The starting lineup and pole for Sunday's NASCAR race at Darlington Raceway, the first race of the 2020 Cup Series playoffs, were not set by the random-draw procedure that determined the starting order for most of the races in 2020 that ran without qualifying sessions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The starting grid for Sunday's race at Darlington, scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET and broadcast live on NBCSN, features some of this season's top drivers at the front of the field. It is the result of a new formula that takes into account finishing position from the previous race, team owner points standings and the fastest lap from the previous race to set the lineup.
As for pit stall selection for the NASCAR Cup Series races being run without qualifying, it is ordered based on the same formula. Which means the pole sitter for Sunday's race (more on him below) also had the first pit stall selection.
Below is the starting lineup for Sunday's NASCAR race at Darlington and how it was set.
Who won the pole for the NASCAR race at Darlington?
Chase Elliott came out of nowhere to earn a second-place finish at Daytona last week and also recorded the fastest lap of the race. That, combined with his fifth-place standing in points, is why he earned the pole for Sunday's race at Darlington.
Denny Hamlin will join Elliott on the front row to start the 2020 Cup Series playoff opener after his third-place finish at Daytona last week.
Below is the formula for how the Cup Series field was set at Darlington:
- 35 percent: Ranking in team owner points
- 25 percent: Driver's position from previous race
- 25 percent: Team owner's position from previous race
- 15 percent: Fastest lap from previous race
NASCAR starting lineup at Darlington
Sunday's race at Darlington is just the fourth to use NASCAR's new formula for setting the starting lineup without qualifying (and the first to use it since NASCAR tweaked the finishing position portion of the formula). The same procedure will be used through the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
12 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
As for the starting lineup for Sunday's NASCAR race at Darlington, below is the field the formula created:
|1||Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2||Denny Hamlin||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|3||William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|4||Alex Bowman||88||Hendrick Motorsports|
|5||Brad Keselowski||2||Team Penske|
|6||Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|7||Ryan Blaney||12||Team Penske|
|8||Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|9||Clint Bowyer||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|10||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|11||Matt DiBenedetto||21||Wood Brothers Racing|
|12||Austin Dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|13||Joey Logano||22||Team Penske|
|14||Cole Custer||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|15||Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|16||Kurt Busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|17||Bubba Wallace||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|18||John Hunter Nemechek||38||Front Row Motorsports|
|19||Michael McDowell||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|20||Chris Buescher||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|21||Christopher Bell||95||Leavine Family Racing|
|22||Jimmie Johnson||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|23||Brennan Poole||15||Premium Motorsports|
|24||Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|25||Ty Dillon||13||Germain Racing|
|26||Matt Kenseth||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|27||Corey LaJoie||32||GoFas Racing|
|28||Daniel Suarez||96||Gaunt Brothers Racing|
|29||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|30||Erik Jones||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|31||Ryan Newman||6||Roush Fenway Racing|
|32||Quin Houff||00||StarCom Racing|
|33||Timmy Hill||66||Motorsports Business Management|
|34||Ross Chastain*||77||Spire Motorsports|
|35||Ryan Preece||37||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|36||James Davison||53||Rick Ware Racing|
|37||JJ Yeley||27||Rick Ware Racing|
|38||Josh Bilicki||7||Tommy Baldwin Racing|
|39||Joey Gase||51||Petty Ware Racing|