When it comes to setting the field for the playoffs and even the playoffs themselves NASCAR has a unique setup like no other.  Only in motorsports do the playoff drivers find themselves in the middle of a field filled with playoff drivers and non-playoff drivers together.

Racing itself provides some interesting opportunities for drivers to earn points toward the playoffs…even when a driver does not win a race.  As a result, there are some very interesting statistics that appear in the record books.

In the 2021 NASCAR season the Cup Series drivers ran a total of 9,200 laps and while all four of the drivers who competed for the championship racked up hundreds of laps led, it was 2021 champion Kyle Larson who topped the list by leading nearly a quarter of the laps with 2,581 on his way to racking up 10 race wins.

While Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch won only two of the 36 races run in the Cup Series in 2021, he had no trouble when it came to racing…and winning his 10 races in the Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity Series.  After winning half of the Truck Series races driving for his own team, Busch notched Truck Series win number 60.  In the Xfinity Series, Busch secured career win number 100 and cemented his spot in the record books for the driver with the most wins ever.  He now has a total of 222 career wins across all three of the NASCAR series – Truck, Xfinity, and Cup.

After multiple race wins in 2020, Kevin Harvick failed to cross the finish line first in 2021 or even earn a playoff point; however, it did not stop him from making it into the playoffs before just missing out a spot in the final four.  Oddly enough, Harvick finished the season in the same spot in 2021 as he did in 2020 with nine wins…fifth.

Proving that the only thing that matters is crossing the finish line first; AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, and Michael McDowell all won a race in 2021 without winning a stage.

Michael McDowell and Brad Keselowski each notched a Cup Series win in the 2021 racing season…but did so on the final lap of the race at the two biggest tracks on the circuit.  McDowell began the season by winning at Daytona and Keselowski won at Talladega

Again demonstrating that the only lap that really natters is the last one, Alex Bowman is a four time race winner in 2021, but led only 161 laps all season.

Racers love to driver and will frequently drive anything with four wheels.  Cup Series champion Kyle Larson could be found racing on a dirt track just as much as on the asphalt.  Racing in all three of the NASCAR racing series, Chase Briscoe actually ran more miles than Kyle Larson.  Briscoe ended the season in 23rd place with no race wins.

Josh Bilicki is another driver who runs in more than one of the NASCAR racing series; as a result he ended up completing more laps than final four driver Ryan Blaney who won three races.

A total of 37 different drivers finished a race in the top 10 during the 2021 Cup Series season.

Full time driver and minority race team owner Denny Hamlin finished the season on the lead lap 34 of the 36 races and is the only full time driver not to have a DNF – did not finish – during the 2021 Cup Series season.

Joey Logano won the inaugural dirt race at Bristol but failed to win any other race during the season.  It is the first time that Logano has not won a race on asphalt since 2011.

The 2021 racing season was a unique one in many respects.  For the first time since NASCAR implemented the current playoff system in 2014, all four of the championship four drivers had cars with odd numbers – Kyle Larson in the number five, Chase Elliott in the number nine, Denny Hamlin in the number eleven, and Martin Truex Jr in the number 19.