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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway

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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway

NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway

NASCAR's second and final leg of its west coast swing wraps up this weekend with the Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway. The one-mile oval, where cars will run the higher horsepower package, features a shorter race at one of the more competitive flat tracks on the circuit. The fifth race of the year may be the finest to date after four surprising winners have the sport off to a hypercompetitive start.

The last time the series was in Phoenix, Chase Elliott earned his first Cup title as the track hosted NASCAR Championship Weekend. But the bigger anniversary everyone remembers came one year ago, when Joey Logano earned a win here in the last "normal" weekend before COVID-19 completely changed the way the world operates.

One of those NASCAR adjustments continues in 2021 with no on-track practice or qualifying before this event. Instead, the field was set using a special performance qualifying metric utilizing the formula 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.

For the third week in a row, just 38 cars showed up for 40 positions on the grid, leaving the sport two short of a full field. The 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are entered 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. Brad Keselowski

2. Kyle Larson

3. Denny Hamlin

4. Christopher Bell

5. Martin Truex Jr.

6. Chase Elliott

7. Kyle Busch

8. Ryan Blaney

9. Joey Logano

10. William Byron

11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

12. Kurt Busch

13. Austin Dillon

14. Erik Jones

15. Ryan Preece

16. Michael McDowell

17. Chris Buescher

18. Kevin Harvick

19. Ryan Newman

20. Matt DiBenedetto

21. Alex Bowman

22. Ross Chastain

23. Tyler Reddick

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24. Cole Custer

25. Bubba Wallace

26. Chase Briscoe (R)

27. Daniel Suarez

28. Anthony Alfredo (R)

29. Justin Haley (i)

30. BJ McLeod (i)

31. Cody Ware (i)

32. Aric Almirola

33. Corey LaJoie

34. JJ Yeley (i)

35. Quin Houff

36. Josh Bilicki

37. Timmy Hill (i)

38. James Davison

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Brad Keselowski (pole) is starting up front for the first time since Martinsville last November. He was runner-up to Chase Elliott here last year in the 2020 season finale.
  • Last week's winner Kyle Larson (2nd) is also the highest-qualifying Chevrolet.
  • Denny Hamlin (3rd) is the best of the Camry drivers, making it a Ford-Chevrolet-Toyota top 3.
  • Chase Elliott (6th) is the most recent winner at the track.
  • Joey Logano (9th) is the defending winner of this race last spring. Chase Briscoe (26th) is the highest-starting rookie in the field.
  • JJ Yeley (34th) makes his first Cup start of the year for Rick Ware Racing, replacing Garrett Smithley behind the wheel of the No. 53 Chevrolet.
  • James Davison (38th) returns to the No. 15 RWR Chevrolet after a one-race absence, replacing Joey Gase.

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: Instacart 500

Track: Phoenix Raceway (Avondale, Ariz.)

Date: Sunday, March 14

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

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 312 laps (500 kilometers)

Stage 1: 75 Laps

Stage 2: 115 Laps

Final Stage: 122 Laps

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

Before host Davey Segal tackles Phoenix, Las Vegas Motor Speedway NASCAR Xfinity Series winner AJ Allmendinger stops by the Frontstretch podcast to chat about his positive outlook for 2021 and why Kaulig Racing has been the right fit for him.

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.