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NASCAR News: Keselowski drawn on pole for NASCAR's Darlington return

Brad Keselowski will head the NASCAR field on its return to action this weekend at Darlington Raceway following the random draw used in the new event format

With NASCAR suspended since the fourth round at Phoenix in early March, a partial easing of lockdown restrictions in the United States has allowed officials to plot out a return to action with a four-race schedule split between Darlington and Charlotte.

During the build-up to this weekend's comeback event, NASCAR announced a revamped starting grid process without the standard qualifying format for the upcoming races, while all races at Darlington and Charlotte will be held behind closed doors with precautions taken to ensure the safety of all involved.

Three of the opening four revised NASCAR Cup Series rounds will be run without practice or qualifying, with only the Coca-Cola 600 on 24 May to host a time trial session.

The changes are in place to restrict potential exposure as part of the coronavirus health measures.

With no qualifying or practice, NASCAR adopted a random draw based off the owner's standings to decide the starting grid for this Sunday's race opener at Darlington Raceway.

Team Penske's Keselowski has landed pole position in the draw with Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports alongside him on the front row of the grid.

Ryan Newman, who tested at Darlington in order to gain medical clearance from NASCAR, will start 21st on his return from his horrific crash (above) at the Daytona 500.

The draw, which took place on NASCAR Race Hub, decided the grid in reverse order using lottery-style balls.

How the grid was decided

Positions 1-12: Determined by a random draw from charter teams in those positions in team owner points
Positions 13-24: Random draw among charter teams in those positions in owner points
Positions 25-36: Random draw among charter teams in those positions in owner points
Positions 37-40: Filled out by open, non-chartered teams in order of owner points

400-mile Darlington starting grid

Pos Driver Team Car
1 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford
2 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
3 Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing Ford
4 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
5 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
6 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
7 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford
8 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
9 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford
10 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
11 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
12 Matt Kenseth Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
13 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
14 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
15 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
16 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
17 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet
18 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
19 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing Ford
20 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
21 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford
22 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
23 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
24 Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing Ford
25 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
26 Garrett Smithley Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet
27 Quin Houff StarCom Racing Chevrolet
28 Christopher Bell Leavine Family Racing Toyota
29 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
30 J.J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing Ford
31 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford
32 Joey Gase Petty Ware Racing Ford
33 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet
34 John Hunter Nemechek Front Row Motorsports Ford
35 Brennan Poole Premium Motorsports Chevrolet
36 Reed Sorenson Spire Motorsports Chevrolet
37 Daniel Suarez Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota
38 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Toyota
39 B.J. McLeod BJ McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet
40 Josh Bilicki Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet

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