The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has started off with considerable intrigue. 10 drivers have won the first 12 races of the season, with only Martin Truex Jr. reaching Victory Lane more than one time. The streak makes for a wild playoff race, but Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney believes that it is good for the sport.
The driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang met with media members on Tuesday to preview the upcoming race at Dover International Speedway. He explained during the availability that the number of winners shows how competitive the top series can be. He also acknowledged that NASCAR is better when a variety of drivers find success.
“I think it shows the amount of competition in the Cup Series,” Blaney said. “Especially, this year, for sure. I know we’ve had a bunch of different winners. … I think it just shows how many teams can go out and do it on any given week. The drivers are really good. Obviously, the 19, Truex, has been really fast here lately. He’s kind of separated himself from the field with three wins already.
“I just think it’s good for the sport when you have more teams winning. I’m selfish and I want to win every single race, but it’s good for the sport to have more people winning. You know those guys are going to win, so it makes the competition that much tougher when you have more cars that can compete for wins every week.”
Three top drivers have not reached Victory Lane
While certain drivers have won their first races, such as Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell, others have failed to do so. The list includes Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott. These three drivers were the most successful in 2020, reaching Victory Lane a combined 21 times.
Hamlin currently has the points lead after posting nine top-five finishes in 12 races and winning five stages. Truex sits in second place despite winning three races. Harvick sits in seventh place after posting four top-five finishes and nine total top-10s. Elliott is just behind him with four top-fives and one stage win.
“Three of those guys that — I’d say — were probably the top three guys last year, haven’t won yet,” Blaney added. “You know they are going to win eventually here.” The Team Penske driver also explained that there isn’t a limited number of drivers that can find success in the Cup Series now. He said that there are about 20 with a legitimate chance to reach Victory Lane.
Competition is key in the Cup Series
Blaney is not the only NASCAR driver highlighting the unique season and the number of winners through 12 races. Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro, made similar comments during a recent media availability. He explained that the competition, as well as the schedule, plays a significant role in the streak of new winners.
“A lot of things add up. The competition, the competition right now,” Busch told the media. “The parity that everybody has, whether it’s a manufacturer, whether it’s the teams against another team, whether it’s the same manufacturer.”
Busch continued and explained that the 2021 season has featured a wider variety of tracks over the first three months. “Now we get into these summer months where we see some of the Michigans, Poconos, and the faster tracks.
“The aero will come back to be more important, and then we will get into the road course season and see what we see for trends there. Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell — I mean, he was lights out at the Daytona Road Course. There’s certain guys that — and I hope that we are one of them — where they’re able to capitalize on one of the road courses.”
The Cup Series drivers will have another opportunity to fight for the win on Sunday. They will compete in the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway. The race, which airs on Fox Sports 1, will take place at 2 p.m. ET.
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