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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway

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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway

NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway

The NASCAR Cup Series hits the halfway point on the 2021 regular season with a trip to Dover International Speedway. The Drydene 400 on Sunday will be the only time this season they'll visit the one-mile concrete oval known as the Monster Mile.

It's the first time in 51 years (1970) the Dover schedule has been reduced from two dates to one. Track ownership chose to shift the second date to long-dormant Nashville Superspeedway, which will host its first NASCAR race of any kind in a decade on June 20.

The Dover track earned its monstrous nickname due to high-banked, speedy turns that leave drivers on the edge of control. It's almost impossible here to spin out and not hit the wall, meaning one simple mistake can end your day. It's also a place where track position has become crucial in recent years, becoming one of the most difficult tracks in NASCAR to pass on.

That creates a tough road for drivers who struggled at Darlington, as they'll start this race near the back of the pack. NASCAR continues to go without practice and qualifying due to the risks of COVID-19, choosing instead to set the field according to the metrics outlined 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.

The team with the lowest total starts on the pole, then the next lowest, etc. until all available spots are filled. It's the best compromise NASCAR could make while attempting to limit each team’s at-track time during the pandemic.

Just 37 cars entered the Dover race, leaving the grid three short of a full 40-car field. The 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are entered along with only one "open" car: the No. 37 of JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece).

1. Martin Truex Jr.

2. Denny Hamlin

3. William Byron

4. Kyle Larson

5. Kevin Harvick

6. Kyle Busch

7. Ryan Blaney

8. Chase Elliott

9. Joey Logano

10. Chris Buescher

11. Christopher Bell

12. Tyler Reddick

13. Ryan Newman

14. Austin Dillon

15. Brad Keselowski

16. Alex Bowman

17. Chase Briscoe (R)

18. Matt DiBenedetto

19. Ross Chastain

20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

21. Michael McDowell

22. Bubba Wallace

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23. Erik Jones

24. Daniel Suarez

25. Ryan Preece

26. Corey LaJoie

27. Anthony Alfredo (R)

28. Kurt Busch

29. Josh Berry (i)

30. Cole Custer

31. BJ McLeod (i)

32. Aric Almirola

33. James Davison

34. Cody Ware (i)

35. Quin Houff

36. Garrett Smithley (i)

37. Josh Bilicki

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Martin Truex Jr. (pole) starts up front for the second time this season. His average start of 8.3, through 12 races, is the second-best of his NASCAR Cup Series career.
  • William Byron (3rd) is the highest-qualifying Chevrolet driver. He’s looking for an 11th straight top-10 finish, the longest active streak in the Cup Series.
  • Kevin Harvick (5th) is the highest-qualifying Ford driver and won the last Dover Cup race held here in August.
  • Chris Buescher (10th) has his best start of the season.
  • Chase Briscoe (17th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
  • Josh Berry (29th) will make his Cup Series debut for Spire Motorsports after Justin Haley was held out of the Dover race weekend due to COVID-19 protocols.
  • Garrett Smithley (36th) returns to the Rick Ware Racing merry-go-round of drivers this week, replacing JJ Yeley in the No. 53 Chevrolet.

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: Drydene 400

Track: Dover International Speedway (Dover, Del.)

Date: Sunday, May 16

TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 laps (400 miles)

Stage 1: 120 Laps

Stage 2: 120 Laps

Final Stage: 160 Laps

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

Martin Truex Jr. stops by the Frontstretch Podcast to talk about his success on the low-downforce, high-horsepower package this year before host Davey Segal and company examine whether Truex can continue that success at Dover.

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site Frontstretch.com. He can be reached at tbowles81@yahoo.com or on Twitter @NASCARBowles.