NASCAR lineup at Bristol: Starting order, pole for Saturdays playoff race without qualifying

The starting lineup for Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway was set by applying the statistical formula NASCAR is using for the majority of Cup races in 2021.

Drivers’ starting positions for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, the third race of the Cup Series playoffs and the final race in the Round of 16 (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN5, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), were based on four factors:

NASCAR is conducting qualifying for just eight of the 36 Cup Series points 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 Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff elimination race on Bristol Motor Speedway’s 0.533-mile oval.

Who won the pole for the NASCAR race at Bristol?

Martin Truex Jr. was assigned the pole position based on NASCAR’s mathematical formula. Truex is locked into the Round of 12 after his win last weekend at Richmond. He finished fourth in the playoff opener at Darlington. Overall, he is third in the points standings.  

Next to him will be his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who won at Darlington and finished second at Richmond. He’s second in points.

Behind Truex and Hamlin will be Joey Logano and Chase Elliott in third and fourth, respectively. They will lead the 13 drivers who will be racing for playoff spots Saturday night.

Under NASCAR’s playoff rules, the top 16 spots in Saturday’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 Cup playoff standings

Three drivers are already locked into the Round of 12 heading into the Bristol race. Denny Hamlin was the first when he won the playoff opener at Darlington. Kyle Larson (clinched on points) and Martin Truex Jr. (race winner) followed in the next race at Richmond.

The bottom four non-winning drivers after the Bristol race will be eliminated from the playoffs. The remaining 12 drivers will advance to the Round of 12, which will begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  

x-Clinched berth in Round of 12.

NASCAR starting lineup at Bristol

NASCAR used a mathematical formula to set the starting lineup for Saturday’s playoff elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Bass Pro Shops Night Race. Thirty-eight cars were entered for the race. Playoff drivers are denoted by “P-” next to their names.

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