2020 Las Vegas II produced the first surprise winner of the playoffs due to late-race cautions. How else was this race different than the usual Las Vegas race?
Qualifying matters at Las Vegas, so the setting of the starting grid by formula disadvantaged some drivers; however, all that was pretty much wiped away by the timing of the cautions.
The number of cautions was about average, but the critical thing was where the cautions came in the race — all four non-scheduled cautions happened in the third stage.
2020 Las Vegas II had two debris cautions and two accident cautions. That last accident came late enough and in the middle of pit stop cycling that Denny Hamlin just didn’t have enough time to get back to the front.
The lead-o-gram shows a classic case of someone who hadn’t run very well during the race taking the lead and not giving it up.
You can see the dominance by Denny Hamlin in the first and third stages, along with strong leads by Chase Elliott. But once the accidents started, Matt Dibenedetto and Kurt Busch found themselves in front. They stayed there.
The dominance of Elliott and Hamlin is also reflected in who led laps at 2020 Las Vegas II, as shown below.
Lead Changes vs. History
There were 20 lead changes during this face, a little lower than usual. Even the number of green-flag lead changes was a little lower than we’ve seen in the last couple of races.
Green Flag Passes
The number of average green-flag passes per race has been about the 2005-2020 average of 10.8 for the last few years, but 2020 Las Vegas II race set a new high (15.2) for this time period.
2020 Las Vegas II had a lot of action on track, featuring passes for the lead and back in the pack; however, it was won on strategy and luck. Kurt Busch’s win shakes up the playoff field going into the most unpredictable race of the playoffs: Talladega.