The second round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs rolls on this Sunday with the fourth and final superspeedway race of the 2021 season. Last weekend’s South Point 400 in Las Vegas saw only one caution for an on-track incident. This Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway will likely have many more. The tight pack racing nature created by the tapered engine spacer setup makes this weekend’s race a must-watch. Even for those who don’t watch NASCAR on the regular, any race at the Alabama track is one not to miss. After claiming his second win since the start of the playoffs last week, Denny Hamlin drew the pole position in the YellaWood 500 starting lineup.
The following article contains all kinds of vital information to get you set for Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series action. Read on for the complete YellaWood 500 starting lineup, start time, race facts and NASCAR stats.
NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway
52nd YellaWood 500
Date: Sunday, October 3, 2021
Start Time: 2 p.m. EST
Track: Talladega Superspeedway — Lincoln, AL
Pole Sitter: Denny Hamlin
Defending Champion: Denny Hamlin
YellaWood 500 Race Details
Distance: 500.08 miles
Lap Length: 2.66 miles
Stages: Three (Laps 1-60; 61-120; 121-188)
YellaWood 500 Starting Lineup
See below for a breakdown of the qualifying metrics formula.
|Starting Position||Driver||Car Number||Team||Manufacturer|
|1||Kyle Larson||5||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|2||Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|3||William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|4||Ryan Blaney||12||Team Penske||Ford|
|5||Kurt Busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|6||Denny Hamlin||11||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|7||Cole Custer||41||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|8||Christopher Bell||20||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|9||Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|10||Joey Logano||22||Team Penske||Ford|
|11||Brad Keselowski||2||Team Penske||Ford|
|12||Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|13||Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota|
|14||Matt DiBenedetto||21||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford|
|15||Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|16||Ross Chastain||42||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet|
|17||Daniel Suarez||99||Trackhouse Racing||Chevrolet|
|18||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|19||Ryan Newman||6||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|20||Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|21||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|22||Chase Briscoe||14||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford|
|23||Austin Dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet|
|24||Corey LaJoie||7||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|25||Bubba Wallace||23||23XI Racing||Toyota|
|26||Chris Buescher||17||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford|
|27||Erik Jones||43||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|28||Michael McDowell||34||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|29||Justin Haley||77||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet|
|30||Anthony Alfredo||38||Front Row Motorsports||Ford|
|31||Ryan Preece||37||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet|
|32||B.J. McLeod||78||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford|
|33||Cody Ware||51||Petty Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|34||Joey Gase||53||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|35||Quin Houff||00||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet|
|36||David Starr||13||MBM Motorsports||Toyota|
|37||Josh Bilicki||52||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|38||Garrett Smithley||15||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet|
|39||Timmy Hill||66||MBM Motorsports||Toyota|
NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying Overview
Following the interruption to racing last season, NASCAR did away with practice and qualifying runs at the majority of races. A combination of grouped draws and a performance-metrics formula was used to determine starting grids. That same formula remains in place for the majority of races on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, including this Sunday’s YellaWood 500 starting lineup.
So, what exactly is involved in the performance-metrics formula? Well, it draws on a number of factors including individual race performances and season-long results. The following breakdown illustrates the weighted grades associated with each component of NASCAR’s metrics formula:
NASCAR Cup Series Metrics Formula Breakdown
- 35 percent: Team owner points ranking
- 25 percent: Driver’s finishing position from the previous race
- 25 percent: Car owner’s finishing position from the previous race
- 15 percent: Fastest lap from the previous race
Note that all drivers currently in the NASCAR Playoffs receive priority starting spots over the rest of the field. Therefore, even if a non-playoff driver scores better in the metrics formula, he will still start behind all of those drivers in the running for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. With this being the Round of 12, the top 12 spots in the YellaWood 500 starting lineup are all occupied by playoff drivers.
YellaWood 500 Race History and NASCAR Stats
The following sections offer various NASCAR stats of note and interesting history of the YellaWood 500.
- The YellaWood 500 NASCAR Cup Series race has been run every year since Talladega Superspeedway first opened in 1969. However, due to uncomfortably hot summer temperatures in Alabama, it was moved from its initial date in the summer months to early October in 1997.
- Originally run as the “Talladega 500” from 1969-87, the race has undergone several name chnages as different title sponsors have come on board. YellaWood took over the sponsorship rights last year.
- On average, this has been the most competitive NASCAR Cup Series race in the sport’s history. It has exceeded over 40 lead changes 23 times in its 51-year history. It has also seen more than 60 lead changes 13 times. The 2010 race had a whopping 87 lead changes, just one shy of the all-time motorsports record.
NASCAR Stats and Race Records
- Richard Brickhouse won the inaugural YellaWood 500 back in 1969 driving a Dodge for the race team owned by car engineer Ray Nichels.
- The late Dale Earnhardt Sr. still holds a dominant lead in all-time race wins. The last of his seven career victories came in 2000, marking the third time Earnhardt won the event in back-to-back seasons. It was also the final win of The Intimidator’s legendary career. Son Dale Earnhardt Jr. stands alone in second with three total wins.
- Among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers, only Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have won this race multiple times.
- Defending YellaWood 500 champion Denny Hamlin is an accomplished superspeedway racer, but most of his success has come at Daytona International Speedway. Last year’s win was just his second ever at Talladega Superspeedway.
- With 11 total victories, Richard Childress Racing holds the mark for most wins in this race of any team. However, the most recent came all the way back in 2011.
- Hendrick Motorsports ranks second in all-time wins among race teams with six. Team Penske sits just behind in third with five. Interestingly enough, Team Penske has also won five of the last seven editions of the race.
- Chevrolet holds a 22-16 advantage over Ford for the most all-time YellaWood 500 wins by a car manufacturer. Denny Hamlin’s win last year was just the second ever for Toyota.