NASCAR: Top 3 ‘MVP’ candidates for the 2021 season

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Austin Dillon, NASCAR

Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

None of the six finalists for the MLB MVP awards made the playoffs, so we applied the same logic to determine a NASCAR Cup Series “MVP” for 2021.

Anyone who argues against Kyle Larson as being the MVP (or MVD) of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is probably out of their mind, but as we all know, NASCAR doesn’t share much in common with most “stick and ball” sports.

One thing, however, that it has shared in common with those sports since 2004 is a postseason.

NASCAR has utilized a postseason format to crown the Cup Series champion in each of the last 18 seasons, and the current elimination-style Championship 4 format has been utilized since 2014, albeit with a slight modification (stages, stage points, and extra playoff points for stage wins) starting in 2017.

Interestingly, none of the six candidates for this year’s MLB MVP awards (three in the American League and three in the National League) made it to the playoffs.

American League

  • Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (MVP)
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
  • Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays

National League

  • Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies (MVP)
  • Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
  • Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

Of course, the MLB has become somewhat known for producing non-playoff MVPs (just ask the Angels and Mike Trout), so this isn’t a huge surprise — though it does raise the question about the meaning of “valuable” in “most valuable player”.

But let’s have a little fun and apply the same logic to NASCAR.

Of the non-playoff drivers and only the non-playoff drivers, who were the top three “MVP” candidates for 2021?

NASCAR “MVP” candidates for 2021: No. 1 – Austin Dillon

There is not much to explain here. Austin Dillon finished highest in the standings among the non-playoff drivers in points, and he would have finished ahead of four of the 16 playoff drivers in points if not for the playoff points resets.

The driver of the #3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing finished 160 points ahead of the next closest non-playoff driver. Entering the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway, he was the only driver below the playoff cut line who could have possibly qualified for the postseason on points.

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