NASCAR Cup SeriesNASCAR Xfinity Series

Denny Hamlin, Austin Cindric on poles for Talladega

3 Mins read
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR‘s fastest track, is the next stop for the Cup and Xfinity Series. Denny Hamlin starts on the pole for the third time in Sunday’s GEICO 500, while Austin Cindric leads the Xfinity field to green in Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300.

Cup: Hamlin gets another front-row start

While Hamlin has yet to win a race in 2021, his season has started on an exceptional note. Across the first nine races, he has top-five finishes in all but one (no other driver has five), and he led the most laps in the two latest races. With his strong runs and current position atop the points standing, Hamlin has also frequently started at the front, and his Talladega pole will mark his fifth straight race on the first row. It is his third pole starting spot of 2021 and second at Talladega; the first came in the 2020 fall race, a race he would go on to win.

Joey Logano will start second in his third front-row start of the year. He is a three-time winner at Talladega which includes a sweep of the 2016 races, but Sunday will mark his first career front row at the superspeedway; his previous best starting spot was third in the 2017 fall event.

Alex Bowman, the winner last Sunday at Richmond, starts fifth.

Five changes from Richmond have taken place. Joey Gase will drive the #28 (usually #53) for Rick Ware Racing in a tribute to Davey Allison, while J.J. Yeley replaces James Davison in the #15; Jennifer Jo Cobb was supposed to make her Cup début in the #15 but was forbidden by NASCAR. Kaz Grala and the #16 of Kaulig Racing return to the top level for the first time since the Daytona Road Course with A.J. Allmendinger in February. Harrison Burton gears up for his maiden Cup race in Gaunt Brothers Racing‘s #96, the team’s first race since March’s Bristol Dirt with Ty Dillon. Timmy Hill and MBM Motorsports return after taking the last two races off.

StartNumberDriverTeamManufacturer
111Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
222Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord
319Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota
424William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
548Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
620Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
712Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord
89Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
918Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
102Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord
113Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
125Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
1321Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers RacingFord
1410Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord
151Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
164Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord
1747Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
1842Ross ChastainChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
1999Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet
208Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
2117Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFord
2243Erik JonesRichard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet
2334Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord
2423Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota
2514Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord
267Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet
2741Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord
286Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFord
2937Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
3038Anthony AlfredoFront Row MotorsportsFord
3178B.J. McLeod*Live Fast MotorsportsFord
3200Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet
3351Cody Ware*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet
3477Justin Haley*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet
3528Joey GaseRick Ware RacingFord
3652Josh BilickiRick Ware RacingFord
3715J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet
3816Kaz GralaKaulig RacingChevrolet
3996Harrison Burton*Gaunt Brothers RacingToyota
4066Timmy Hill*MBM MotorsportsToyota
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points
Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Xfinity: Cindric gets anotehr front row

Cindric has led the Xfinity standings since winning the season opener at fellow superspeedway Daytona. The pole at Talladega is his best starting spot there, topping his third in the 2020 fall event. In four career Xfinity starts at Talladega, he is batting .500 with top fives in two but crashes in the others.

Daniel Hemric, still seeking his maiden NASCAR win but is second in points, joins Cindric on the front row. He finished fifth in his last Talladega race, while his lone Cup top five came at the track in 2019.

Dillon returns to Joe Gibbs Racing‘s #54 after last racing over a month ago in Vegas. Colin Garrett will make his first start of the year for Sam Hunt Racing while Caesar Bacarella, who finished twelfth at Daytona, is back in DGM Racing‘s #90. SS-Green Light Racing‘s #17, which is fielded in partnership with Rick Ware Racing, has been renumbered to #28 for Gase in the same tribute as his Cup car. Mason Massey is back in the #99 for B.J. McLeod Motorsports, while Natalie Decker and Jason White are in the #23 and #13 for Our Motorsports and MBM Motorsports, respectively; White drove the former at Daytona.

Ronnie Bassett Jr. (#77), Jordan Anderson (#31), and Andy Lally (#03) are the DNQs.

StartNumberDriverTeamManufacturer
122Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord
218Daniel HemricJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
320Harrison BurtonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
49Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet
511Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet
68Josh BerryJR MotorsportsChevrolet
719Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
87Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet
910Jeb BurtonKaulig RacingChevrolet
102Myatt SniderRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
1116A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet
121Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevrolet
1302Brett Moffitt*Our MotorsportsChevrolet
1451Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet
1592Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet
1654Ty DillonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
1739Ryan SiegRSS RacingFord
1868Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet
1998Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord
2048Jade BufordBig Machine RacingChevrolet
2147Kyle WeathermanMike Harmon RacingChevrolet
2226Colin GarrettSam Hunt RacingToyota
2344Tommy Joe MartinsMartins MotorsportsChevrolet
2452Gray GauldingJimmy Means RacingChevrolet
2574Bayley CurreyMike Harmon RacingChevrolet
2661David StarrMBM MotorsportsToyota
2766Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsFord
2890Caesar BacarellaDGM RacingChevrolet
2928Joey Gase*SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet
3036Alex LabbéDGM RacingChevrolet
3199Mason MasseyB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyota
324Landon CassillJD MotorsportsChevrolet
330Jeffrey EarnhardtJD MotorsportsChevrolet
3478Jesse LittleB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet
3507Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet
365Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet
3715Colby HowardJD MotorsportsChevrolet
3823Natalie DeckerOur MotorsportsChevrolet
396Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsChevrolet
4013Jason WhiteMBM MotorsportsToyota
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
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History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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