The 2020 NASCAR DFS Season was full of it ups and downs, wins and losses. As the season progressed, we saw the emergence of Chase Elliot as a perennial contender for the Championship. Winning in DFS is about finding the best value you can while staying under the salary cap. The top drivers of the year were Kevin Harvick with a season high nine wins, 20 top five finishes, 27 top 10 finishes in 36 races and 1531 laps led. Denny Hamlin with seven wins 18 top five finishes, 18 top 10 finishes, and 1083 laps led. The eventual Season Champion Chase Elliot who won five races (including three of the last five), had 15 top five finishes, 22 top 10 finishes and led 1247 laps. The three drivers listed above are likely to be extremely expensive during the 2021 season. Especially Chase Elliot on road courses where he has won the last four races. Other standouts on the year were Brad Keselowski who won four races and Joey Logano who won three. Now let’s look at who can dominate this year. Here are my 2021 Power Rankings.
One through five are the drivers that you want to have as many shares as possible in each week. Of course that you can afford while also staying under budget.
- A sure fire bet every week to win is last years regular season champion Kevin Harvick. There is not really anything bad to say about the steady veteran. He will be competitive in every race on every track. Harvick will pile up a lot of wins as he has shown he is capable of in the last few years. You can bet your last dollar that he will not let a late season mistake ruin his chances at the title like he did in 2020.
- The 2020 season champion gets the second spot on these power ranking after a spectacular finish to the season last year. Last year was by far the best we have seen of Chase Elliot… yet. I think Elliot can take a large step forward from his five wins in 2020. With the additional road courses this year (Elliot the winner of the last four) his win potential could be in the double-digits this year.
- Number three on this list is the Driver of the Number 22 Team Penske Ford Joey Logano. Logano has been rather dominant on the track in the past five years in every aspect except for the win column. He has not managed to top more than three wins since his career best year in 2015. His lack of wins however does not lament his place as the elite of the elite in NASCAR this year. Logano and his crew chief Paul Wolfe will get another year under their belt and should be in contention for the championship at the very end.
- The winner of the second most races last year was Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Denny Hamlin. Hamlin had one of his best years of his career in 2020 and was a title contender from the very beginning. Most metrics show that 2020 was the best of his career. Hamlin will be driving another year with a chip on his shoulder as he will enter 2021 without that elusive championship trophy in his cabinet. Hamlin has shown that he can pile up wins quick and is an enticing DFS option going into 2021.
- Brad Keselowski had his best statistical season in 2020 since he won the title in 2012. He matched his career best for average finish at 10.1 and added four more wins to his resume. Keselowski has won four races in each of the past five years: thus, adding to his DFS appeal in the 2021 season. Keselowski was excellent down the stretch where in the final four races he finished fourth, sixth, fourth, and finally second in the season finale.
The next five drivers are all top five eligible purely based on skill on the racetrack. Going into 2021, these ranking are based on skill and their recent performance which pushes some of these drivers down.
- After what was a bit of a nightmare season for Kyle Busch, he will look to bounce back to championship form in 2021. Let’s just say it is extremely likely for Busch to mimic his lack of success in 2020. His Joe Gibbs racing team will look to make the necessary adjustments to get Busch back into the championship four race this coming November.
- After getting a new crew chief in James Small for the 2020 season Martin Truex Jr. had a bit of an up and down year. On the flip side Truex had 23 top 10 finishes in 2020 which was third only to Harvick (27) and Keselowski (24). If he can build on his performances at the tracks, he finished second at in 2020, Truex could finish the 2021 season with multiple wins like he has had in previous years.
- There were several races in 2020 where Ryan Blaney seemed to have the best car, only to faulter and finish less then first. Blaney was known to struggle to keep his mid race place, but if he can keep up multiple wins could be in store for Blaney in 2021. Blaney was also excellent on the two Superspeedways: Talladega and Daytona.
- Alex Bowman will now be driving the acclaimed Number 48 car for Hendrick Motorsports replacing legend Jimmie Johnson. Bowman has continued to mature and get better each year of his career. He won a race for the second straight season and made it all the way to the final eight in the playoffs. There is no reason that Bowman will regress in 2021 and could be a dark horse contender for the Championship Four.
- This pick may seem a surprise, but I have high hopes for Chase Briscoe in his rookie season. After nine wins in last years Xfinity campaign coupled with taking over a top tier car from Clint Bowyer, Briscoe could be in for a successful rookie campaign. There are more road course this year where Briscoe has had some of his best success.
Now for the rest:
- Kurt Bush
- Kyle Larson
- William Byron
- Bubba Wallace
- Tyler Reddick
- Austin Dillon
- Christopher Bell
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Cole Custer
- Aric Almirola
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