NASCAR Cup Series: Power rankings entering the 2021 season

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) /
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Austin Dillon, NASCAR
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR (Brady Klain/The Republic) /

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings: #16 and #15

No. 3. Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet. AUSTIN DILLON. #16.

Austin Dillon’s 2020 season, which saw him miss one race as a result of a positive test for COVID-19, was saved by an surprise victory at Texas Motor Speedway that came after a late tire gamble in the pits. However, his progression down the stretch showed that he is indeed capable of running with the regular contenders in more than just the odd upset win, of which he now has three in the last four years. Many expected him to be out in the opening round of the playoffs, but after finishes of second place at Darlington Raceway and fourth at Richmond Raceway, two of the best performances of his career from start to finish, he advanced to the round of 12 for the first time since 2016 and ended up finishing in 11th in the standings, matching his career-high from 2017. Dillon doesn’t usually enter seasons looking like one of the likely 16 playoff drivers, but he now has four playoff appearances in the last five years.

#15. . No. 10. Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford. ARIC ALMIROLA

What turned out to be Aric Almirola’s worst season in three years driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in terms of his position in the final championship standings looked as though it was going to be a whole lot better. He entered the year with a single-season career-high of four top five finishes, and he reeled off five in a row toward the middle of the 2020 campaign. It appeared as though he was finally going to get the monkey off of his back and start winning to position himself for a possible title run. But aside from that five-race stint, his season was a disappointment, as he only recorded one other top five finish and failed to win a race for the second straight year en route to a 15th place finish in the standings. He did secure 18 top 10 finishes, bettering his previous career-high of 17 from 2018.