gettyimages-1348819414.jpg
Getty Images

If the Round of 8 of the NASCAR playoffs is any indication -- let alone the entire 2021 season -- this year's Cup Series Championship is Kyle Larson's to lose. He can continue his latest streak of dominance by winning his fourth-straight race and sweep the Round of 8.

On Wednesday, NASCAR released the starting lineup for this weekend's Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway, putting Larson on the pole by virtue of NASCAR's qualifying metric. The qualifying metric sets the starting lineup through a formula that accounts for a driver's finish and fastest lap from the previous race as well as their points position.

After winning his third-straight race at Kansas, Larson is the only driver to have secured a spot in the Championship 4 heading into this Sunday's elimination race. Flanking him on the outside of the front row will be Chase Elliott, who won this race a year ago to advance to the Championship 4 on his way to his first Cup title.

It should be noted that this will be the final week that the qualifying metric, which was introduced in the absence of practice and qualifying following NASCAR's post-pandemic return in May of 2020, will be used to set the starting lineup. Traditional time trial qualifying will return next weekend at Phoenix Raceway and is expected to once again be the standard moving forward.

Xfinity 500 starting lineup

1. #5 - Kyle Larson
2. #9 - Chase Elliott
3. #11 - Denny Hamlin
4. #19 - Martin Truex Jr.
5. #22 - Joey Logano
6. #2 - Brad Keselowski
7. #18 - Kyle Busch
8. #12 - Ryan Blaney
9. #4 - Kevin Harvick
10. #1 - Kurt Busch
11. #24 - William Byron
12. #20 - Christopher Bell
13. #48 - Alex Bowman
14. #3 - Austin Dillon
15. #17 - Chris Buescher
16. #42 - Ross Chastain
17. #23 - Bubba Wallace
18. #8 - Tyler Reddick
19. #34 - Michael McDowell
20. #99 - Daniel Suarez
21. #21 - Matt DiBenedetto
22. #14 - Chase Briscoe (R)
23. #10 - Aric Almirola
24. #41 - Cole Custer
25. #47 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
26. #37 - Ryan Preece
27. #6 - Ryan Newman
28. #43 - Erik Jones
29. #7 - Corey LaJoie
30. #78 - B.J. McLeod
31. #51 - Cody Ware
32. #38 - Anthony Alfredo (R)
33. #52 - Josh Bilicki
34. #53 - Joey Gase
35. #77 - Justin Haley
36. #00 - Quin Houff
37. #15 - Garrett Smithley
38. #66 - Timmy Hill