Southern 500 starting lineup: Ryan Blaney on pole

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Ryan Blaney, who has won the past two races, will lead the Southern 500 starting lineup to the green flag in Sunday’s Cup playoff opener at Darlington Raceway (6 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Blaney won last weekend’s race at Daytona and won the previous week at Michigan. He’ll be joined on the front row at Darlington by Denny Hamlin.

Kurt Busch starts third. The next three starting spots go to Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson, the regular season champion.

The top 16 starting spots are reserved for playoff drivers. Bubba Wallace starts 17th, highest of the non-playoff drivers.

MORE: Southern 500 starting lineup

The Southern 500 starting lineup is set by using a formula based on four statistical categories: owner points position, owner final race position, and the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

Performance Metrics Qualifying is a formula based on the previous race. The formula is 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position. Any ties will be broken by the rule book.

Southern 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway   

Race time: 6 p.m. ET Sunday

Track: Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile speedway)

Forecast: The wunderground.com forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, a high of 87 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain.

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)

Starting lineup: Southern 500 starting lineup

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Darlington Raceway (147 laps, 200.1 miles), 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Sunday at Darlington Raceway (147 laps, 200.1 miles), 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1