Intensity mounts as the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs have reached the Round of 12 and four of the original 16-driver Playoff field have been eliminated – Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, and Michael McDowell. Now the remaining 12 challengers lead the NASCAR Cup Series to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the South Point 400 on September 26 at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The 2021 season marks just the second-time the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 has opened at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Race No. 30 of the season (2020, 2021). Las Vegas is the sixth different track to host the fourth race of the Playoffs; joining Kansas Speedway (2004, ’05, ’11, ’13, ’14), Talladega Superspeedway (2006, ’07, ’08, ’12), Auto Club Speedway (2009, ’10), Charlotte Motor Speedway (2015, ’16, ’17) and Dover International Speedway (2018, ’19).
Prior to the 2020 season, Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosted the first race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2018 and 2019. Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski won the 2018 Las Vegas Playoff race and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. won the 2019 Las Vegas Playoff race.
A total of 13 different drivers have won the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs., led by Jimmie Johnson with three victories (2009, 2011, 2016). Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch is the most recent winner of the fourth race in the Playoffs taking home the checkered flag from Las Vegas last season.
|Fourth Race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – Race Winners|
|Track||Playoff Race Winners||Date|
|Las Vegas||Kurt Busch||Sunday, September 27, 2020|
|Dover||Kyle Larson||Sunday, October 6, 2019|
|Dover||Chase Elliott||Sunday, October 7, 2018|
|Charlotte||Martin Truex Jr||Sunday, October 8, 2017|
|Charlotte||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, October 9, 2016|
|Charlotte||Joey Logano||Sunday, October 11, 2015|
|Kansas||Joey Logano||Sunday, October 5, 2014|
|Kansas||Kevin Harvick||Sunday, October 6, 2013|
|Talladega||Matt Kenseth||Sunday, October 7, 2012|
|Kansas||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, October 9, 2011|
|Auto Club||Tony Stewart||Sunday, October 10, 2010|
|Auto Club||Jimmie Johnson||Sunday, October 11, 2009|
|Talladega||Tony Stewart||Sunday, October 5, 2008|
|Talladega||Jeff Gordon||Sunday, October 7, 2007|
|Talladega||Brian Vickers||Sunday, October 8, 2006|
|Kansas||Mark Martin||Sunday, October 9, 2005|
|Kansas||Joe Nemechek||Sunday, October 10, 2004|
Three times the winner of the fourth race in the Playoffs has gone on to win the title in the same season:
- In 2009, Jimmie Johnson won the fourth race of the Playoffs at Auto Club Speedway and went on to win his fourth-straight series title the same season. The victory was his second of four during that postseason.
- In 2016, Jimmie Johnson won at Charlotte Motor Speedway and went on to win his record tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series title the same season. The win was Johnson’s first of three that postseason.
- In 2017, Martin Truex Jr. won at Charlotte Motor Speedway and went on to win the series title the same season. It was his first of three wins that postseason.
Twice a non-Playoff driver has won the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs:
- Joe Nemechek won the Kansas Speedway Playoff race in 2004, he was ranked 21st in the point standings at the time.
- Brian Vickers won the Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race in 2006, he was ranked 16th in points at the time.
No non-Playoff driver has ever won the Playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Of the six different tracks that have hosted the fourth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs the worst finish by the eventual champion Jimmie Johnson’s 24th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway in 2006.
Last season’s NASCAR Cup Series champion, Chase Elliott, finished 22nd at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the fourth race in the Playoffs and went on to win the title later that same season.
Big stars and bright lights at Vegas
The construction to build Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) began in 1995. Speedway Motorsports Inc. acquired the property in 1998. The 1.5-mile paved speedway hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series race on March 1, 1998 and the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin driving for Roush Fenway Racing.
In total there have been 27 NASCAR Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The track located just North of the famous Las Vegas strip has hosted one race per season from 1998 to 2017. The 2018 season marked the first time Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosted two series events in a single season.
A total of 17 different drivers have won the pole in the NASCAR Cup Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Of the 17 NASCAR Cup Series pole winners at Las Vegas Motor Speedway eight at active this weekend.
|Las Vegas Active Pole Winners||Poles||Seasons|
|Kurt Busch||2||2016, ’10|
|Kyle Busch||2||2009, ’08|
|Erik Jones||1||2018 Playoffs|
Kasey Kahne leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Las Vegas with three (2004, 2007 and 2012). Kyle Busch (2008, 2009) and Kurt Busch (2010, 2016) lead all active drivers in poles at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with two each.
This weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway decided its starting lineups by Metric Qualifying and as a result last weekend’s winner and Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson will start on the pole. Larson will be joined by Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney on the front row.
A total of 15 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Of the 15 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Las Vegas seven of them are active this weekend.
|Las Vegas Active Race Winners||Wins||Seasons|
|Brad Keselowski||3||2018, ’16, ’14|
|Joey Logano||2||2020, ’19|
|Kevin Harvick||2||2018, ’15|
|Martin Truex Jr||2||2019, ’17|
Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with four victories (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010). Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers in NASCAR Cup Series wins at Las Vegas with three (2014, 2016, 2018).
Clinch Scenarios: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
A new round in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs brings a whole new set of clinch scenarios. Luckily for the calculators of the NASCAR statisticians, this week’s clinch scenarios are fairly straight forward.
No drivers have clinched a spot in the 8-driver field of the next round in the Playoffs.
Can Clinch Via Win
All 12 drivers in the Round of 12 can clinch on their win alone this weekend at Las Vegas: Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Kevin Harvick.
|NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Bristol Motor Speedway|
|Rank||Driver||Points||Race Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts||Pts From Cutoff|
|1||Kyle Larson (P)||3,059||6||14||59||46|
|2||Martin Truex Jr. (P)||3,029||4||5||29||16|
|3||Denny Hamlin (P)||3,024||1||9||24||11|
|4||Ryan Blaney (P)||3,024||3||4||24||11|
|5||Kyle Busch (P)||3,022||2||5||22||9|
|6||Chase Elliott (P)||3,021||2||3||21||8|
|7||Alex Bowman (P)||3,015||3||0||15||2|
|8||William Byron (P)||3,014||1||3||14||1|
|9||Joey Logano (P)||3,013||1||5||13||-1|
|10||Brad Keselowski (P)||3,008||1||2||8||-6|
|11||Christopher Bell (P)||3,005||1||0||5||-9|
|12||Kevin Harvick (P)||3,002||0||0||2||-12|
|13||Aric Almirola||2,075||1||0||5||Eliminated from the Playoffs|
Kyle Larson reasserts his dominance in elimination race at Bristol
When Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. opened the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with wins at Darlington and Richmond, respectively, it looked as though momentum in the series had shifted, but this past weekend the winningest driver of the year Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson reasserted his dominance by capturing his series leading sixth win of 2021 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In 29 starts this season Larson has put up career bests in wins (six), top fives (16) and top 10s (21). He has also led 1,905 laps – the most in a single season in his career.
If Larson were to lead 95 laps or more before the season ends, he would become the 20th different driver all-time to lead more than 2,000 laps in a single NASCAR Cup Series season and just the fourth active driver to accomplish the feat; joining Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch. Since the 2000 NASCAR Cup Series season, 2,000 laps led by a single driver in a single season has only occurred six times.
Drivers that led more than 2,000 laps in a single Cup season since 2000
|2017||Martin Truex Jr||2,253|
The Playoff Dozen at Las Vegas
The Round of 16 is in the books and the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field has been cut from 16 to 12 drivers with just seven races left in the 2021 season. The Round of 12 consists of three races at three different tracks including Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, and the Charlotte Road Course. This weekend the series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the South Point 400 (Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Kyle Larson has made 10 series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway posting one win (earlier this season), four top fives and seven top 10s. His average finish at the track is 9.8 and he has led 129 laps.
Martin Truex Jr. has made 19 series starts at Las Vegas collecting two wins (2017, 2019), six top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish at Vegas is 10.7 and he has led 299 laps.
Denny Hamlin has made 19 starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway posting four top fives and nine top 10s. His average finish at the track is 12.9 and he has led 186 laps. Las Vegas and Charlotte are the last two 1.5-mile tracks left on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule Hamlin has yet to win at.
Ryan Blaney has made 10 series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway accumulating four top fives and seven top 10s. His average finish on the 1.5-mile speedway is 9.2 and he has led 23 laps.
Kyle Busch has made 20 starts at his home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway posting one win (2009), eight top fives and 11 top 10s. His average finish at Vegas is 11.9 and he has led a total of 260 laps.
Chase Elliott has made nine series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway putting up two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish at the track is 20.6 and he has led 177 laps.
Alex Bowman has made nine starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway amassing one top five and two top 10s. His average finish at Las Vegas is 19.7 and he has led just six laps at the track.
William Byron has made seven series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway posting two top-10 finishes. His average finish at the 1.5-mile facility is 20.3 and he has led 64 laps.
Joey Logano has made 16 series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway collecting two wins (2019, 2020), six top fives and 11 top 10s. His average finish at Vegas is 8.7 and he has led 495 laps – second-most among active drivers.
Brad Keselowski has made 16 series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway putting up three wins (2014, 2016, 2018 – the most among active drivers), eight top fives and 11 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 10.8 and he has led 309 laps.
Christopher Bell has made three series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway posting one top-10 finish. His average finish at Las Vegas is 21.3 (worst among Playoff drivers).
Kevin Harvick has made 24 series starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway posting two wins (2015, 2018), seven top fives and 12 top 10s. His average finish at the 1.5-mile facility is 14.0 and he has led 679 laps (most among active drivers).
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Dana White, Matt Stell and Jim Breuer headline pre-race activities at Las Vegas – UFC President Dana White, country music recording artist Matt Stell and comedian Jim Breuer are among the headliners for pre-race activities prior to the South Point 400 on Sunday, Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
White will serve as the race’s grand marshal and will deliver the command to start engines. Stell will perform the national anthem. Following the anthem, a team of A-10 Warthog Thunderbolt IIs from nearby Nellis Air Force Base will perform the flyover.
Breuer, who will be performing his stand-up comedy routine during the race weekend at the South Point Hotel & Casino, will provide pre-race entertainment prior to driver introductions.
Violet Defense Joins Roush Fenway as Official Partner – Violet Defense – an Orlando-based germ-killing company with patented UV technology – has entered into a multi-year partnership with Roush Fenway Racing. As part of the deal that runs through the 2023 season, Violet Defense will serve as the primary partner for a combined four races in the remaining 2021 season on both Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher’s Ford Mustangs. For the 2022 and 2023 seasons, Violet Defense will continue to be featured on the No. 6 car for multiple races and join Brad Keselowski as he makes his debut with Roush Fenway in the 2022 season.