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Starting Lineup for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway

NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway

Championship favorite Kyle Larson earns the pole for the 2021 Cup Series finale at Phoenix

Phoenix Raceway marks the 36th and final race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. The Championship 4 finale will see the highest-finishing driver among Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. take home the title trophy.

This quartet had to deal with a new wrinkle at Phoenix Raceway’s one-mile oval: actual on-track qualifying. For the first time during the 10-race playoff, NASCAR changed its policy after utilizing an off-track qualifying metric to set the starting lineup. With COVID-19 restrictions expected to ease in 2022, this weekend’s practice and single-car qualifying could be a model we’ll see reinstated at most of the tracks on the schedule.

That meant playoff drivers weren’t guaranteed to start inside the top 4 spots. In the end, they all qualified close to the front, with Larson and Elliott sweeping the front row. Hamlin will start sixth and Truex 12th as the two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers attempt to run down their counterparts from Hendrick Motorsports.

Thirty-nine cars were entered at Phoenix, leaving this race one short of a full field. All 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are here along with three “open” cars: the No. 37 of JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece), and two MBM Motorsports entries: the No. 13 (David Starr) and the No. 66 (Timmy Hill).

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1. Kyle Larson (P)
2. Chase Elliott (P)
3. William Byron
4. Ryan Blaney
5. Kurt Busch
6. Denny Hamlin (P)
7. Cole Custer
8. Christopher Bell
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Joey Logano
11. Brad Keselowski
12. Martin Truex Jr. (P)
13. Kyle Busch
14. Alex Bowman
15. Matt DiBenedetto
16. Ross Chastain
17. Daniel Suarez
18. Aric Almirola
19. Ryan Newman
20. Tyler Reddick
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. Chase Briscoe (R)
23. Austin Dillon
24. Corey LaJoie
25. Bubba Wallace
26. Chris Buescher
27. Erik Jones
28. Michael McDowell
29. Justin Haley (i)
30. Anthony Alfredo (R)
31. Ryan Preece
32. BJ McLeod (i)
33. Cody Ware (i)
34. Joey Gase (i)
35. Quin Houff
36. David Starr (i)
37. Josh Bilicki (i)
38. Garrett Smithley (i)
39. Timmy Hill (i)

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

Qualifying Notes

  • Kyle Larson (pole) earned the top spot for the fourth straight race. He’s gunning for his first career Cup Series title in his eighth season running at NASCAR’s top level.
  • Chase Elliott (second) is seeking back-to-back championships for the first time in Cup since Jimmie Johnson (2006-10). He’s also the defending winner of this event.
  • Denny Hamlin (sixth) is trying for his first career Cup title. Hamlin, 40, has never won it in 16 full-time seasons.
  • Kevin Harvick (ninth) has won a career-best nine races at Phoenix. He’s seeking to avoid his first winless season since 2009.
  • Martin Truex Jr. (12th) is looking for his second career Cup title and first since 2017.
  • Chase Briscoe (22nd) was the highest-qualifying rookie.
  • Quin Houff (35th) is running the final race for Starcom Racing before they shut down at the end of 2021. Starcom has never finished inside the top 10 in 163 career Cup starts.
  • David Starr (36th) is running the second MBM Motorsports Toyota, No. 13, in his seventh Cup start of the season.

NASCAR Race Breakdown

Race: NASCAR Cup Series Championship
Track: Phoenix Raceway (Avondale, Ariz.)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 7
TV: NBC, 3 p.m. ET
Distance: 312 laps (500 kilometers)
Stage 1: 75 Laps
Stage 2: 115 Laps
Final Stage: 122 Laps

Pre-Race Preview

Matt DiBenedetto stops by the Frontstretch Podcast to chat about his 2022 NASCAR plans and how he’s grown during two years running with the Wood Brothers. Then, host Davey Segal and company take their best shot at who they think will emerge with the 2021 Cup Series title at Phoenix.