Chase Elliott will start from Cup pole at Darlington to open playoffs

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Chase Elliott will lead the starting lineup to the green flag in Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway that will open the 2020 Cup playoffs.

Denny Hamlin will start second. The second row will be Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron, who scored his first victory in NASCAR’s premier series at Daytona, and Alex Bowman.

Here are the starting positions for the rest of the 16 playoff drivers: Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Cole Custer, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch.

STARTING LINEUP: Where everyone will start in the Southern 500 at Darlington

BY ROW: Click here BY CAR NUMBER: Click here

Elliott was awarded the Busch Pole Award using a formula based on four statistical categories: owner points position and the driver’s finish, team owner’s finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

With the playoffs beginning at Darlington, playoff cars will fill the top starting positions, according to how many remain eligible for the championship. In the Round of 16, the top 16 starting positions will be playoff cars; in the Round of 12, the top 12 starting positions will be playoff cars, etc..

NASCAR previously had used a random draw to set most of its lineups since returning in May during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has eliminated practice and qualifying on most race weekends.

This will mark the fourth time Elliott has started first this season. The No. 9 Chevrolet also led the field to the green flag at Dover International Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway (where Elliott qualified on the pole).

Click here for the Darlington Cup starting lineup for Sunday.

NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington 

Race Time: 6 p.m. ET Sunday

Track: Darlington Raceway; Darlington, South Carolina (1.366-mile speedway)

Length: 367 laps (501.3 miles)

Stages: Stage 1 ends Lap 115. Stage 2 ends Lap 230.

TV coverage: NBCSN

Radio: Motor Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: NBC Sports app (subscription required); mrn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Darlington  (147 laps, 200.1 miles), 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Next Truck race: Sunday at Darlington (147 laps, 200.1 miles), 2 p.m. ET on FS1