Kyle Larson dominated the 2021 stage wins and points the same way he dominated overall race wins. Let’s see exactly how stages played out in 2021.
NASCAR introduced stages in 2017 with an eye to making the middles of races a little more exciting. By most metrics, it’s worked. They’ve done a good job of making stage wins an important part of the march to the Championship.
A note: I consider here only stage points, not race-end points. I also exclude the stage points won from the Duels.
Let’s start our review of 2021 stage wins and points by looking at stage-winning drivers. We ran 73 stages in 2021: two in every race and a third for the Coca Cola 600.
- Fourteen different drivers won stages in 2021. That’s down from 20 drivers last year.
- Kyle Larson dominated with 18 stage wins
- Denny Hamlin came in a distant second with 10 stage wins
- Kyle Busch had 7 wins
- Chase Elliott and Martin Truex, Jr. both had six stage wins.
Of Larson’s wins,
- 11 were stage 2 wins (61%),
- 6 were stage 1 wins (33.3%)
- He won the only stage 3 of the season.
Maximum Stage Wins by a Single Driver
Although 18 stage wins in a season is a lot, it’s not the record.
In 2017, the first year NASCAR had stages, Martin Truex, Jr. won 19. Kevin Harvick matched that figure in 2018. The last two years, though, the maximum number of stage win by a single driver was 12 and 11. It makes sense that years with multiple dominant drivers produce a smaller share of stage wins any one of them.
2021 Stage Wins by Percent
We can also examine this year’s stage wins by driver as a fraction of total stage wins.
This makes Kyle Larson’s domination of 2021 even clearer: He captured almost 25% of all stage wins. In fact, his stage win percentage is about equal to that of the second and third drivers combined.
Total Stage Points
73 stages means 4,015 stage points, since we have 55 points available per stage. Although some drivers who finished in the top 10 at the end of stages were not eligible for stage points in the Cup series, I included them here for the sake of completeness.
- 35 drivers won stage points. That’s compared to 33 drivers who won at least one stage point in 2020.
- Kyle Larson earned the most stage points, with a little more than 10% of the total. Last year’s top stage-point-earner was Ryan Blaney, with 346 points.
- Denny Hamlin earned 399 stage points (9.7%). That’s a big improvement over last year, when he earned 293 points.
- We drop pretty quickly from there, with Chase Elliott earning 311 (7.6%). For reference, that’s almost the same number of stage points Elliott earned last year (310), when he won the Championship. You can only wonder if not starting from the back six times would have changed Elliott’s season.
- The top 7 drivers account for a little more than half the points.
- Kevin Harvick had only 187 stage points this year. Last year, he earned 290.
2021 Stage Points by Position
The graph below breaks out the total points into finishes by position. I did this because You can win the same number of points by finishing second once as you can finishing 10th nine times.
Larson’s 10 wins gave him a 70-point advantage over Hamlin in terms of winning. They had the same number of second-place stage finishes.
That’s the 2021 stage wins and points summary.