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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Cole Custer, NASCAR
Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR – Mandatory Credit: Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports /

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings: #18 and #17

#18. . No. 41. Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford. COLE CUSTER

Cole Custer’s finishing position of 16th in the championship standings to cap off his rookie season was made possible via his upset victory at Kentucky Speedway. Otherwise, he would have only finished the season in 20th place in points. Aside from that victory, his rookie season left quite a bit to be desired. His surprise victory came amid a five-race span which saw him rack up four top eight finishes, but in the season’s other 31 events, he finished in the top 10 only three times and did not finish higher than ninth. He is definitely in a position to improve in 2021, but without another upset victory, improvement may still leave him shy of the playoffs. The battle between him and rookie teammate Chase Briscoe could be interesting.

#17. . No. 8. Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet. TYLER REDDICK

While Cole Custer was the only rookie who won a race in the 2020 season and he won Rookie of the Year honors because of the playoff berth he clinched due to that win, Tyler Reddick was undoubtedly the top rookie and the best of the former “Big 3” of the Xfinity Series. He came close to victory lane multiple times, most notably with a second place finish behind teammate Austin Dillon at Texas Motor Speedway and fourth place finishes at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway, and on points alone, he finished more than 100 points ahead of both Custer and Christopher Bell in the standings. Expect a strong second year for the driver of the #8 Chevrolet.