In the previous 12 NASCAR Cup Series races that have run since May and since the sport’s return amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, eight of them featured a random draw that determined the starting lineup of each race. In those eight races, seven different competitors drew the pole position and led the field to the start. For the upcoming Cup Series race, the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Sunday, July 12, an eighth different Cup competitor will lead the field to the green flag. The pole winner for this weekend by virtue of a random draw will be Kyle Busch, the reigning two-time Cup Series champion.
The Las Vegas, Nevada, native and driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing is ranked 10th in the regular-season standings, 176 points behind Kevin Harvick, and has recorded seven top-five results and nine top-10 results through the first 16 races. He is also riding a 16-race winless drought that scales back to November 2019 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the same day where he won his second Cup Series title. He is one of five Cup competitors to record a win at Kentucky in the track’s previous nine Cup races, having won the inaugural race in 2011 and again in 2015 during his first championship season.
Joining Kyle Busch on the front row will be Joey Logano, who has won at Kentucky in the Xfinity Series for three consecutive seasons, (2008, 2009 and 2010). Kevin Harvick, the series points leader who is coming off his third Brickyard 400 win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend, will start third followed by teammate Aric Almirola and Alex Bowman. Brad Keselowski, who holds the most Cup victories at Kentucky with three, will start in sixth followed by Kurt Busch, winner of last year’s Kentucky Cup race following a late shootout with his brother, Kyle. Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto will start in the top 10 followed by Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin.
Starting in positions 13-26 are Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, William Byron, rookie John Hunter Nemechek, Ryan Newman, rookie Tyler Reddick, Garrett Smithley and Josh Bilicki.
Starting in positions 27-38 are Corey LaJoie, rookie Quin Houff, rookie Cole Custer, Michael McDowell, rookie Brennan Poole, Ryan Preece, Ty Dillon, rookie Christopher Bell, Joey Gase, J.J. Yeley, Daniel Suarez and Timmy Hill.
The Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway will air on Sunday, July 12, at 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1.