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.
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.
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.
Six drivers — Larson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano — can advance on points alone Sunday., 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.
|4||Martin Truex Jr.||3070|
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.||Driver||Car No.||Team|
|1||P-Denny Hamlin||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2||P-Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|3||P-Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|4||P-Ryan Blaney||12||Team Penske|
|5||P-Kyle Larson||5||Hendrick Motorsports|
|6||P-Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|7||P-Brad Keselowski||2||Team Penske|
|8||P-Joey Logano||22||Team Penske|
|9||P-Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|10||P-William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|11||P-Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|12||P-Christopher Bell||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|13||Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|14||Kurt Busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|15||Matt DiBenedetto||21||Wood Brothers Racing|
|16||Austin Dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|17||Chase Briscoe||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|18||Daniel Suárez||99||Trackhouse Racing|
|19||Bubba Wallace||23||23XI Racing|
|20||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|21||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|22||Michael McDowell||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|23||Ross Chastain||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|24||Chris Buescher||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|25||Ryan Newman||6||Roush Fenway Racing|
|26||Erik Jones||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|27||Ryan Preece||37||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|28||Cole Custer||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|29||Corey LaJoie||7||Spire Motorsports|
|30||Anthony Alfredo||38||Front Row Motorsports|
|31||Cody Ware||51||Petty Ware Racing|
|32||BJ McLeod||78||Live Fast Motorsports|
|33||Justin Allgaier||77||Spire Motorsports|
|34||Josh Bilicki||52||Rick Ware Racing|
|35||Quin Houff||00||StarCom Racing|
|36||Joey Gase||53||Rick Ware Racing|
|37||Garrett Smithley||15||Rick Ware Racing|
|38||Justin Haley||16||Kaulig Racing|
|39||David Starr||66||Motorsports Business Management|
|40||Landon Cassill||96||Gaunt Brothers Racing|