Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Historic Finish an Exclamation Point on Kyle Larson’s Kansas Dominance

After witnessing the closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history — a finish so close that the transponder of the second-place car tripped NASCAR’s timing and scoring first — you’d think this column would be about the closest finishes in the history of Cup, right?

Well, I already covered that after Daniel Suarez beat second-place Ryan Blaney and third-place Kyle Busch to the finish line by 0.003 and 0.007 seconds, respectively, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February. I again touched on the closest finishes in NASCAR’s top three divisions after Sam Mayer beat Ryan Sieg to the line by 0.002 seconds in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in April.

What more is there to say, other than to marvel at the privilege of seeing not one, not two, but three of the closest finishes in NASCAR history in just the span of nine weeks?

See also
Stock Car Scoop: A 0.001-Second Margin of Victory

You do have to feel for Chris Buescher and the RFK Racing No. 17 team. The transponder picked them up as the winner and they began celebrating the win that ultimately wasn’t. Sunday’s (May 5) Advent Health 400 marked yet another agonizing defeat for Ford in a 0-for-30 drought to start the season and the manufacturer has now lost three races this year by a combined 0.006 seconds.

Three races where a Ford led at the white flag, only to lose out 12 turns later by mere inches.

But the night belonged to Kyle Larson, who picked up a milestone 25th Cup victory and dethroned Ricky Craven as the winner of the closest finish in Cup history.

And who else would it be but Larson in victory lane? He’s quickly putting together a dominant season, with two wins, five top-three finishes, six stage wins, 143 stage points and 634 laps led in the first 12 races. He currently leads the regular season standings with a 29-point lead over Martin Truex Jr., and at his current rate, Larson would be on pace to lead 1,902 laps this season. It’s a mark that would shatter the 1,127 laps he led last year, which marks the most led by any driver through the first two seasons of the Next Gen car.

Sunday also marks Larson’s second win at Kansas since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. He’s been absolute money every time he hits the track.

He’s the only two-time winner at Kansas since the start of his Hendrick tenure and in his last seven starts in the Heartland, Larson has led the most laps four times, has had the highest average running position (ARP) of all drivers three times and has had the most fastest laps of all drivers twice (races where he led the field in said statistic are bolded and colored red in the chart below).

Kansas RaceFinishARPFastest LapsLaps Led
May 202119th367132
Oct. 20211st236130
May 20222nd61929
Sept. 20228th970
May 20232nd73085
Sept. 20234th75099
May 20241st32864

Larson’s led 539 laps in his last seven Kansas starts, which amounts to 28.8% of all the total laps he’s run.

When looking at the drivers who have had led the most laps at Kansas since 2021, no one even comes close to total that Larson’s put up.

DriverKansas Laps Led (Since ’21)WinsStarts
Kyle Larson53927
Denny Hamlin17517
Kurt Busch12013
Alex Bowman10706
Chase Elliott10407
Martin Truex Jr.10307
William Byron10107
Tyler Reddick10017
Brad Keselowski9807
But that’s just par for the course when it comes to 1.5-mile tracks for Larson.

Starting with his dominant victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2022, Larson has scored four wins, led 1,097 laps and led the most laps seven times in his last 11 starts on 1.5-mile tracks for an average of 99.7 laps led per race.

And in all but one occasion, Larson either won, finished in the top five or crashed out.

See also
NASCAR Mailbox: Taking Stock in the Playoff Market
DateTrackFinishLaps LedTotal Laps of Race
Oct. 2022Homestead1st199267
March 2023Las Vegas2nd63271
May 2023Kansas2nd85267
May 2023Charlotte30th (crash)1400
Sept. 2023Kansas4th99268
Sept. 2023Texas31st (crash)99267
Oct. 2023Las Vegas1st133267
Oct. 2023Homestead34th (crash)96267
March 2024Las Vegas1st181267
April 2024Texas21st77276
May 2024Kansas1st64268

Talk about domination.

And what’s the next 1.5-mile track on the schedule? The Coca-Cola 600, where Larson will be the first NASCAR driver since Kurt Busch in 2014 to attempt double duty at the 600 and the Indianapolis 500.

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.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via