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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

The NASCAR Cup Series shifts gears this weekend after three straight weeks of short track competition. Instead, they'll compete on their largest track, Talladega Superspeedway, as pack racing takes center stage for the second time this year.

On this track type, the entire field is often stuck together in one large draft like superglue. Three- and four-abreast racing is commonplace on an oval known for high speeds, photo finishes and spectacular wrecks. Can the sport avoid the Big One this weekend and the carnage that often comes with it? NASCAR's hoping to avoid a repeat of February's Daytona 500, where a lap 14 crash wiped out a dozen contenders 15 minutes into the race.

Here, it doesn't really matter where you start as drivers can go from worst to first in a matter of minutes. So it's no surprise NASCAR went with its COVID-19 format for this race, limiting on-track time with no practice or qualifying. Instead, the lineup is set using a qualifying metric system explained 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 as the pandemic continues to limit capacity and admission within the garage area.

Exactly 40 cars entered the race at Talladega, filling up the 40-car grid. The 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are entered along with four "open" cars: the No. 16 of Kaulig Racing (Kaz Grala); the No. 37 of JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece); the No. 66 of MBM Motorsports (Timmy Hill); and the No. 96 of Gaunt Brothers Racing (Harrison Burton).

1. Denny Hamlin

2. Joey Logano

3. Martin Truex Jr.

4. William Byron

5. Alex Bowman

6. Christopher Bell

7. Ryan Blaney

8. Chase Elliott

9. Kyle Busch

10. Brad Keselowski

11. Austin Dillon

12. Kyle Larson

13. Matt DiBenedetto

14. Aric Almirola

15. Kurt Busch

16. Kevin Harvick

17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18. Ross Chastain

19. Daniel Suarez

20. Tyler Reddick

21. Chris Buescher

22. Erik Jones

23. Michael McDowell

24. Bubba Wallace

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25. Chase Briscoe (R)

26. Corey LaJoie

27. Cole Custer

28. Ryan Newman

29. Ryan Preece

30. Anthony Alfredo (R)

31. BJ McLeod (i)

32. Quin Houff

33. Cody Ware (i)

34. Justin Haley (i)

35. Joey Gase

36. Josh Bilicki

37. JJ Yeley (i)

38. Kaz Grala

39. Harrison Burton (i)

40. Timmy Hill (i)

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Denny Hamlin starts up front for the second time this season (Atlanta Motor Speedway). He's started five straight Cup races on the front row.
  • Joey Logano (second) was the highest-qualifying Ford driver.
  • William Byron (fourth), the best-starting Chevrolet, won a pack race at Daytona International Speedway last August.
  • Alex Bowman (fifth) was last week's winner at Richmond Raceway.
  • Ryan Blaney (seventh) is the defending race winner.
  • Michael McDowell (23rd) won the last pack race, February's Daytona 500.
  • Chase Briscoe (25th) was the highest-qualifying rookie.
  • Joey Gase (35th) is running the No. 28 this weekend as part of a special paint scheme tribute to the late Davey Allison.
  • JJ Yeley (37th) replaces James Davison behind the wheel of the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet. Yeley sat out Richmond on the Cup side.
  • Kaz Grala (38th) makes just his second Cup start of 2021 with the Kaulig Racing No. 16 Chevrolet. He was 28th in the season-opening Daytona 500.
  • Harrison Burton (39th) makes his Cup debut behind the wheel of the No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota. Burton is the son of former Cup full-timer and current NBC booth analyst Jeff.
  • Timmy Hill (40th) makes his first Cup start since Atlanta Motor Speedway in March with the MBM Motorsports Toyota.

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: GEICO 500

Track: Talladega Superspeedway (Talladega, Ala.)

Date: Sunday, April 25

TV: FOX, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 188 laps (500 miles)

Stage 1: 60 Laps

Stage 2: 60 Laps

Final Stage: 68 Laps

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

Kaulig Racing President Chris Rice stops by the Frontstretch Podcast to talk about his team's early success in 2021 before host Davey Segal and company turn their attention to Talladega Superspeedway.

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.