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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Martin Truex Jr., NASCAR
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR – Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings: #8 and #7

#8. . No. 19. Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota. MARTIN TRUEX JR.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season was an interesting but disappointing one for Martin Truex Jr. While many may point to the absence of former crew chief Cole Pearn, Truex had the speed to contend for wins far more often than his win total showed. A come-from-behind win at Martinsville Speedway ended up being his only win of the year, despite the fact that he went on a run during which he recorded five straight third place finishes and eight straight top four finishes. At one point, he reeled off 11 top four finishes in a 14-race span during which he failed to win, and his failure to find victory lane after the month of June ultimately led to him failing to qualify for the Championship 4 for the first time since 2016. Considering how close he came to winning many races with five second place finishes, six third place finishes and two fourth place finishes, can he turn it around in 2021?

No. 48. Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet. ALEX BOWMAN. #7.

Alex Bowman’s dominant victory at Auto Club Speedway early in the 2020 season put him on the radar of many fans as a potential Championship 4 underdog, but throughout the rest of the year, he quietly faded, and it appeared as though he would be headed for something similar to the round of 12 exits he had experienced in his first two years as a Hendrick Motorsports driver. But that did not happen. While he still hasn’t won a race since last March, he turned it on in the playoffs. Only three drivers scored more points than he did throughout the four-round, 10-race postseason, and he advanced to the round of 8 for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, despite posting an average finish of 4.67 in the round of 8, his lack of wins and playoff points cost him a spot in the Championship 4. But a future Championship 4 appearance is by no means far-fetched given the progress he made late in 2020. Now he is set to take over behind the #48 Chevrolet following the retirement of seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Can he carry on Johnson’s legacy?