Last year, Toyota was by far the manufacturer to beat at NASCAR’s top level. They won 16 of the 36 races and 57-percent of the overall laps. A Toyota driver was pacing the field for 5,592 of the 10,523 laps a year ago. They even led 158 of the 200 laps in the season opening Daytona 500 and placed four cars in the top five of the finishing order.
The stats only proceeded to get better and better throughout the year too. The 2015 Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch started the year with nine top-four place finishes in the first 11 races, three of which he brought home first place.
Carl Edwards, would have eight top-seven finishes in the first nine races, including two wins.
Denny Hamlin took home the first and arguably the most popular win of the season in Daytona.
Matt Kenseth struggled at the start of the season, with two top-10’s in the first nine races, but he turned it around, and boasted two wins and seven top-10’s over the next 10 races.
This year, all are struggling. Out of 525 total laps through the first two races this season, Toyota drivers have led just 20 of them. In fact, only two Toyota drivers have led this year, Kyle Busch leading 18 laps at Daytona and Martin Truex Jr. two of his own. They didn’t even lead a single lap in Atlanta last Sunday.
Furthermore, Toyota has just one driver in the entire top 15 of the points standings right now.
On the flipside, Ford has led an astounding 389 of the 525 laps this year after leading only 1,389 total a year ago. They’ve also won both races in 2017. I know it’s early in the year as we just got started, but it’s shaping up to be a much different 2017 season compared to 2016.
Right now, Fords are the ones to beat while Toyota’s are struggling a bit.