OK, the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is basically one-quarter complete, plenty of time to notice trend and anomalies in how the year has gone so far.
Here are 10 of the most thought-provoking statistics of the season so far:
Michael Thomas ShroyerMichael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Right time, right place
Four times in the first six races, the driver who led the most laps didn’t win. The only two times the lap leader was also the race winner were in Las Vegas, where Martin Truex Jr. led 150 of 267 laps, and Auto Club Speedway, where Kyle Larson led 110 or 202 laps.
Maybe there was more to Stewart-Haas Racing’s switch from Chevrolet to Ford than it first appeared when Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500 and Kevin Harvick dominated at Atlanta. Last year at this time, Harvick led the points, Busch was eighth and Danica Patrick 26th. This year, Harvick is 10th, Busch 19th and Patrick 29th in points.
Gary A. VasquezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Best in class
Second-year Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott has three top-five finishes, has led 169 laps and is second points. The stats for his teammates are nowhere near as good.
Kasey Kahne: one top five, 7 laps led, 12th in points.
Jimmie Johnson: zero top fives, 28 laps led, 14th in points.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: zero top fives, 8 laps led, 25th in points.
In three of the six races this year, 2003 NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth has scored only 1 point, the minimum number a driver can earn in a race. Most of Kenseth’s bad fortune can be traced to being caught in other people’s crashes and a massive tire failure.
The magic of 27
In six races, Landon Cassill has qualified 27th four times and finished 27th three times. At both Las Vegas and Martinsville, he qualified 27th and finished 27th.
Looking for the lead
Clint Bowyer is somehow eighth in points without leading a lap so far this season. Other big-name drivers who have not lead any of the first six races include Matt Kenseth, Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and rookie Erik Jones.
Jimmie Johnson and Matt DiBenedetto have the same number of top-10 finishes so far this season: One. Johnson has not qualified better than 14th this year and hasn’t led since Las Vegas.
Ahead of the pack
Kyle Busch leads the series in laps led, with 413. Busch has two top-three finishes in the last three races. Kevin Harvick is second in laps led with 342, but he doesn’t have a top-five finish so far this season and he hasn’t led any of the last four races.
Back in the day
The longest winless streak among active Cup drivers belongs to Derrike Cope, who hasn’t won a race in his last 334 starts, dating back to Dover in 1990. Just to put that in perspective, the last time Cope won a Cup race, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Ty Dillon and Erik Jones weren’t even born yet.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukBarry Cantrell
Winless and wistful
Neither Hendrick Motorsports nor Joe Gibbs Racing has won in the first six races this year. The last time one of those teams didn’t win in the first six races of a season was 1994, when Terry Labonte won at North Wilkesboro for Hendrick in the seventh race of that season.