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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Starting Lineup for Monday's Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

Cole Custer uses NASCAR's heat race formula to earn his first career pole... from second place

The 2022 Food City Dirt Race marks just the second time the NASCAR Cup Series will race on dirt since 1970. The .533-mile concrete oval of Bristol Motor Speedway has been covered in dirt for a second straight year as NASCAR throws a curveball at the competition for Easter Sunday.

How will NASCAR’s new Next Gen chassis handle this revamped track surface? We already have some answers after four heat races set the field for Sunday’s 250-lap main event. The 36-driver field was split into four groups of nine, each of whom raced 15 laps to determine Sunday’s starting lineup.

The winners of the four heats were Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Justin Haley and Ty Dillon, putting themselves near the front for Sunday’s main event. However, none of those drivers wound up taking the pole position due to a unique formula that included bonus points for passing during the heats. Instead, it’s Cole Custer who will start up front, charging through the field in his heat from ninth to second. Custer, who gained seven spots and seven additional points, did just enough to be rewarded with the first pole position of his Cup career.

The heat races were relatively clean, with just two caution flags for spins as all 36 drivers finished with their cars relatively intact. All drivers made the race as the only teams entered were guaranteed a starting spot under the NASCAR Cup Series franchise system.

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

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

Qualifying Notes

  • Cole Custer (pole) has the first front row starting spot of his Cup career. He’s seeking his first top-5 Cup Series finish since winning at Kentucky Speedway back in July 2020.
  • Christopher Bell (second) was the highest-qualifying Toyota. Bell’s seeking to end a winless drought that extends to the Daytona International Speedway road course in February 2021.
  • Tyler Reddick (third) was the highest-qualifying Chevrolet in the field. The three different manufacturers (Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet) all qualified within the top 3.
  • Ty Dillon (seventh) has his best starting position since Dover International Speedway (third) in the summer of 2020.
  • Joey Logano (10th) is the defending race winner.
  • Austin Cindric (20th) was the highest-qualifying rookie in the field.
  • Justin Allgaier (27th) is making his first Cup Series start of the season in the Spire Motorsports No. 77, replacing Josh Bilicki. Allgaier is a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series driver for JR Motorsports.
  • Noah Gragson (28th) replaces AJ Allmendinger behind the wheel of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Gragson is running a limited Cup schedule for the team this season while driving the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
  • Josh Williams (36th) replaces BJ McLeod to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford. Williams drives for McLeod full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

NASCAR Race Breakdown

Race: Bristol Food City Dirt Race
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway (Bristol, Tenn.)
Date: Sunday, April 17
TV: FOX, 7 p.m. ET
Distance: 250 laps (125 miles)
Stage 1: 75 Laps
Stage 2: 75 Laps
Final Stage: 100 Laps

Pre-Race Preview

Joey Logano stops by the Frontstretch Podcast to reminisce about his Bristol dirt race win from a year ago. Can the Team Penske driver go two-for-two? Host Davey Segal and company discuss his chances, a Martinsville Speedway race that came in below expectations and how this Bristol dirt track will race different one year after its debut.

Don't forget about Athlon Sports' 2022 Racing magazine. With 144 pages of racing content, it's the most complete preview available today. Click here to get your copy or purchase the digital edition for instant access.