10. Kyle Busch returns with a vengeance – Kyle Busch was notably absent from victory lane for much of 2020. Kyle only notched one win in 2020, at Texas in the 33rd race
of the season at Texas. JGR, as a group, was off their game in 2020, with Martin Truex, Jr., also notching only one win. Nothing was normal in 2020, and nothing was odder than seeing Kyle Busch running outside the top 5 in most races. Look for the Gibbs camp to get things straightened out this offseason and look for a highly motivated Kyle Busch to return with a vengeance. My prediction: Kyle Busch gets the monkey off his back by winning the Daytona 500, ends the season as part of the Championship 4, and the over/under on his victories for the year is 5.
9. Matt D. gets the Wood Brothers their 100th win – Matt D. has made a name for himself over the last two years.First, with his impressive run at Bristol in 2019, where he led a ton of laps and nearly held off a hard charging Denny Hamlin for the win, and then in 2020 he dramatically raced his way into the playoffs, securing his spot in the final regular season race at Daytona.Matt D. has capitalized on the underdog role, and his likable personality is quickly making him a fan favorite.Some of DiBenedetto’s losses have been heartbreaking!Bristol, Talladega and Las Vegas are examples of how Matty D. is this close to grabbing his first win, and the Wood Brothers’ 100th win as NASCAR owners.The fact that DiBenedetto’s near wins have come at a short track, a mile and a half, and a Superspeedway shows the breadth of his talent and that he is a threat to win at almost any track.My prediction:put all your chips on Matt D. when the NASCAR series visits Las Vegas in March.
8. Ryan Blaney has a breakout season – Ryan Blaney was an absolute beast in 2020….. in the first two stages.Stage 3 was Blaney’s Achilles heel.Whether Blaney used up his equipment early, whether his team wasn’t as adept at making pit road adjustments, or whether it just bad luck, Blaney didn’t have nearly the success when the pay window opened, as he did in the preliminary stages.Blaney reminds me a lot of Chase Elliot.Blaney has started 198 races, Elliot 185, Blaney is 27 years old, Elliott is 25, more importantly, Chase Elliott was a young driver that gave away some victories (Darlington, the All Star Race, etc.), and later matured into a champion.I see Blaney in much the same way.He’ll figure how to keep his speed when the pay window opens and visit Victory Lane multiple times in 2021.My prediction:3 wins for Ryan Blaney in 2021.
7. The Championship 4