Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Ryan Blaney: Blaney passed Aric Almirola for the lead with 22 laps to go and pulled away to win the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville, winning his way into the Championship 4.
“Luckily,” Blaney said, “I wasn’t DQ’ed. Actually, I was ‘Q’ed,’ because I ‘qualified’ for the Championship 4.”
2. Kyle Larson: Larson finished sixth at Martinsville.
“It all comes down to Phoenix,” Larson said. “And the pressure is on. I think if any of the Championship 4 drivers say they’re not nervous, they’re lying. But let’s face it, there are some things you want in your stomach, and butterflies are one of them. There are things you don’t want in your stomach, like a Martinsville hot dog.”
3. William Byron: Byron finished 13 in the Xfinity 500 and edged out hard-luck Denny Hamlin for the final playoff spot.
“My fate really came down to the wire,” Byron said. “Preferably, I would have liked to have a win under my belt heading into Martinsville. That would have allowed me to ‘Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.’ I think that might actually be the motto of Liberty University.”
4. Christopher Bell: Bell finished seventh at Martinsville, and will join William Byron, Kyle Larson, and Ryan Blaney in the Championship 4.
“I was ‘locked in’ before Martinsville,” Bell said. “Now, all but four drivers are ‘locked out’ of the Cup championship. I’m dialed in for Phoenix. And I can promise you, I won’t ‘phone it in’ at Phoenix.”
5. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won Stage 1 at Martinsville and finished third, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the championship round, as Hamlin finished eight points behind William Byron for the final playoff spot.
“I really wanted another grandfather clock trophy,” Hamlin said. “I have quite a collection, but unfortunately, they all have a habit of striking midnight this time of year.”
6. Tyler Reddick: Reddick came home 26th, two laps down, in the Xfinity 500.
“My car was primarily sponsored by Monster Beast Unleashed Mean Green Seltzer,” Reddick said. “I’ve tried it, and let me tell you, it’s a mouthful.”
7. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex started on the pole at Martinsville, finished 12th and failed to qualify for the championship round.
“I was the regular season champion,” Truex said. “And when I look back on this twenty years from now, I’m sure I’ll agree that it was, in fact, just a regular season.”
8. Bubba Wallace: Wallace finished 11th at Martinsville.
“I guess waiting for Denny Hamlin to win a Cup championship on the track,” Wallace said, “is akin to waiting for the Great Pumpkin in the pumpkin patch.”
9. Ross Chastain: Chastain came home 14th at Martinsville.
“Based on what I did at Martinsville in last year’s playoffs,” Chastain said, “I should be declared the winner here in perpetuity.”
10. Chris Buescher: Buescher, needing a win to advance, finished eighth at Martinsville.
“I made a last-ditch effort to make the Championship 4,” Buescher said. “And apparently, I ended up in the ditch.”