The top drivers on 1.5-mile tracks used to be a select, yet elite small group. If you wanted to win on the intermediate race tracks at NASCAR’s top level, you were going to have to go through Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson to do so. Now, they have some company up front.
Out of the last 73 races on 1.5-mile tracks, 57 of them have been won by a handful of drivers. Martin Truex Jr. (12) leads them but Kevin Harvick (11), Brad Keselowski (11) Jimmie Johnson (10), Kyle Busch (8) and Joey Logano (7) have been at their best on intermediate race tracks too.
With Sunday’s race the Las Vegas Motor Speedway being a 1.5-mile track, we’ve seen 11 different winners in the last 14 races on intermediates.
It all started well over a year ago, on June 30 at the Chicagoland Speedway to be exact, with Alex Bowman. Then, Kentucky Speedway (Kurt Busch), Las Vegas in the Fall (Martin Truex Jr), Kansas (Denny Hamlin), Texas (Kevin Harvick) and Homestead (Kyle Busch) to close out the season. This year, we’ve had Las Vegas (Joey Logano), Charlotte (Brad Keselowski/Chase Elliott), Atlanta (Harvick), Homestead (Denny Hamlin), Kentucky (Cole Custer), Texas (Austin Dillon) and Kansas (Brad Keselowski) following suit.
Now, it’s a playoff race again in Vegas. We’re running out of names to keep this going? All that’s left on the big teams are William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer or Aric Almirola.
Truex hasn’t won on a 1.5-mile track all season which is bizarre. He won this race last year. We’ve had seven different winners in eight races on these track this year and Truex could be No. 8. He says the reason for the parity now is all due to how these cars race these days.
“I think it’s mostly the cars and the situations to where it seems we always have a late restart,” Truex said. “You look at the way that these cars drive and the way on restarts, we don’t have a lot of horsepower. You can’t get away from each other. You’re kind of at the mercy of the drag and the horsepower and we all end up in a big wad for 2-3 laps. That’s kind of where we’ve seen the different winners come from and it’s come at a pretty consistent basis.”
Only Harvick, Hamlin and Keselowski have won multiple times on 1.5-mile tracks during this time frame. That’s why it’s not a surprise that these are the top three race winners in the series in 2020 anyways with the trio combining to win 18 of the 29 races run.