NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Denny Hamlin on the pole for the fifth straight race at this 1.5-mile oval

NASCAR hopes the third time is the charm, producing a third straight first-time winner to start the 2021 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Dixie Vodka 400. A race that was once the site of the season finale is moved up to the first month this year as part of the sport's scheduling overhaul amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

HMS is the first intermediate, cookie-cutter 1.5-miler we'll see this season which brings the sport back to its 550-horsepower handling package. Paired with a 0.922" tapered spacer, the set-up slows speeds, increases downforce, and puts a premium on where you start.

 

Over long green-flag runs, the rules make it difficult to move through the field outside of restarts. Even at a track like HMS, where tire falloff creates better racing, it's tough to make up ground from mid-pack as clean air creates a clear advantage.

 

Like most events this season, the Cup starting field was set without any on-track practice or qualifying. Instead, each team on the entry list had a number calculated for them based on the rules below.

 

50% of the metric is their 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 their fastest lap during the previous race.

 

Officials will then set the lineup based on those totals (the lower the number, the better the starting spot for each driver). It's the best compromise the sport could make while attempting to limit each team’s at-track time during the pandemic.

 

Only 38 cars were entered for 40 spots on the grid this week, leaving us two short of a full field. The 36 teams who have guaranteed spots showed up along with just two "open" cars: the No. 37 of JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece) and the No. 66 of MBM Motorsports (Timmy Hill).

 

1. Denny Hamlin

2. Joey Logano

3. Christopher Bell

4. Kevin Harvick

5. Kurt Busch

6. Michael McDowell

7. Brad Keselowski

8. Ryan Preece

9. Martin Truex Jr.

10. Cole Custer

11. Chase Elliott

12. Chris Buescher

13. Alex Bowman

14. Ryan Blaney

15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

16. Aric Almirola

17. Kyle Larson

18. Erik Jones

19. Bubba Wallace

20. Justin Haley (i)

21. Daniel Suarez

22. Austin Dillon

23. Ryan Newman

24. Kyle Busch

25. Corey LaJoie

26. Cody Ware (i)

27. Anthony Alfredo (R)

28. Garrett Smithley (i)

29. James Davison

30. Chase Briscoe (R)

31. William Byron

32. Ross Chastain

33. Timmy Hill (i)

34. BJ McLeod (i)

35. Tyler Reddick

36. Josh Bilicki

37. Matt DiBenedetto

38. Quin Houff

 

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

 

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Denny Hamlin (pole) is the defending race winner and is starting on the pole for the fifth straight year at Homestead. He hasn't started outside the top five in his No. 11 Toyota at this track since November 2014.
  • Joey Logano (2nd) is the highest-qualifying Ford in the race. Logano last won here in 2018.
  • Christopher Bell (3rd) has the best starting spot of his career one week after his first Cup win at the Daytona International Speedway road course.
  • Kurt Busch (5th) is the highest-qualifying Chevrolet.
  • Michael McDowell (6th) has back-to-back top-10 starting spots for the first time since October 2019.
  • Ryan Preece (8th) has back-to-back top-10 starts for the first time in his Cup career.
  • Anthony Alfredo (27th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
  • BJ McLeod (34th) replaces Scott Heckert behind the wheel of his Live Fast Motorsports No. 78 Ford. McLeod is running the majority of races for the team.

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: Dixie Vodka 400

Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway (Homestead, Fla.)

Date: Sunday, Feb. 28

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

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 267 laps (400 miles)

Stage 1: 80 Laps

Stage 2: 80 Laps

Final Stage: 107 Laps

 

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

Former NFL head coach Joe Gibbs' teenage grandson Ty Gibbs stops by the "Frontstretch Podcast" to talk about his NASCAR Xfinity Series victory last week at Daytona. Host Davey Segal and Michael Massie then turn their attention toward top picks for Homestead.

 

Don't forget about Athlon Sports' 2021 Racing magazine. With 144 pages of racing content, it's the most complete preview available today. Click here to get your copy.

Event Date: 
Sunday, February 28, 2021 - 15:30
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