The top two series in NASCAR head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17-18 for the final races before a mini vacation. Following a trend set in 2020, there will be no qualifying sessions, so the sanctioning body determined the starting order through its formula. The result is that Kyle Busch will lead the field to green as the Busch Pole winner while teammate Martin Truex Jr. will join him on the front row.
The two former Cup Series champions will lead a top-heavy 37-car field around the 1.058 oval before hitting the gas and racing for the top spot. Defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott will line up just behind them on the second row with Atlanta winner Kurt Busch next to him. Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin (row three); Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick (row four); and Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson (row five) will round out the top 10.
Larson has spent most of the 2021 season near the front of the pack, but he struggled during the trip to Atlanta. His No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro had handling issues during the early portions of the race and then a pit road speeding penalty during the final stage sent Larson to the rear of the pack at the worst possible time. He ultimately finished 18th.
While Larson is not in his standard starting position on the front row, he still faces favorable odds to reach Victory Lane for the fifth time in a points-paying race. According to NASCAR, Larson faces 21-4 odds, just behind Truex (5-1) and Hamlin (5-1).
Playoff Bubble Drivers Sit Just Outside the Top 10
Following Kurt Busch’s win at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 11, several drivers learned that they had fewer chances to reach the playoffs. Reddick dropped to the final spot above the cut line while teammate Austin Dillon ended up one spot above him.
Reddick will line up inside the top 10 on July 18, but Dillon will have to make up some ground. He will line up on row seven while pushing to strengthen his playoff position. Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto, who sits 18th in the standings, will line up next to him.
The two Cup Series drivers sit on opposite sides of the cut line, but this does not mean that Dillon will make his fellow bubble driver’s life any easier. He knows that he can’t afford to make any mistakes during the five remaining regular-season races. DiBenedetto, on the other hand, will try to build off of two consecutive top-10 finishes and make one final push to the playoffs.
The Xfinity Series Race Also Features Teammates on the Front Row
NASCAR also released the starting order for the Xfinity Series race on Wednesday, July 14. The upcoming trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway will also feature teammates on the front row, albeit from a different organization. Kaulig Racing’s Jeb Burton will lead the field to the green flag from the pole position while Justin Haley will join him on the front row.
Burton finished second behind Busch during the Credit Karma Money 250 on July 10, yet another strong performance. The Kaulig Racing driver has five top-five finishes during the 2021 season, as well as a win at Talladega Superspeedway. Haley, on the other hand, finished fourth during the July 10 race at AMS. Now the two teammates will have an early advantage at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Similar to the Cup Series race, the starting lineup for the Xfinity Series race will feature several championship contenders. Noah Gragson and Austin Cindric will line up on the second row while Justin Allgaier and AJ Allmendinger will make up the third row. Brett Moffitt, Jeremy Clements, Sam Mayer, and Harrison Burton will round out the top 10.
The Xfinity Series drivers will take on New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 17. The Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 will take place at 3 p.m. ET. The Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Cup Series race will take place on Sunday, July 18, at 3 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for both events.