Loading scores...
Power Rankings

2021 Power Ranking: 21-30

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: November 12, 2021, 3:40 pm ET

There was a lot of parity in 2021 that was seen in the tough competition between three distinct groups. Drivers at this level battled hard for top-20s. Often those battles impacted the win as these drivers raced the leader hard to stay on the lead lap.

While these drivers earned occasional top-10s, it was difficult to predict when and where that would happen. The best one could hope for on a given week was that consistency would play a role and provide fantasy players a good set of notes to know when to roll the dice on teams that straddled the middle of the pack.

Finishing on the lead lap was a badge of honor that gave drivers the opportunity to gain positions late in the race if the leaders experienced trouble. It often meant the difference between a top-20 finish and one that was crowding 30th. Running on the lead lap also kept sponsors and partners excited.

NASCAR knows the importance of keeping most of the field in play and that is part of the reason for their "no-driver-left-behind" policy of Free Passes and Wave Arounds. It's still a difficult task and one reason we have included it in this week's header information.

21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 0
Cup wins: 0
Top-10s: 2 [5.6%] (Bristol dirt, Nashville)
Lead Lap Finishes: 19
Power Average: 18.59
An early accident in NASCAR's first dirt track race in half a century radically altered the running at Bristol Motor Speedway. It opened the door for a couple of very interesting battles. While Joey Logano was the ultimate winner, Stenhouse came home second and almost claimed one of the Round of 16 positions. The 2021 season had several inaugural races with Stenhouse's only other top-10 coming in the first Cup race at Nashville.

22. Bubba Wallace
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 1
Cup wins: 1 (Talladega 2)
Top-10s: 3 [8.3%] (Talladega 2, Daytona 2, Pocono 2)
Lead Lap Finishes: 21
Power Average: 18.86
Wallace raced with a lot of pressure in 2021. Before the Daytona 500, new owner Michael Jordan told the media he expected the team to win. Knowing how difficult a task that is, co-owner Denny Hamlin diffused the comment somewhat and set more realistic goals. Jordan got his wish on the Alabama's carburetor-restricted superspeedway in a rain-shortened race. There may be an asterisk next to Wallace's Talladega Superspeedway win, but the fact remains that he made history as only the second African American driver to win at NASCAR's highest level. A bigger accomplishment may be that he finished better than he started in 20 of the 32 races in which he was running at the end.

23. Aric Almirola
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 0
Cup wins: 1 (New Hampshire)
Top-10s: 5 [13.8%] (New Hampshire, Nashville, Phoenix 2, Martinsville 2, Richmond 1)
Lead Lap Finishes: 20
Power Average: 19.71
It was not a good year for Stewart-Haas Racing, but Almirola at least has the distinction of being the only one of the foursome to win. His victory at New Hampshire was unexpected and came with 90/1 odds at PointsBet Sportsbook, but it was enough to put him in the playoffs. He fell out immediately after the Round of 16 – to no one's surprise. Almirola actually ran much better than his Power Average suggests. He was sidelined by accidents in five races and significantly slowed by damage on two other occasions.

24. Chase Briscoe
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 0
Cup wins: 0
Top-10s: 3 [8.3%] (Road America, COTA, Watkins Glen)
Lead Lap Finishes: 18
Power Average: 20.37
The best thing about Briscoe's season is that it gives bettors and players a place to start next year. It turns out that he is a remarkably strong road racer and after qualifying on the outside pole for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course race, he was in contention to win late in the race before he got black flagged for jumping the final restart. His three top-10s came on road courses, including a gutsy performance in the rain at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). He'll be remembered for wrecking Hamlin at Indy, but for anyone looking for a dark horse next year, he should be remembered for how well he ran before that.

25. Erik Jones
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 0
Cup wins: 0
Top-10s: 6 [16.7%] (Indy road, Martinsville 2, Bristol paved & dirt, Talladega 2, Las Vegas 1)
Lead Lap Finishes: 18
Power Average: 20.99
Jones kept the No. 43 in contention in half of the races last year with 18 top-20 finishes and another four results of 21st or 22nd. That was the key to earning six top-10s, which is among the best for drivers at this level. The most striking note from his results is that it came on a wide variety of tracks: a road course, two short tracks, a dirt track, a "cookie-cutter" track, and a plate course.

26. Michael McDowell
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 1
Cup wins: 1 (Daytona 500)
Top-10s: 5 [13.8%] (Daytona 1, Talladega 1, Homestead, COTA, Daytona road)
Lead Lap Finishes: 18
Power Average: 21.01
Everyone knows anything can happen on a carburetor-restricted superspeedway, so McDowell's first Cup win did not raise eyebrows. When Christopher Bell was victorious the following week to give NASCAR back-to-back first timers, it was the first inkling that this season was not going to be like the ones that came before. By the end of the regular season, there were 14 unique winners in playoff contention plus AJ Allmendinger. This was the closest NASCAR has come to completely filling the Round of 16 with race winners.

27. Daniel Suarez
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 0
Cup wins: 0
Top-10s: 4 [11.1%] (Bristol dirt, Nashville, Dover, Texas)
Lead Lap Finishes: 18
Power Average: 21.05
Suarez almost joined the list of first-time winners in a surprisingly competitive Bristol dirt race. He led 58 laps until he was passed by the veteran Logano. Suarez got shuffled back to fourth after two late-race restarts, but that is not what was expected from a driver with such limited experience on this track type. Suarez's next best finish came on another inaugural track in Nashville, so he's shown his mettle when the playing field is level.

28. Cole Custer
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 0
Cup wins: 0
Top-10s: 2 [5.5%] (Dover, Talladega 1)
Lead Lap Finishes: 17
Power Average: 21.43
Custer was the consummate mid-pack driver. He finished 10th or 11th four times during the season and two of those were in the carburetor-restricted superspeedway lotteries, but he was in the top 20 in nearly half of the races and 25th or better 29 times. At this stage of his career, consistency is acceptable because it gives the team a solid set of notes from which to work. To be relevant next year, he will need to improve, however.

29. Ryan Preece
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10: 1
Cup wins: 0
Top-10s: 4 [11.1%] (Daytona 1 & 2, Pocono, Daytona road)
Lead Lap Finishes: 15
Power Average: 23.13
Preece got off to a strong start with back-to-back top-10s at Daytona on the speedway and road course. That briefly landed him in the Power Rankings top 10 but he lost contact with that list soon after. There were a couple of other highlights like an eighth-place finish in the second race of Pocono's doubleheader and another top-10 on at Daytona. The downside was that he tore up a lot of equipment with eight races in which he sustained crash damage and two when his brakes failed. When it came time for JTG-Daugherty Racing to trim down to one car, Preece was the odd man out.

30. Ryan Newman
Weeks in the Power Rankings top 10:
Cup wins: 0
Top-10s: 5 [13.8%] (Daytona 2, Bristol dirt, Homestead, Darlington 1, Indy road)
Lead Lap Finishes: 17
Power Average: 23.54
Barring an 11th-Hour reprieve from a moderately-funded team, one of NASCAR's most hard-nosed drivers is going to be left on the sidelines when the music stops. Winless since 2018, he nevertheless sits 47th on the all-time chart along with some legendary drivers like Kasey Kahne, Neil Bonnet, Harry Gant, and Geoff Bodine. His 268 top-10s places him 25th on that chart.

PointsBet Sportsbook 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, 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
Season Long Power Rankings, 11-20
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.