NASCAR: Atlanta starting lineup – Denny Hamlin takes pole

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Denny Hamlin took the pole position for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

What failed to happen last season — a NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March — looks good to go this time around.

The four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) oval in Hampton, Georgia is scheduled to host two races this season for the first time since 2010 after sweeping changes to the schedule ahead of the 2021 campaign, and the first one is scheduled to take place this Sunday, March 21.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is set to start this 325-lap race from the pole position behind the wheel of his #11 Toyota.

Hamlin took the pole position for this race via NASCAR’s starting lineup formula.

Take a look.

  • 35% rank in owner standings
  • 25% driver finish in previous race
  • 25% car owner finish in previous race
  • 15% rank of fastest lap in previous race.

The two 25% categories are effectively one 50% category for full-time drivers such as Hamlin, who are in the same car for the same team week in and week out.

Hamlin’s #11 team leads the owner standings, and they finished the most recent race at Phoenix Raceway in third place. Hamlin’s fastest lap in this race was the best among all drivers.

Hamlin is the first driver to take two pole positions in the 2021 season, although he did not actually start from the pole position at Homestead-Miami Speedway after a pre-race penalty.

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So assuming he maintains the pole position for Sunday’s race, he will become the sixth different driver to lead the field to the green flag through six races.

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Phoenix Raceway race winner Martin Truex Jr. is set to start in second place behind the wheel of his #19 Toyota. The #19 team sits in fourth in the owner standings, and Truex’s fastest lap from that race ranked third among all drivers.

Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are set to share the second row in third and fourth place behind the wheels of their #22 Ford and #2 Ford, respectively.

Hometown hero Chase Elliott is set to start in fifth place behind the wheel of his #9 Chevrolet in his first home race as the reigning champion. He is set to start alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson in sixth behind the wheel of the #5 Chevrolet.

There are just two changes in this week’s lineup from last week’s. Joey Gase, not Garrett Smithley, is set to drive the #53 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing.

Austin Cindric is set to be behind the wheel of a fourth Team Penske car, the #33 Ford, for his second career Cup Series start and first since the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway last month.

Here is the full starting lineup for the 2021 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Starting Lineup
1st – Denny Hamlin
2nd – Martin Truex Jr.
3rd – Joey Logano
4th – Brad Keselowski
5th – Chase Elliott
6th – Kyle Larson
7th – Kevin Harvick
8th – Christopher Bell
9th – William Byron
10th – Ryan Blaney
11th – Kurt Busch
12th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
13th – Austin Dillon
14th – Alex Bowman
15th – Bubba Wallace
16th – Aric Almirola
17th – Chris Buescher
18th – Michael McDowell
19th – Kyle Busch
20th – Matt DiBenedetto
21st – Ross Chastain
22nd – Erik Jones
23rd – Ryan Preece
24th – Chase Briscoe
25th – Daniel Suarez
26th – Justin Haley
27th – Cole Custer
28th – Ryan Newman
29th – Tyler Reddick
30th – Corey LaJoie
31st – B.J. McLeod
32nd – Anthony Alfredo
33rd – Cody Ware
34th – James Davison
35th – Quin Houff
36th – Joey Gase
37th – Josh Bilicki
38th – Timmy Hill
39th – Austin Cindric

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The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Atlanta Motor Speedway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, March 21.