With Pocono Raceway hosting the only doubleheader on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, the grid for Sunday’s race — the second race of the weekend — will feature a unique departure from how all other race grids are being set this season. Rather than being based on a convoluted formula, traditional qualifying or qualifying races, the first 20 positions on the starting grid for Race No. 2 at Pocono will be a complete invert from the finishing order in Race No. 1.
In other words, the driver who finishes 20th on Saturday will start first on Sunday. The driver who takes the checkered flag second on Saturday will start 19th on Sunday, and so on. As for what all this means in terms of strategy, it’s pretty simple: On Saturday, there’s going to be a race within the race to see who can finish 20th or at least in the back half of the top 20. The driver who finishes 21st on Saturday will start in the same position on Sunday and will therefore be the unluckiest driver in Pennsylvania.
Well, except for perhaps any driver and team that are forced to change engines after the first race. An engine change between races will result in a driver starting Race No. 2 from the back of the field. And, as strung out as the field tends to get at Pocono — a 2.5-mile triangular-shaped layout featuring three distinct turns, all with different degrees of banking — a good starting position is pretty important.