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.
|1||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|2||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford|
|3||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|4||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|5||1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|6||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|7||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford|
|8||37||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|9||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|10||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|11||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|12||17||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|13||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|14||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford|
|15||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|16||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|17||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|18||43||Erik Jones||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|19||23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||Toyota|
|20||77||Justin Haley*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|21||99||Daniel Suárez||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet|
|22||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|23||6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|24||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|25||7||Corey LaJoie||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|26||51||Cody Ware*||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|27||38||Anthony Alfredo||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|28||53||Garrett Smithley*||Rick Ware Racing||Ford|
|29||15||James Davison||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|30||14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|31||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|32||42||Ross Chastain||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|33||66||Timmy Hill*||MBM Motorsports||Ford|
|34||78||B.J. McLeod*||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford|
|35||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|36||52||Josh Bilicki||Rick Ware Racing||Ford|
|37||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford|
|38||00||Quin Houff||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet|
* – Ineligible for Cup points
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.”
|1||22||Austin Cindric||Team Penske||Ford|
|2||18||Daniel Hemric||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|3||20||Harrison Burton||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|4||19||Brandon Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|5||10||Jeb Burton||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet|
|6||02||Brett Moffitt*||Our Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|7||68||Brandon Brown||Brandonbilt Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|8||11||Justin Haley||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet|
|9||51||Jeremy Clements||Jeremy Clements Racing||Chevrolet|
|10||2||Myatt Snider||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|11||4||Landon Cassill||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|12||47||Kyle Weatherman||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet|
|13||54||Ty Dillon||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|14||78||Jesse Little||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|15||92||Josh Williams||DGM Racing||Chevrolet|
|16||07||Joe Graf Jr.||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet|
|17||5||Matt Mills||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|18||1||Michael Annett||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|19||7||Justin Allgaier||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|20||8||Josh Berry||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|21||26||Santino Ferrucci||Sam Hunt Racing||Toyota|
|22||39||Ryan Sieg||RSS Racing||Ford|
|23||9||Noah Gragson||JR Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|24||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet|
|25||36||Alex Labbé||DGM Racing||Chevrolet|
|26||52||Gray Gaulding||Jimmy Means Racing||Chevrolet|
|27||44||Tommy Joe Martins||Martins Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|28||15||Colby Howard||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|29||98||Riley Herbst||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|30||99||Stefan Parsons||B.J. McLeod Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|31||48||Jade Buford||Big Machine Racing||Chevrolet|
|32||90||Dexter Bean||DGM Racing||Chevrolet|
|33||66||Timmy Hill||MBM Motorsports||Ford|
|34||74||Bayley Currey||Mike Harmon Racing||Chevrolet|
|35||6||Ryan Vargas||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|36||0||Jeffrey Earnhardt||JD Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|37||61||Chad Finchum||MBM Motorsports||Toyota|
|38||23||Tyler Reddick*||RSS Racing||Chevrolet|
|39||17||JJ Yeley||SS-Green Light Racing||Chevrolet|
|40||13||David Starr||MBM Motorsports||Ford|
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points