It feels as though the NASCAR season just ended, but we are now a mere couple of months away from the start of the new season. You have to give credit to NASCAR for delivering a thrilling season in 2020 despite being forced to such down for 10 weeks during the pandemic. There were midweek races, doubleheaders, and some other weird scheduling quirks, but it all eventually went of without too much of a hitch, with Chase Elliott being the eventual champion. He will have the target on his back next season, but what else can we expect from NASCAR in 2021? Let’s find out so you can plan ahead your bets and place them against their NASCAR odds.
What to expect for 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season
There has been a little bit of shuffling of the schedule already, with the originally scheduled 3rd race of the season changed up. The Dixie Vodka 500 at Homestead will replace the race at Auto Club Speedway, while a road race at Daytona will fill the slot in Week 2. The season proper begins on February 14 and will be the usual 36-race schedule, assuming of course that we don’t run into any issues with COVID. With a vaccine set to arrive anytime, the hope is also that we will get fans back in the stands, although it may be later in the year before we see that.
One of the biggest names in sports will be part of NASCAR this coming season, with Michael Jordan teaming up with Denny Hamlin to start the 23XI Racing Team. They will start the new season with just a single driver in the line-up, with Bubba Wallace the man for the job. Jordan explained that he has long been a fan of NASCAR, but it is still something of a surprise to see him make the jump to team owner. There is a precedent here, though, with former NFL head coach Joe Gibbs carving out a great career as an owner.
Another big story to watch this season is the return of Kyle Larson to the NASCAR fold. The always outspoken Larson received an indefinite ban after being caught using a racial slur during a livestream on Twitch. We were just 4 races into the season at that point, with many people believing that he would never make a return. The ban has been lifted and Larson has been contrite in his recent interviews, but he will also be starting the season with zero sponsorships. It will be interesting to see of that changes over the course of the season.
It will be Chase Elliott who comes into the season as the man to beat, but there are certainly plenty of drivers who can take a run. Kevin Harvick, who won more races than any other driver in 2020, will feel as though he has something to prove, as will Denny Hamlin, another driver coming off a great season. if you are looking for a dark horse this season, how about Ryan Blaney? He finished the 2020 season in great form, delivering 5 straight top 10 finishes. Let’s see if that momentum carries over.