Through 20 races in the NASCAR Cup season, there have been 13 different winners.
But there are only seven drivers who have managed to lead the most laps in at least one race prior to this weekend’s Overton’s 400 at Pocono and two of them haven’t won yet.
Martin Truex Jr. is at the head of the bunch, having led the most laps six times. All three of Furniture Row Racing’s wins – Las Vegas (150 laps), Kansas (104 laps) and Kentucky (152 laps) – are among those six races.
Only one other driver this season, Kyle Larson, has won a race in which he led the most laps.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the most laps four times. He walked away with wins at Auto Club Speedway (110 laps) and Michigan (96 laps).
Busch and Kenseth are the two drivers who have managed to lead the most laps in a race this season without winning a race at all.
Busch brought his total to five on Sunday, leading 87 laps in the Brickyard 400 before he and Truex crashed each other on a Lap 111 restart.
After 20 races, Busch trails Truex in total laps led with 1,040. Truex has led 1,260. Busch’s total, combined with the zero in his win column, means Busch has the second most laps in a season ever without a win.
The most belongs to Harry Gant. In 1981, Gant led 1,169 laps in a 31-race season without visiting victory lane.
If Busch were to win this weekend, it would scratch Pocono off the short list of tracks Busch hasn’t won at in the Cup Series. The other is Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Probably the only person more relieved than Kyle Larson after his win Sunday at Michigan was team owner Chip Ganassi.
“I remember when I got into this business, James Finch told me it took a hundred races before these guys could figure it out,” Ganassi said. “Thank God we beat the triple digit by one.”
Larson, who earned his first Sprint Cup win, was seven days away from making his 100th career start in NASCAR’s premier series.
The 24-year-old driver made his first foray into the series on Oct. 12, 2013 in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Driving the No. 51 for HScott Motorsports, Larson finished 37th after engine failure on Lap 247.
Larson has 15 top fives, 35 tops 10s, 350 laps led and one pole (Pocono, Aug. 2014). He also has 13 DNFs. Larson’s win gives him an average finish of 16.5 heading into his 100th start, Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
“We’ve been close a few times throughout my Sprint Cup career,” said Larson, who finished second four times before his triumph. “To finally put it all together and get a win, it’s awesome. Glad to get it before my hundredth start next week.”
Here’s a look at how some of Larson’s young peers and a few NASCAR legends fared in their first 100 starts.
Erik Jones took home the title in his rookie season in the Camping World Truck Series. Jones, driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, finished the season with three wins, which equaled his total from 2014.
Jones ended the 2015 season with the best driver rating. This season there were five drivers in the top 10 of the stat category who weren’t in it in 2014.
NASCAR tabulates the driver rating based off totals in wins, finishes, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, led most laps and lead-lap finish. There is a maximum 150 points per race. They must have raced in 75 percent of scheduled point-paying races.
Here’s the final totals for driver ratings in the Truck series.
Matt Crafton (113.9) – The two-time champion finished with the runner-up driver rating for the second year in a row. In 2014, he finished with a rating of 106.0.
Tyler Reddick (100.54) – Reddick is one of three rookies in the top five driver ratings. This is the second-straight year a Brad Keselowski Racing driver finished with the third-best rating (Ryan Blaney, 101.7).
John Hunter Nemechek (95.0) – Nemechek finished in the top five despite not racing in five of the season’s 28 races. He earned one win at Chicagoland Speedway.
Johnny Sauter (93.0) – Sauter slipped one spot from 2014 when his rating was 94.8. Sauter did not earn a Truck win for the first time since 2008.
Timothy Peters (91.0) – Finished with two wins in 2015. Had the fifth-best rating in 2014 (88.8).
Cameron Hayley (87.6) – A rookie, Hayley helped put all three ThorSport drivers into the top 10.
John Wes Townley (79.3) – Improved two spots from 2014. Was helped by earning his first career NASCAR win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Daniel Hemric(78.7) – The rookie finished the season with four top-five finishes. He led only 18 laps.
Ben Kennedy (77.5) – Dropped three spots from 2014 when he finished with a rating of 80.0.