DARLINGTON, S.C. – Chase Elliott will open the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs from the best seat in the house Sunday evening at Darlington Raceway.
Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, earned the pole for the 71st annual Cook Out Southern 500 thanks to NASCAR’s metric starting lineup formula.
He finished second in the regular-season finale at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway, had the third-fastest lap and ranks fifth in the reseeded point standings entering the playoffs.
Denny Hamlin will join Elliott on the front row Sunday, starting second for the final crown-jewel event of the season. He’s competing in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series this weekend and is a two-time Southern 500 winner (2010, 2017).
Daytona winner William Byron and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Alex Bowman, share the second row of the grid. Brad Keselowski, in a Team Penske Ford, starts fifth.
Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, point leader Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola, who signed a contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing Tuesday, fill out the top 10.
The 16 playoff drivers make up the first eight rows of the grid based on their metric scores. Non-playoff drivers complete the remainder of the field in the same fashion.
Bubba Wallace, with the best metric score of the non-playoff contenders, starts 17th.
To view the complete starting lineup, click here.
The 71st Cook Out Southern 500 takes the green flag Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, with live coverage on NBCSN, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.