On Thursday night, NASCAR unveiled the starting lineup for Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the Pocono Raceway. The Pocono Organics 325 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN) will be the first of a two race doubleheader this weekend on the Tricky Triangle.
The starting lineup for Race 1 is set off a blind draw based off owners points. It’s the same as we’ve been using. Owners points 1-12 drew for starting spots in the first 6 Rows. Owners points 13-24 drew for sports from Row 7 through Row 12. Owners points for 25-36 for charter teams will start in spots 25th-36th based off a blind draw too.
Then, spots 37-40 were based off points for non charter teams.
The starting lineup on Sunday will be set off the finishing order from Saturday. The top 20 will invert meaning the 20th place finisher in Saturday’s Pocono Organics 325 will get the pole for Sunday’s 350 mile race. The 19th place finisher starts alongside in second. The 18th place finisher starts third where the winner from Saturday starts 20th.
Spots 21st through 40th will start in that order.
Where this matters is, starting position matters at Pocono. Four of the last five race winners have come from the top 10 including three of the last four. In fact, since 2014, 10 of the 12 Cup Series races have been won from a top 10 starting spot with one of those two not being Chris Buescher’s fluke rain shortened win in 2016.
Furthermore, we’ve started a Pocono race on points five times — all five were won by a top 10 starter with four of which from the top five itself.
So, the positioning in owners points was key.
Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski have also combined to win six races already this season and eight times at Pocono, so you can see why they’ll be tough to beat too. I mean, Hamlin has three straight top 10’s, Truex two wins since 2015 and four top six finishes in his last six and Keselowski with six top fives in his last nine there, three of which being runner-ups, and you get a clash of greatness shaping up.
Toyota has won five straight and six of the last nine with Ford only scoring two wins on the 2.5-mile track since 2011, neither by Stewart-Haas or Penske. With these stats, I’d say this could be another Joe Gibbs Racing race to lose.
Pocono Organics 325 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney
Row 2: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch
Row 3: Chase Elliott, Joey Logano
Row 4: Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski
Row 5: Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman
Row 6: Martin Truex Jr, Jimmie Johnson
Row 7: Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 8: Tyler Reddick R, William Byron
Row 9: Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer
Row 10: Erik Jones, John Hunter Nemechek R
Row 11: Matt DiBenedetto, Matt Kenseth
Row 12: Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher
Row 13: Cole Custer R, Michael McDowell
Row 14: Brennan Poole R, Joey Gase
Row 15: Corey LaJoie, Ryan Preece
Row 16: Garrett Smithley, Quin Houff R
Row 17: JJ Yeley, Ty Dillon
Row 18: James Davison, Christopher Bell R
Row 19: Daniel Suarez, Timmy Hill
Row 20: BJ McLeod, Josh Bilicki