It isn’t even one month removed from the end of one of the wildest seasons in NASCAR history and we’re already shifting our attention to 2021. Motorsports are often unpredictable and leave fans in disbelief, but here at Last Out Media, we’re going to try to predict the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series season as best as we can. Here are nine predictions about next year:
Chase Elliott wins more races than he did in 2020
Over the course of his five-year NASCAR Cup Series career, it seems that Chase Elliott has gotten better each season. Now as the reigning series champion, Elliott is poised to continue his drive toward greatness with a 2021 season that includes more wins than he captured in 2020, when he won five races. If the no. 9 team has the same speed and execution they had in the second half of the 2020 playoffs, it isn’t unrealistic to think that Elliott could have a season similar to Harvick had in 2020, especially since there will be six road course races next year, a category of race track where Elliott has won the last four.
Kyle Larson gets back to victory lane at Bristol’s dirt race
Kyle Larson has had a 2020 season that will reshape his NASCAR career. After using a racial slur on an iRacing event, Larson was dropped by Chip Ganassi Racing’s no. 42 team during the seven-week pause due to COVID-19. Larson spent the majority of his suspension by NASCAR by returning to his roots in dirt racing. He put up incredibly impressive numbers, collecting too many wins to count. It just so happens that when he returns to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2021, the series will return to racing on dirt. His recent successes and experiences make him the odds-on favorite in his new ride powered by Hendrick Motorsports.
Kevin Harvick will be very good… or very bad
Ever since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing back in 2014, Kevin Harvick has been a force to be reckoned with week in and week out. The 2020 Cup Series championship was his to lose after collecting nine wins and winning the regular season championship… and he lost it.
Harvick missed out on making the championship four for just the second time in the existence of the playoff grid despite being arguably the best driver of the year. It seems like when the best driver of the year doesn’t win the championship, they have either a strong season where they continue capturing wins despite coming up short the previous year (i.e. Denny Hamlin 2019 and 2020) or they have a season that’s incredibly far off from their normal capabilities (Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 2004 and 2005). For whatever reason, there doesn’t seem to be an in-between when it comes to this, so expect to see Harvick up front and as strong as ever or struggling to keep up.
There will be multiple first-time winners
There are simply way too many talented drivers that are winless going into 2021 for there not to be new winners — Darrell Wallace, Jr., Tyler Reddick, Matt DiBenedetto and Christopher Bell are just a few of them. You’ll also have new names in competitive rides like Chase Briscoe and Ross Chastain (yes, I know, Chastain isn’t new to the Cup Series, but he hasn’t really been in a ride capable of winning). Each of these drivers are talented and are hungry to capture their first checkered flag, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see as many as five first-time winners in 2021 because of it.
Chevorlet’s new engine will capture over 10 wins
Ever since Jimmie Johnson captured his record-tying seventh championship in 2016, Chevrolet has been trying to catch up to Ford and Toyota. Chevy captured 10 wins in 2017, four wins in 2018, seven wins in 2019 and nine wins last season.
In the final race of 2020, Chase Elliott used the first Chevrolet motor that Hendrick Motorsports’ and Richard Childress Racing’s engine builders collaborated on. Those engines will be driven by all Chevrolet teams in 2021, and the impressive display of dominance and power that Elliott’s car showed is something to expect from Chevrolet next season when they get back into double digits in the win column.
Brad Keselowski will re-sign with Team Penske
Earlier this year, Brad Keselowski was in serious jeopardy of losing his ride at Team Penske, the team he’s driven with in NASCAR’s premier division since 2010. He did end up resigning with Penske for 2021, but his future beyond 2021 remains uncertain.
I’d expect Keselowski to sign another extension with Team Penske. It’s hard to imagine Keselowski not at Penske after a decade, especially given how strong of a season Keselowski just had in 2020, finishing second in the championship.
Richard Childress Racing will have a multi-win season
Even though Richard Childress Racing has been relatively weak in recent years, 2020 was a bright spot in the organization’s recent history. One of their drivers, Austin Dillon, was able to win a race at Texas, ending a winless drought that dated back to the 2018 Daytona 500. The team’s other driver, Tyler Reddick, had an impressive rookie season and came close to wins at Texas and and Miami. With Chevrolet on the rise and with a brand new engine made in collaboration with Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing is going into 2021 in the best position to get multiple wins in a season since they last did it in 2017.
Kyle Busch will be back to his winning ways
Kyle Busch had a dismal season by his standards in 2020, collecting just one win in the season that followed his second series championship. It was certainly strange to see such a lackluster performance out of the future hall-of-famer, but as all drivers do, it was a season that was just off for the no. 18 team.
Busch showed strength in the last ten races of the year, winning at Texas and coming very close to a win at Bristol. Maybe he won’t have a championship year in 2021, but I would certainly expect an aggressive and hungry Kyle Busch to capture a few victories next season.
The 16 drivers to make the 2021 playoffs will be…
- Alex Bowman
- Aric Almirola
- Austin Dillon
- Brad Keselowski
- Chase Elliott
- Christopher Bell
- Darrell Wallace, Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Kyle Larson
- Martin Truex, Jr.
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Ryan Blaney
- William Byron
What are your thoughts about 2021? Do you agree with the predictions made in this article? Leave a comment below with your predictions for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.