Following the first short-track race of the season last weekend at Richmond, the Cup Series remains in the great state of Virginia for a Saturday night show under the lights at Martinsville. Known as the "paperclip" for obvious reasons, the historic track will play host to Round 8 on the 2022 calendar. This season has produced seven different race winners through the first seven races, a trend which could continue tomorrow night.

Chase Elliott could be that driver, as he will be starting from pole position. After leading the practice session, Chase topped it off by earning his first pole of the season and the 10th of his young career. Elliott currently leads the championship standings, despite not winning a race this season. The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet is the only Hendrick Motorsports driver without a win this year.

"When they told me the time, I thought someone could get there to it," Elliott admits. "It honestly surprised me that it was that fast. I thought I had a good lap but not a great lap. It’s nice to grab a pole. It’s been a while. Super-proud of Alan Gustafson and our team for continuing to push and come back this weekend strong. Hopefully, we can get the car right for tomorrow night."

Starting at the front of the field is certainly an advantage, but the 2020 series champion knows there is more to it than that. "The bigger thing than the starting spot itself is the pit selection and having that first pit stall. It’s a big deal and it lends itself to gaining you a lot of spots on pit road."

"Practice went by quick but we’re just trying to dive through all of the little nuances of this car," Elliott said. "I think the overall feel here is pretty similar to what it’s been in the past. It seems like the shorter tracks, the cars have a pretty similar sensation to what the last generation car had. It has just a little different way of getting there with setups and some of the fine details. Overall, I think it’s fine. There are certainly going to be challenges tomorrow for us and I’m sure for everybody."

Joining Elliott on the front row will be Aric Almirola, who had a great qualifying run with a lap at 95.641 mph. His Stewart Haas Racing teammate Cole Custer will start 3rd with Chris Buescher and William Byron rounding out the top five. Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Todd Gilliland completed the top ten in qualifying.

Kyle Busch was second fastest in practice but missed the top 10 by .001 seconds and will start 11th tomorrow. His teammate Denny Hamlin will start 25th after a disappointing run in the first round. Hamlin won last weekend's race at Richmond and is a five-time winner at Martinsville.

Team Penske drivers qualified 12th, 13th, and 14th with Ryan Blaney leading the charge. The driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang has done well in qualifying this year but still hasn't quite figured this place out.

"Martinsville is a unique place," Blaney said. "Sometimes it kind of clicks for you, so I can see some guys who have run good there for a while still be really good, and I can see some guys who maybe haven’t run the best there be really good. Denny has always been great at Richmond, and he’s still great at Richmond. But then you have some other guys who weren’t great at Richmond that ran pretty good. I think you’ll have that at all of these tracks."

Should a new winner find victory lane at Martinsville, this would be just the third season in the history of the Modern Era (1972-Present) to start with eight different winners in the first eight races. The 2003 season had nine consecutive different winners. The record of 10 races was set back during the 2000 season.

Tony Stewart’s squad will be one to watch, but there are three other teams to keep an eye on tomorrow. Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Team Penske have won the last seven races at Martinsville, and 14 out of the last 15 here. These teams also took eight of the top nine finishing positions last weekend at Richmond, including the race winner.

Hamlin will have his hands full in order to keep his Virginia dominance going. The five-time winner starts 25th tomorrow night but between the two Martinsville races last season, the driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry led nearly 400 laps.

His teammate Martin Truex Jr also knows his way around this tiny track, winning three out of the last five races here. He too will be coming from the rear of the field has he qualified in the 20th position.

Looking at the top-ten active drivers on the short-track wins list, seven of them are still searching for their first win of the season. All of those drivers - Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Harvick, Logano, Elliott, and Truex - have won a race at Martinsville.

The biggest uphill battle tomorrow will be fought by AJ Allmendinger and the Kaulig Racing team. The No. 16 Chevrolet failed pre-qualifying inspection three times and was not permitted to post a qualifying lap. NASCAR officials ejected engineer Michael Brookes for the rest of the race weekend and Allmendinger will have to serve a pass-through penalty at the start of the race.

This is the first time since 1956 that the race distance will be 400 laps. With how tough the NextGen car appears to be, the oldest and shortest track on the schedule will provide plenty of fireworks tomorrow night. Coverage for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 begins at 7:30 PM ET on FS1.