Denny Hamlin clinches Busch Pole Award for Talladega

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.

RELATED: Talladega weekend schedule | 2021 Cup Series standings

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.
Driver Car # Team
1 Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
2 Joey Logano 22 Team Penske
3 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
4 William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports
5 Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports
6 Christopher Bell 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
7 Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske
8 Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports
9 Kyle Busch 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
10 Brad Keselowski 2 Team Penske
11 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
12 Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports
13 Matt DiBenedetto 21 Wood Brothers Racing
14 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing
15 Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi Racing
16 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
18 Ross Chastain 42 Chip Ganassi Racing
19 Daniel Suarez 99 Trackhouse Racing Team
20 Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress Racing
21 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Racing
22 Erik Jones 43 Richard Petty Motorsports
23 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
24 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing
25 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas Racing
26 Corey LaJoie 7 Spire Motorsports
27 Cole Custer 41 Stewart-Haas Racing
28 Ryan Newman 6 Roush Fenway Racing
29 Ryan Preece 37 JTG Daugherty Racing
30 Anthony Alfredo 38 Front Row Motorsports
31 BJ McLeod 78 Live Fast Motorsports
32 Quin Houff 00 StarCom Racing
33 Cody Ware 51 Petty Ware Racing
34 Justin Haley 77 Spire Motorsports
35 Joey Gase 28 Rick Ware Racing
36 Josh Bilicki 52 Rick Ware Racing
37 JJ Yeley 15 Rick Ware Racing
38 Kaz Grala 16 Kaulig Racing
39 Harrison Burton 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing
40 Timmy Hill 66 MBM 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.