Elliott, Harvick co-favored to win 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship
We’re still a few weeks away from witnessing the green flag drop for the Daytona 500 and the start of the 2021 NASCAR season, but it’s never too early to dig into the Cup Series Championship futures.
Defending series champion Chase Elliott is co-favored with Kevin Harvick – who dominated the 2020 regular season – at +550. Let’s dive into their respective résumés and see if they could be upset by a dark horse candidate in 2021.
NASCAR Cup Series Championship 2021
Sat, November 6 2021, 5:00 PM
Truex Jr, Martin
Elliott couples youth with experience
At age 24, Elliott became the third-youngest driver to win the NASCAR Championship. Only Jeff Gordon (also 24 in 1995) and Bill Rexford (23, 1950) were younger than Elliott at the time of their achievement.
It looked like Elliott was snake-bitten in the middle of the 2020 season, suffering a Kyle Busch-induced spinout at Darlington and a failed pit call at the Coca-Cola 600, but he eventually overcame that misfortune by winning the last two races of the year to clinch the title.
Elliott’s chances to repeat as Cup Series Champion were bolstered by the dramatically-altered 2021 NASCAR schedule, which sees an increase to seven road races. Elliott has won an eye-popping four straight events on road courses.
Harvick now NASCAR’s winningest active driver
Following the retirement of Jimmie Johnson, Harvick now owns the most wins (58) of any active driver, leading Kyle Busch by one victory.
Harvick was a dominant force in last year’s regular season, as he took the checkered flag a season-high nine times. He also had the most Top 10s of any driver (27).
A late-season swoon cost Harvick a shot at the Championship 4, but the 45-year-old California native could easily right the ship this year with a little luck.
Martin Truex Jr. can turn it around in 2021
Martin Truex Jr. (+750) was unlucky to win just one race in 2020 (Martinsville I), as he tallied the third-most Top 10s of any driver (23, behind only Harvick with 27 and Brad Keselowski with 24). From July 23 to Aug. 16, Truex finished third in five consecutive races, with must have been equally frustrating as it was pleasing.
Truex had a chance to advance to the Championship 4, but a 20-point penalty as the result of a spoiler issue at Texas cost him dearly. If his fortunes improve, the 2017 Cup Series Champion could earn his second career title at a nice price.