Denny Hamlin clinches Busch Pole Award for Talladega

MARTINSVILLE, VA – APRIL 11: #11: Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Office during the running of the rain delayed Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 on April 11, 2021 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville,Virginia (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin has claimed the Busch Pole Award for Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway.

Hamlin will start his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota from the pole position for the third time this season in the 500-miler at the 2.66-mile Alabama track. He finished second last weekend at Richmond Raceway and has held the NASCAR Cup Series points lead for all but one week this season.

Austin Cindric, the defending Xfinity Series champion, captured the pole for Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 (4 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM) in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

As NASCAR adapted to COVID-19 protocols last season, practice and qualifying were eliminated at a majority of national-series events to limit at-track time, exposure and to cut race weekend costs. To determine starting lineups, competition officials used grouped draws, added inversions for weekend doubleheaders, and eventually adopted a performance-metrics formula. That metrics format remains in place this season, drawing on performance from both individual races and season-long results.

NASCAR’s metrics formula for 2021 weighs:

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

See the full lineup for Sunday’s Cup Series race below.

Start pos.DriverCar #Team
1Denny Hamlin11Joe Gibbs Racing
2Joey Logano22Team Penske
3Martin Truex Jr.19Joe Gibbs Racing
4William Byron24Hendrick Motorsports
5Alex Bowman48Hendrick Motorsports
6Christopher Bell20Joe Gibbs Racing
7Ryan Blaney12Team Penske
8Chase Elliott9Hendrick Motorsports
9Kyle Busch18Joe Gibbs Racing
10Brad Keselowski2Team Penske
11Austin Dillon3Richard Childress Racing
12Kyle Larson5Hendrick Motorsports
13Matt DiBenedetto21Wood Brothers Racing
14Aric Almirola10Stewart-Haas Racing
15Kurt Busch1Chip Ganassi Racing
16Kevin Harvick4Stewart-Haas Racing
17Ricky Stenhouse Jr.47JTG Daugherty Racing
18Ross Chastain42Chip Ganassi Racing
19Daniel Suarez99Trackhouse Racing Team
20Tyler Reddick8Richard Childress Racing
21Chris Buescher17Roush Fenway Racing
22Erik Jones43Richard Petty Motorsports
23Michael McDowell34Front Row Motorsports
24Bubba Wallace2323XI Racing
25Chase Briscoe14Stewart-Haas Racing
26Corey LaJoie7Spire Motorsports
27Cole Custer41Stewart-Haas Racing
28Ryan Newman6Roush Fenway Racing
29Ryan Preece37JTG Daugherty Racing
30Anthony Alfredo38Front Row Motorsports
31BJ McLeod78Live Fast Motorsports
32Quin Houff00StarCom Racing
33Cody Ware51Petty Ware Racing
34Justin Haley77Spire Motorsports
35Joey Gase28Rick Ware Racing
36Josh Bilicki52Rick Ware Racing
37JJ Yeley15Rick Ware Racing
38Kaz Grala16Kaulig Racing
39Harrison Burton96Gaunt Brothers Racing
40Timmy Hill66MBM Motorsports

Practice and qualifying are tentatively scheduled for eight Cup Series races this year. Busch Pole Qualifying was held for the season-opening Daytona 500 but rain canceled the qualifying races for Bristol Motor Speedway’s dirt-track race. The next Cup Series event with qualifying scheduled is the May 23 debut at the Circuit of the Americas road course in Austin, Texas.

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