The 2021 NASCAR season continues on Sunday with a trip to Kansas Speedway. The drivers will not have the opportunity to practice or take part in qualifying laps due to ongoing COVID-19 protocols, so NASCAR used its formula to determine the starting lineup. Now Brad Keselowski, the winner of the Geico 500, will lead the field to the green flag after winning the Busch Pole.
NASCAR announced the news on Wednesday, confirming that Keselowski will have the best starting position on Sunday afternoon. The Talladega runner-up William Byron will join him on the front row after posting his eighth consecutive top-10 finish. Michael McDowell will start in the third position while Kevin Harvick will start fourth.
The formula to determine the starting lineup consists of four factors from the previous race on the schedule: the fastest lap (15%), the driver’s finishing position (25%), the team owner’s finishing position (25%), and the team owner’s points ranking (35%). This formula rewards those that perform the best each week while those that finish in the back half of the pack struggle to move up the lineup.
Keselowski moved himself up the leaderboard with his Geico 500 win
Heading toward the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, two of the three Team Penske Cup drivers were in the playoff picture. Ryan Blaney won a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway to get himself tentatively locked in while Joey Logano took the checkered flag at Bristol Motor Speedway, his 10th consecutive season with at least one win.
Keselowski, on the other hand, had not reached Victory Lane yet after winning four races in 2020 and reaching the championship race at Phoenix. He entered the Geico 500 on the outside looking in but turned in his best performance. Keselowski led one lap on Sunday after passing Matt DiBenedetto, but it was the only one that mattered. He locked up the victory and set himself up for another playoff appearance.
Now that he has a win on his 2021 stat sheet, Keselowski sits in sixth place in the points standings. Denny Hamlin has the lead with 446 points despite failing to win a race yet. Martin Truex Jr. holds the second spot after winning two races while sits in the third position. Byron and Blaney are the only two other drivers ahead of Keselowski in the standings.
Issues at Talladega dropped two drivers down the starting lineup
Logano and Kyle Larson both saw their days come to an early end after issues at Talladega. The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet had a radiator issue, forcing Larson to the garage after a few opening laps. Logano, on the other hand, crashed at the end of Stage 1. His No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang flew into the air and then rolled before coming to rest in the grass.
Following these early issues, both drivers will start the Buschy McBusch Race 400 well behind the other drivers that have won races in 2021. Logano will start in the 29th position next to Matt Mills, who will be making his Cup Series debut. Larson will start in the 32nd position next to Justin Haley.
While their starting positions will not be ideal, both drivers have shown the ability to move through the pack and gain ground when necessary. Larson has been one of the best drivers during the 2021 season, winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and posting four total top-five finishes. Logano has a nearly identical stat line with his Bristol Motor Speedway win and four top-fives of his own. Though Larson has led more laps (379) so far.
The Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. Fox Sports 1 will provide coverage with Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Clint Bowyer in the booth. Larry McReynolds will serve as a studio analyst while Jamie Little and Regan Smith provide reports from pit road.
READ NEXT: NASCAR Announces New Youth Community Partner