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Power Rankings

2021 Power Ranking: 11-20

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: November 10, 2021, 4:20 pm ET

While most of the raw strength among Cup contenders was concentrated among the top-10 drivers, 10 victories went to racers who did not end the 2021 season among the elite.

Nearly all earned a single win. A few scored their first career victory, while AJ Allmendinger won as a part timer with relatively long odds. His Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course win came after contact between Chase Briscoe, (who was seeking his first win), and Denny Hamlin altered the end of an already messy race that was marred by deteriorating track conditions.

Most of the top-10 drivers had weekly betting odds that were so low that the only way to cover the outright win was with a top-three wager. For them, top-fives were almost always in the minus range. Top-threes are nearly as difficult to predict as wins – but there was a way to get a little more action by looking further down the order.

If you were lucky or insightful enough to have placed an outright win bet on these drivers, you cashed in handsomely. But most drivers at this level had reasonable odds for top-fives throughout the season and that made them relevant. For readers who used the weekly NBC Edge editorial to set fantasy roster, this group of 10 drivers were among the greatest values on any given week.

11. Christopher Bell  
Weeks in the top 10: 12
Cup wins: 1 (Daytona road)
Top-fives: 7 [19.4%] (Daytona road, Road America, New Hampshire, Richmond 1 & 2, Texas, Talladega 2)
Power Average: 12.16
Bell's first career win came with +6000 odds, but it's doubtful that many bettors cashed in. With his roots firmly in dirt track racing, no one really thought he was a good value when it came time to turn right. A pattern slowly emerged. He finished second at Road America and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Top-fives in both Richmond races showed that he had the right rhythm on courses where drivers have to back up the corners and brake early.  

12. Alex Bowman
Weeks in the top 10: 10
Cup wins: 4 (Richmond 1, Dover, Pocono 1, Martinsville 2)
Top-fives: 8 [22.2%] (Richmond 1, Dover, Pocono 1, Martinsville 2, Atlanta 1 & 2, Charlotte, Bristol)
Power Average: 12.32
'All-or-nothing' may get overused, but it's difficult to think about Bowman any other way. His four wins in the Cup series tied with Truex for second-most, but he would add only four more top-fives. When he had the chance to win at Martinsville against a driver who was not his teammate, he pounced. That was only his third top-five in the second half of the season. Bowman pushed too hard, spun Hamlin, and is now a part of Martinsville's highlight reel for next year.

13. Kurt Busch
Weeks in the top 10: 10
Cup wins: 1 (Atlanta 2)
Top-fives: 6 [16.7%] (Atlanta 2, Daytona road, Road America, Michigan, Talladega 2, Kansas 2)
Power Average: 13.03
In March, we pointed out that Busch had a seven-year winning streak and with relatively long odds each week, he was likely to cover a year's worth of bets when he extended it, (if one ignored the carburetor-restricted superspeedway races). It took a little while for him to make good on the prophecy, but with 33/1 odds for the Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he proved us correct.  His eight-year winning streak is currently fourth-best among active drivers.

14. Tyler Reddick
Weeks in the top 10: 21
Cup wins: 0
Top-fives: 3 [8.3%] (Homestead, Charlotte Roval, Daytona 2)
Power Average: 13.14
Reddick may have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. He scored 16 top-10s in 36 races and ran among the leaders often enough in those events to make the weekly Power Rankings 21 times – easily outpacing his direct competition. From an eighth-place finish on the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track through a ninth on the Charlotte Roval, he scored six top-10s in eight races on a variety of tracks. With two full seasons under his belt, he is going to be even stronger in 2022.

15. Austin Dillon
Weeks in the top 10: 7
Cup wins: 0
Top-fives: 1 [2.7%] (Daytona 1)
Power Average: 13.43
A lot more was expected from Dillon than his results show. His only top-five came on the lottery-style Daytona International Speedway and top-10s all-but dried up in the second half of the season. He seemed to trade raw power for consistency and finished worse than 17th only five times; three of those were because of accidents. That is actually good news for his 2022 effort because if they can improve marginally across the board, they will have a lot of top-10s next year and it's going to take a while for traders' algorithms to catch up to their potential.

16. AJ Allmendinger
Weeks in the top 10: 2
Cup wins: 1 (Indy road)
Top-fives: 2 [40.0%] (Indy road, COTA)
Power Average: 13.59
If rain had not shortened the Texas Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), Allmendinger might well have earned two wins in 2022. His road racing skill was put to the test as he meticulously picked his way through the field on that soggy Texas afternoon. Allmendinger ran only five races last year and scored three results of seventh or better. His season ended ignominiously with a blown engine on the Charlotte Roval.

17. Matt DiBenedetto
Weeks in the top 10: 7
Cup wins: 0
Top-fives: 3 [8.3%] (Kansas 1, Talladega 1, Indy road)
Power Average: 15.90
DiBenedetto momentarily got his hopes up when it became apparent Brad Keselowski would move to Roush Fenway Racing in 2022, but that was dashed quickly with the announcement that Harrison Burton would take his ride at Wood Brothers Racing with Austin Cindric climbing into the No. 2. Soon after, DiBenedetto scored one of three top-five on the Indy road course and a sixth at Michigan, but he was unable to sustain the momentum and scored only two more top-10s in his last 11 attempts.

18. Chris Buescher
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Cup wins: 0
Top-fives: 1 [2.7%] (Charlotte Roval)
Power Average: 16.65
Buescher's move to Roush Fenway Racing did not move the needle much in either direction. He scored two top-fives in 2020 and one in 2021. He had eight top-10s in both seasons, but an average finish of 17.3 this year was slightly better than his 19.6 in 2020. Then again, his average with JTG-Daugherty Racing in 2019 was an almost identical 17.8. RFR has needed help for a while, and they hope to get it when Keselowski moves over. They can be cautiously optimistic, but one needs to recall that Matt Kenseth was not able to help much in his brief tenure with the organization.

19. Ross Chastain
Weeks in the top 10: 1
Cup wins: 0
Top-fives: 3 [8.3%] (Nashville, Darlington 2, COTA)
Power Average: 16.95
Chastain made a lot of noise during the season, but something seemed to go awry in the closing laps of several races. There were certainly highlights, and his three top-fives came under some of the most difficult circumstances 2021 had to offer. He finished second to a bulldozing Kyle Larson at Nashville, was third in the Southern 500, and fourth in the wet, slippery Texas Grand Prix.

20. Austin Cindric
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Cup wins: 0
Top-fives: 0
Power Average: 18.16
Cindric made only seven starts in 2021, but he was still running on the last lap of every event. He was part of the fiery crash that ended the Daytona 500, but far enough forward in the field to be credited with 15th. His highlights came on the road courses with a top-10 at Indy and top-five qualifications at COTA and Road America.

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Power Average, 2021 Season

Rank

Driver

Avg Finish

1.

Denny Hamlin

5.85

2.

Kyle Larson

6.53

3.

Chase Elliott

7.45

4.

William Byron

8.82

5.

Joey Logano

8.87

6.

Kyle Busch

8.94

7.

Martin Truex Jr.

9.16

8.

Ryan Blaney

9.61

9.

Kevin Harvick

9.66

10.

Brad Keselowski

10.83

 

11.

Christopher Bell

12.16

12.

Alex Bowman

12.32

13.

Kurt Busch

13.03

14.

Tyler Reddick

13.14

15.

Austin Dillon

13.43

16.

AJ Allmendinger

13.59

17.

Matt DiBenedetto

15.90

18.

Chris Buescher

16.65

19.

Ross Chastain

16.95

20.

Austin Cindric

18.16

 

21.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18.59

22.

Bubba Wallace

18.86

23.

Aric Almirola

19.71

24.

Chase Briscoe

20.37

25.

Erik Jones

20.99

26.

Michael McDowell

21.01

27.

Daniel Suarez

21.05

28.

Cole Custer

21.43

29.

Ryan Preece

23.13

30.

Ryan Newman

23.54

 

31.

Corey LaJoie

25.78

32.

Kaz Grala

25.87

33.

Ty Dillon

27.43

34.

Anthony Alfredo

29.77

35.

Justin Haley

29.94

36.

JJ Yeley

31.09

37.

BJ McLeod

31.89

38.

Cody Ware

32.92

39.

David Starr

33.72

40.

James Davison

33.86

 

41.

Garrett Smithley

33.91

42.

Josh Bilicki

34.03

43.

Quin Houff

34.46

44.

Joey Gase

34.61

45.

Scott Heckert

34.64

46.

Kyle Tilley

35.75

47.

Timmy Hill

36.02

 

Season Long Power Rankings, 1-10
Power Rankings After Martinsville 2

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.