Is age just a number in NASCAR?

INDIANAPOLIS — Many of us like to think age is just a number, but is it truly that way? When digging through the stats on the NASCAR Cup Series champions, one three-year age window stands out above the rest when it comes to a driver’s age at the time of their first title – 28-30 years old. Of the 35 different series champions 10 of them (the most in a three-year span at 28.5%) have earned their first NASCAR Cup Series title between the ages of 28 and 30; including four active champions Joey Logano (28), Brad Keselowski (28), Kyle Larson (29) and Kyle Busch (30).

The most recent driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series title in that age group was last season’s champion Kyle Larson, who put together a historic season in 2021, posting 10 Cup Series wins, five of which were Playoff races, tying NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart’s (2011) series record for most Playoff wins in a single postseason run with five each.

First-Time Champions 28-30 Years OldChampionship SeasonsAge at 1st Title
Joey Logano201828
Brad Keselowski201228
Ned Jarrett1965, ‘6128
Tim Flock1955, ‘5228
Herb Thomas1953, ‘5128
Kyle Larson202129
Dale Earnhardt1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘8029
Ned Jarrett1965, ‘6129
Kyle Busch2019, ’1430
Rex White196030

Bill Rexford (23 years, 7 months, 15 days) holds the record as the youngest driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series championship (1950). NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison holds the record as the oldest driver to accomplish the feat at 45 years old (1983). Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is the youngest active driver to win his first championship and did so at the age of 24 in 2020. Plus, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick is the oldest active driver to accomplish the feat, bringing home the hardware at the age of 38 back in 2014.

Statistically, the all-time average age of when a driver wins their first NASCAR Cup Series title is 32.2. The average age of the eight active NASCAR Cup Series champions is 30.0 at the time of their first championship in the series, which is a difference of just over two years (2.2).

Active ChampionsYearsAge at 1st Title
Chase Elliott202024
Kurt Busch200426
Joey Logano201828
Brad Keselowski201228
Kyle Larson202129
Kyle Busch2019, ’1430
Martin Truex Jr.201737
Kevin Harvick201438

Looking at this year’s playoffs, 10 of the 16 drivers are under the age of 30. However, 3 drivers are currently in the window of 28 to 30 years old and looking for their first NASCAR Cup Series title – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney (28), Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain (29) and Daniel Suárez (30). Plus, keep in mind, Joe Gibb Racing’s Christopher Bell and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe (also a winner this season) are both 27 years old and will be turning 28 at the end of this year in December.

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