Pete Pistone ranks the top 10 NASCAR Cup Series organizations after the 2020 season.
The 2020 Cup Series championship team was led by Chase Elliott, who scored his first career title on the strength of three Playoff wins and victory in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway. Two other Hendrick drivers also made the post-season with wins for Alex Bowman and a first career victory coming to William Byron. Only Jimmie Johnson, who ended his full-time Cup tenure at season’s end, failed to find his way to Victory Lane for Rick Hendrick’s organization.
A driver-crew chief shuffle at the start of the year paid dividends for Roger Penske’s team as the organization claimed two spots in the Championship 4. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski represented "The Captain" in the title race. The duo combined to win seven times this season with the third Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, who led the series in stage points, also adding a win at Talladega.
Joe Gibbs Racing
It was a tale of two JGR stories in 2020. Denny Hamlin put up seven victories and was one of the most dominant drivers in the regular season. Hamlin did make it to the Championship 4 but came up short again of the elusive Cup crown. Defending series champion Kyle Busch won just once in 2020 as did Martin Truex Jr. Erik Jones, who will leave the organization in 2021, was shutout of Victory Lane.
Kevin Harvick’s nine victories led the series and were just one component of the veteran driver’s phenomenal season of dominance. However, Harvick had a challenging Round of 8 in the Playoffs and failed to advance to the Championship 4. SHR also got a win from rookie Cole Custer at Kentucky Speedway. But Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer, who leaves NASCAR for the FOX television booth, both went winless in 2020.
Chip Ganassi Racing
Kurt Busch was very impressive in CGR’s No. 1 Chevrolet scoring a victory and making it into the Playoffs and to the Round of 8 for the fourth time in the elimination era. Things were challenging for the organization’s other ride with Kyle Larson losing his seat in the No. 42 early in the year and his replacement, former Cup champ Matt Kenseth, struggled tremendously in his return to the sport. Kenseth recorded only two top 10s in 32 starts, including a runner-up finish at Indianapolis.
Richard Childress Racing
Things were better in the RCR stable in 2020. Austin Dillon won at Texas and qualified for the Playoffs while rookie Tyler Reddick was impressive in his freshman season finishing with nine top-10 efforts. RCR is still looking for that next gear to continue forward progress in 2021.
Wood Brothers Racing
Matt DiBenedetto’s first season in the iconic No. 21 Ford didn’t bring the stories organization Cup win number 100 but he still had his moments. DiBenedetto earned another shot with the team next season after three top-five and a career-best 11 top-10 finishes.
Leavine Family Racing
Christopher Bell came into the year with Leavine carrying high hopes after his Xfinity Series career. Unfortunately, the rookie did struggle at times and came away with seven top 10s. At the end of the campaign, team owner Bob Leavine was forced to sell his operation and exit the sport. Bell will spend his sophomore season in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota.
Roush Fenway Racing
Tough sledding for the long-running RFR team in 2020. The year started off on a frightening note with Ryan Newman’s violent Daytona 500 accident that fortunately saw the veteran driver walk out of the hospital only a few days later. But Newman and teammate Chris Buescher did not enjoy particular success on track something the organization hopes to rectify in 2021. Buescher did record a career-best eight top 10s, but finished 21st in the standings.
Richard Petty Motorsports
Bubba Wallace finished his third and final full-time season in the famed No. 43 a career-best 22nd in the standings. Wallace also posted a career-best five top 10s in 2020 with his best finish, fifth, coming in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. Wallace leaves for the new 23XI Michael Jordan/Denny Hamlin team in 2021 while Erik Jones fills his seat in the No. 43.