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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway

Starting Lineup for NASCAR Cup Series' M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway

Denny Hamlin earns his third pole of the season, the fourth of his career at the Tricky Triangle.

The NASCAR Cup Series finishes its two-week northern swing this weekend with a stop at the 2.5-mile, triangular-shaped Pocono Raceway. The M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 marks the first time since 1981 the Cup Series will just hold one race at this track nestled in northeast Pennsylvania.

Related: M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 Preview

Pocono is marked by three distinct turns with three very different characteristics. Turn 1 comes at the end of the longest straightaway in NASCAR, a 3,740-foot Long Pond Straightaway in which cars can fan out up to four, even five-wide across the track. But you need to get to two abreast, max entering that 14-degree banked turn, hard on the brakes before recovering to approach the Tunnel Turn.

Many drivers refer to that one as the trickiest in NASCAR, banked at just eight degrees and modeled after Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s a good passing zone, a hard deceleration with shifting likely back in play due to the sport’s NextGen chassis. From there, you come off and head toward turn 3, banked at just six degrees as you set yourself up for the Long Pond Straightaway and another lap.

Qualifying went Denny Hamlin’s way, earning the pole at the track where he earned his first career Cup Series victory back in 2006. It’s an all-Joe Gibbs Racing front row with one of the Pocono winners from last July, Kyle Busch, starting alongside.

Only the 36 chartered cars attempted this race, leaving the grid four short of a full 40-car field. Just two “open” teams, period have made a qualifying attempt in the last 11 Cup races.

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

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

Qualifying Notes

  • Denny Hamlin (first) earned his third pole of the season, tied for the most of any Cup driver. In three previous times starting from the pole at Pocono, he’s won twice and finished no lower than fourth.
  • Kyle Busch (second) has his best starting spot of the season.
  • Chase Elliott (third) was the highest-qualifying Chevrolet. He and Ryan Blaney (sixth) traveled to Sharon Speedway’s dirt track Saturday night to participate in the SRX season finale (8 ET, CBS).
  • Chris Buescher (fifth) was the highest-qualifying Ford.
  • Bubba Wallace (seventh) is starting inside the top 10 in back-to-back weeks.
  • Christopher Bell (11th) is last week’s winner.
  • Austin Cindric (20th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
  • Noah Gragson (22nd) replaces AJ Allmendinger behind the wheel of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Gragson is running a limited schedule for the team this season, splitting the ride with Allmendinger and Daniel Hemric.
  • All 36 cars were able to make a qualifying attempt on speed. Cody Ware, in 36th, was 3.222 seconds off the pole-sitter's pace.

Related: Best Pocono Raceway Drivers for DraftKings

NASCAR Race Breakdown

Race: M&M's Fan Appreciation 400
Track: Pocono Raceway (Long Pond, Pa.)
Date: Sunday, July 24
TV: USA Network, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 160 laps (400 miles)
Stage 1: 30 Laps
Stage 2: 65 Laps
Stage 3: 65 Laps

Pre-Race Preview

The Frontstretch Podcast with Bryan Nolen chats with reigning Camping World Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes this week as he looks to defend his title. Nolen and co-host Jared Haas then turn their attention to Pocono and who’s considered the favorite for Sunday’s race.