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

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

Drivers’ starting positions for the YellaWood 500, the fifth race of the 2021 Cup Series playoffs and the second race in the Round of 12 (2 p.m. ET; NBC, 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 points-paying 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 on Nov. 7.

Below is the starting lineup, which was set without qualifying, for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race on Talladega Superspeedway’s 2.66-mile oval.

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

Who won the pole for the NASCAR race at Talladega?

Denny Hamlin, who has won in each of the first two rounds of the 2021 playoffs, will start on the pole Sunday. Hamlin is already locked into the Round of 8 by virtue of his win last weekend at Las Vegas.

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch will be next to him on the front row. Busch is coming off a third-place finish at Las Vegas. He is third in the playoffs points standings, behind Hamlin and points leader Kyle Larson, who will start fifth Sunday.

MORE: NASCAR playoffs, explained

Per NASCAR’s playoff rules, the top 12 spots in Sunday’s field went to the 12 remaining playoff drivers, but the starting order was based on the mathematical formula NASCAR has used for the majority of its races this season.

NASCAR Cup playoff standings

NASCAR lists Denny Hamlin first in the playoff standings even though he trails Kyle Larson by 14 points heading into Talladega. Hamlin is on top because he already is through to the Round of 8 with his win at Las Vegas. A playoff driver who wins a race in the Round of 12 automatically advances to the Round of 8.

MORE: Results from Las Vegas playoff race

Six drivers — Larson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano — can advance on points alone Sunday. According to, they will need to be 56 points ahead of the sixth or seventh winless driver in the standings depending on who wins the race.

NASCAR will reduce the playoff field to eight drivers after the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 10.  

Pos. Driver Points
1 x-Denny Hamlin 3082
2 Kyle Larson 3096
3 Kyle Busch 3074
4 Martin Truex Jr. 3070
5 Ryan Blaney 3063
6 Chase Elliott 3061
7 Joey Logano 3045
8 Brad Keselowski 3043
9 William Byron 3039
10 Kevin Harvick 3036
11 Alex Bowman 3030
12 Christopher Bell 3018

x-Clinched berth in the Round of 8.

NASCAR starting lineup at Talladega

NASCAR used a mathematical formula to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway, the YellaWood 500. Forty cars were entered for the race, which means there will be a full field Sunday. Playoff drivers are denoted by “P-.”

Start pos. Driver Car No. Team
1 P-Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
2 P-Kyle Busch 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
3 P-Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports
4 P-Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske
5 P-Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports
6 P-Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
7 P-Brad Keselowski 2 Team Penske
8 P-Joey Logano 22 Team Penske
9 P-Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
10 P-William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports
11 P-Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports
12 P-Christopher Bell 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
13 Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress Racing
14 Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi Racing
15 Matt DiBenedetto 21 Wood Brothers Racing
16 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
17 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas Racing
18 Daniel Suárez 99 Trackhouse Racing
19 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing
20 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing
21 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
22 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
23 Ross Chastain 42 Chip Ganassi Racing
24 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Racing
25 Ryan Newman 6 Roush Fenway Racing
26 Erik Jones 43 Richard Petty Motorsports
27 Ryan Preece 37 JTG Daugherty Racing
28 Cole Custer 41 Stewart-Haas Racing
29 Corey LaJoie 7 Spire Motorsports
30 Anthony Alfredo 38 Front Row Motorsports
31 Cody Ware 51 Petty Ware Racing
32 BJ McLeod 78 Live Fast Motorsports
33 Justin Allgaier 77 Spire Motorsports
34 Josh Bilicki 52 Rick Ware Racing
35 Quin Houff 00 StarCom Racing
36 Joey Gase 53 Rick Ware Racing
37 Garrett Smithley 15 Rick Ware Racing
38 Justin Haley 16 Kaulig Racing
39 David Starr 66 Motorsports Business Management
40 Landon Cassill 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing

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