2020 Las Vegas II Breakdown

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.

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.

The Caution-O-Gram for 2020 Las Vegas II

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.

Lead-O-Gram

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.

The lead-o-gram bar chart showing who lead 2020 Las Vegas II, how long they led, and under what conditions they took the lead

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.

A bar chart showing who led laps and whether they were led under green or yellow for Las Vegas

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.

A bar chart showing the history of lead changes for Las Vegas

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.

A bar chart showing the history of average green-flag passes per lap at Las Vegas from 2005 to 2020 Las Vegas II

Conclusions

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.

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