Denny Hamlin Kyle Larson
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Breaking down the Denny Hamlin vs. Kyle Larson featured matchup

Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin have been atop the NASCAR Cup Series standings for the bulk of the 2021 campaign. Larson grabbed the regular-season championship, and the playoffs have seen the two drivers trading wins, combining to win four of the six playoff races run so far — two wins apiece for the title favorites.

As the Round of 8 opens Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBC/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the two aren’t separated by much. Hamlin won the most recent 1.5-mile race (at Las Vegas), but Larson’s been a beast on that track type all season. Hamlin has better Texas numbers, but Larson won here more recently in this year’s All-Star Race — although that had a different rules package associated with it.

RELATED: Odds for Sunday’s Texas race | NASCAR BetCenter

How does each driver stack up for a head-to-head matchup around Sunday’s race? We’re breaking down the key stats between teammates ahead of the elimination race.

Kyle Larson Category Denny Hamlin
2 2021 1.5-mile wins 1
7.9 2021 1.5-mile average finish 7.4
324 2021 1.5-mile points scored 291
931 2021 1.5-mile laps led 223
2 2021 NASCAR Playoffs wins 2
9.5 2021 NASCAR Playoffs average finish 4.2
0 Texas wins 3
19.8 Texas average finish (all time) 13.8
21.8 Texas average finish (since 2017) 18.8
2 1.5-mile wins (since 2018) 5
Larson won the 2021 All-Star Race at Texas — but with a different rules package than the one in this race. Notable stat to know Hamlin has finished in the top nine in every 2021 NASCAR Playoffs race so far — the only driver to do so.

It is a little surprising to see Hamlin holding a better average finish on 1.5-mile tracks this season given how strong Larson has looked at the track type all year. The Texas stats favoring Hamlin is not a surprise given the longer body of work there. They have been pretty close all playoffs long and it’s hard not to imagine that continuing to be the case over the final four races. It should be a competitive and fun matchup to watch over 334 laps at the track known for No Limits.

Fresh off their latest run-in, Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick are an additional matchup to watch. Harvick has won three of the last four fall races at Texas while Elliott has not finished in the top 10 in the last four Texas races. It will be interesting to see if their feud has come to a close following Harvick’s elimination in the Round of 12.

Check back on Friday as The Action Network’s PJ Walsh (@PJWalsh24) breaks down the same matchup and provides his betting insight for who and how to bet this matchup.