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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Saturday's Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway

NASCAR Starting Lineup for Saturday's Federated Auto Parts Salute to First Responders 400 at Richmond Raceway

Kyle Larson on the pole for the second race in NASCAR's Round of 16

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs continue Saturday night with the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders from Richmond Raceway. This ¾-mile track will host a postseason event for the fourth straight year after serving as the regular-season finale from 2004-17.

Drivers have always said this place has the size of a short track but races much like a superspeedway. Long green-flag runs are the norm as multiple grooves provide plenty of room for side-by-side action. The most successful drivers here know how to manage their tire wear, retaining track position throughout a run. Lapped traffic is also a big issue on a track this size; knowing where to pass a slower car is crucial in maintaining momentum over others behind you.

No on-track practice or qualifying is scheduled for this event as NASCAR tries to protect its drivers and teams from COVID-19. Instead, the field was set using a qualifying metric system 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’s the best compromise the sport could make as they try to keep drivers and team members safe.

Just 37 cars are entered at Richmond, leaving three empty spots on the grid. All 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are entered along with the “open” No. 37 car JTG Daugherty Racing is fielding with driver Ryan Preece. Open cars are not guaranteed a spot and, when more than 40 cars are entered, need to qualify for a race on speed.

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

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

Qualifying Notes

- Kyle Larson (pole) starts up front for the seventh time this year. He only had eight career poles in seven-plus years running the Cup circuit entering 2021.
- Denny Hamlin (second) is the highest-qualifying Toyota. Hamlin will be seeking back-to-back Cup wins after capturing Darlington last weekend.
- Kevin Harvick (fifth), the highest-qualifying Ford, is now one of only two winless drivers left in the playoffs. Tyler Reddick (11th) is the other.
- Brad Keselowski (seventh) is the defending race winner.
- Ryan Blaney (eighth) has no career top 10s at Richmond in 10 career starts.
- Chase Briscoe (26th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
- Garrett Smithley (36th) replaces Cody Ware in the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet for the next two weeks. Ware suffered carbon monoxide poisoning during the race at Darlington.
- JJ Yeley (37th) replaces James Davison in the No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet. It’s just his sixth Cup start of the year and first since Nashville Superspeedway in June.

NASCAR Race Breakdown

Race: Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders
Track: Richmond Raceway (Richmond, Va.)
Date: Saturday, Sept. 11
TV: NBCSN, 7:30 p.m. ET
Distance: 400 laps (300 miles)
Stage 1: 80 Laps
Stage 2: 155 Laps
Final Stage: 165 Laps

Pre-Race Preview

Ryan Blaney stops by the Frontstretch Podcast to talk about the Darlington chaos that enveloped around not only himself but over half the playoff field. Then, host Davey Segal and company turn their attention to who’s going to excel at Richmond.