The Independence Day NASCAR Cup Series race at Road America did more than celebrate America’s birthday. It also marked the 20th race of the 2021 NASCAR season. Just six more events remain over the next two months before the playoffs commence. With 20 races in the books, now marks a good time to analyze the updated NASCAR stats. Like any other sport, statistics are very important in NASCAR. They can help explain what we have seen in previous races as well as shed some light on what might be in store in the weeks to come.
The following provides a full list of updated NASCAR stats and analysis after Road America.
NASCAR Cup Series Stats Update
Refer to the table below which includes several different NASCAR Cup Series stats through the first five races of the season. The table is sortable by driver and statistic for your viewing convenience. Commentary on several notable stats can be found below.
Note: Only drivers running a full-time Cup Series schedule are included in the table.
|Car Number||Driver||Average Finish||Driver Rating||Pass Differential||% Laps Led|
|19||Martin Truex Jr.||12.8||97.6||+210||11.9|
|47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||19.0||69.2||+64||0.5|
The average finish statistic is the mean finishing position of the drivers across all races in 2021. As he continues to maintain the lead in this NASCAR stats category through 20 races, one has to believe that the anomaly is the goose egg in the wins column for Denny Hamlin. He is the only driver to average a top-10 finish through 20 races, checking in at 8.4. After finishing top-2 in eight of nine races, Kyle Larson (10.1) has jumped up into second in average finish on the season. Kyle Busch (10.6) has made a move up to third after three straight top-3 runs. Chase Elliott (10.7) and Joey Logano (10.8) round out the top five and those drivers with a sub-11 average finish.
Curiously enough, one has to go a bit further down the average finish NASCAR stats column to find either of Martin Truex Jr. (13.3) or Alex Bowman (14.8). With those two drivers tied for second behind Larson with three wins apiece, it’s a bit surprising to not see them rank higher in average finish for the season. Chalk it up to inconsistency. Indeed, the No. 48 had several tough runs earlier in the year. The same can be said for Truex and the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing camp in recent weeks. Could such inconsistencies come back to haunt either driver in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs?
The Driver Rating statistic is often one of the best indicators of exactly how well a NASCAR Cup Series driver is performing. With so much happening within a race, it makes sense to have a quantifiable statistic that is based on a combination of factors. A maximum of 150 Driver Rating points are available in a single race. Of course, it would require a perfect run to obtain a full 150. The Driver Rating formula combines the following:
- Finishing Position
- Top-15 Finish
- Average Position While Running on the Lead Lap
- Average Speed Under Green
- Fastest Laps
- Most Laps Led
- Lead-Lap Finishing Position
🔊 Listen to Burnt Rubber Racing on wherever you get your podcasts!
Considering the fact that he has the most wins and laps led this season, it’s no surprise that Kyle Larson (109.7) has overtaken Denny Hamlin (108.2) for the top spot in average driver rating. One thing that is noteworthy relative to the last time we updated NASCAR Cup Series stats and standings is that the list of drivers with an average rating of 100 or better continues to shrink. Through 20 races, only three drivers can claim such distinction. Kyle Busch (100.6) rounds out the trio while William Byron (99.9) is just a hair below the triple-digit threshold.
The Pass Differential statistic indicates how many positions a driver has won or lost by way of passing over the course of a race. Those who have completed a greater number of green flag passes than they have been passed will have a positive number in this NASCAR Cup Series stats category. On the contrary, a driver who has been passed more times than he has passes completed will have a negative number.
Hendrick Motorsports has been the team to beat this season, with Chevrolets seeming to really be a step ahead of the other manufacturers across the board. Well, all four HMS drivers rank in the top-7 when it comes to pass differential. Kyle Larson (+251) and Chase Elliott (+243) hold a sizable lead over third-place driver Martin Truex Jr. (+141). Meanwhile, Alex Bowman (+82) and William Byron (+65) sit fifth and tied for seventh in this NASCAR stats category, respectively.
With that being said, the power of the NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolets this season is evident even beyond the Hendrick Motorsports foursome. Consider the rest of the top-10 in pass differential through 20 races. Byron shares seventh with another Camaro driver in Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch (+65). Add in JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+58) and the second CGR car of Ross Chastain (+51) and seven of the top ten drivers in this statistic driver Chevrolets. That number increases to nine of the top 13 when one adds in Tyler Reddick (+51) and Ryan Preece (+49). Talk about being a step ahead of the competition under the hood.
Percentage of Laps Led
The percentage of laps led is calculated by dividing the sum of laps that a driver has led by the total number of laps that they have completed. With 1441 laps led this season, Kyle Larson has turned nearly twice as many circuits out in front as the second-place driver on this list! Such dominance has only seen the No. 5 car expand its lead in the percentage of laps led. At 30.5%, Larson has led just under one-third of all NASCAR Cup Series laps completed this season.
Once again, the winless season of Denny Hamlin continues to be a head-scratcher considering he has led the second-most laps of all drivers in 2021. His 768 circuits turned on the point calculate to 15.6% of all laps this season. Like the driver rating NASCAR stats column, we see a bit of a widening disparity in percentage of laps led as this season has gone on. Martin Truex Jr. (13.3%) joins Larson and Hamlin as the only other driver who has led more than 10% of laps completed in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Looking further down the list, we find further evidence that the top drivers and cars are separating themselves as this season has gone on. Only three other drivers can claim to have led 5% of laps this season through 20 races. Joey Logano (7.5%) and Ryan Blaney (5.1%) combine to get Team Penske and Ford manufacturer some representation on this list. William Byron (5.0%) rounds out the six drivers.
Underdog Fantasy is a new type of DFS that combines the fun of season-long drafts with daily fantasy sports. Aside from their fun, addictive draft mode, Underdog Fantasy also has pick’em player props for many different sports and athletes!