Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Stat Sheet: Larson Two-Steps All Over the Competition in Texas

Larson closing in on first Cup title

Remember when Kyle Larson did something dumb and many wondered if his opportunity to compete in the Cup Series (or any NASCAR series for that matter) was gone? It seems like ages ago, and in some ways, it was. The world has changed a lot since then, as has Larson himself. After all, who doesn’t love a good redemption story? He appears to be riding a wave of destiny toward the Cup crown, and it’s tough to find too much evidence to the contrary.

To say that the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 team is having a year would be a massive understatement. Week after week, he takes the field out behind the woodshed and whips them ’til they can’t see straight. He’s piling up enough stats that he might get a vote or two for the Heisman trophy. OK maybe not, but his name tops the list in nearly every significant category for 2021.

Anyway, here are a few more notable numbers from the wild west.


Larson has started and finished first in three Cup races this season. While he has made it look pretty easy, it is not a common occurrence. No driver has won three Cup Series events from the number one starting spot since Jimmie Johnson did so in 2008. Larson still has the opportunity to add to that number, potentially equaling the four that Jeff Gordon piled up in a record-setting 1998 season.


Larson also led the final 218 laps of Sunday’s race, the most consecutive laps led by any driver at Texas Motor Speedway.


Everything is bigger in Texas, and apparently that extends to the wrecks. But the 12 cars involved in the crash on the backstretch was the biggest melee at TMS since the second lap ever run at the track. For anyone who watched the opening laps of the inaugural race on the 1.5-mile quad-oval, that will make sense. For those who missed the debut in 1997, 13 cars were swept up in a crash in turn 1 on the very first lap.

See also
Stock Car Scoop: What Caused NASCAR Chaos at Texas Motor Speedway?


The playoff format was implemented to endure a close battle for the championship as the year wound down. Larson will be locked in a tight battle when things are reset for Phoenix, but even without that, he still would be in a dogfight. If there were no playoffs, Larson and Denny Hamlin would be separated by exactly zero points in the standings with three races to go. That’s right. We would have a tie at the top. Although the rest of the competition would be mathematically eliminated so you can decide for yourself if it’s an enhancement or a detriment.


Ryan Blaney picked up his 19th top 10 of the year with his sixth place showing, a new career high for him in one season. Blaney is second in the playoff standings and stands a decent shot at making the championship four on points if he can avoid trouble for the next two weeks.


William Byron led 33 laps and finished runner up on Sunday, marking only the second top 10 in the past eight races for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. He also has finished on the lead lap in just three of those eight races.


In the seven playoff races completed thus far, Brad Keselowski has finished seventh or better in five of them. His lowest result so far is 20th, second best in that category among playoff contenders. Only Hamlin has done better, finishing no lower than 11th in the seven playoff races.


Truck standout John Hunter Nemechek picked up the Xfinity Series win at Texas. Nemechek is not an Xfinity playoff driver, which guarantees that at least two drivers will make the championship four on points, something that has happened every year in the series since they began using the current format in 2017.

About the author

Frank Velat has been an avid follower of NASCAR and other motorsports for over 20 years. He brings a blend of passionate fan and objective author to his work. Frank offers unique perspectives that everyone can relate to, remembering the sport's past all the while embracing its future. Follow along with @FrankVelat on Twitter.

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