Loading scores...
Show category column on Sport Landing Pages. Only works if category has a value.
Yes
Show Warren Sharp on Betting Pages. Only works if category is Warren Sharp.
No
Power Rankings

Season Ending Power Rankings

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: November 12, 2020, 5:34 pm ET

NASCAR seasons are long and arduous.

A year that begins at Daytona around Valentines Day ends in November with Thanksgiving in sight will be filled with ups and downs. Between these two holidays NASCAR squeezes in 36 points’ paying races and a few exhibition events on more than 20 tracks. The 2021 season was even more difficult than ever as the series experienced a 70-day hiatus near the beginning to respect local stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With only four races in the books before the break, drivers were just hitting their stride. Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Alex Bowman won those races; Logano scored victories at Las Vegas and in what would become the last race at Phoenix before the two-month break.


When the series returned to action, Kevin Harvick and Hamlin immediately established dominance with wins at Darlington in what became replacement races for Richmond and Chicagoland – two tracks in states that would not lift restrictive orders for a while. Before the season ended, those two would combine for 16 wins, or 44 percent of the victories available and they would each amass impressive playoff bonus totals.

But there was another driver lurking in the shadows who got off to an equally impressive start in the season reset and he ended the year with back-to-back wins, a NASCAR Cup championship, and the number one spot in the final Power Rankings.

Top 10

1. Chase Elliott (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 33
Weeks as #1: 10
Power Average: 5.81
In the first few weeks after the season restart, Elliott was as strong as Harvick and Hamlin, but he crashed a couple of times and had bad restarts on a few occasions. Those mishaps kept him from racking up victories. His efforts softened a bit in the final regular season races and he was not perfect during the playoffs – but he easily had the most strength among the competitors with three victories in the last seven races and five results of sixth or better. He had to win Martinsville to even be part of the Championship 4 and then dominated Phoenix for the Cup.

2. Ryan Blaney (last week: 2)
Weeks in the top 10: 23
Weeks as #1: 2
Power Average: 5.93
Blaney struggled at the start of the playoffs and without enough bonus points or wins, he was unable to advance. That is a shame because he was almost as strong as Elliott in the last 45 days of the season with six results of seventh or better in seven races. One of these was a second-place finish in the Xfinity 500. Had he won that race, the complexion of the championship would have been much different with Harvick as part of the Phoenix 4 instead of Elliott.

3. Brad Keselowski (last week: 6) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 32
Power Average: 7.66
It is fitting that Keselowski surged to third in the final tally by only .02 points in our Power Ranking performance formula. Kez just kept hanging around all season. He was never considered one of the dominant drivers, but he was always in contention and ended the year with the fourth-most wins behind Harvick’s nine, Hamlin’s seven, and Elliott’s five. Two of his four wins came soon after the return to action at Charlotte and Bristol.

4. Joey Logano (last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 33
Power Average: 7.68
Two years ago a short run car allowed Logano to motor past Martin Truex Jr. at the end of the Ford 400 at Homestead and claim the championship. This year he was also strong on short runs, but Elliott was better overall and much better when the tires started to wear.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 5)
Weeks in the top 10: 29
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 8.42
Truex ended the season with five top-10s in the last seven races. Unfortunately multiple inspection failures sent his car to the back of the pack too often for him to be competitive. He had a strong showing at Texas before finishing second to teammate Kyle Busch. He was equally impressive at Martinsville before a tire vibration eliminated him from competition at the close of the Xfinity 500. Phoenix was just another race. He finished 10th with an Average Running Position of 13.27, which made him an ‘also-ran’.

6. Alex Bowman (last week: 3) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 19
Weeks as #1: 1
Power Average: 8.66
While the playoffs worked precisely as NASCAR dreamed with dramatic finishes at Martinsville and the Phoenix 4 running 1-2-3-4 all day long, several performances were overlooked just because the drivers did not run well enough to attain superstar status. Bowman was one of these. His early season win locked him into the playoffs, but he did not have enough bonus points to survive a winless final 10 races. Still, he finished eighth or better in five of the last seven races and was one of the top parlay bets on several occasions.

7. Denny Hamlin (last week: 12) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 26
Weeks as #1: 3
Power Average: 11.22
Hamlin is a flat track master, but he has not been as strong at Phoenix as he is at Martinsville and Richmond. He still believed he had a chance to win the Season Finale 500k since he was victorious in last year’s edition of that race. One can’t say he ran poorly because he finished fourth – and yet, that made him the least successful championship driver in the field. He ended the season with four top-10s in the final seven races and nothing worse than 15th.

8. Kyle Busch (last week: 7) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 23                         
Power Average: 11.44
A lot more was expected of Busch last week than an 11th-place finish. We not only thought he was destined to keep a top-three streak alive, but also believed he could challenge for the win of the Season Finale 500k. He finished 11th in the final race of a disappointing 2020 season, which is the first time since 2014 that he failed to score a top-10 on this track and his first sub-third-place finish in six races there.

9. William Byron (last week: 13) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 3
Power Average: 12.44
Byron’s ninth-place finish at Phoenix was a solid performance that came with an Average Running Position of 11.66 and the 11th-best Driver Rating (88.3). The compelling battle at the front of the pack kept the cameras from facing his direction very often, but he was one of several drivers who ended the season with a top-10 average greater than 50 percent in the final 45 days. His best finish in that span was a fourth at Talladega.

10. Kurt Busch (last week: 10)
Weeks in the top 10: 22
Power Average: 12.49
Common wisdom about Busch is that he makes teams better. He isn’t challenging for a lot of wins at this stage of his career, but his consistency gives the organization of solid set of notes from which to work. Last week we thought he would finish on the cusp of 10th and a 12th-place finish at Phoenix was close. It was also his fifth top-15 in the final seven races of the season.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Kevin Harvick (last week: 8) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 31
Weeks as #1: 14
Power Average: 12.49
Until midway through Martinsville, no one seriously considered that Harvick would not be part of the Phoenix 4. He entered the Xfinity 500 with 67 bonus points on the strength of nine race wins and seven stage wins. That short bullring is not his best course, but he still was the favorite to win the Cup with +160 odds. His struggle was manifested in the last lap accident on the .5-mile track when he attempted to intentionally wreck Ky Busch and crashed himself instead. Phoenix should have been different. This is a track he’s dominated in the past, but he ran outside the top five and scored an Average Running Position of 10.77.

13. Erik Jones (last week: 9) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 8
Power Average: 13.10
Jones’ teammate Hamlin complained that Jones raced him too hard in the closing laps at Martinsville. That was not an issue at Phoenix because his average position of 16.33 and final result of 22nd insured that he was nowhere near the championship-contending rival. That was his last ride with Joe Gibbs Racing and the opportunity to score additional top-10s in 2021 will be diminished at Richard Petty Motorsports.

Winners, Last 45 Days (Outright Odds to win)
Season Finale 500k, Phoenix: Chase Elliott (+500)
Xfinity 500, Martinsville: Chase Elliott (+775)
Autotrader 500, Texas: Kyle Busch (+1500)
Hollywood Casino 400, Kansas: Joey Logano (+1400) 
Roval 400k, Charlotte Roval: Chase Elliott (+290)
YellaWood 500, Talladega: Denny Hamlin (+900)
South Point 400, Las Vegas: Kurt Busch (+4000)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Power Average, Last 45 Days

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Avg. Odds
Rank

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Chase Elliott

5.81

3.00

1

0

2.

Ryan Blaney

5.93

5.00

2

0

3.

Brad Keselowski

7.66

5.20

6

3

4.

Joey Logano

7.68

5.00

4

0

5.

Martin Truex Jr.

8.42

4.40

5

0

6.

Alex Bowman

8.66

9.40

3

-3

7.

Denny Hamlin

11.22

1.80

12

5

8.

Kyle Busch

11.44

6.60

7

-1

9.

William Byron

12.44

12.00

13

4

10.

Kurt Busch

12.49

8.80

10

0

 

11.

Kevin Harvick

13.10

4.00

8

-3

12.

Clint Bowyer

13.49

12.20

11

-1

13.

Erik Jones

13.66

14.40

9

-4

14.

Matt DiBenedetto

14.29

15.80

14

0

15.

Cole Custer

15.92

19.80

16

1

16.

Christopher Bell

17.10

19.20

15

-1

17.

Jimmie Johnson

18.02

12.20

19

2

18.

Austin Dillon

18.68

17.40

20

2

19.

Aric Almirola

19.67

12.00

18

-1

20.

Tyler Reddick

19.86

16.00

17

-3

21.

Ryan Newman

22.34

22.60

25

4

22.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

22.69

20.60

27

5

23.

Ty Dillon

22.76

27.80

24

1

24.

JH Nemechek

23.02

26.80

22

-2

25.

Ryan Preece

23.27

28.00

23

-2

26.

Chris Buescher

23.63

22.00

21

-5

27.

Bubba Wallace

24.37

22.40

26

-1

28.

Michael McDowell

25.47

24.60

28

0

29.

Matt Kenseth

26.42

22.00

29

0

30.

Corey LaJoie

27.10

31.00

30

0

31.

Daniel Suarez

28.36

30.60

31

0

32.

Gray Gaulding

30.33

 

32

0

33.

Brennan Poole

31.07

32.40

33

0

34.

Timmy Hill

32.12

35.00

34

0

35.

Josh Bilicki

32.16

33.33

35

0

36.

JJ Yeley

32.79

33.40

36

0

37.

James Davison

33.67

32.25

39

2

38.

Garrett Smithley

34.04

 

37

-1

39.

Quin Houff

34.15

33.00

38

-1

40.

Reed Sorenson

34.78

 

41

1

41.

Joey Gase

35.18

34.40

40

-1

42.

Chad Finchum

37.19

 

42

0

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.