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The Best Martinsville Playoff Moments

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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The Martinsville Playoff race has been one of the best races in NASCAR for some time now. There have been plenty of incredible moments throughout the history of the Martinsville Speedway’s Playoff race, but what are the seven best? Well, here they are.

7. 2021: Denny Hamlin vs Alex Bowman/Playoff Bubble Drama

There was so much going on with this race. As Denny Hamlin and Alex Bowman were battling for the win, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were fighting for the final points position for the Championship 4. In a chaotic dash to the finish, Bowman spun Hamlin out with seven laps to go setting up Bowman to take the win.

Busch tried as hard as he could, but he failed to get that one point he needed. Meanwhile, Hamlin, still upset for getting spun out, interrupted Bowman’s burnout. Hamlin then proceeded to call Bowman a “Hack”, which Bowman later made into a t-shirt.

6. 2011: Tony Stewart’s Incredible Comeback

Tony Stewart’s 2011 Championship run was legendary, but perhaps his most surprising win came at Martinsville. Stewart was in danger of going a lap down earlier in the race, but he caught a lucky caution flag to stay on the lead lap. He slowly worked his way forward until he was outside of Jimmie Johnson on the final restart.

Despite restarting on the outside lane, Stewart found his way around Johnson in turn four with three laps to go. Stewart went on to win, and he gave Carl Edwards a warning in the post-race interview. The rest, as they say, is history.

5. 2018: Joey Logano Wins the Battle

Joey Logano was just a step behind the “Big 3” all throughout 2018, but he outdrove them when it counted most. It all started at Martinsville when Logano roughed up Martin Truex Jr. to take home the win. Truex Jr. was not happy, and he said one simple phrase following the race, “He won the battle, but he ain’t winning the damn war.”

Well, Logano went on to win the war. It was his first Cup Series Championship, and it all started because of a big move at Martinsville. It also may have healed some wounds from a tough moment at Martinsville a few years earlier. More on that later.

4. 2017: Chase Elliott vs Denny Hamlin

If you want to know when Denny Hamlin’s villain arc started, this is probably it. Late in the race at Martinsville in 2017, Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin were fighting both for a win and the right to make it into the Championship 4. Hamlin proceeded to turn Elliott heading into turn three with four laps to go, and Elliott was hot.

The two got into a shouting match on the backstretch after the race, but no punches were thrown. Elliott would get his revenge two weeks later as he would put Hamlin in the wall at Phoenix, knocking Hamlin out of the Championship 4.

3. 2015: Matt Kenseth vs Joey Logano

The 2015 Martinsville Playoff race is forever going to be one of the most memorable in NASCAR history. It all started late in the race when Matt Kenseth came out of the garage with one goal in mind, to find Joey Logano. The two had a history after Logano wrecked Kenseth at Kansas, and the two came together once again earlier in the race.

Kenseth wrecked Logano, and the crowd erupted. Logano was hot, but no altercation happened. The move cost Logano a chance at a Championship, and Kenseth was suspended for two races. It also opened the door for the next moment on this list.

2. 2015: Jeff Gordon’s Last Win

Jeff Gordon had a difficult final season in the Cup Series before the Playoffs, but he found a way into the Round of 8. Martinsville was his best chance to get that win in his final season, and he took advantage of a good car and some good fortune to get that win. It came down to an overtime restart where Gordon held off a hard-charging Jamie McMurray for the win.

After the race, every fan stayed to see Gordon celebrate one last victory. It was a triumphant moment for one of NASCAR’s all-time best. Even though he did not win the Championship to finish his career, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting place for Gordon to get his last win.

1. 2022: The “Hail Melon”

This was a moment that seemingly everyone on social media, whether a NASCAR fan or not saw. Ross Chastain was on the outside looking into the Championship 4 in the waning laps at Martinsville. When thinking of what he could do to get those final few points he needed, he thought back to video games.

He put the car in high gear, floored it, and rode the wall through turns three and four. He got all he needed and then some, and Chastain took the final spot in the Championship 4. The move was soon banned by NASCAR, but, it still lived on as one of the best moments in NASCAR history.

The Playoff race at Martinsville is typically one of the best races of the season. Will we see another moment added to this list this weekend?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts