above, Hamlin below. Both of them could theoretically make it, but this could be a one or the other situation.

This is a case of recent success and past success colliding. The Next Gen car did not do well for Denny Hamlin at the April edition of Martinsville. Meanwhile, it looked like William Byron was going to win 5 races this season after he took the checkered flag at the short track.

In the past, this is a track that Hamlin has loved. He has a lot of success here and has the most wins among all active drivers at Martinsville. With a lot more experience and time under his belt with the new car, could this be a return to that success?

William Byron finds himself +5 after Homestead-Miami. He fought hard after having a lot of struggles to finish P12 on the day. Meanwhile, Hamlin found himself finishing P7 on the day, but was -5 below the cutline after the fact.

The thing is, if William Byron didn’t have his points reinstated after being penalized for actions at Texas against Denny Hamlin – he wouldn’t be in the playoffs. Instead, it’d be Kyle Larson in his place with a spot in the Championship 4 after his win on Sunday.

William Byron’s Martinsville Win

The April regular season race at Martinsville was a lot of fun. This was during a time in the season when the drivers were figuring things out with the new car still. Some caught on quicker than others. The No. 24 found itself taking two checkered flags early on in the season.

At Martinsville, Byron was dominant. He led for more than 150 laps and set a career-high for laps led in a race. It was his second in a row after winning at Richmond as well.

After testing was done at Martinsville back in August, Goodyear and NASCAR worked on ways to make the tire wear better and make the racing more competitive at Martinsville and short tracks. A tire compound will be used, but it is unclear if it is the same compound that was used at Homestead-Miami.