Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Kyle Larson: Larson suffered a pit road speeding penalty and finished 14th at Martinsville.
“They call Martinsville’s half-mile track the ‘Paperclip,'” Elliott said. “And it’s a ‘staple’ on the NASCAR schedule.”
“My confidence is at an all-time high. I’m going to Phoenix with the intention of taking what is rightfully mine, which is the 2021 Cup championship. I hope my confidence doesn’t come off as arrogance. The last thing I want to do is say something I’m going to regret.”
2. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin was leading at Martinsville with six laps to go when Alex Bowman slid up into Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota, sending it into the wall. Hamlin finished 24th, which was still good enough to advance him to the final round.
“I tried to block Bowman’s victory burnout,” Hamlin said. “But that’s not my final revenge. If he’s gonna steal a grandfather clock from me, I’m gonna ‘take my time’ and plan an elaborate revenge scenario. He won’t know what hit him. Well, actually he will.”
3. Chase Elliott: Elliott finished 16th in the Xfinity 500 and clinched a spot in the championship round.
“I actually clinched a spot after sweeping the first two stages,” Elliott said. “That has to be the first time I’ve said ‘my day is done’ with 240 laps left and I was happy about it.”
4. Joey Logano: Logano came home 10th at Martinsville, which wasn’t good enough to advance as a championship contender.
“As you would expect,” Logano said, “I feel ‘left out.’ Not necessarily left out of the playoffs, but out of these developing feuds that will almost certainly carry over into next year. I just don’t feel like myself when I’m not battling for a championship, and also don’t feel like myself when I’m not the object of hatred.”
5. Kyle Busch: Busch finished second at Martinsville, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the championship round. Busch tangled with Brad Keselowski on the final lap, and the two traded insults in interviews after the race.
“I know Brad’s going to Roush Fenway Racing next season,” Busch said, “but he’ll always be a big ‘No. 2’ in my book.”
6. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished third at Martinsville, and tangled with Kyle Busch on the final lap.
“Kyle and I talked trash back and forth after the race,” Keselowski said. “That’s pretty much what Cup Series feuds have become—drivers talking a lot of smack, but no actual smack ever occurring.”
7. Alex Bowman: Bowman spun Denny Hamlin from the lead and went on to win the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville.
“Not only did I cost Denny the win,” Bowman said, “I prevented Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski from advancing. I don’t deserve criticism; I deserve praise, for keeping two a-holes out of the championship round.”
8. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex eked out a fourth-place finish at Martinsville despite a damaged car that tagged the wall on lap 471 after contact with Aric Almirola. Truex nabbed the final playoff transfer spot.
“When you put 40 cars on a half-mile track,” Truex said, “there’s bound to be 20 that don’t belong there. One of those was Aric Almirola. He put me into the wall in the car with ‘IHOP’ on it. Luckily, for him, I still advanced. I just might go to IHOP and have myself a ‘Breakfast Of Potential Champion.’ Aric can just ‘eat it.'”
9. William Byron: Byron finished fifth at Martinsville, posting his 12th top five of the season.
“It was Halloween,” Byron said, “and a lot of drivers experienced scares. But if you really want a Halloween scare at Martinsville, then ask for the ingredients list of a Martinsville hot dog.”
10. Ryan Blaney: Blaney finished 11th at Martinsville and failed to advance in the playoffs.
“Penske Racing won’t have a car in the Final 4,” Blaney said. “That’s sad, but I expect a Penske car will have an ‘impact’ on the championship round, probably when Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch continue their feud at Phoenix and take out a championship driver.”