The NASCAR Cup Series reconvenes this weekend for the penultimate race in the regular season, but what is the qualifying line-up for the race at Michigan?
No qualifying this week – as formula sorts grid
Last week’s race on the Indianapolis road course was one of a select few events to feature qualifying in 2021.
Events such as the Daytona 500, Coke 600 and Southern 500 feature qualifying but it has become the exception rather than the rule.
In a bid to limit potential transmission of covid-19, events that are not the ‘crown jewels’ or new have not had qualifying.
Listed below are the four different areas taken into account when the formula system must form the starting line-up:
- 15% = driver’s fastest race lap in the previous event
- 25% = a driver’s finishing position in the previous event
- 25% is weighted on the car owner’s finish in the previous event
- 35% is based on thee rank of each car in the owner’s points standings.
Larson drawn on pole
For Michigan, the formula has placed Kyle Larson on pole position in the #5 Hendrick Motorsports machine.
Larson, who won the Knoxville Nationals last week, is joined on the front-row by his team-mate Chase Elliott.
Larson is looking to extend his lead at the top of the regular season championship.
He was level on points with Denny Hamlin going into the Indy road course event, but Hamlin’s late spin allowed Larson to take over the lead.
Filling in behind the Hendrick team-mates on the second-row are Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto.
Penske’s Blaney is already secure in the playoffs, but Wood Brothers’ DiBenedetto needs to win to book his place.
The points situation for the #21 is against him, meaning victory at Michigan or Daytona is his only route in.
Martin Truex Jr is the lead Toyota starter in fifth place.
Kevin Harvick, who dominated both races at Michigan last year is eighth as he looks for a first win of the season.
Hamlin, who secured his playoff berth despite being punted off by Chase Briscoe at Indy is ninth.
Elsewhere, Corey LaJoie will not be in the #7 machine.
He has been sidelined as he has been forced to self-isolate after a guest in his podcast recording tested positive.
LaJoie’s replacement in the Spire Motorsports entry is Josh Berry.
What package are they using?
After the spate of road courses throughout the summer, NASCAR returns to ovals and short tracks for the run-in.
Michigan, as a two-mile oval, will see cars running the 550bhp package.
It is the high-downforce, low horsepower package.
When is the race?
The green flag is scheduled to drop shortly after 3pm ET for 200 laps around the speedway.
That is 8pm Sunday evening in the UK.
Stage lengths will be 60-60-80 laps.
It will be broadcast live on NBC.