Wednesday morning, NASCAR revealed the starting lineup for Sunday’s trip to Dover International Speedway. The formula based on points and other factors set the starting order, which will feature two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers on the front row. Martin Truex Jr. will lead the field to green while Denny Hamlin will line up next to him.
The two JGR drivers currently lead the Cup Series in points. Hamlin has a massive lead with 529 points despite failing to win a race in 2021. He has been the most consistent driver all year long and has five stage wins and nine total top-five finishes to his name. Hamlin has also led 749 laps during the first 12 races of the season, the most in the Cup Series.
Truex, on the other hand, is the only driver to win multiple races. He took the checkered flags at Phoenix, Martinsville, and Darlington. Truex has led the second-most laps during the season (608) while posting five total top-five finishes. Now he and Hamlin will compete with each other to add more points to their respective totals while the rest of the NASCAR field fights for position.
Hendrick Motorsports drivers continue to start near the front
Truex and Hamlin will not be the only set of teammates near the front of the pack on Sunday. The second row will feature two members of Hendrick Motorsports — William Byron and Kyle Larson. The two drivers entered the season making fewer headlines than teammates Alex Bowman and defending Cup champion Chase Elliott, but they have both won races and turned in multiple top-five finishes.
Bowman, the driver of the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro, is the third HMS driver to reach Victory Lane, doing so at Richmond Raceway. He is in the playoff mix with his teammates but will start on the eighth row after recent struggles. Bowman will line up next to Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, who struggled early at Darlington and fell multiple laps down.
Elliott, the defending Cup Series champion, has yet to win a race in 2021. However, he has four top-five finishes so far. He added a top-10 on Sunday, finishing seventh at Darlington, and now he will head to the green flag on the fourth row next to Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney.
The middle rows feature playoff hopefuls
While multiple drivers have won races and set themselves up for the next stage of the competition, there are many others still fighting for points. Some of these drivers make up the fifth through 10th rows of the starting lineup, creating further intrigue.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher is currently above the playoff cutoff line, but he will need to continue performing to remain in this position. He will start on the fifth row next to Team Penske’s Joey Logano. Richard Childress Racing teammates Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon are in similar positions as they both sit above the cutoff line. They will start on the sixth and seventh rows, respectively.
Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto (ninth row) and JTG Daugherty’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (10th row) are the two drivers sitting just below the cutoff line. Stenhouse performed consistently during the first nine races, posting one top-five finish and nine total top-20 finishes. However, struggles at Talladega and Kansas dropped him in the standings.
DiBenedetto had a different start to the season. The No. 21 team struggled during the first few races of the schedule but turned a corner at Las Vegas with a 16th-place finish. DiBenedetto improving each week and posted three consecutive top-10 finishes at Richmond (ninth), Talladega (fifth), and Kansas (fourth). Though the 19th-place finish at Darlington hurt him in the standings.
The Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway will take place at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. Fox Sports 1 will provide coverage as several playoff hopefuls try to secure a trip to Victory Lane. Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, and Mike Joy will call the action from the booth.
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