Pete Pistone’s first edition of the 2020 Power Rankings as the NASCAR Cup Series season gets ready for the green flag.
The man who ended last season on top of the mountain holds his rightful place on the dawn of a new campaign. Busch and company should be as strong as they were last year on their way to a championship. The good news for Busch is last year’s aerodynamic package, which he vocally despised most all season, won’t be used at short tracks and road courses in 2020. That might make him even stronger.
Martin Truex Jr.
He led the series with seven wins a year ago but there’s a bit of a wrinkle to the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 team this year. Cole Pearn shocked the NASCAR world with his decision to leave as the crew chief of the No. 19 Toyota. Enter James Small, who is no stranger to working with Truex Jr. from his days as lead engineer and will look to pick up where the team left off last season.
Still searching for that elusive Cup championship, Hamlin comes into 2020 after statistically his best career year. Six wins and 19 top-five finishes carried Hamlin to the Championship 4 and he looks to make a repeat trip in November only this time coming home from Phoenix Raceway with the trophy.
Stability is now in play for Harvick after announcing a contract extension to remain with Stewart-Haas Racing for multiple more years. He and Rodney Childers are now the longest-tenured driver-crew chief duo in the Cup Series. The No. 4 team was by far the best at SHR last season and Harvick will again look to kick it up another notch in 2020 in pursuit of a second career title.
It was a very forgettable playoff run for Elliott last year that included mechanical failures, crashes and even a win at Charlotte’s Roval. But eventually it all added up to an earlier than planned exit from the championship picture. Elliott did score three wins last year and was the cream of the Hendrick Motorsports crop. It looks like he’ll have that role again in 2020.
The Team Penske shake-up finds Logano now paired with crew chief Paul Wolfe in an interesting dynamic. Logano and Todd Gordon won a championship two years ago and finished fifth last year in the standings. That wasn’t good enough for team owner Penske who will see if the uber strategist Keselowski can get Logano back to the Championship 4.
His offseason was busier than what seemingly lies ahead for Larson this NASCAR campaign after all the open-wheel racing he did over the winter months. Now the matter at hand is building off a decent 2019 campaign and return to the multiple win Larson of 2017.
A three win season for Keselowski was solid but those victories came early in the schedule and he was no able to get hot when it mattered most in the playoffs. Former Xfinity Series crew chief Jeremy Bullins will work on the No. 2 ride this year and the pair looks to recapture their glory days at the Cup level.
Great strides were made by Byron and veteran crew chief Chad Knaus last season in their first year working together. There’s much to build on for the No. 24 team in 2020 and Byron’s first career Cup win is not out of reach.
Championship crew chief Todd Gordon will try and elevate the fortunes of Blaney and the Team Penske No. 12 Ford in the wake of the organization’s crew chief-driver shuffle. Blaney did win a race last year and finished seventh in the final standings but many are waiting for a breakout season from the talented young driver.