2021 Fall Bristol Race Recap

Tempers were news, but the 2021 Fall Bristol Race Recap shows lots of green-flag passing and earned lead changes — and highlights a problem the NextGen car can’t fix. Not this year, at least.


  • Eight cautions for 71 laps (14% of the race)
    • One competition caution
    • Two stage-end cautions
    • One spin
    • Four accidents
  • The eight caution are just above the five-race average of 7.60 cautions.
  • But it’s jump over the five cautions we had in the 2020 Fall Bristol Race.
  • Eleven cars were involved in accidents and one in the spin. For Bristol, that’s pretty darn good.

You can see all the graphs and charts for Bristol on the Bristol Race Page.

The Fall Bristol 2021 Race Caution and Lead-O-Grams show the main players and the green-flag racing.

This is a rare lead-o-gram because there were 7 distinct leaders and all of them had quality leads — meaning that they either got the lead through green-flag passing, passing on pit road, or on restarts. We had 23 lead changes, with most of them happening on the track.

The margin of victory was 0.227 seconds, which is closer than any race since 2015.

Lap Leaders

Of the seven lap leaders, Truex, Jr. led at the start and then faded quickly. Keselowski also played a minor role in the race. But Kyle Larson made his mark being able to keep the lead on restarts. And it was good to see Kevin Harvick finally running as a contender for a race win.

The 2021 Fall Bristol Race Recap vertical stacked bar graph of laps led


Bristol is a track where the number of cars that don’t finish the race has remained pretty constant over the years (even in this time of lower car count).

We ended up with nineteen cars on the lead lap (50% of the field), which is way more than last year (6) or the year before (7). In fact, this was the most cars on the lead lap in a Fall Bristol race since 2012 and the biggest percentage of cars on the lead lap since 2009.


With this win, Kyle Larson takes the lead in active finishes among the last five Bristol races from Kyle Busch with an average finish of 6.0. Kyle Busch still has the career lead by just a little, but he also has a lot more races at Bristol.

The Graph of the Race

I hate to close on a low note, but choosing one graph that embodies the race, it has to be this one. All laps during yellow flags and pitting are excluded from this graph. The blue dot shows the median speed. The blue lines show the range where each driver ran about 2/3s of their laps. The red triangle shows their fastest lap.

The 2021 Fall Bristol Race recap shows the average lap time and fastest lap times for all drivers.

We’ve got 1/3 of a second between the median lap time of Kyle Larson and that of the 27th place driver (Michael McDowell). There’s a tenth of a second between Larson and the ninth-place driver.

But look at the end of the graph. Bristol is not highly dependent on aerodynamics, so having a common body with few chances to use aerowizardry isn’t going to solve the problem of having car on track that are so far off the pace set by 70% of the field.

And as we saw here, and in the XFINITY series, lap traffic cars can impact a race’s outcome. As long as the major teams can dominate engine-wise, I don’t see how having these slower cars in the race helps the sport.

And that’s the 2021 Fall Bristol Race Recap

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