NASCAR Starting Lineup for Saturday's Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway

Kevin Harvick starts from the pole in NASCAR's regular-season finale

Incredibly, despite a two-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCAR’s regular-season finale has arrived on schedule at Daytona International Speedway. For the first time ever, the track will host a pack racing event, the Coke Zero Sugar 400, to decide the 16-driver postseason field. This 160-lap event has traditionally been held July 4th weekend but was moved to August as the sport experimented with a variety of schedule changes for the 2020 season.

 

Held just two weeks after the Daytona road course race, drivers will put their superspeedway hats on this time while tackling the 2.5-mile oval. There are changes to the handling package here since February's Daytona 500, a race that nearly took the life of Ryan Newman in a horrifying last-lap crash. Among them: an elimination of aero ducts at these tracks along with a reduction in the size of the throttle body from 59/64 to 57/64ths of an inch. A more detailed list of the changes can be found here.

 

The first time cars will see the track at Daytona will be when the green flag flies on Saturday night. There's no practice while the starting lineup, due to NASCAR's COVID-19 policy, was set without on-track qualifying. Points leader Kevin Harvick, who has clinched the regular-season title, will start from the pole based on the lowest total number calculated due to the metrics below.

 

50% of the metric will be their finishing position from the previous race.

35% of the metric will be their current position in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

15% of the metric will be their fastest lap during the previous race.

 

Forty teams entered the event for 40 spots in the field. No one failed to qualify as the four open teams this week included the two full-time entries of Gaunt Brothers Racing (No. 96) and MBM Motorsports (No. 66) along with two part-timers. Beard Motorsports (No. 62) returns with driver Brendan Gaughan while Tommy Baldwin Racing (No. 7) will make its 16th appearance in 22 races since the sport lifted its COVID-19 quarantine.

 

1. Kevin Harvick

2. Martin Truex Jr.

3. Joey Logano

4. Brad Keselowski

5. Aric Almirola

6. William Byron

7. Jimmie Johnson

8. Alex Bowman

9. Ryan Blaney

10. Denny Hamlin

11. Kyle Busch

12. Austin Dillon

13. Kurt Busch

14. Clint Bowyer

15. Matt DiBenedetto

16. Cole Custer (R)

17. Chris Buescher

18. Tyler Reddick (R)

19. Matt Kenseth

20. Erik Jones

21. Bubba Wallace

22. Ryan Newman

23. Christopher Bell (R)

24. John Hunter Nemechek (R)

25. Corey LaJoie

26. Michael McDowell

27. Chase Elliott

28. Ryan Preece

29. Ty Dillon

30. Daniel Suarez

31. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

32. Brennan Poole (R)

33. JJ Yeley (i)

34. Quin Houff (R)

35. Timmy Hill (i)

36. Ross Chastain (i)

37. Joey Gase (i)

38. James Davison

39. Josh Bilicki (i)

40. Brendan Gaughan

 

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

 

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Kevin Harvick (pole) starts up front for the second time in the last four races. He's clinched the regular-season title and is looking for his fourth win in the last six Cup events.
  • Martin Truex Jr. (2nd) is looking for his eighth straight top-3 finish to close the regular season. He has yet to win during that stretch (Truex is also winless for his career at Daytona).
  • Jimmie Johnson (7th) is seeking his first Daytona victory since 2013. He is the only driver currently on the outside looking in on the playoffs who can race in on points.
  • Cole Custer (16th) is the highest-qualifying rookie in the field.
  • Ryan Newman (22nd) will run his first pack event at Daytona since the season-opening 500 that nearly took his life. That ninth-place finish remains his only top 10 on the year.
  • Chase Elliott (27th) has his worst starting spot of the season.
  • Ross Chastain (36th) will run his first Cup race since Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Spire Motorsports' No. 77, replacing Reed Sorenson. Sponsorship will come from the Moose Fraternity in a one-race deal.
  • Joey Gase (37th) moves to the No. 53 car of Rick Ware Racing for this event, replacing Josh Bilicki. Gase has primarily driven the No. 51 for RWR most of the season.
  • James Davison (38th) returns to NASCAR racing, driving the No. 51 of RWR after running the Indianapolis 500 for the team.
  • Josh Bilicki (39th) moves back to Tommy Baldwin Racing's No. 7 for this event, replacing Garrett Smithley.
  • Brendan Gaughan (40th) will run his fourth event of the season for Beard Motorsports. Gaughan is only running the superspeedway races this year along with the Daytona road course.

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: Coke Zero Sugar 400

Track: Daytona International Speedway (Daytona Beach, Fla.)

Date: Saturday, August 29

TV: NBC, 7 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 160 laps (400 miles)

Stage 1: 50 Laps

Stage 2: 50 Laps

Final Stage: 60 Laps

 

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

Justin Allgaier stops by to talk through his breakthrough NASCAR Xfinity Series win last week at Dover International Speedway before Frontstretch Podcast hosts Mike Neff and Dustin Albino tackle the Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona.

Event Date: 
Saturday, August 29, 2020 - 19:30
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