NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Kevin Harvick rolls the dice from the pole out in Sin City

Sin City is looking to pull off a successful NASCAR weekend with the fourth race of the 2021 Cup Series season, the Pennzoil 400. Last fall's race at this 1.5-mile oval produced one of the bigger playoff surprises as 2004 Cup champ Kurt Busch won for the first time at his hometown track.

 

Las Vegas starts the sport's West Coast swing as a typical cookie-cutter intermediate, a 400-mile sprint race where long green-flag runs are the norm. The 550-horsepower, high-downforce package is back for a second straight week and could make it challenging to pass beyond restarts.

 

That's one of many reasons why LVMS doesn't pay to gamble on underdogs. Instead, it's the drivers sitting on 20 at the Blackjack table who prove a safer bet. Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing had rotated through five straight wins here until the elder Busch broke through in a track position race last fall.

 

Those heavyweights will start at or near the front once again due to NASCAR's COVID-19 condensed schedule. There will be no on-track practice or qualifying this weekend as the field was set according to the sport's special formula described 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 whose total winds up the lowest 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 a second straight week, 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. Kevin Harvick

2. William Byron

3. Kyle Larson

4. Martin Truex Jr.

5. Michael McDowell

6. Denny Hamlin

7. Kurt Busch

8. Chase Elliott

9. Alex Bowman

10. Brad Keselowski

11. Tyler Reddick

12. Austin Dillon

13. Ryan Newman

14. Kyle Busch

15. Joey Logano

16. Christopher Bell

17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18. Chris Buescher

19. Ryan Preece

20. Cole Custer

21. Ross Chastain

22. Daniel Suarez

23. Bubba Wallace

24. Chase Briscoe (R)

25. Justin Haley (i)

26. Ryan Blaney

27. Anthony Alfredo (R)

28. Aric Almirola

29. Erik Jones

30. Matt DiBenedetto

31. Garrett Smithley (i)

32. Cody Ware (i)

33. Corey LaJoie

34. BJ McLeod (i)

35. Josh Bilicki

36. Quin Houff

37. Joey Gase

38. Timmy Hill

 

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

 

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Kevin Harvick (pole) is starting up front for the first time since last November at Texas Motor Speedway. He's started top 5 or better in seven straight races out in Las Vegas (one win).
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway winner William Byron (2nd) is the highest-qualifying Chevrolet in the race.
  • Martin Truex Jr. (4th) is the best of the Toyota crowd.
  • Michael McDowell (5th) has three straight top-10 starts for the first time in his Cup career.
  • Kurt Busch (7th) won at Las Vegas last fall.
  • Joey Logano (15th) is the defending race winner.
  • Chase Briscoe (24th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
  • There were no driver changes from last week throughout the 38-car field for the first time this season.

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: Pennzoil 400

Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Date: Sunday, March 7

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

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 267 laps (400 miles)

Stage 1: 80 Laps

Stage 2: 80 Laps

Final Stage: 107 Laps

 

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

Ben Rhodes stops by the Frontstretch Podcast to chat about his 2-for-2 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start before Davey Segal and company turn their attention toward the bright lights of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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.

Event Date: 
Sunday, March 7, 2021 - 15:30
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