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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Brad Keselowski on the pole for NASCAR's final short track race of 2020

The XFINITY 500 serves as the penultimate race of the 2020 NASCAR season at Martinsville Speedway. The sport's shortest track with a history of close competition now wraps up the Round of 8 as the number of championship-eligible drivers will be cut down to four by the checkered flag.

 

Track position is increasingly important even at one of the sport's smallest ovals. Two of the last three races here had a grand total of just three lead changes; the last three winners at Martinsville started third, third and fifth. That trend bodes well for the eight remaining title contenders as qualifying rules dictate all of them will start up front.

 

Once again, the lineup will be sorted out due to special rules put in place during NASCAR’s COVID-19 pandemic. There will be no practice or qualifying while starting positions are determined through the formula outlined below.

 

25% of the metric will be the driver's finishing position from the previous race.

25% of the metric will be the owner's finishing position from the previous race.

35% of the metric will be the owner's current position in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

15% of the metric will be their fastest lap during the previous race.

All drivers remaining in championship contention (8) automatically start ahead of all others.

 

Look for whomever darts out front early to dominate at the front of the field. Brad Keselowski led an astounding 446 laps here back in early 2019; Martin Truex Jr. followed that up in the fall race by pacing the field for 464. Even with the slowest speeds on the circuit, the dreaded aero push makes a difference even with NASCAR's new handling package for short tracks.

 

Thirty-nine teams are made the trip to Martinsville for 40 spots on the grid, meaning everyone who entered will start the race. Just three "open" teams are attempting the event, paired with the 36 chartered cars guaranteed a starting spot each race.

 

These entries are Gaunt Brothers Racing (No. 96), whose Toyota is run by Daniel Suarez; MBM Motorsports (No. 66), entering a Toyota run by Timmy Hill; and Tommy Baldwin Racing (No. 7), running their Chevrolet driven by Josh Bilicki.

 

1. Brad Keselowski (P)

2. Martin Truex Jr. (P)

3. Alex Bowman (P)

4. Denny Hamlin (P)

5. Kurt Busch (P)

6. Kevin Harvick (P)

7. Joey Logano (P)

8. Chase Elliott (P)

9. Kyle Busch

10. Ryan Blaney

11. Christopher Bell (R)

12. Matt DiBenedetto

13. William Byron

14. Austin Dillon

15. Cole Custer (R)

16. Clint Bowyer

17. Tyler Reddick (R)

18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

19. Erik Jones

20. Aric Almirola

21. Ryan Newman

22. Ryan Preece

23. John Hunter Nemechek (R)

24. Michael McDowell

25. Ty Dillon

26. Corey LaJoie

27. Jimmie Johnson

28. Chris Buescher

29. Daniel Suarez

30. Brennan Poole (R)

31. Matt Kenseth

32. Bubba Wallace

33. Josh Bilicki (i)

34. Timmy Hill (i)

35. Quin Houff (R)

36. Garrett Smithley (i)

37. James Davison

38. JJ Yeley (i)

39. Joey Gase (i)

 

(P) – Playoff Driver

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

 

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Brad Keselowski (1st) starts up front for the second time in the NASCAR playoffs. He's earned eight top-five finishes at Martinsville in the last nine races held there.
  • Martin Truex Jr. (2nd) is the best-qualifying Toyota driver. He's also won the last two Cup races held at Martinsville.
  • Alex Bowman (3rd) is the highest-starting Chevrolet driver. He has never won at Martinsville and is seeking his first-ever Championship 4 appearance.
  • Denny Hamlin (4th) has won five times at Martinsville, the most for him at any short track on the Cup circuit. He's seeking a second straight Championship 4 appearance.
  • Kurt Busch (5th) must win in order to make the Championship 4. The 2004 Cup champion hasn't made the final round under the current format.
  • Kevin Harvick (6th) is seeking his sixth Championship 4 appearance in the seven seasons NASCAR has used this format.
  • Christopher Bell (11th) has the best starting spot among rookie drivers.
  • Jimmie Johnson (27th) will start his final Martinsville race behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet. Johnson has won nine times at Martinsville, the most for him at any racetrack outside of Dover International Speedway (11).
  • Garrett Smithley (36th) returns to the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, replacing Reed Sorenson. Sponsorship will come from BetterYourHealth.com.
  • James Davison (37th) returns to the No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Ford, replacing Smithley.

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: XFINITY 500

Track: Martinsville Speedway (Ridgeway, Va.)

Date: Sunday, Nov. 1

TV: NBC, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 500 laps (263 miles)

Stage 1: 130 Laps

Stage 2: 130 Laps

Final Stage: 240 Laps

 

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

Matt Tifft stops by to talk about his new Cup Series venture for 2021 before Frontstretch podcast hosts Dustin Albino and Mike Neff talk short track mayhem up ahead at Martinsville Speedway.

Event Date: 
Sunday, November 1, 2020 - 15:00
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