Chase Elliott snagged the 2020 NASCAR Cup Championship, the first Hendrick Motorsports driver to do so in four seasons. Heading into 2021, you must think Elliott is the favorite to win back-to-back NASCAR Cups and perhaps someday join the likes of Jimmy Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, and Richard Petty.
Hey, it’ll be a safe bet for NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver to eclipse seven titles someday if he keeps up this pace. Especially as one of the youngest drivers to do so.
But did Elliott even grace this list of 10 NASCAR drivers who are safe bets to win the NASCAR Cup?
Read on and discover which drivers are the smartest bets to win the NASCAR Cup in 2021.
1 – Austin Dillon
- 2020 Finish: 11th (Career Best)
Dillon has come on strong over the past year and for a while here in 2020 he appeared poised to return that #3 car where it belonged: In the Championship Circle.
But while Dillon tailed off down the stretch after a stellar start to the NASCAR Playoffs, he turned a lot of heads from fans, experts, analysts, and even fellow drivers.
That said if Dillon continues to trend upward, expect him to be a dark horse to win the NASCAR Cup in 2021. You shouldn’t bet the house on Dillon, but if you’re taking a flyer on a longshot, Dillon is a good idea.
2 – Alex Bowman
- 2020 Finish: 6th (Career Best)
Bowman barely missed a spot in the Championship Four, but he still finished a career-best 6th in the final NASCAR Cup standings. And now Bowman gets a golden opportunity with a new yet familiar ride in 2021 when he will sit behind the wheel of the #48 car that Jimmy Johnson won seven championships with.
Bowman’s career is still in its formative stages, and now he is arguably the most coveted ride in the sport. Many pro sports bettors and analysts may overlook Bowman. It would be foolish to do so.
3 – Kurt Busch
- 2020 Finish: 10th
The 42-year-old Busch still has something left in the tank after what has been an up and down career for the 2004 NASCAR Cup Champion (then known as the NASCAR Nextel Cup). The controversial driver has experienced a career renaissance, and now he’s poised to carry it over into 2021.
While he is still a mid-to-long shot in the eyes of many bookmakers, you can expect Busch to once again make a surprising run at the NASCAR Cup driving that #1 car for Chip Ganassi Racing.
4 – Kyle Busch
- 2020 Finish: 8th
The younger of the Busch Brothers has two championships since 2015 and is still in the prime of his career. Busch has put together an illustrious NASCAR career in all 3 of the sport’s biggest series, which includes the Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series and the Xfinity Series to become NASCAR’s winningest driver.
Busch has pristine equipment with Joe Gibbs Racing, a racing team that is always a threat to win the NASCAR Cup, and his sheer talent always grants him solid expected value to win it all among bookmakers. Expect Busch to threaten for the NASCAR Cup in 2021 and for years to come.
5 – William Byron
- 2020 Finish: 11th (Career Best)
William Byron is one of the youngest drivers on the circuit and is tasked with driving that legendary #24 car that Jeff Gordon made famous in the 1990s and 2000s. Though he barely made it into the NASCAR playoffs and has won just one race, expect Byron to make an identical leap that teammate Alex Bowman made.
And with the equipment team owner Rick Hendrick can afford, Byron is halfway there. You should still see Byron as a longshot considering his relative inexperience, but the former NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion is just now finding his groove in NASCAR’s most prestigious series.
It’s far-fetched to believe Byron will win it all in 2021, but with the way they set the NASCAR playoffs up, he only needs a few strong finishes at the right time to make history.
6 – Denny Hamlin
- 2020 Finish: 4th
Denny Hamlin has done it all. He has won multiple Daytona 500 races. He has strung together 44 NASCAR Cup Victories. He was the first rookie driver to qualify for the NASCAR playoffs, then known as the Chase for the Nextel Cup back in 2006, and he has won at NASCAR’s most popular tracks.
So if you’re looking to bet on someone who is now running on sheer motivation, Hamlin is your guy. He has accomplished everything else in this sport and you can bet that as his career wanes, he will do anything he can to win that NASCAR Cup.
And he’s with the right NASCAR team in Joe Gibbs Racing to do it.
7 – Kevin Harvick
- 2020 Finish: 5th
Harvick was easily the best driver in 2020 and if we still counted points as they did during the old NASCAR Winston Cup days, you could safely bet Harvick, not Elliott, would possess the hardware.
But after dominating for most of the season, Harvick had a bad race that cost him a spot in the Championship Four after he looked like a shoo-in for the first 34 races of the season.
You can bet that Harvick has unfinished business to attend to in 2021 and that he will once again threaten to win his second NASCAR Cup Championship and his first since 2014.
He is driving for the right team, has state-of-the-art racing equipment, and he has the talent and experience to make a run. And he knows the clock is ticking fast.
8 – Brad Keselowski
- 2020 Finish: 2nd
Brad Keselowski came within just a few points of winning his second championship and man, is this guy ever the gamer. He is a regular contender for the NASCAR Cup, and you can bet safely that he will contend once again in 2021.
Still well in the prime of his career, Keselowski has enjoyed top-notch equipment and stellar teammates while racing for Team Penske. And he has often taken his #2 Miller Lite car into a familiar location that is Victory Lane 34 times in his ongoing NASCAR career.
He was and is still among the safest bets to land the coveted NASCAR Cup Championship.
9 – Joey Logano
- 2020 Finish: 3rd
The teammate of Brad Keselowski, Logano is another driver worth noting if you’re betting on the safe side in NASCAR. Having won the 2018 NASCAR Cup, the 30-year-old future NASCAR Hall of Famer is just getting started as he moves into the second decade of a storied career.
Since moving to Team Penske, Logano has strung together 24 wins after winning just two races over the formative part of his NASCAR career when he drove for Joe Gibbs Racing. Look for yet another strong showing from Logano in 2021 and yes, his odds to win it all are favorable.
10 – Chase Elliott
No one saw Elliott winning this thing outright in 2020, even if he is one of the sport’s most popular up-and-coming drivers. Okay, you can no longer call him an up-and-coming driver these days, considering he just won the sport’s most coveted prize.
And that’s exactly what Elliott did in 2020, winning his way into the Championship Four with a win at Martinsville in the penultimate race of the season before winning outright at Phoenix. If Elliott picks up where he left off in 2021, he is more than a safe bet to threaten for the 2021 crown.
We will see how the legend of Chase Elliott unfolds come February 2021.
Alright, so there are plenty of drivers not listed who can also threaten for the cup, like Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, and Bubba Wallace. But the 10 drivers listed here have either done it recently and are still contenders or have put their best foot forward in recent years.
Further, NASCAR is far more predictable when choosing a sport to bet on, considering just a handful of drivers compete for and finish strong in just about every race, barring wrecks, engine failure, etc.
That said, expect consistency from the drivers listed in this post and they are perhaps the safest bets to win races, finish in the top half of the field, and ultimately take the 2021 NASCAR cup.
Who do you like for the NASCAR Cup in 2020? Let us know in the comments.