Leading most laps in playoff races doesn’t lead to wins

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Leading a Cup race is nice.

Leading the most laps and winning a race is even better.

Doing all of that in the playoffs would be priceless. Too bad it’s become almost impossible.

If someone were to do it in Sunday’s second round opener at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), they’d just be the third driver to do it in the last 20 playoff races.

That dates back to the October 2016 race at Kansas Speedway.

The only driver who has broken through in that time is Kyle Busch. He pulled off both instances last year. He led 187 laps and won at New Hampshire in the first round. He led 184 of 505 laps and won at Martinsville in overtime in the third round after Denny Hamlin wrecked Chase Elliott from the lead.

The lack of playoff winners who have led the most laps stands in contrast to this season. Thirteen of the 29 races have seen the winning driver led the most laps.

That includes the May race at Dover when Kevin Harvick led 201 of 400 laps and swept each stage on his way to the win.

It was the fourth time in the last nine Dover races that the winner led the most laps.

Dating back to the 2017 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the last four playoff races have been controlled by two drivers: Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr.

Each led the most laps twice without winning.

Larson led 145 of 267 laps at Homestead but finished fourth as Truex won the race and the championship.

In this year’s playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Truex led 96 laps. But Brad Keselowski capitalized on late-race restarts to win.

A week later at Richmond, Truex swept the first two stages and led 163 of 400 laps. But an uncontrolled tire penalty buried Truex in the field. He fought back to finish third to Busch.

Larson led 47 of 109 laps at the Charlotte Roval, but his hopes of winning ended when he was involved in the 15-car wreck in Turn 1 with six laps to go.