Racing Lead Changes.

NASCAR doesn’t define them in their scads of data, but you know what they are. It’s what we all go to races to see. It’s what gets fans excited. It’s why most fans pay good money for tickets. It’s why they invest time each race day to watch and see.

It’s your driver passes my driver as both battle for the lead with the lead change counted at the Start/Finish Line. Not at a scoring loop but at the loop that pays the money-the Start/Finish Line.

Sifting through the data, Las Vegas had five.

Lap 11-Denny Hamlin passed Ryan Blaney

Lap 49-Kyle Larson passed Denny Hamlin

Lap 92-William Byron passed Kyle Larson

Lap 102-Chase Elliott passed Kyle Larson

Lap 103-Kyle Larson passed Chase Elliott back

William and Chase’s passes were just outside the Restart Lead Change three lap window. A little sooner and they wouldn’t have been in this mix. But they did, so there were five Racing Lead Changes out of the 15 Green Flag Lead Changes and 21 Lead Changes total for the Race.


The remaining 10 of the 15 Green Flag Lead Changes were evenly split between Start/Restart Lead Changes (5) and Leader Pit-Green (5). The Start/Restart Lead Changes occurred on the Start and on the last three Restarts.

Those Starts and Restarts can be exciting, but it’s a different kind of racing and passing since the caution bunched everyone up again, you get to start double file and you have help from behind to give you a push or provide momentum to get you to the front. Usually within three laps the benefits of the restart are gone and it’s back to real racing and the chance for Racing Lead Changes.

There are other green flag lead changes like those passes that occur when the leader pulls into the pits and turns the lead over to the competition. Strategy, it’s called. It’s counted as a Lead Change, but it’s not a Racing Lead Change. Racing Lead Changes come from strategy known as outrunning the other driver.

No… Your driver passes my driver without my driver pulling off the track and without benefit of a Start or a Restart.

So, Las Vegas had five Racing Lead Changes.

But the race had 21 lead changes among 10 different leaders. When did those other six occur?

Those were all under Caution.

And Chase Elliott made a heck of a charge to try to get around Hamlin on the last few laps-changing lines, trying to gain and advantage. Hamlin successfully blocked his advances and hold him of those final laps of his 39 lap winning run. Hamlin made his winning pass on Lap 229 when Kyle Larson pitted from the Lead… Leader Pit-Green.

After four races in the Playoffs, with the season on the line, we’ve had a total of 24 Racing Lead Changes.




Las Vegas-5/21

As you can see, Bristol had as many Racing Lead Changes (12) as the other three races combined.

Racing Lead Change Leaders through four races are as follows-

Denny Hamlin-6 in 4 races

Kyle Larson-6 in 2 races

Chase Elliott-5 in 3 races

Kevin Harvick-2 in 1 race

Kurt Busch-1

Martin Truex Jr-1

Kyle Busch-1

Ryan Blaney-1

William Byron-1


Did you think there was more Racing Lead Changes?

Did you think there were more Drivers who had made Racing Lead Changes?

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – SEPTEMBER 11: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway on September 11, 2021 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Are you surprised at the Chasers who haven’t raced anyone for the lead yet. Missing from the list are current Chasers like

Brad Keselowski

Joey Logano

Alex Bowman

Christopher Bell

And eliminated Chasers including

Aric Almirola

Tyler Reddick

Michael McDowell

Remember these aren’t on Starts or Restarts. Those lead changes for Green Flag Pit Stops don’t count as Racing Lead Changes.

Why is all of this important?

Last season, guess who had the most Racing Lead Changes in the Playoffs?

2020 Champion Chase Elliott. He went up there and made 17 Racing Lead Changes on his way to the Championship. He was the only Chaser to finish in double digits.

Guess who had Racing Lead Changes in the most Playoff races?

That would also be Elliott.

Plus Chase also had the top Racing Lead Charges in the final two cutoff races and the Phoenix Finale. When you look at those kind of numbers, he earned it.

Maybe, just maybe there is something to this racing for the lead. Could these be indicators of things to come?

If so, Denny Hamlin has the favorable numbers… and races with Racing Lead Changes. Larson was shut out the first two races but went to the front in the last two.

Elliott is poised to pounce just one pass behind.

This week, we head to Talladega where the action is fierce especially at the front. Watch and see who Races to the Lead. The numbers and leaders could change dramatically. We’ll see who is on top of this leaderboard heading into the cutoff race at The Charlotte ROVAL.

Here’s some prop bets to consider-

How many Racing Lead Changes will there be?

How many drivers will have Racing Lead Changes?

Which driver will have the most Racing Lead Changes for the race?

Put your picks down in the comments and check next week to see how you did. Adds a bit of additional interest to your race watching, doesn’t it?

While you are doing that, also remember that in the first four races of the Playoffs, there have been 24 Racing Lead Changes in the 1264 Green Flag Racing Laps run. These are Green Flag Laps that do not include the three laps after each Start and Restart.

That’s a lot of Green Flag Racing Laps. We have a maximum of 1638 Green Flag Racing Laps left. How many more Racing Lead Changes will we see?

As a fan, I hope we see a lot more Racing Lead Changes. Starts and Restarts can be exciting. We know we have at least 24 of those left. Strategy Passes can create some tension until everyone cycles through that round of pit stops. But me, I watch to see racing, especially racing up front.

To me, that’s the Excitement and Drama I’m after.

Let’s see what Talladega brings. Should be something!

Thunder on… and Stay Safe

Sources: NASCAR Cumulative Report South Point 400 Timeline

Photo Credits; Meg Oliphant/Getty Images


  1. No wonder I like the short tracks best. Bristol had a dozen real racing lead changes dwarfing the others.
    In my book the lead changes at Talladega and Daytona are also misleading and even if they are racing lead changes, it is somewhat artificial as they are the result of restrictor plates (or whatever they are calling them this year) and the fact that no one can pull away and separate themselves because of the draft. Get rid of those RPs and the lead changes might be non-existent. Although, for those of us that watch every race, artificial racing lead changes are better than nothing.

    1. Bill B,

      Good points and thanks for your comments. It’s easy to just look at the total number and make the assumption that that number is Racing Lead Changes. When you start looking a little deeper though that’s hardly the case and that type of Lead Change is not as common as fans think. If you strip off the ones under Caution (which are often a result of who pits where) and pitting from the lead, the number isn’t what we think.

      I like the racing up front. If you watch on TV, that’s what we are shown and is what represents the race to so many.

      RP racing at Talladega messes with the numbers. We’ll see a jump for sure. Hopefully, it’ll be safe and interesting. I’ll be watching to see how it all shakes out.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Much appreciated!

      1. 25 RLCs (total guess) and I’ll go with Hamlin, only because he’s locked into the next round and can race with abandon.

        1. 10-4. Good number! I want to go a little higher but all depends on how green the race is. Cautions cut down on the GF laps and restarts cut into GF Racing Laps. I was thinking 30. Now do we get to count the Hamlin passes below the Double Yellow Line?

          1. LOL… I originally wrote 30 and then thought I should scale it back to 25 because there is a chance that they will ride around single file a time or two.

    2. That got pretty crazy! I think I followed. I hope your single file message isn’t a preview of things to come… LOL.

      Never seen a reply draft like that!

  2. I think Larson will make racing lead changes, along with Chase and possibly one driver who is not in the chase, but not sure which one. Maybe Stenhouse…Hamlin and KyBu will gain theirs through pit stops and cautions and/or stage ends…along with strategy. But what do I know? These are just guesses, not based on anything but my way of thinking or my hopes…

    David, you said it all when you said: Quote: “NASCAR doesn’t define them in their scads of data, but you know what they are. It’s what we all go to races to see. It’s what gets fans excited. It’s why most fans pay good money for tickets. It’s why they invest time each race day to watch and see.”

  3. Dega has always been a guess. Just nature of the beast and lots of luck. You could throw in MattyD, Eric Jones or Chris Buescher. It’s all a guess.

    Hoping for a safe good competitive race and hope we see action… especially up front where the TV cameras are pointed.

    Thanks again Vivian for your comments. Always appreciated.

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