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) /
8 of 18
Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain, NASCAR
Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, and Ross Chastain, Chip Ganassi Racing, NASCAR – Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings: #20 and #19

No. 42. Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet. ROSS CHASTAIN. #20.

Ross Chastain is set to land the opportunity that many thought he would get after Kyle Larson was fired last April, just four races into the 2020 season. When Chip Ganassi Racing made the surprising decision to hire Matt Kenseth instead of Chastain to drive the #42 Chevrolet throughout the rest of the year, Chip Ganassi noted that he still “had a plan” for Chastain, who has been connected to the team over the last several seasons after impressing them during a three-race stint in the Xfinity Series in 2018, and indeed he did. Was not rushing him the right move for Ganassi? Kenseth’s lack of pace and the overall lack of pace for the team after Larson’s firing could be concerning for Chastain, who drove for a competitive Kaulig Racing team in the 2020 Xfinity Series season but failed to find victory lane. He was, however, super consistent and notched a series-high 27 top 10 finishes n 33 races.

CHASE BRISCOE. #19. . No. 14. Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford

Chase Briscoe is the clear top rookie prospect in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series field following a 2020 Xfinity Series season that saw him win a series-high nine races and advance to the Championship 4 for the first time in his career. He entered his breakout season with just two career wins, but he entered as one of the title favorites following the departure of the “Big 3” from 2019. He is set to drive a competitive #14 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing in his rookie season following the retirement of Clint Bowyer, but the adjustment from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series cannot be understated, as he is well aware. Cole Custer made a similar jump in 2020 after a breakout 2019 Xfinity Series season, and while he made the playoffs with an upset win at Kentucky Speedway, his pure point total only ranked 20th. Expect a similar 2021 season for Briscoe.