NASCAR lineup at Talladega: Starting order, pole for Sunday's playoff race without qualifying

NASCAR lineup at Talladega: Starting order, pole for Sunday's playoff race without qualifying

The starting lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway was set by applying the statistical formula NASCAR is using for the majority of Cup races in 2021.

Drivers’ starting positions for the YellaWood 500, the fifth race of the 2021 Cup Series playoffs and the second race in the Round of 12 (2 p.m. ET; NBC, TSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), were based on four factors:

  • Driver’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent)
  • Car owner’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent)
  • Team owner points ranking (35 percent)
  • Fastest lap from the previous race (15 percent)

NASCAR is conducting qualifying for just eight of the 36 Cup Series points-paying races in the 2021 season. Seven of those races have already been run; the one remaining race with qualifying is the season-ending Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 7.

Below is the starting lineup, which was set without qualifying, for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race on Talladega Superspeedway’s 2.66-mile oval.

MORE: Watch Sunday’s NASCAR race live with fuboTV (free 7-day trial)

Who won the pole for the NASCAR race at Talladega?

Denny Hamlin, who has won in each of the first two rounds of the 2021 playoffs, will start on the pole Sunday. Hamlin is already locked into the Round of 8 by virtue of his win last weekend at Las Vegas.

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch will be next to him on the front row. Busch is coming off a third-place finish at Las Vegas. He is third in the playoffs points standings, behind Hamlin and points leader Kyle Larson, who will start fifth Sunday.

MORE: NASCAR playoffs, explained

Per NASCAR’s playoff rules, the top 12 spots in Sunday’s field went to the 12 remaining playoff drivers, but the starting order was based on the mathematical formula NASCAR has used for the majority of its races this season.

NASCAR Cup playoff standings

NASCAR lists Denny Hamlin first in the playoff standings even though he trails Kyle Larson by 14 points heading into Talladega. Hamlin is on top because he already is through to the Round of 8 with his win at Las Vegas. A playoff driver who wins a race in the Round of 12 automatically advances to the Round of 8.

MORE: Results from Las Vegas playoff race

Six drivers — Larson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano — can advance on points alone Sunday. According to, they will need to be 56 points ahead of the sixth or seventh winless driver in the standings depending on who wins the race.

NASCAR will reduce the playoff field to eight drivers after the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 10.  

1x-Denny Hamlin3082
2Kyle Larson3096
3Kyle Busch3074
4Martin Truex Jr.3070
5Ryan Blaney3063
6Chase Elliott3061
7Joey Logano3045
8Brad Keselowski3043
9William Byron3039
10Kevin Harvick3036
11Alex Bowman3030
12Christopher Bell3018

x-Clinched berth in the Round of 8.

NASCAR starting lineup at Talladega

NASCAR used a mathematical formula to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway, the YellaWood 500. Forty cars were entered for the race, which means there will be a full field Sunday. Playoff drivers are denoted by “P-.”

Start pos.DriverCar No.Team
1P-Denny Hamlin11Joe Gibbs Racing
2P-Kyle Busch18Joe Gibbs Racing
3P-Chase Elliott9Hendrick Motorsports
4P-Ryan Blaney12Team Penske
5P-Kyle Larson5Hendrick Motorsports
6P-Martin Truex Jr.19Joe Gibbs Racing
7P-Brad Keselowski2Team Penske
8P-Joey Logano22Team Penske
9P-Kevin Harvick4Stewart-Haas Racing
10P-William Byron24Hendrick Motorsports
11P-Alex Bowman48Hendrick Motorsports
12P-Christopher Bell20Joe Gibbs Racing
13Tyler Reddick8Richard Childress Racing
14Kurt Busch1Chip Ganassi Racing
15Matt DiBenedetto21Wood Brothers Racing
16Austin Dillon3Richard Childress Racing
17Chase Briscoe14Stewart-Haas Racing
18Daniel Suárez99Trackhouse Racing
19Bubba Wallace2323XI Racing
20Aric Almirola10Stewart-Haas Racing
21Ricky Stenhouse Jr.47JTG Daugherty Racing
22Michael McDowell34Front Row Motorsports
23Ross Chastain42Chip Ganassi Racing
24Chris Buescher17Roush Fenway Racing
25Ryan Newman6Roush Fenway Racing
26Erik Jones43Richard Petty Motorsports
27Ryan Preece37JTG Daugherty Racing
28Cole Custer41Stewart-Haas Racing
29Corey LaJoie7Spire Motorsports
30Anthony Alfredo38Front Row Motorsports
31Cody Ware51Petty Ware Racing
32BJ McLeod78Live Fast Motorsports
33Justin Allgaier77Spire Motorsports
34Josh Bilicki52Rick Ware Racing
35Quin Houff00StarCom Racing
36Joey Gase53Rick Ware Racing
37Garrett Smithley15Rick Ware Racing
38Justin Haley16Kaulig Racing
39David Starr66Motorsports Business Management
40Landon Cassill96Gaunt Brothers Racing