The engines are fired up for this Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. As the first race of the Round of 8 in the NASCAR playoffs, the stakes are high and tensions will be even higher as drivers jockey for position both on the track and in the playoff standings. All eyes are on qualifying as we speak to see who will claim those coveted top starting spots for Sunday’s race. Read on as we break down the starting lineup for NASCAR race Sunday at the Texas Motor Speedway oval.
Overview of NASCAR’s Lineup Setting Process
In NASCAR, starting positions are crucially important and determined through a series of qualifying sessions and heat races. The fastest drivers in qualifying will earn the coveted front spots for the lineup. The pole position starters near the front will clearly have an early race advantage over competitors starting towards the back.
Typically, NASCAR has two qualifying sessions – a single-car round where drivers set timed laps individually, followed by two-car drafting heats. The specific format can vary based on the track and race status, however. Provisional starters are assigned based on owner points for those who fail to qualify. Additionally, the top teams from the previous season’s owner and driver standings earn charter guarantees for lineup spots.
Clearly, NASCAR doesn’t follow the simple lineup formats found in some other sports. But the unique stock car qualifying procedures add to the drama and strategy leading into the green flag each Sunday!
Analyzing This Week’s Track and Expected Starting Order
As mentioned above, this weekend NASCAR visits the high-banked 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway oval. This intermediate track is known for promoting aggressive side-by-side racing and plenty of passing zones. Qualifying will follow the standard two-round format – a single car time trial followed by two-car drafting heats to set the lineup.
Based on recent performance at similar ovals, we can expect Joe Gibbs racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch to lead the field to the green flag. Hendrick Motorsports young gun Chase Elliott should also contend for a front row starting spot. Playoff drivers Joey Logano and William Byron have run well here too and could round out the top 5 starters. On the bubble, keep an eye on Kevin Harvick and Chase Briscoe to see if their teams can tune up their cars enough to qualify towards the front this weekend.
Key Drivers to Watch From Pole Positions
As predicted in the expected starting lineup analysis, Joe Gibbs Racing’s dynamic duo of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have excellent chances to capture the top qualifying spots for Sunday’s race.
Busch is always a threat on intermediate tracks like Texas, where his aggressiveness and savvy can gain him positions quickly. His #18 Toyota team has looked dialed in during practices as well. Starting up front would position Rowdy well to compete for the win.
Meanwhile, his veteran teammate Hamlin has the best driver rating and recent stats at TMS among all active drivers. His #11 Camry has shown top-notch long run speed in race trim simulations. With fresh tires and an open track to start, Hamlin could drive off from the field if he rolls off in pole position.
Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and William Byron have also dominated here recently and bear watching if they qualify up front. Whoever leads the field Sunday will have the chance to build an early lead, crucial for playoff point hopes.
Summary thoughts on starting lineup for readers looking forward to NASCAR race Sunday
As the green flag drops Sunday, the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 will feature fierce playoff competition with every spot critical. Qualifying promises its own dramatic storylines as well, with drivers fighting tooth and nail for the prized front starting positions. Keep an eye on stalwarts like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott as the provisional starting lineup takes shape – they should lead the field to green. Whoever ends up capturing the pole position will look to maximize their track position advantage early. Of course, anything can happen over a long Texas race. But the starting lineup for NASCAR race Sunday will set the tone as eight playoff hopes hang in the balance this weekend!