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NASCAR's qualifying draws are making Aric Almirola is the luckiest man in the Cup Series

Nick Bromberg
·3-min read

Aric Almirola is the luckiest driver in NASCAR.

Almirola will start first for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire after he drew the pole for the race. It’s the third time in six races that Almirola has drawn the pole in NASCAR’s modified random draw format and the sixth straight race where Almirola has started in the top five thanks to the random draw.

With no practice or qualifying ahead of races after NASCAR resumed competition in May amid the coronavirus pandemic, the sanctioning body decided to go with a lottery for starting positions. The draw breaks the 36 charter teams — cars with guaranteed starting spots in every race — into three pots of 12. The top-12 cars in the standings draw for the top-12 spots, Nos. 13-24 for those starting spots and then Nos. 25-36 for those spots with non-charter teams filling out the field.

Almirola has been in the top 12 of the points standings for each of the last six races where the draw has been used (the second Pocono race lineup was based on the finishing order of the first). His starting positions in those races are first, fifth, fourth, first, third and first.

That’s some incredible luck to draw in the top half of the top 12 in six straight races, let alone draw the top spot in three of those six races. And Almirola’s luck has been even better than that since the qualifying format was implemented in May.

Aric Almirola's car is seen heading down the front stretch.
Aric Almirola heads down the front stretch during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Ray Carlin)

Almirola hasn’t drawn any lower than 6th when in top 12

New Hampshire is the 14th race since NASCAR resumed racing at Darlington on May 17. Almirola has been eligible to draw the pole in 10 of those races … and he’s never drawn anything lower than sixth.

Almirola started fifth at Darlington on May 17 and then second at Bristol for the next random draw event on May 31. He followed that up with a second at Atlanta and a second at Martinsville before he was ineligible for the top 12 after a battery problem at the short track.

Almirola then spent two races outside the top 12 before jumping back in with a third-place finish at Talladega. That propelled him to drawing the pole for the first Pocono race.

Will this qualifying luck eventually get Almirola a win? We can’t guarantee that. Almirola is winless so far in 2020.

Here’s the starting lineup for Sunday’s race.

1. Aric Almirola

2. Denny Hamlin

3. Chase Elliott

4. Brad Keselowski

5. Kyle Busch

6. Clint Bowyer

7. Kevin Harvick

8. Alex Bowman

9. Joey Logano

10. Kurt Busch

11. Martin Truex Jr.

12. Ryan Blaney

13. Tyler Reddick

14. Cole Custer

15. Bubba Wallace

16. William Byron

17. Erik Jones

18. Michael McDowell

19. Matt DiBenedetto

20. Jimmie Johnson

21. Matt Kenseth

22. Ryan Newman

23. Austin Dillon

24. Chris Buescher

25. Ty Dillon

26. James Davison

27. Garrett Smithley

28. Joey Gase

29. JJ Yeley

30. Ryan Preece

31. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

32. Quin Houff

33. Corey LaJoie

34. Brennan Poole

35. Christopher Bell

36. John Hunter Nemechek

37. Daniel Suarez

38. Timmy Hill

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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