Facts and figures of the 2021 season

The 2021 NASCAR season is over.

On the first weekend of November, champions in all three series were crowned at Phoenix Raceway. Kyle Larson won the Cup Series title, Daniel Hemric won the Xfinity Series title, and Ben Rhodes won the Xfinity Series title.

NASCAR is already looking ahead to 2022 – Larson spent his Tuesday at the Los Angeles Coliseum promoting February’s exhibition race at the stadium. But we think it’s worth looking back at 2021 as the season is fresh in our minds. Here are some statistics from the most recent NASCAR season.

  • Kyle Larson’s 10 Cup Series wins are the most of any driver since Jimmie Johnson won 10 races and the championship in 2007.

  • Johnson led 1,290 laps that season. Larson led 2,581 laps in 2021.

  • Larson’s 2,581 laps in 2021 are the most a driver has led in a single season since Jeff Gordon led 2,610 laps in 1995.

  • Larson was the only driver to have 20 top-five finishes in 2021. He and Kevin Harvick in 2020 are the only drivers to have 20 top-fives in a season since three drivers achieved 20 or more top-five finishes in 2018.

  • Denny Hamlin (1,502) was the only other driver to lead more than 1,000 laps.

  • Hamlin achieved the best average finish (8.4) of all drivers in 2021 and was the only driver not to finish a single race.

  • Hamlin finished on the lead in 34 out of 36 races and completed all but four of 9,200 laps in 2021. He finished three laps behind Talladega after being involved in a crash and lap down in Nashville.

  • Eight drivers completed 9,000 or more laps. Seven of them made the playoffs. The only driver to complete more than 9,000 laps and miss the playoffs was Austin Dillon.

  • With there being no qualifying for most races in 2021, there were not as many opportunities for drivers at the front of the field to gain spots in races. Hamlin’s average finish was two spots worse than his average start and Larson’s average finish (9.1) was three spots worse than his average start. Among the drivers with an average start in the top 10, Kevin Harvick did the best to hold his position on the track. Harvick lost only 1.2 places per race with an average finish of 10.9.

  • Erik Jones and Chase Briscoe were the biggest movers of the season. Jones’ average finish of 19.7 was three spots better than his average starting spot. Briscoe’s average finish of 19.6 was 2.6 spots better than his average starting spot.

  • Of the drivers who started all 36 races, Quin Houff had the worst average finish and fewest preliminaries. Houff’s average finish was 32.4 and he finished on the lead in just five starts. He also drove the fewest laps of a full-time driver with 7,695 laps.

  • Ryan Newman only finished ahead of three full-time drivers in the standings. Only Corey LaJoie, Anthony Alfredo and Houff scored fewer points than Newman.

  • Newman’s 28th in the points was three spots worse than his 2020 finish. He missed three races in 2020 after his terrifying Daytona crash.

  • 32 drivers started all 36 races in 2021, while two others – Cody Ware and Justin Haley – had more than 30 starts.

  • The secret to making it to the playoffs is to regularly finish in the top 10. Eight drivers had 20 or more top 10s and they all made the playoffs. Six other drivers had 14 or more top 10s. They also all made the playoffs. The only playoff drivers with less than 14 top 10s came in with wins. Aric Almirola (New Hampshire) and Michael McDowell (Daytona 500) each had just five top-10 places.

  • McDowell’s average finish of 20.5 is the worst average finish by a playoff driver since Chris Buescher averaged 26.1 in 2016.

  • Daniel Hemric’s win in the final Xfinity Series race of the season not only earned him the title, but was also the first win of his career. He is the first driver in one of NASCAR’s top three series to take his first win of the season to win the title in the winner-take-all finals era.

  • Six Xfinity Series drivers took more wins than Hemric in 2021. Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger took five wins each. Part-time drivers Ty Gibbs (4) and Josh Berry (2) also took multiple wins each. Gibbs took his wins in just 18 starts.

  • Cindric was the only Xfinity Series driver to lead more than 1,000 laps. He led 1150 laps, almost 500 more than Hemric in second place on 663.

  • Hemric finished on the lead in all but two races. Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier were the only other drivers to lead for 30 laps.

  • Only 15 drivers competed in all 33 Xfinity Series races in 2021. Tommy Joe Martins was 20th in the points standings, scoring the fewest points of all drivers participating in each race.

  • Truck Series Champion Ben Rhodes (9.3) took the best average finish of all drivers in the series.

  • Twelve different drivers won Truck Series races. John Hunter Nemechek led the series with nine wins.

  • As many as 117 different drivers secured at least one Truck Series start over the 22 races of the season. Forty-eight of them had at least one top-10 finish.

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