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What You Need to Know About NASCAR’s Newly Implemented Starting Lineup Procedure

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – JULY 23: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Apple Ford, lead the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Super Start Batteries 400 Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts at Kansas Speedway on July 23, 2020 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

NASCAR has finally done away with the multi-tier random draws and moved to a format that puts together a starting lineup based on three performance metrics, each rewarding a different aspect of the race teams overall performance.

Starting at Daytona’s Road Course, NASCAR will implement a new “weighted average” procedure, to set the starting grids in all three of NASCAR’s National Series events for the remainder of 2020.

However, the best part is: YOU CAN CALCULATE IT AT HOME!

Although it may seem quite complicated and hard to follow at first, many people who have taken a high school math and/or accounting course have probably seen the “weighted average” method that NASCAR has introduced/

NASCAR has chosen three performance metrics – all three of which you can find during the race on NASCAR.com’s Live Leaderboard, or immediately after the race on TobyChristie.com! — to decide where the drivers and teams will start in the series’ next event.


The Metrics

 

Finishing Position (FP) will account for one half (50%) of the calculation for the next race’s starting grid. WIth track position proving to be crucial time and time again this season, bringing the car home in a solid position, could make the difference between a top-ten starting spot and a starting spot deep in the field.

This will be the most important metic, especially for teams that sit on or around the playoff hot seat, with twenty-five of the thirty top-ten finishers at Michigan and Road America earning starting spots inside the top-ten, while all three of the most recent race winners earned the pole for the series next event at Daytona’s Road Course.

Owner Points Position (OPP) will be the competition metric that will reward a driver and team’s season-long performance in their respective series, while also giving the starting lineup a stable foundation to establish a realistic starting spot for teams. This metric counts for a significant portion of the calculation at 35%, which can be enough to lessen the consequence for a poor finish in the previous race.

In the NASCAR Cup Series, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman all earned finishes outside the Top-35 because of accidents and mechanical issues. With the help of their OPP Keselowski, Blaney and Bowman will start 17th, 24th and 27th, despite their 39th, 28th and 36th-place finishes

This metric rewards drivers and teams like Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing, who have had a phenomenal season so far in 2020, while also benefitting multi-driver teams like JR Motorsports’ No. 8, lessening the blow when a driver swap changes the calculation.

Fastest Lap Rank (FLR) accounts for a small but significant portion of the calculation at only 15%, rewarding drivers and teams who have found some speed at the most recent event, while lessening the advantage for the teams that finish out front, who are unable to find the speed they have been familiar with in recent months.

This metric – along with Owner Points Position (OPP) — will ensure that if a team is to find late-race troubles, that the starting grid doesn’t reflect the late-race issues, but rather the pace the driver/team showed throughout the event.


How is It Calculated?

When the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs begin, eligible playoff drivers in their respective series will be ranked before non-playoff drivers, giving championship contenders a prime starting spot every weekend.


NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling 235 Expected Starting Lineup:

Driver Changes/Ride Swaps/New Entries:

  • No. 53 – Gray Gaulding (was Garrett Smithley at Michigan) – Starting 38th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 62 – Brendan Guaghan (did not enter at Michigan) – Starting 39th / 39 at Daytona.

NASCAR Xfinity Series UNOH 188 Expected Starting Lineup:

Driver Changes/Ride Swaps/New Entries:

  • No. 21 – Earl Bamber (was Kaz Grala at Road America) – Starting 30th / 38 at Daytona.
  • No. 07 – Jade Buford (was RC Enerson at Road America) – Starting 32nd / 38 at Daytona.
  • No. 6 – BJ McLeod (was Jade Buford at Road America) – Starting 33rd / 38 at Daytona.
  • No. 13 – Chad Finchum (was Jesse Iwuji at Road America) – Starting 35th / 38 at Daytona.
  • No. 5 – Matt Mills (was Vinnie Miller at Road America) – Starting 36th / 38 at Daytona.
  • No. 26 – Brandon Gdovic (did not enter at Road America) – Starting 37th / 38 at Daytona.
  • No. 66 – Harold Crooms (was Chad Finchum at Road America) – Starting 38th / 38 at Daytona.

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Sunoco 159 Expected Starting Lineup:

Driver Changes/Ride Swaps/New Entries:

  • No. 51 – Alex Tagliani (was Chandler Smith at Michigan) – Starting 21st / 39  at Daytona.
  • No. 24 – Kris Wright (was David Gravel at Michigan) – Starting 26th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 40 – Carson Hocevar (was Ryan Truex at Michigan) – Starting 27th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 44 – Natalie Decker (was Jeb Burton at Michigan) – Starting 29th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 30 – Scott Lagasse, Jr. (was Brennan Poole at Michigan) – Starting 30th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 11 – Spencer Davis (withdrew from Michigan) – Starting 31st / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 00 – Bobby Kennedy (was Josh Reaume at Michigan) – Starting 33rd / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 33 – Bryan Collyer (was Jesse Iwuji at Michigan) – Starting 34th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 42 – Mark Smith (did not enter at Michigan) – Starting 35th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 68 – Bobby Reuse (was Clay Greenfield at Michigan) – Starting 36th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 49 – Roger Reuse (was Tim Viens at Michigan) – Starting 37th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 8 – Mike Skeen (was John Hunter Nemechek at Michigan) – Starting 38th / 39 at Daytona.
  • No. 83 – Tim Viens (was Ray Ciccarelli at Michigan) – Starting 39th / 39 at Daytona.

If you don’t want to do all of this math three times a weekend for the next three months, that’s okay too, as TobyChristie.com’s head statistician Joseph Srigley, will be posting the expected starting lineups on Twitter after the conclusion of post-race technical inspection.

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