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

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

Points leader Kyle Larson starts on the pole at Daytona for the last race before the Cup Series playoffs begin

After six months and 25 races, the NASCAR Cup Series has reached its 2021 regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway. The track which hosted the season opener will set the 16-driver playoff field at the conclusion of Saturday night's Coke Zero Sugar 400.

It’ll be the final pack race at Daytona before the introduction of the Next Gen chassis in 2022. The current handling package there has produced some wild racing and a number of Cinderella stories in recent years. The Daytona 500 in February produced a first-time winner, Michael McDowell, who led only the race’s final lap.

The effectiveness of the draft means you can start this race from anywhere and work your way right toward the front. As a result, NASCAR’s chosen to skip on-track practice and qualifying with the COVID-19 pandemic reaching record highs in Florida. They’ll go with an off-track metric instead to set the field according to the guidelines outlined below.

50% of the metric is based on finishing position from the previous race (split between driver and owner).
35% of the metric is the team’s current position in the NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings.
15% of the metric is based on the team’s fastest lap during the previous race.

The team with the lowest total starts on the pole, then the next lowest, etc. until the starting grid is complete. It means the first time Cup cars will take to the track will be just prior to the green flag on Saturday night.

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A full field of 40 cars is entered at Daytona, filling up all spots on the grid. All 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are entered along with a total of four “open” cars that would typically need to qualify in on speed. They are JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece, No. 37); Kaulig Racing (Kaz Grala, No. 16); Gaunt Brothers Racing (Landon Cassill, No. 96); and MBM Motorsports (David Starr, No. 66).

1. Kyle Larson
2. William Byron
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Kyle Busch
5. Chase Elliott
6. Ryan Blaney
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Kurt Busch
9. Matt DiBenedetto
10. Brad Keselowski
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
13. Chris Buescher
14. Christopher Bell
15. Alex Bowman
16. Chase Briscoe (R)
17. Tyler Reddick
18. Michael McDowell
19. Aric Almirola
20. Bubba Wallace
21. Erik Jones
22. Joey Logano
23. Ryan Newman
24. Ryan Preece
25. Cole Custer
26. Daniel Suarez
27. Austin Dillon
28. Justin Haley (i)
29. Ross Chastain
30. BJ McLeod (i)
31. Cody Ware (i)
32. Anthony Alfredo (R)
33. Corey LaJoie
34. Garrett Smithley (i)
35. Quin Houff
36. Josh Bilicki
37. Joey Gase (i)
38. Kaz Grala (i)
39. Landon Cassill (i)
40. David Starr (i)

(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

Qualifying Notes

- Kyle Larson (pole) starts up front for the second straight race and sixth time overall this season in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He’s still seeking his first Cup win at Daytona after failing to crack the top 5 in his first 14 starts.
- William Byron (second) is the defending race winner.
- Denny Hamlin (third) is the highest-qualifying Toyota. He trails Larson by 28 in the battle for the regular-season points championship.|
- Ryan Blaney (sixth) is the highest-qualifying Ford and last week’s winner at Michigan International Speedway.
- Martin Truex Jr. (seventh) is still seeking his first career Daytona win after 32 starts. He was runner-up in the 2016 Daytona 500 to Denny Hamlin.
- Matt DiBenedetto (ninth) starts the highest of any non-playoff driver in the field. He’s going to need to win in order to clinch the 16th and final spot.
- Chase Briscoe (16th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
- Tyler Reddick (17th) leads Austin Dillon by 27 points in the battle for the final playoff spot. Reddick must stay ahead of Dillon and hope no one outside the top 16 wins the race in order to clinch.
- Michael McDowell (18th) is the defending Daytona 500 winner.
- Kaz Grala (38th) returns to the Kaulig Racing Chevrolet, replacing AJ Allmendinger. He’ll have a tough act to follow as Allmendinger won with the team the last time it entered a race (Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course).
- Landon Cassill (39th) replaces Ty Dillon behind the wheel of the Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota. It’s the team’s first start since Road America July 4 and the first for Cassill since the end of the 2019 season.
- David Starr (40th) makes his third start of the season running for MBM Motorsports in their No. 66 Toyota. Starr replaces Timmy Hill, who last ran the car at Indianapolis earlier this month.

NASCAR Race Breakdown

Race: Coke Zero Sugar 400
Track: Daytona International Speedway (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
Date: Saturday, Aug. 28
TV: NBC, 7 p.m. ET
Distance: 160 laps (400 miles)
Stage 1: 50 Laps
Stage 2: 50 Laps
Final Stage: 60 Laps

Pre-Race Preview

Chase Purdy stops by the Frontstretch podcast to talk about his first season racing full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Then, host Davey Segal turns his attention to who’s going to clinch the 16th and final playoff spot in the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.