NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings, No. 11: Kurt Busch

2020 Las Vegas NCS Kurt Busch Victory Lane NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

You may not think so at first, but of the full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Kurt Busch has the earliest series debut out of them all, finishing 18th at Dover International Speedway in September 2000.  Twenty-one years later, the 2004 champion isn’t backing off the gas just yet. The 42-year-old driver from Las Vegas has …

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2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings No. 12: Aric Almirola

2020DaytonaNCSAricAlmirolaFaceNKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

In three seasons at Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Aric Almirola has proven his ability to be a contender for the playoffs.  He has also shown an affinity for strong runs, including wins, at restrictor plate tracks. Almirola’s performances have earned him the loyalty of primary sponsor Smithfield.  But the 2021 season could …

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2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings, No. 13: William Byron

2020 CharlotteROVAL NCS William Byron Car NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

William Byron joined the club of drivers who have won races in all three main NASCAR series – NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series – when he earned his first Cup win in the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway in 2020. The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet …

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2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings, No. 14: Christopher Bell

Christopher Bell won at the Daytona Road Course in 2021 Photo: NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Christopher Bell takes another step forward in his young NASCAR Cup Series career in 2021. This season, he takes over the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing after spending 2020 with Leavine Family Racing, driving the No. 95. With his upward movement, Bell looks to have the potential for a breakout season in his …

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2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings, No. 15: Matt DiBenedetto

2020LasVegasNCSMattDiBenedettoFaceNKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Matt DiBenedetto will return to the famed No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing this upcoming season in the NASCAR Cup Series. 2021 will be his second year with the Woods but also his final, as Austin Cindric is set to take over the reins in 2022. So there is much to prove for the …

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2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings, No. 16: Tyler Reddick

Tyler Reddick NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Entering off the heels of a competitive rookie season, Tyler Reddick comes into 2021 set to do more in his sophomore season. Reddick, driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, finished 19th in points in 2020 after posting three top fives and nine top 10s. He was bested by Cole Custer for last …

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2021 Preseason Power Rankings, No. 17: Chase Briscoe

2020 Kansas II NXS Chase Briscoe trophy NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

For the fifth season in a row, Stewart-Haas Racing welcomes a new driver to its stable. After the 2020 addition of Cole Custer saw the rookie take victory at Kentucky Speedway, following the departure of Clint Bowyer the team gives its next rising star a shot at the big leagues in Chase Briscoe. Following a …

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2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings, No. 18: Austin Dillon

2020 Richmond NCS Austin Dillon Racing Nigel Kinrade Photography

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Fair or not, the shadow of driving the same car number as one of, if not the most legendary driver in NASCAR history will always hang over the head of Austin Dillon until he drives it no more. There’s a white-hot spotlight for the North Carolinian. In the midst of those expectations, he has still …

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2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings, No. 19: Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Bubba Wallace became a well-known athlete and figure to the world in 2020. In 2021, he steps into the spotlight once again. This time, it is not for his fight for justice against racial inequality in the United States, but via his day job, driving racecars for the newly formed 23XI Racing with team owners …

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2021 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings, No. 20: Cole Custer

2020KentuckyNCSColeCusterVictoryLaneNKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Plenty of drivers who experience success in stock car racing before reaching the top level of NASCAR have to wait a while before breaking through with that first NASCAR Cup Series victory. Cole Custer doesn’t have to worry about that since he got that milestone out of the way early. The very valid question awaiting …

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