NASCAR Cup SeriesNASCAR Xfinity Series

Kyle Larson on pole for Sonoma, Austin Cindric for Mid-Ohio

4 Mins read
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Although they are at different tracks, the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series are going road racing once again at circuits they have not visited in over a year. Kyle Larson will lead the Cup Series to green in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, while Austin Cindric will do so for Saturday’s B&L Transport 170 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

After two weeks with qualifying, NASCAR resumes its formula-based starting lineup methodology. Both Sonoma and Mid-Ohio did not host NASCAR in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cup: Larson gets fourth straight Sonoma pole

While his starting spot is a matter of circumstance, Larson is more than comfortable with being on the pole at Sonoma. He won the pole at the California road course every year from 2017 to 2019, though he hopes to turn his luck around as he has just one top ten in six career starts there (2019). Larson, who dominated Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 en route to making Hendrick Motorsports the winningest team in Cup history, has won on every track configuration except for road courses, and has just five top tens in sixteen tries. His best RC finish is fourth at Watkins Glen as a rookie in 2014.

Hendrick cars occupy the top three with current road course king Chase Elliott—who won the most recent road race at COTA in May—and William Byron starting second and third, respectively. Hendrick was also responsible for the last front-row RC lockout by one team with Byron and Alex Bowman at the Charlotte Roval in 2019; the feat was also accomplished by Elliott and Byron earlier that year at Watkins Glen (both races were won by Elliott). Bowman starts seventh.

Starting thirty-first will be Ben Rhodes in the #77 for Spire Motorsports; with the Camping World Truck Series taking the week off, Rhodes is making his Cup début in a car usually driven by Justin HaleyRick Ware Racing team-mates Garrett Smithley and Cody Ware switch rides from Charlotte as the latter returns to his usual #51 and the former goes to the #53, the one-off number change was spurred as Smithley had been locked into Ware’s #51 while Ware was planning to run the Indianapolis 500.

The lone road course ringer entered is Scott Heckert in Live Fast Motorsports‘s #78. Heckert débuted in the Cup Series at the Daytona RC in February while Kyle Tilley was the team’s specialist for COTA. 

15Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
29Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
324William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
411Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
518Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
63Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
748Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
84Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord
92Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord
108Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
1112Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord
1217Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFord
1322Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord
1447Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
1523Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota
1699Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet
1721Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers RacingFord
1843Erik JonesRichard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet
1919Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota
2020Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
2134Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord
227Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet
2341Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord
246Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFord
2514Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord
2610Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord
2737Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
2838Anthony AlfredoFront Row MotorsportsFord
2942Ross ChastainChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
301Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet
3177Ben Rhodes*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet
3215James DavisonRick Ware RacingChevrolet
3300Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet
3453Garrett Smithley*Rick Ware RacingFord
3578Scott HeckertLive Fast MotorsportsFord
3652Josh BilickiRick Ware RacingFord
3751Cody Ware*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points
Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Xfinity: Defending Mid-Ohio winner Cindric on pole

When the Xfinity Series last raced at Mid-Ohio in 2019, Cindric scored his second career victory and established himself as one of the series’ top road racers. Fast forward to this upcoming weekend and Cindric is now an eleven-time race winner, the reigning champion, current points leader, and the pole sitter. Cindric has started on the pole five times in 2021, and the former multi-discipline racer has enjoyed great success on road courses with four wins and top tens in all but three attempts.

Ty Gibbs, who won last Saturday at Charlotte for his second victory in just six career Xfinity starts, joins Cindric on the front row. The 18-year-old won in his Xfinity début on the Daytona RC, while his #54 Joe Gibbs Racing machine won the second road race of the year at COTA with Kyle Busch.

Being a road race, various teams like Our Motorsports and JR Motorsports continue to enlist the services of ringers like Andy Lally and Miguel Paludo. With Paludo in JRM’s #8, Josh Berry instead joins Jordan Anderson Racing‘s #31, which is locked into the race with the help of his win at Martinsville in April and strong runs by Tyler Reddick. Truck regular Kris Wright continues to work as Sam Hunt Racing‘s ringer, while Preston Pardus bounces from B.J. McLeod Motorsports‘s #76 entry to the #90 and Ryan Ellis is in BJMM’s #99.

A number of drivers who failed to qualify at Charlotte return for Mid-Ohio: both Mike Harmon Racing cars of Bayley Currey and Kyle WeathermanJoe Graf Jr. of SS-Green Light Racing, and Jimmy Means Racing‘s Gray Gaulding.

Matt Jaskol and Stephen Leicht comprise the driver lineup for MBM Motorsports, but David Starr is not as fortunate as he and the #13 are locked out of the grid. Dillon Bassett and his #77 Bassett Racing car could not make the Charlotte field and the same has occurred for Mid-Ohio.

122Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord
254Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
320Harrison BurtonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
410Jeb BurtonKaulig RacingChevrolet
57Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet
668Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet
719Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
851Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet
998Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord
1011Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet
1118Daniel HemricJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
1216A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet
139Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet
142Myatt SniderRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
151Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevrolet
1636Alex LabbeDGM RacingChevrolet
174Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsChevrolet
1802Brett MoffittOur MotorsportsChevrolet
1948Jade BufordBig Machine RacingChevrolet
206Landon CassillJD MotorsportsChevrolet
2117Cody WareSS-Green Light RacingFord
2278Jesse LittleB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyota
2339Ryan SiegRSS RacingChevrolet
2492Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet
2544Tommy Joe MartinsMartins MotorsportsChevrolet
260Jeffrey EarnhardtJD MotorsportsChevrolet
2723Andy LallyOur MotorsportsChevrolet
2899Ryan EllisB.J. McLeod MotorsportsFord
298Miguel PaludoJR MotorsportsChevrolet
3015Colby HowardJD MotorsportsChevrolet
3131Josh BerryJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet
325Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet
3326Kris Wright*Sam Hunt RacingToyota
3466Matt JaskolMBM MotorsportsToyota
3547Kyle WeathermanMike Harmon RacingChevrolet
3661Stephen LeichtMBM MotorsportsToyota
3707Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet
3874Bayley Currey*Mike Harmon RacingChevrolet
3990Preston PardusDGM RacingChevrolet
4052Gray GauldingJimmy Means RacingChevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points

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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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