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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

Brad Keselowski earns his first pole as a driver/owner in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs advance to the Round of 12 this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 is the 30th Cup race this year and the first points-paying event held at the 1.5-mile tri-oval located just outside Fort Worth, Texas. Ryan Blaney won the NASCAR All-Star exhibition back in May.

Drivers have struggled to pass at TMS in recent years, their problems a major focus of the race this spring despite NASCAR’s otherwise successful debut of its Next Gen chassis on intermediates. As a result, officials chose to treat the TMS track surface with an above-average amount of the PJ1 traction compound. The resin was specifically applied a lane higher in turns 3 and 4 to promote side-by-side competition, pairing with a Goodyear tire compound they hope will do better beyond the short sprints featured in the All-Star Race.

The biggest issue after TMS practice surrounded the No. 10 of Aric Almirola, last week’s pole sitter at Bristol Motor Speedway. Almirola failed pre-qualifying inspection twice, losing engineer James Kimbrough along with pit selection for Sunday’s race. (He’ll start a disappointing 25th).

Almirola’s Ford teammate, Brad Keselowski, earned the pole position for this race as non-playoff drivers continue to excel during the postseason. They’ve won all three events held to date, setting a NASCAR record for the playoff era, along with two straight pole positions.

Just 36 cars showed up for the AutoTrader Echopark Automotive 500, all of whom had a guaranteed spot on the grid. That leaves the field four short of a full field of 40 cars as no “open” teams have shown up since Daytona International Speedway at the end of August.

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Joey Logano (P)
3. William Byron (P)
4. Tyler Reddick
5. Michael McDowell
6. Chase Elliott (P)
7. Austin Dillon
8. Denny Hamlin (P)
9. Kyle Larson (P)
10. Daniel Suarez (P)
11. Austin Cindric (R) (P)
12. Ross Chastain (P)
13. Chris Buescher
14. Ryan Blaney (P)
15. Martin Truex Jr.
16. Ty Gibbs (i)
17. Alex Bowman (P)
18. Kyle Busch
19. Bubba Wallace (P)
20. Harrison Burton (R)
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. Christopher Bell (P)
23. Kevin Harvick
24. Cole Custer
25. Aric Almirola
26. Noah Gragson (i)
27. Erik Jones
28. Todd Gilliland (R)
29. Corey LaJoie
30. Chase Briscoe (P)
31. Justin Haley
32. Ty Dillon
33. Garrett Smithley (i)
34. BJ McLeod (i)
35. Landon Cassill (i)
36. Cody Ware

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

Qualifying Notes

  • Brad Keselowski (first) earned his first pole position since Richmond Raceway in September 2019. It’s the first pole earned for the Ford driver since moving into the driver/ownership role at RFK Racing’s No. 6 this season.
  • Joey Logano (second) has front row starts in three of the four playoff races this season. He’s also the highest-qualifying playoff driver.
  • William Byron (third) was the highest-qualifying Chevrolet driver.
  • Michael McDowell (fifth) produced his best qualifying effort on an oval track this season.
  • Kyle Larson (ninth) is the defending race winner.
  • Austin Cindric (11th) was the highest-qualifying rookie.
  • Chris Buescher (13th) was last week’s winner at Bristol Motor Speedway. He’s the 19th winner in 29 races this season, the most in the Cup Series since 2001.
  • Ty Gibbs (16th) continues to fill in for Kurt Busch, sidelined by a concussion suffered at Pocono Raceway back in July.
  • Noah Gragson (26th) replaces AJ Allmendinger in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Gragson is sharing the ride with Allmendinger and Daniel Hemric this season.
  • Chase Briscoe (30th) qualified the worst among the 12 remaining playoff drivers.
  • Ty Dillon (32nd) has qualified outside the top 20 in every race since Kansas Speedway back in May.
  • Garrett Smithley (33rd) replaces J.J. Yeley this week in the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford. It’s Smithley’s first race in the car since Atlanta Motor Speedway in July.

NASCAR Race Breakdown

Race: AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500
Track: Texas Motor Speedway (Fort Worth, Texas)
Date: Sunday, Sept. 25
TV: USA Network, 3:30 p.m. ET
Distance: 334 laps (500 miles)
Stage 1: 105 Laps
Stage 2: 105 Laps
Stage 3: 124 Laps

Pre-Race Preview

This week’s Frontstretch Podcast With Bryan Nolen welcomes former NASCAR Cup Series champion and current NBC Sports Analyst Dale Jarrett. Jarrett takes a closer look at how this year’s Cup playoffs have unfolded thus far before NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Jeremy Clements pops in to preview his own championship run in that division. Nolen and co-host Michael Massie then turn their attention to this weekend at Texas and give their thoughts on who has the edge in the Lone Star State.