Brad Keselowski will start on the pole for the Instacart 500, the fifth race of the 36-race 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
NASCAR’s formula for determining race starting grids that includes the car-owner points standings and results and fastest laps from the most recent race puts Kyle Larson next to Keselowski on the front row in the second starting spot. Larson won the previous weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“Part of me is surprised, but part of me is not,” Larson said of his Las Vegas win. “I thought it might take a little bit of time for us to gel as a team. But we had all the tools to run well and battle for wins, and we were able to win at Las Vegas. But that was last Sunday and our focus is now on Phoenix and what we can do to run well and, hopefully, win there.”
Immediately behind Keselowski and Larson on the starting grid will be three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. Hamlin and Bell will share the second row on the grid in the third and fourth starting positions. Truex will start fifth.
“I’m looking forward to Phoenix this weekend and getting back behind the wheel of my Joe Gibbs Racing Camry,” Hamlin said. “We have Offerpad on our Camry this weekend. It’s always exciting to welcome a new partner into our sport, and I’m thrilled to have them on board with us. Phoenix has historically been a pretty good track for our No. 11 team, so hopefully, we can continue to build on that success on Sunday. Offerpad is a local company in the Phoenix area, and it would be really cool to get them to victory lane at their home track this weekend.”
All four JGR drivers will lineup within the first four rows for the start of Sunday’s race, with Kyle Busch starting seventh. Busch will be separated from his teammates on the grid by sixth-place starter and reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott.
Elliott, the most recent Phoenix Race winner, will be one of three Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the top-10 for the green flag at Phoenix, along with Larson and 10th-place starter William Byron.
All three Team Penske drivers also will start in the top-10. Joining teammate Keselowski at or near the front for the start on Sunday will be Ryan Blaney in eighth and defending race winner Joey Logano in ninth.
As a result of struggles through the first four races of the season, Kevin Harvick, who leads all drivers with nine-career wins at Phoenix, will start 18th out of 38 cars Sunday.
“I would consider us a challenger at just about any race track that you go to, but you’re not gonna be that way all the time, so I think as we go to Phoenix, you expect to go there and perform well,” Harvick said.
INSTACART 500 STARTING GRID