Breaking down key numbers behind Cup standings after 7 races

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The NASCAR Cup Sequence will get its first break of the 2021 season with an off weekend following the preliminary seven of 36 races of the yr — which, to the shock of many, produced seven completely different drivers.

A fast recap: Michael McDowell surprised because the underdog winner of the season-opening Daytona 500, and Christopher Bell gained the following race on Daytona Worldwide Speedway’s highway course for 2 first-time winners. William Byron gained at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Larson gained at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. gained at Phoenix Raceway and Ryan Blaney gained at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Most just lately, Joey Logano took the checkered flag in Monday’s filth race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

And now, NASCAR is hitting the pause button this weekend earlier than taking off for Martinsville Speedway for a Saturday night time race on April 10.

Regardless of among the shock winners this early within the season, most of the typical drivers and groups stay on the prime of the regular-season driver standings. Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Staff Penske every have three drivers at present ranked within the top-10, with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick rounding out the group.

So forward of the off-weekend, right here’s a breakdown of the regular-season driver standings, who’s trying good and who has some work to do (with loads of time to nonetheless do it).

As a reminder, the regular-season standings are completely different from the projected playoff factors and standings, the place the top-16 drivers will compete within the 10-race playoffs this fall.

Usually, a win locks a driver into the playoffs, however with so many various winners early on, there’s an opportunity for greater than 16 winners. If that occurs, a win wouldn’t assure a playoff spot, and drivers and groups must work additional onerous on the finish of the 26-race common season to contend for a championship.

(Sean Gardner/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 327
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 6
High-10 finishes: 6
Laps led: 211
Projected playoff rank: 1

Lack of wins apart, Hamlin and the No. 11 staff are off to a implausible begin to the season. In all however one race thus far, he’s completed within the prime 5, and that one time he didn’t, he got here in eleventh at Homestead. His six top-5 finishes are double that of the next-best driver, and he’s going to get to Victory Lane one among these weekends. And if not, so long as he retains these sturdy finally ends up, he’ll seemingly keep close to the highest of the standings.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 269
Wins: 1
High-5 finishes: 3
High-10 finishes: 4
Laps led: 259
Projected playoff rank: 2

Logano gained the NASCAR Cup Sequence’ first filth race since 1970 on Monday by holding off hard-charging Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who completed third and second, respectively, at Bristol. He and the No. 22 staff clearly have a quick automotive that’s had simply three double-digit finishes thus far this season, and Logano is second total in laps led this season behind Kyle Larson.

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports activities)

Factors: 247
Wins: 1
High-5 finishes: 2
High-10 finishes: 4
Laps led: 233
Projected playoff rank: 4

Truex’s win at Phoenix in March was one of many earliest season victories the No. 19 driver has ever had and got here throughout his stretch of 4 consecutive top-10 finishes. He gained back-to-back Martinsville races between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, and at Richmond Raceway — the place NASCAR will race the weekend after Martinsville — he swept the 2 2019 races. So he may very well be a very good upcoming guess to be the primary driver this season to win a second race.

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports activities)

Factors: 242
Wins: 1
High-5 finishes: 3
High-10 finishes: 5
Laps led: 379
Projected playoff rank: 3

After not racing in NASCAR by means of many of the 2020 season — Chip Ganassi Racing fired him and NASCAR suspended him after he mentioned the N-word throughout a live-streamed iRacing occasion — Larson opened the 2021 with a number of sturdy performances. His win at Las Vegas apart, he was very practically the season’s first two-time winner at Atlanta earlier than Blaney swooped in and stole the checkered flag. Larson additionally leads the sequence in laps led, and if he and the No. 5 staff hold this tempo up, they’ll absolutely have a second win by the center of the season.

(AP Picture/John Raoux)

Factors: 232
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 3
High-10 finishes: 3
Laps led: 93
Projected playoff rank: 7

Issues haven’t fairly bounced the best manner for Keselowski thus far this season — or within the win column anyway. He was in place to have a shot on the Daytona 500 checkered flag earlier than wrecking with Logano on the final lap, and he completed second to Larson at Las Vegas. And along with his two teammates additionally among the many top-10 drivers proper now, Staff Penske is trying good thus far.

(Sean Gardner/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 228
Wins: 1
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 5
Laps led: 129
Projected playoff rank: 5

Since Byron’s dominating win at Homestead, the No. 24 Chevrolet driver has completed each race within the prime 10, together with three straight eighth-place finishes. He’s one among 5 drivers with the variety of laps led this season within the triple digits, and this staff helps Hendrick Motorsports presumably have a number of severe championship contenders — even when that dialogue remains to be months away.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 226
Wins: 1
High-5 finishes: 2
High-10 finishes: 4
Laps led: 61
Projected playoff rank: 6

Blaney solely led 25 of 325 laps at Atlanta on his strategy to victory, however he placed on an actual present on the finish of an uneventful race to catch and go Larson for the ultimate time earlier than the checkered flag. It marked Blaney’s fifth profession win, and he’s now had one per season relationship again to 2017. However none of these victories got here this early within the season for the Staff Penske driver, so maybe that is his yr to interrupt by means of and earn a second win.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 225
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 2
High-10 finishes: 5
Laps led: 17
Projected playoff rank: 11

Harvick and the No. 4 staff aren’t dominating the season like they’ve in recent times. However the parity amongst groups that’s contributed to so many various and sudden winners seems to solely be hurting them a lot. (They’re nonetheless within the prime 10 in any case.) And even when Harvick began 18th within the Phoenix race, he nonetheless pulled out a top-10 end. It positive doesn’t seem to be Harvick will produce one other nine-win season or something akin to it, however this staff is aware of win.

(Sean Gardner/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 211
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 2
High-10 finishes: 3
Laps led: 73
Projected playoff rank: 10

The truth that the Cup Sequence’ reigning champion hasn’t been to Victory Lane (but) is a bit stunning this yr, particularly contemplating two of his 4 teammates have already gained. Elliott clearly hasn’t had *that* poor of a begin to the 2021 season since he’s so excessive within the standings, however a sequence of issues and unhealthy luck have largely saved him from critically contending for a win. Nonetheless, one among his 11 profession wins got here at Martinsville, the place NASCAR will return after this weekend’s break.

(Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports activities)

Factors: 186
Wins: 1
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 3
Laps led: 37
Projected playoff rank: 8

Bell successful his first profession race on the Daytona highway course was one of many larger surprises of the season at this level. To be clear, he’s a gifted driver who was anticipated to win sooner or later this yr in his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, but it surely’s a very good guess that not many individuals thought that win would are available February. Just lately, issues haven’t gone his manner. He was twenty first at Atlanta and solely made it by means of 54 laps within the Bristol filth race.

(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 186
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 2
Laps led: 7
Projected playoff rank: 14

Dillon’s greatest end thus far was third within the Daytona 500.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 183
Wins: 1
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 3
Laps led: 10
Projected playoff rank: 9

McDowell’s Daytona 500 victory apart, his greatest end was sixth at Homestead.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 183
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 2
High-10 finishes: 3
Laps led: 7
Projected playoff rank: 13

Kyle Busch’s greatest end thus far was third at Las Vegas.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 180
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 1
Laps led: 1
Projected playoff rank: 12

Stenhouse’s greatest end thus far was second to Logano within the Bristol filth race.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 173
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 2
Laps led: 3
Projected playoff rank: 16

If the playoffs started right this moment — which is type of a hilarious factor to say as a result of they don’t truly start till September — Kurt Busch can be the final driver to make it in. His greatest end was fourth within the Daytona highway course race.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 172
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 3
Laps led: 1
Projected playoff rank: 15

Bowman’s greatest end at this level was third at Atlanta behind Blaney and Larson.

(Sean Gardner/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 168
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 0
High-10 finishes: 1
Laps led: 57
Projected playoff rank: 17

Buescher’s greatest end thus far was seventh at Atlanta, however his most spectacular stat this season is his laps led, which is Tenth-best within the sequence.

(Sean Gardner/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 154
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 0
High-10 finishes: 2
Laps led: 0
Projected playoff rank: 18

Preece’s greatest end after seven races was sixth within the Daytona 500.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 149
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 2
Laps led: 0
Projected playoff rank: 19

Newman’s greatest end at this level was fifth on the Bristol filth race.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 144
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 1
Laps led: 74
Projected playoff rank: 20

As his brand-new staff is enhancing early on, Suárez’s greatest end, by far, was fourth within the Bristol filth race, the place he led for 58 laps.

(Chris Graythen/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 136
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 0
High-10 finishes: 0
Laps led: 7
Projected playoff rank: 21

Additionally with a brand new NASCAR staff, Wallace’s greatest end in 2021 to this point is sixteenth at Phoenix and Atlanta.

(Sean Gardner/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 122
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 0
High-10 finishes: 2
Laps led: 0
Projected playoff rank: 22

In his first yr with Richard Petty Motorsports, Jones’ greatest end thus far was ninth on the Bristol filth race.

(Sean Gardner/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 118
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 0
High-10 finishes: 0
Laps led: 1
Projected playoff rank: 23

As NASCAR’s 2020 Rookie of the 12 months, Custer’s greatest end this yr was eleventh within the Daytona 500.

(Gerry Broome/Pool Picture by way of USA TODAY Community)

Factors: 117
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 0
High-10 finishes: 0
Laps led: 0
Projected playoff rank: 24

Up to now, DiBenedetto’s greatest end was eleventh at Atlanta.

(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Pictures)

Factors: 112
Wins: 0
High-5 finishes: 1
High-10 finishes: 2
Laps led: 7
Projected playoff rank: 25

Reddick’s greatest end thus far was second to Byron at Homestead.



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