Almirola to lead the field in first Cup Pocono race

For the fourth time in the last six NASCAR Cup Series races, Aric Almirola will start on the front row. Only this time, he will do so in the top-starting position and pace the field for the start on Saturday, June 27, at Pocono Raceway and as part of the first doubleheader weekend for the Cup Series at the same track.

Following a random draw, Almirola and his No. 10 Smithfield/Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang team were awarded the pole position for Saturday’s Pocono Organics 325 at the track dubbed the Tricky Triangle. This will mark the first time since February 2019 at Atlanta Motor Speedway where Almirola will lead the field to the start of a Cup race in first. In addition, Almirola became the fifth Cup driver this season to start on the pole based on a random draw and since NASCAR’s return in May amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. His previous best starting position was second for three consecutive races, (Bristol Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and at Martinsville Speedway).

The lineup for Saturday’s Cup race will mark the only time where a random draw will determine the starting lineup this weekend. Following Saturday’s race, the starting lineup on Sunday for the second Cup Pocono race of the weekend, the Pocono 350, will be based off of the results from Saturday. The top-20 finishing positions will be inverted for Sunday while the bottom 20 positions will start as finished on Saturday. The race winner on Saturday will receive the first pit stall selection for Sunday. Sunday’s lineup at Pocono will mark the third time this season in the Cup Series where the starting lineup was based on inverting the top-20 competitors and leaving the bottom 20 as positioned from a previous race at the same track, (Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway). The NASCAR Xfinity Series also did the same thing between June 13-14 at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the series doubleheader weekend.

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Ryan Blaney, coming off his thrilling win last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, will start on the front row alongside Almirola followed by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott. Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Alex Bowman will start in the top 10 followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, a three-time Pocono winner who will make his final two starts this weekend at the Tricky Triangle.

Starting in positions 13-26 are Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., rookie Tyler Reddick, William Byron, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, rookie John Hunter Nemechek, Matt DiBenedetto, Matt Kenseth, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, rookie Cole Custer and Michael McDowell.

Starting in positions 27-40 are rookie Brennan Poole, Joey Gase, Corey LaJoie, Ryan Preece, Garrett Smithley, rookie Quin Houff, JJ Yeley, Ty Dillon, James Davison, rookie Christopher Bell, Daniel Suarez, Timmy Hill, BJ McLeod and Josh Bilicki.

The Pocono Organics 325 will air on June 27 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX while the Pocono 350 will air on June 28 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1.

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