NASCAR Cup SeriesNASCAR Xfinity Series

Points leaders Denny Hamlin, Austin Cindric to start on poles for Homestead

4 Mins read
Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images

For the first time in 2021, Denny Hamlin gets a front-row start as NASCAR‘s starting lineup formula has placed him on the pole for Sunday’s Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On the other hand, Austin Cindric will be three-for-three in starting in the top two as he will lead the Xfinity Series field to green in Saturday’s Contender Boats 250.

Cup: Hamlin gets pole ahead of Logano

Even after just two races, Hamlin already leads all drivers in top-five finishes as the only one with multiple. After dominating but finishing fifth in the opening Daytona 500, he recorded a third on the Daytona road course. Hamlin is no stranger to starting on the pole at Homestead, having won it three times and drawing the spot for 2020’s race, an event that he would go on to win. He also has two other wins at the Florida circuit.

Joining Hamlin on the front row is road course runner-up Joey Logano in his first top-five start of the year. RC winner and Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Christopher Bell will start a career-best third; it is the Cup sophomore’s maiden top-five starting position and first in the top ten at a non-superspeedway since he started eighth at Michigan 2 as a rookie.

Justin Haley, who finished twenty-fourth last Sunday, is the highest starter of the non-Cup points drivers in twentieth; his Spire Motorsports team-mate Corey LaJoie, who will have an interim crew chief in Steve Letarte for the race, received a starting spot of twenty-fifth. Cody Ware, who starts twenty-sixth, switched from Cup to Xfinity points prior to the road course race.

B.J. McLeod returns to his Live Fast Motorsports #78 after letting road course ringer Scott Heckert make his Cup début on the RC. McLeod will start thirty-fourth.

For the first time in 2021, fewer than forty cars were entered. As expected, Kaulig Racing (#16) is skipping non-superspeedway and road course races. Gaunt Brothers Racing (#96, Ty Dillon) attempted the first two races at Daytona, failing to qualify for the 500 and finishing nineteenth on the RC before revealing they would skip the next four rounds with plans to return at the Bristol dirt race in March; it is GBR’s first absence from a Cup entry list since the 2019 fall Phoenix race.

111Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
222Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord
320Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
44Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord
51Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
634Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord
72Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord
837Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
919Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota
1041Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord
119Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
1217Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFord
1348Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
1412Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord
1547Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
1610Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord
175Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
1843Erik JonesRichard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet
1923Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota
2077Justin Haley*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet
2199Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet
223Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
236Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFord
2418Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
257Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet
2651Cody Ware*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet
2738Anthony AlfredoFront Row MotorsportsFord
2853Garrett Smithley*Rick Ware RacingFord
2915James DavisonRick Ware RacingChevrolet
3014Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord
3124William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
3242Ross ChastainChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
3366Timmy Hill*MBM MotorsportsFord
3478B.J. McLeod*Live Fast MotorsportsFord
358Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
3652Josh BilickiRick Ware RacingFord
3721Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers RacingFord
3800Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Xfinity: Cindric’s front row streak continues, surrounded by Gibbs

Cindric’s title defence is off to a good start. After winning the Daytona oval opener from the pole, he started second and finished in that spot on the Daytona road course. If the pattern holds, one should bet on him to win again on Saturday as he starts first. It will be Cindric’s first front-row start at Homestead as his previous best was third in 2019.

He will be surrounded by JGR cars when he takes the green flag as Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, and Brandon Jones hold the second- to fourth-place starting spots. Hemric, who finished third in the road race, is in his first season with JGR.

The lone JGR driver not in the top ten is Ty Dillon, who returns to #54 after Ty Gibbs won on the RC and will start thirteenth. Although Gibbs’ win and the #54’s second-place rank in the owners’ points would ordinarily put it near the front, it is drastically dragged down by the formula due to the driver change.

Other driver switches from the Daytona RC race include J.J. Yeley in SS-Green Light Racing‘s #17 after Ware raced in the first two events, and Chad Finchum in MBM Motorsports‘ #61 over Stephen Leicht. JR Motorsports‘ #8 (Miguel Paludo), DGM Racing‘s #90 (Preston Pardus), and B.J. McLeod Motorsports‘ #99 (Andy Lally) were piloted by road course ringers at the RC and will be respectively filled by Josh Berry, Dexter Bean, and Stefan Parsons for Homestead. Berry and Parsons drove at the Daytona oval while Bean enters his first Xfinity race since last fall’s date at Kansas.

Santino Ferrucci starts twenty-first in his NASCAR début in Sam Hunt Racing‘s #26. Ferrucci, primarily an open-wheel driver most recently competing in IndyCar, will run a good chunk of the Xfinity oval races for SHR. Brandon Gdovic and Kris Wright drove the #26 at Daytona.

With the entry list exceeding the maximum of forty drivers allowed, the still points-less #03 of Our Motorsports, #31 of Jordan Anderson Racing, and #77 of Bassett Racing once again got the short end of the stick, with the #03 officially withdrawing while the others are classified as DNQs. While Anderson’s Xfinity rookie season and Ronnie Bassett Jr.‘s family team début continue to be on hold, the #03’s driver Tyler Reddick will get to race as he moves to RSS Racing‘s #23 for the event; the #23, which has a partnership with Reaume Brothers Racing, was driven by Jason White and Natalie Decker in the first two races at Daytona. Unlike the team’s full-time #39 Ford Mustang for Ryan Sieg, the #23 is a Chevrolet which aligns with Reddick’s Cup team.

“For everyone that’s asked – we attempted to purchase owner points before the season, and after the Daytona rain out. None were available,” Anderson explained on Twitter. “If there are not enough on the market to be bought for everyone that ‘needs’ them, the barrier is real.”

122Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord
218Daniel HemricJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
320Harrison BurtonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
419Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
510Jeb BurtonKaulig RacingChevrolet
602Brett Moffitt*Our MotorsportsChevrolet
768Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet
811Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet
951Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet
102Myatt SniderRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
114Landon CassillJD MotorsportsChevrolet
1247Kyle WeathermanMike Harmon RacingChevrolet
1354Ty DillonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
1478Jesse LittleB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet
1592Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet
1607Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet
175Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet
181Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevrolet
197Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet
208Josh BerryJR MotorsportsChevrolet
2126Santino FerrucciSam Hunt RacingToyota
2239Ryan SiegRSS RacingFord
239Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet
2416A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet
2536Alex LabbéDGM RacingChevrolet
2652Gray GauldingJimmy Means RacingChevrolet
2744Tommy Joe MartinsMartins MotorsportsChevrolet
2815Colby HowardJD MotorsportsChevrolet
2998Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord
3099Stefan ParsonsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet
3148Jade BufordBig Machine RacingChevrolet
3290Dexter BeanDGM RacingChevrolet
3366Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsFord
3474Bayley CurreyMike Harmon RacingChevrolet
356Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsChevrolet
360Jeffrey EarnhardtJD MotorsportsChevrolet
3761Chad FinchumMBM MotorsportsToyota
3823Tyler Reddick*RSS RacingChevrolet
3917JJ YeleySS-Green Light RacingChevrolet
4013David StarrMBM MotorsportsFord
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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