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The Backstretch Blogs's Race Day: Two Days Only

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So it's kind of a strange deal this week at Martinsville. It's just a two day show for the Cup guys. There were two practices on Saturday, then qualifying and racing on Sunday. It's the third time NASCAR has tried this and for me the verdict is still out.

Let me start by saying I think the whole practice, qualifying as entertainment thing that is uniquely NASCAR and something I find..well a little weird. We don't sit around and watch the Chicago Bulls shot free throws or the Kansas City Chiefs practice route running, but in NASCAR we expect the tv networks and the drivers to entertain us all throw practice. It's just weird to me. So I guess the reason why I like the qualifying on a separate day from the race is because I don't really want to watch or be bothered by qualifying. Just give me a list of who starts where on race day and lets go. I know I'm weird and I digress.

This weekend's race at Martinsville is the first race, in the third round of the NASCAR Playoffs. Only eight drivers still have a chance to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup. Of the those eight, five have won here at the Virginia short track. Jimmie Johnson leads the way with nine career wins here. But this year, just getting wins isn't enough. Because Martin Truex, Jr has so many bonus points, he's gonna be hard to catch.

"It's not back to zero with all those stage points," said Johnson. "For us to advance moving forward, we've got to win. Martinsville is not a bad track for us. So, hopefully we can repeat last year's performance there. It's pretty simple from here on out, we've got to get some speed in our cars and we've got to win a race."

Non-playoff driver Joey Logano will sit on the pole. Truex, Chase Elliott, Ryan Balney and another non-playoff guy Clint Bowyer round out the top five starting positions.

Virginia native Denny Hamlin starts sixth, Tennessee native Trevor Bayne starts 34th.

The green flag will drop on the First Data 500 at 3:13 pm. You can watch the race on NBCSN.

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