The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series was the final curtain call for some legendary careers. With the retirements of future Hall of Famers Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer, three new drivers will join the ranks as they start their careers as full-time drivers in the cup series. There have also been numerous driver and crew chief changes that will be addressed and analyzed to predict how each relationship can flourish during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. This issue will focus on Christopher Bell, Anthony Alfredo, Alex Bowman, and Bubba Wallace.
Christopher Bell: After racing his first NASCAR Cup Series season with the number 95 Leavine Family Racing car, sophomore Christopher Bell is moving to Joe Gibbs Racing to take over the Number 20 car from Erik Jones. The Number 20 car has made the playoffs two of the last three years and for Bell that will be an expectation of him this year to make it back to the playoffs for Joe Gibbs Racing. In the 2020 season, Bell was a Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender, after he had a good rookie year where he had two top-five finishes of fourth at Pocono Raceway and third at Texas Motor Speedway in the playoffs. In three years in the Xfinity Series Bell amassed 16 wins, 41 top-five finishes, and led 2,920 laps in only 74 races. Bell, in his second season, looks to bring his Xfinity success to the Cup Series. Bell will be paired with Adam Stevens as his crew chief. Stevens has had a very successful career with another Joe Gibbs racing legend, Two-time champion Kyle Busch. My prediction for Bell is that he will be a great value play and will be at a discount for most of the year. Bell has the talent to win at this level and will need to capitalize on his opportunities. Look for Bell to be in my lineup a lot this year as I believe his pairing with Adam Stevens will pay dividends for Bell’s career.
Anthony Alfredo: After a successful part-time run with Richard Childress Racing in the Number 21 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series in 2020 Anthony Alfredo will be moving to Front Row Motorsports in 2021 to race the number 38 car in the NASCAR Cup Series. This is a rather large leap for the 21-year-old driver as well as a great opportunity highlighted from his success in 2020. In 2020 he had nine top 10 finishes in 19 races. Alfredo also referred to as “Fast Pasta” was part of the 2018 NASCAR Next Class as an 18-year-old. In 2021 he will be a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate. Alfredo is set to team up with Crew Chief Seth Barbour, who in 2020 picked up three top 10 finishes with John Hunter Nemechek in 2020 (two at Talladega and one at Darlington). Barbour also had one win and seven top-five finishes in his Xfinity Series career. This pairing will not be at the top of the sport this year but could offer some value plays in the 2021 season on some of the Superspeedway tracks where both driver and crew chief have had success in their careers.
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Alex Bowman: 2021 will be a big year for the new driver of the legendary Number 48 car, once driven by seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Alex Bowman was given the Number 48 car after a very successful 2020 season that saw him finish sixth in points and a top-eight finish. Bowman won one race in 2020 as well as adding six top-five finishes and 15 top 20 finishes. Hendrick Motorsports is surely to be happy they have Bowman as a worthy replacement for Johnson moving forward. Bowman will stay paired with his crew chief of the past three years. Bowman has two Cup wins with Hendrick over the past three seasons. In 2021 Bowman will be expected to be a great value play all season. Expect his value to be in the higher middle of the pack on most race days as he still has a lot to prove in his career before he can be in the upper echelon of drivers. Bowman is in a great spot DFS wise for 2021. I am sure he will be in my lineup most weeks.
Bubba Wallace: After three seasons driving the Number 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet Bubba Wallace is moving to the new race team owned by fellow racer Denny Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan. Wallace will drive the Number 23 car for 23XI racing in the team’s first-ever season. Wallace has been steadily improving over his three full-time NASCAR Cup Series seasons. He has yet to get his first win. Wallace is being paired up with Hamlin’s old crew chief Mike Wheeler who has had some great success in his career. Wheeler has five cup series wins and four Xfinity Series wins. For DFS NASCAR in 2021, look for Wallace to be a value play most weeks. He has seen the most of his success on Superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega. When at those two tracks, Wallace will be a sleeper and value pick for me this year.
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