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NASCAR lineup at Darlington: Starting order, pole for Sunday’s playoff race without qualifying


The starting lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway was set by applying the statistical formula NASCAR is using for the majority of Cup races in 2021.

Drivers’ starting positions for the Cook Out Southern 500, the opening race of the Cup Series playoffs (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), were based on four factors:

  • Driver’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent)
  • Car owner’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent)
  • Team owner points ranking (35 percent)
  • Fastest lap from the previous race (15 percent)

NASCAR is conducting qualifying for just eight of the 36 Cup Series races in the 2021 season. Seven of those races have already been run; the one remaining race with qualifying is the season-ending Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway in November.

Below is the starting lineup, which was set without qualifying, for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener on Darlington Raceway’s 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval.

MORE: Watch Sunday’s NASCAR race live with fuboTV (free 7-day trial)

Who won the pole for the NASCAR race at Darlington?

Ryan Blaney will start first at Darlington in the Round of 16 opening race. Blaney won the final regular-season race last Saturday at Daytona, and he enters Sunday tied for second with Martin Truex Jr. in the playoff points standings, 28 behind first-place driver Kyle Larson. Larson will start sixth Sunday after a 20th-place finish at Daytona.

Denny Hamlin, who led the points standings for most of the regular season, will start second next to Blaney at Darlington. Hamlin is seventh in the playoff standings and is coming off a 13th-place finish at Daytona. 

Under NASCAR’s playoff rules, the top 16 spots in Sunday’s field went to the 16 playoff drivers, but the starting order was based on the mathematical formula NASCAR has used for the majority of its races this season. 

NASCAR starting lineup at Darlington

NASCAR used a mathematical formula to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s playoff race at Darlington Raceway, the Cook Out Southern 500. Thirty-seven cars were entered for the race. (Playoff drivers are denoted by “p-” next to their names.)

Start pos. Driver Car No. Team
1 p-Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske
2 p-Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
3 p-Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi Racing
4 p-Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports
5 p-Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports
6 p-Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports
7 p-Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress Racing
8 p-Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing
9 p-Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
10 p-Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
11 p-Joey Logano 22 Team Penske
12 p-Kyle Busch 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
13 p-Christopher Bell 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
14 p-William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports
15 p-Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
16 p-Brad Keselowski 2 Team Penske
17 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing
18 Ryan Preece 37 JTG Daugherty Racing
19 Ryan Newman 6 Roush Fenway Racing
20 Justin Haley 77 Spire Motorsports
21 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
22 Erik Jones 43 Richard Petty Motorsports
23 Ross Chastain 42 Chip Ganassi Racing
24 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas Racing
25 Corey LaJoie 7 Spire Motorsports
26 Daniel Suarez 99 TrackHouse Racing
27 BJ McLeod 78 Live Fast Motorsports
28 Josh Bilicki 52 Rick Ware Racing
29 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
30 Matt DiBenedetto 21 Wood Brothers Racing
31 Cole Custer 41 Stewart-Haas Racing
32 Anthony Alfredo 38 Front Row Motorsports
33 Cody Ware 51 Petty Ware Racing
34 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Racing
35 Joey Gase 15 Rick Ware Racing
36 James Davison 53 Rick Ware Racing
37 Quin Houff 00 StarCom Racing

NASCAR playoff standings

The Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington is the first of three races in the Round of 16. The other races are the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond on Sept. 11 and the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol on Sept. 18. The playoff field will be cut down to 12 drivers after Bristol. 

Pos. Driver Car No. Team Points
1 Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports 2052
2 Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske 2024
3 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing 2024
4 Kyle Busch 18 Joe Gibbs Racing 2022
5 Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports 2021
6 Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports 2015
7 Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing 2015
8 William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports 2014
9 Joey Logano 22 Team Penske 2013
10 Brad Keselowski 2 Team Penske 2008
11 Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi Racing 2008
12 Christopher Bell 20 Joe Gibbs Racing 2005
13 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing 2005
14 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports 2005
15 Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress Racing 2003
16 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing 2002




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