NASCAR Cup Series: 5 drivers who will regress in 2021

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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Brad Keselowski, NASCAR
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Drivers who will regress in 2021 – Brad Keselowski

The veteran driver of the #2 Team Penske Ford is coming off a runner-up finish in the title race. He put up 13 top five finishes, 24 top 10 finishes and a career-high 10.1 average finish in 2020.

Brad Keselowski had great success last year with crew chief Jeremy Bullins, who worked with the 2012 champion for the first time ever. One may think that a second year for the pairing would lead to improvement, but regression is more likely in Keselowski’s scenario.

The 36-year-old Rochester Hills, Michigan native has never been able to string together consecutive championship-contending seasons. Following his championship in 2012, Keselowski won just one race in 2013, leading to a disappointing 14th place finish in the standings.

After making the Championship 4 in 2017, Keselowski failed to advance past the round of 12 in both 2018 and 2019. The statistics and average finishes he posted from 2017 to 2019 were somewhat consistent, but not high enough to be in the top few spots.

If Keselowski’s trends hold true, it is unlikely that he will go from a second place championship run to the equivalent or a second Cup Series title. However, more so than year to year trends, the revised schedule points to a dip in performance.

New tracks Road America, Circuit of the Americas and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course are unlikely to be favorite tracks for Keselowski or Team Penske as a whole.

Keselowski has never won on a road course, and his average finishes on road courses are pedestrian. Even at the NASCAR mainstays of Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International, Keselowski has average finishes of 16.8 and 11.2, respectively.

Last season, Keselowski finished in 18th place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval and 13th at the Daytona International Speedway road course. Both of those tracks return to the Cup Series in 2021, joining Sonoma Raceway, Watkins Glen International and the three new additions mentioned above.

In seasons prior, performance on road courses was not especially relevant. However, when nearly one-fifth of the season’s events will be run on road courses, it will be of supreme importance.