MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Chase Elliott was fastest of the playoff contenders in the final practice before Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.
The playoff field has been cut in half to eight drivers, and they have the next three races to earn one of the final four spots in next month’s championship race. A victory earns an automatic berth to the championship race.
Championship favorite Martin Truex Jr. was third fastest in practice, which was led by non-playoff driver Joey Logano. Truex has a series-best seven wins this season and has won three of the six playoff races to date.
Martinsville Speedway has a condensed two-day schedule this weekend in which Saturday had just two hour-long practice sessions. Qualifying is scheduled for Sunday, hours before the race.
The compacted schedule replaced on-track Cup activity Friday with fan fests and autograph sessions. It’s a cost-cutting move for teams, who pay less in travel with a shorter at-track schedule.
But it puts a strain on the playoff teams that have little preparation time to get ready for Sunday’s critical race.