First of all, rovals rock.
I’ll stop short of saying that we should convert to a roval-only schedule, but I like that Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was a positive step toward NASCAR Cup series scheduling variety. If it leads to creativity, variance and an overall hodgepodge of races on the schedule that let the most well-rounded and talented drivers rise to the top, then I’m all for it — even if not all the races produce last-lap drama like we had Sunday.
However, I’ll happily take the final-lap drama.
Here are the best of the stats from this past weekend’s Cup race.
Two wins before 25?
Ryan Blaney has two wins in 119 career Cup starts. That might not seem like an impressive number, but given that his Cup career began at age 20 and he became a full-time driver at 22, he’s had an opportunity to start winning early.
Blaney, 24, is the eighth driver in series history with multiple wins before turning 25.
If you had guessed that a lot of those came fairly recently, you would have guessed correctly. Five of the eight came in 2002 or later, as Blaney joined Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch.
The other three to accomplish the feat are three of NASCAR’s legendary drivers: Jeff Gordon in 1994 (93 career wins), Richard Petty in 1960 (200 career wins) and Junior Johnson in 1955 (50 career wins).
Fun with last-lap passes
We’ve had three races decided by a last-lap pass this season, but Sunday marked the first time that it didn’t happen at a restrictor-plate race.
This was just the third race in the past three seasons, outside of Daytona or Talladega, that was decided by a last-lap lead change. The last one also came in the playoffs, when Kyle Busch won a wild race at Martinsville after bumping teammate Denny Hamlin.
Last-lap passes, especially outside the restrictor-plate tracks, aren’t very common. But what has been common is Team Penske Racing winning those events.
Over the past five seasons, 16 races have been decided by a last-lap pass. Team Penske drivers won seven of those, just ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing’s six. That leaves one apiece for Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing.