Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Wins Alone Don’t Capture Kyle Larson’s Intermediate Dominance

On Sunday (Oct. 15), Kyle Larson held on to the skin of his teeth against Christopher Bell to score a dominant, Championship 4-clinching victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the South Point 400.

The win was the 23rd of Larson’s NASCAR Cup Series career and the fourth of his 2023 season, and Las Vegas became the fifth track where he’s recorded more than one win.

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The other four? A mixture of 2-mile ovals (Auto Club Speedway and Michigan International Speedway), a short track (Richmond Raceway) and a road course (Watkins Glen International). Between these types of tracks, Larson has recorded 13 of the 23 wins in his Cup career.

Intermediate tracks – used in this column to denote tracks between 1- and 1.5 miles in length – have been Larson’s bread and butter since joining the Cup Series. He’s run well on them and finished well on them, but winning has often eluded him.

On paper, that sounds like a ridiculous statement. He now has 10 Cup wins on intermediate tracks, and nine of them have come since he joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2021.

And make no mistake, 10 wins is nothing to scoff at; it’s just that a deep dive into his career statistics shows that he has been in contention to win many, many more.

TrackLengthStartsWinsLaps LedMost Laps Led2nd-Place Finishes
Atlanta1.54012042322
Charlotte1.50014139910
Chicago1.500603602
Darlington1.36612177033
Dover1.00015189923
Gateway1.25020500
Homestead1.5009152931
Kansas1.50018163953
Kentucky1.50060001
Las Vegas1.50015244724
Nashville1.3333126410
New Hampshire1.0581302203
Phoenix1.00018138221
Texas1.50016144811
Total159105,2632224

Larson’s 10 intermediate wins have come in 159 career starts. What has also come in his 159 starts are 24 runner-up finishes, 62 top-five finishes, 5,263 laps led and 22 races where he led the most laps.

To put all those numbers into better context: Larson’s wins on intermediates combine for 43.5% (10/23) of his career total.

  • 43.5% (10/23) of Larson’s wins have come on intermediates.
  • 48.5% (159/328) of Larson’s starts have come on intermediates.
  • 70.5% (5,263/7,460) of Larson’s laps led have come on intermediates.
  • 60.2% (62/103) of Larson’s career top-five finishes have come on intermediates.
  • 68.8% (22/32) of the races where Larson led the most laps have come on intermediates.
  • 70.6% (24/34) of Larson’s runner-up finishes have come on intermediates.
  • Larson has more runner-up finishes on intermediates (24) than he has wins in his entire career (23).

If there’s one thing to take away from the above list, it’s domination. Absolute domination. Domination to where 10 wins doesn’t do justice to how much of a force Larson has been on intermediate tracks in his entire Cup career.

It’s also a rare sight to see Larson come away with an intermediate win without leading the most laps, as he’s only accomplished the feat twice: Dover Motor Speedway in October 2019, where he led 154 of the 400 (Denny Hamlin led 218), and this year’s Southern 500, where he led 55 of the 367.

The rest of Larson’s intermediate wins have come in races where he led the most laps, of which he is 8-for-22 (36.4%) in sealing the deal with a win.

DateTrackLaps Led%Finish
Nov. 2016Homestead132/26849.32
June 2017Dover241/40659.42
Sept. 2017Darlington124/36733.814
Nov. 2017Homestead145/26754.33
May 2018Kansas101/26737.84
Sept. 2018Darlington284/36777.43
Feb. 2019Atlanta142/32543.712
March 2021Las Vegas103/26738.6Win
March 2021Atlanta269/32582.82
May 2021Kansas132/26749.419
May 2021Dover263/40065.82
May 2021Charlotte327/40081.8Win
June 2021Nashville264/30088.0Win
Sept. 2021Darlington156/36742.52
Oct. 2021Texas256/33476.6Win
Oct. 2021Kansas130/26748.7Win
Nov. 2021Phoenix107/31234.3Win
Oct. 2022Homestead199/26774.5Win
March 2023Phoenix201/31663.64
May 2023Kansas85/26731.82
Sept. 2023Kansas99/26737.14
Oct. 2023Las Vegas133/26749.8Win

History shows that when Larson has the dominant car, he will more than likely finish up front, win or lose. Alongside the eight wins, Larson has finished between second and fourth in 11 other races where he led the most laps.

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What’s also important to note, is that when leading the most laps on an intermediate track, Larson was 1-for-11 in winning the race to start out his career. The lone win was his first victory at Vegas – and his first at Hendrick – in March 2021. Among the losses were the 2018 Southern 500 and the 2021 Atlanta Motor Speedway 500-miler, where Larson led more than 75% of the race only to come home empty both times.

After a career of dominant performances and near misses, Larson put the perfect race together in a 2021 Coca-Cola 600 that saw him lead north of 300 laps.

And that’s all it took for the floodgates to open.

Ever since that Coke 600 victory, Larson is now 7-for-11 in winning an intermediate race where he leads the most laps. That race also kickstarted his 2021 reign of terror, as he won nine of the final 22 races en route to his first Cup championship.

After years of multiple near misses for Larson in his beginnings at Chip Ganassi Racing, he, crew chief Cliff Daniels and the No. 5 team are firing on all cylinders and turning race-long speed into a plethora of wins.

And as the field approaches Homestead-Miami Speedway, one of Larson’s best tracks, and the championship finale at Phoenix Raceway – where Larson led more than 200 laps in the spring – that’s only bad news for the rest of the competition.

About the author

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Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch and is a three-year veteran of the site. His weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” He also writes commentary, contributes to podcasts, edits articles and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage.

Can find on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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All those stats for Kyle look good going into and including the championship race. Hope Kyle learned that his buddy Hamlin will wreck him for the win. I’m sure Jeff and his crew chief will remind him constantly.

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