Analysis: 2022 late-winning-pass trend could continue at Pocono

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It‘s not over ‘til it‘s over.

The winning pass in 13 of the 20 NASCAR Cup Series races so far this season has come with 10 or fewer laps remaining. There have been three last-lap passes and nine within five laps to go. And more times than not, the driver who led the most laps did not win the race. Only seven times did the laps-led leader come out victorious.

POCONO: Weekend schedule | Paint schemes | Betting odds

Below is a complete breakdown. An asterisk marks a driver with the most laps led.

Stats table.
Stats table.

It wouldn‘t be surprising to see this trend continue Sunday at Pocono Raceway (3 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

In each of last year‘s two races at the “Tricky Triangle,” the final lead change came in the last two laps. Alex Bowman stole the lead from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson on the last lap to win Saturday‘s event. Kyle Busch then passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin for the win with two laps to go in Sunday‘s main. Neither of them led the most laps in their respective victories, though Busch was just one lap short of the high mark.

Out of the 36-driver field for Sunday, 10 have won on the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track before. Exactly half have won this season: Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Joey Logano. That leaves Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher and Kevin Harvick as winless in 2022 but not at Pocono in their careers.

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There have been 14 different winners this year. That means only two of the 16 playoff spots remain up for grabs with six races until the field is set. If one of those latter five break out another Pocono win, or someone else currently winless does, every race until the postseason is going to feel like the regular-season finale.

And last year, that race‘s winner (Blaney) was decided with two laps to go, with multiple bids available.

But hold on — the last time a driver got his first win of the season at Pocono was Kyle Busch in July 2017. So, there may not be reason to worry — yet.