NASCAR Cup Series: 5 drivers who will improve in 2021

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) /
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Ricky Stenhouse Jr., NASCAR
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Drivers who will improve in 2021 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The 33-year-old NASCAR Cup Series veteran enters his second year with JTG Daugherty Racing looking to bounce back from the rollercoaster that was 2020. The entire organization suffered gravely from inconsistencies last season.

After seven years driving full-time for Roush Fenway Racing, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made what many considered a lateral move to the #47 Chevrolet last year. During the 2020 season, Stenhouse showed flashes of top 10 pace, but his season was riddled by crashes and eight DNFs.

Stenhouse had seven races in which his Driver Rating usurped 80, according to Racing-Reference. Of these seven, six came in the first half of the season. Stenhouse put up top four finishes at both Las Vegas Motor Speedway (including 30 laps led) and Charlotte Motor Speedway. In the June race at Talladega Superspeedway, he was inched out by Ryan Blaney in a photo finish.

During the summer and fall, JTG Daugherty Racing went into a tailspin with both the #47 team and the #37 team of Ryan Preece. In the final 12 events, Stenhouse was involved in four major accidents and failed to finish three of those races. Furthermore, he crashed out of both races at Bristol Motor Speedway, which is arguably his best non-superspeedway track.

Crew chief Brian Pattie returns for his fifth consecutive season with Stenhouse, and improving on their 24th place championship standing and 22.6 average finish should be a few of their main goals for 2021.

Coming into his second year with a new team, look for Stenhouse to not only improve in raw speed, but also to find better consistency throughout the season, leading to a better overall finish in the standings.