The NASCAR playoff bubble took a turn Saturday at Dover and figures to further intensify Sunday in the second half of the Drydene 311 doubleheader.
Jimmie Johnson, competing at a track he has always enjoyed, used a seventh-place finish to leapfrog William Byron in the Cup Series standings. The point difference between Johnson and Byron stands at just three, however, meaning the last postseason spot will likely come down to the final regular-season race next weekend at Daytona regardless of how Sunday unfolds. Erik Jones and Tyler Reddick also remain in contention for the No. 16 position in the table.
Denny Hamlin emerged victorious Saturday and figures to be a factor Sunday as well, given his consistent excellence in 2020.
Here's a breakdown of Sunday's race, from the format to the starting order:
How does the Drydene 311 doubleheader work?
Despite them bearing the same name, Saturday and Sunday's races are completely different events and count as separate entities in the standings.
The second part of the Monster Mile weekend is scheduled to start Sunday at 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MRN). It will go 311 laps.
Who won the pole for second race at Dover?
Because the two races at Dover this year were pushed together into a doubleheader, Saturday's race served as the determinant for Sunday's starting order.
The top 20 finishers from Saturday will have their positions inverted Sunday, meaning 20th-place driver Matt DiBenedetto will be in the pole position and Hamlin will start 20th. The rest of the field was set by NASCAR's new formula to replace qualifying amid the coronavirus pandemic. The weighted formula factors in finishing position in the previous race (50 percent), ranking in team owner points (35 percent) and the fastest lap from the previous race (15 percent).
NASCAR starting lineup for second race at Dover
Johnson, Jones and Reddick will each start Sunday's race in the top 15. Some of their top playoff bubble competitors will be well behind them. Alex Bowman is starting in the 21st position, William Byron is starting 23rd and Kurt Busch is starting 28th.
Being in the first position at the green flag should provide a lift to DiBenedetto, who is trying to hang on to his postseason berth over the final two regular-season races.
13 Joey Logano
Here is the full starting lineup for Sunday's Drydene 311:
|11||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
|19||Martin Truex Jr.|
|27||John Hunter Nemechek|