Kevin Harvick leading laps, taking names three races into Cup season

Kevin Harvick talks to reporters during the NASCAR media tour in Charlotte, N.C., on Jan. 23. AP Photo/Mike McCarn

We are one-twelfth into the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season (it seems like it just started three weeks ago or so...), and we have already seen some big performances and impressive statistics, mostly by Kevin Harvick.

Throughout the season, we'll keep an eye on some notable numbers.

Something to be Happy about

Just like in the race at Atlanta, Harvick had a dominating performance at Las Vegas, this time leading 214 of the 267 laps in picking up his second victory of the year, equaling the number he had all of last year. It took him 34 races to get his second victory last year.

Overall, Harvick has led 395 laps this season, and all other drivers combined have led 404. Last season, only eight drivers reached that benchmark of 395 for the entire season.

If you're like me, you're wondering when was the last time a driver had led this many laps just three races into the season. The answer is Dale Jarrett in 1997 -- he led 495 laps, but had the advantage of two of the first three races being at Rockingham and Richmond, shorter tracks that have more laps.

Jarrett finished the 1997 Cup season with seven wins and more than 2,000 laps led, but finished second in the championship, behind Jeff Gordon.

Harvick could add to his total this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, a track where he has won eight times. Harvick has led 1,484 laps at the track, nearly 500 more than any other driver in Cup series history.

Penske powers its cars to top-10 finishes

Team Penske expanded to three drivers this season, adding Ryan Blaney in the No. 12 Ford.

Penske is familiar with having three teams, running a three-car operation 2008-10. But one thing it never did then is what it did Sunday at Las Vegas -- Penske put all three cars in the top 10. Blaney finished fifth, Brad Keselowski sixth and Joey Logano seventh.

Of course, three teammates in the top 10 isn't a rare occurrence. The last time it happened before Las Vegas? Last week at Atlanta, when Stewart-Haas Racing put three of its four cars in the top 10.

Hendrick Motorsports still struggling

Hendrick Motorsports will look forward to getting off the 1.5-mile tracks while it gains speed. This year, it's still looking for a top-5 finish from any of its four drivers (Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, William Byron).

Let's look at Hendrick's struggles, including Johnson's, and the lack of top-5s.

Hendrick has 1,029 top-5 finishes in its history, which is a lot, so it doesn't have many long gaps without one. But last year, it had a six-race streak without one near the end of the regular season.

The last time Hendrick went this long to start a season without a top-5 was in 2002, which also marked Johnson's rookie season. Johnson himself snapped that streak with his first career top-5 at Atlanta, the fourth race of the season.

The last time the team went longer into a season without a top-5 was 2000, when Terry Labonte got it on the board in the sixth race of the season.

Hendrick, then a three-car team, won "just" four times that year and had only one car finish in the top 15 in points, Gordon in ninth.