Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Las Vegas, a Track That Foreshadows Success?

Stat Sheet is a returning column for Frontstretch that will discuss notable statistics and trends for races and the drivers competing in them. Each column will analyze the results of the previous NASCAR weekend and then provide an outlook for the upcoming weekend. The final columns of the year will analyze the championship race at Phoenix Raceway with a review of the entire 2023 season the following week.

Past Vegas Winners Hitting the Jackpot

There have been 30 NASCAR Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway prior to Sunday (March 5). The track has had two dates since the start of 2018.

Of the 30 winners over the last 25 years:

  • Eight of them went on to win the championship that season (including Joey Logano last year).
  • 18 of them went on to score a top-three points finish that season.
  • 22 of them went on to score a top-five points finish that season.
  • Eight of them went on to win at least seven races that season.
  • 13 of them went on to win at least five races that season.
  • 22 of them went on to win at least three races that season.

Only four times has a win at Vegas been a driver’s lone win that season. Those four are Matt Kenseth in 2003 (won championship), Carl Edwards in 2011 (lost championship on a tiebreaker), Kurt Busch in 2020 and Alex Bowman in 2022.

William Byron, last Sunday’s winner, scored a career-best two wins and a career-best sixth-place points finish in 2022. Will he surpass either of those marks in 2023?

See also
The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2023 Pennzoil 400

Vegas By the Numbers

176: The number of laps that Byron led en route to victory.

  • It’s the highest percentage of laps (64.9) that Byron has led in a single Cup race and the second-most laps that he has led in a single race behind 212 at Martinsville Speedway last April.
  • Byron is now 4-for-5 in winning Cup races while leading triple digits. His only loss so far has been at Richmond Raceway last April, where he finished third after leading 122.
  • With considerable time out front, Byron won both stages for the first time in his Cup career and scored the maximum 60 points available.

80%: Byron’s win rate when he leads at least 100 laps in a Cup race.

  • He won at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2021 (102 led), Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2022 (111), Martinsville in 2022 (212) and now Las Vegas in 2023 (176).
  • His only loss so far has been at Richmond last April, where he finished third after leading 122.
  • Four of Byron’s five Cup wins have seen him lead triple digits. The only that wasn’t was his first career win at Daytona International Speedway in 2020, where he led 24.

14: The number of times a team has finished a race 1-2-3 or better in the Cup Series since 1997.

  • Sunday was the first 1-2-3 finish by an organization since September 2021, where Joe Gibbs Racing swept the podium at Richmond Raceway.
  • The top three have been swept by RFK Racing five times, Hendrick Motorsports three times, Joe Gibbs Racing three times, Stewart-Haas Racing twice and Richard Childress Racing once.
  • Two of the 14 1-2-3 finishes were sweeps of 1-2-3-4: Hendrick Motorsports at Dover Motor Speedway in 2021 and RFK Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2005.

4: The number of Cup races – including last weekend – that Kyle Larson has lost in overtime that he would’ve won if they ended at the scheduled distance.

  • The three prior losses for Larson were at Homestead in November 2016, Dover in May 2017 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2022.
  • Twice has Larson entered overtime as the leader and went on to win the race: Auto Club Speedway in March 2017 and Sonoma Raceway in June 2021.
  • Conversely, Larson has won two races through overtime that he wouldn’t have won if they ended at regulation: Michigan International Speedway in August 2017 and Richmond in September 2017.

4: The number of stage points, out of a possible 110, that Ford drivers combined to score in Vegas.

  • Yes, you read that right. Four out of 110.
  • Not a single Ford driver had an average running position (ARP) better than 11th.
  • Only Austin Cindric (sixth), Harvick (ninth) and Ryan Blaney (13th) finished in the top 15.

Xfinity Series Synopsis

2.8: The combined average finish between Austin Hill (1-6-1), John Hunter Nemechek (2-1-6) and Justin Allgaier (3-3-2) in the first three races of the 2023 season.

  • The trio has scored seven of the possible nine top-three finishes to start off the year.

3: The number of wins that Hill has at Las Vegas between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

  • Saturday (March 4) was Hill’s first Xfinity win on a track that was not overly reliant on drafting and pack racing.
  • Hill made the final pass for the lead against a driver who had led more than half the race in all three wins.

1: The number of drivers that have won at a non-superspeedway for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series.

  • That one driver? AJ Allmendinger. Everyone else had either won at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway for Kaulig.
  • Chandler Smith was just two laps away from joining that list on Saturday.
    • With a pole, 118 laps led and a third-place finish on Saturday, Smith turned heads by outrunning teammate Kyle Busch and nearly scoring a dominant victory in his sixth career start.

Up Next: Phoenix Raceway

Will Ford Be Able to Right the Ship?

It’s been a struggle for the Blue Ovals outside of the Daytona 500, but Phoenix presents the perfect opportunity for the manufacturer to turn its season around.

  • Ford drivers combined to lead 558 of a possible 624 laps at Phoenix in 2022.
  • The manufacturer swept the year with Chase Briscoe scoring his first career win and Logano scoring his second championship.

However, this weekend will also mark the debut of NASCAR’s new aero package for the Next Gen car at short tracks, 1-mile tracks and road courses. Will Ford’s dominance continue despite the changes? There’s only one way to find out.

See also
Stock Car Scoop: What Is Wrong With the Fords?

Will This Race Give a Preview of Title Favorites for the Championship 4?

Since becoming the championship race in 2020, no champion has won both Phoenix races in the same season.

However, both champions and non-champions have come close to pulling off the sweep.

  • Chase Elliott led the most laps at Phoenix in March 2020 and finished seventh. He then led the most laps en route to the championship in November.
  • Logano won at Phoenix in March 2020 and finished third in November after leading 125 laps.
  • Martin Truex Jr. won at Phoenix in March 2021 and finished second in November after leading 72 laps.
  • Although he wasn’t in the Championship 4 and didn’t win either race, Blaney finished top five in both Phoenix races last season while leading a combined 252 laps.

With the same aero package being used in November, this race will provide a sneak peek – but not a blueprint – of what to expect at the end of the year.

Other Stats to Know

Harvick is the all-time wins leader at Phoenix with nine.

  • Harvick has also finished in the top 10 in the last 19 races at Phoenix, a Cup Series record for any driver at a single track.
  • However, he has not won at Phoenix since 2018 and has only led 68 laps since the start of the 2020s decade.

Eight active drivers have recorded a win at Phoenix: Briscoe, Busch, Elliott, Hamlin, Harvick, Larson, Logano and Truex.

The driver that led the most laps has won six of the last nine races.

Blaney has led the most laps (429) at Phoenix of the active drivers who have yet to win.

Stay Tuned

The United Rental Work United 500 at Phoenix will take place on Sunday, March 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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