NASCAR Starting Lineup for Saturday's Pocono Organics 325 at Pocono Raceway

Aric Almirola leads the way in round one of NASCAR's weekend doubleheader

Pocono Raceway marks another first for NASCAR in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic. But unlike some of the other changes in the midst of a topsy-turvy 2020, this quirk in the schedule was planned in advance.

 

The triangular-shaped track is experimenting with the first doubleheader weekend in NASCAR's modern era. They'll hold two Cup races in two days, a total of 675 miles of action in the mountains of northeast Pennsylvania. The hope was for increased visibility and turnout for one of the few independent racetracks left in the Cup Series; however, due to Pennsylvania's recovery rules from COVID-19, the races will be held without fans.

 

For Saturday's Pocono Organics 325 in partnership with Rodale Institute, the sport will go without practice and qualifying to limit at-track time for their competitors in the midst of this pandemic. The lineup was set through a random draw, like several races over the last month-plus according to the rules below.

 

Positions 1-12 were drawn among teams ranked 1st through 12th in the owner standings.

Positions 13-24 were drawn among teams ranked 13th through 24th in the owner standings.

Positions 25-36 were drawn among charter teams only (guaranteed spots on the grid) ranked 25th through 36th in owner points.

Positions 37-40 were set by owner points among the four “open” teams who must race in on speed every time out.

 

Only 40 teams were entered for 40 spots on the grid, leaving no one who failed to qualify. Aric Almirola drew the top spot this time, his reward for back-to-back top-5 finishes that got him back into the top tier of the qualifying draw.

 

1. Aric Almirola

2. Ryan Blaney

3. Denny Hamlin

4. Kyle Busch

5. Chase Elliott

6. Joey Logano

7. Kurt Busch

8. Brad Keselowski

9. Kevin Harvick

10. Alex Bowman

11. Martin Truex Jr.

12. Jimmie Johnson

13. Ryan Newman

14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

15. Tyler Reddick (R)

16. William Byron

17. Austin Dillon

18. Clint Bowyer

19. Erik Jones

20. John Hunter Nemechek (R)

21. Matt DiBenedetto

22. Matt Kenseth

23. Bubba Wallace

24. Chris Buescher

25. Cole Custer (R)

26. Michael McDowell

27. Brennan Poole (R)

28. Joey Gase (i)

29. Corey Lajoie

30. Ryan Preece

31. Garrett Smithley (i)

32. Quin Houff (R)

33. JJ Yeley

34. Ty Dillon

35. James Davison (R)

36. Christopher Bell (R)

37. Daniel Suarez

38. Timmy Hill (i)

39. BJ McLeod (i)

40. Josh Bilicki (i)

 

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

 

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Aric Almirola starts from the top spot for the first time since February 2019 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It's just the second pole for him since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018. (Earning it through a draw does not make him eligible for the 2021 Busch Clash).
  • Talladega Superspeedway winner Ryan Blaney (2nd) has his second front-row start in the last four races. He drew the pole for Martinsville earlier this month.
  • Ryan Newman (13th) has his best starting spot since the second race at Darlington last month.
  • Tyler Reddick (15th) starts the highest of any rookie in the field. He’s also the only freshman in playoff position if the season ended today.
  • Garrett Smithley (31st) is back in the No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet as their driver merry-go-round continues. Smithley was in BJ McLeod's No. 78 at Talladega.
  • JJ Yeley (33rd) moves into the No. 27 car for RWR after running the No. 53 at Talladega, replacing Gray Gaulding for this event.
  • Open-wheel veteran James Davison from Australia (35th) makes his Cup Series debut with Spire Motorsports. He'll run the No. 77 after NASCAR pushed back his start for a week due to the rookie's inexperience running superspeedways.
  • BJ McLeod (39th) moves back into his self-owned Chevrolet this week. He ran the No. 77 at Talladega.
  • Josh Bilicki (40th) returns with Tommy Baldwin Racing for the No. 7 team’s first race since Martinsville.

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: Pocono Organics 325 in partnership with Rodale Institute

Track: Pocono Raceway (Long Pond, Pa.)

Date: Saturday, June 27

Time: 3:54 p.m. ET

TV: FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 130 laps (325 miles)

Stage 1: 25 Laps

Stage 2: 52 Laps

Final Stage: 53 Laps

 

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

After an eventful week, WNBA player Renee Montgomery stops by to chat with Frontstretch’s Mike Neff and Dustin Albino about NASCAR and social injustice. Then, the guys turn their attention toward Cup Series competition at Pocono Raceway and how the double.

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