Chase Elliott will start first in Daytona road course race

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NASCAR's road racing king is getting to start first at the Daytona road course.

Chase Elliott will lead the field to green on Sunday in the first race of 2021 with a starting lineup set by NASCAR's qualifying formula. Just eight of 36 points races will have practice and qualifying this season and those races will use a formula to decide where each driver starts.

The formula consists of four parts: A driver’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent), the car’s finishing position from the previous event (25 percent), where the team is in owner points (35 percent) and the driver’s fastest lap from the previous race (15 percent). The driver with the lowest combined number starts first.

Elliott was second to Michael McDowell in the rain-delayed Daytona 500. McDowell will start alongside him on the front row.

Elliott, the defending Cup Series champion, has won the last four Cup Series points races on road courses dating back to the 2019 race at Watkins Glen. He came close to winning the exhibition Busch Clash a week ago but his last-ditch pass attempt on Ryan Blaney resulted in a collision that allowed Kyle Busch to win.

The Daytona road course race is on the schedule for the second consecutive season as a substitute race because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 race was added to the schedule because NASCAR was unable to race at Watkins Glen. Sunday's race was swapped in for NASCAR's annual trip to Auto Club Speedway in California.

Chase Elliott leans on his car on pit road while waiting for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Chase Elliott is going for his fifth-straight road course win. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Starting lineup

1. Chase Elliott

2. Michael McDowell

3. Austin Dillon

4. Denny Hamlin

5. Kevin Harvick

6. Ryan Preece

7. Corey LaJoie

8. Kyle Larson

9. Ross Chastain

10. Bubba Wallace

11. Joey Logano

12. Christopher Bell

13. Cole Custer

14. Kyle Busch

15. Brad Keselowski

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17. Kurt Busch

18. Chase Briscoe

19. Martin Truex Jr.

20. Justin Haley

21. Cody Ware

23. William Byron

23. Josh Bilicki

24. Tyler Reddick

25. Garrett Smithley

26. Aric Almirola

27. Ryan Blaney

28. Scott Heckert

29. Quin Houff

30. Chris Buescher

31. Anthony Alfredo

32. Matt DiBenedetto

33. Ryan Newman

34. AJ Allmendinger

35. Daniel Suarez

36. Alex Bowman

37. Erik Jones

38. Ty Dillon

39. James Davison

40. Timmy Hill

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