The teams of the NASCAR Xfinity Series fought through some of the most challenging circumstances in the history of the sport in 2020 and still managed to put on a season full of entertaining and engaging races. And in a series designed to make names we’ll all see racing on Sundays in the future, a handful of young drivers put themselves high on the list for openings in the Cup Series in the next couple of years.
Chase Briscoe won a season-high nine times and got the call to make the leap into one Stewart-Haas Racing's Cup cars for 2021. Despite Briscoe's success, it was Austin Cindric who took home the Xfinity Series title. He could be the next to make the jump to Cup but for now, he'll sight his sights on defending his crown through the series' 33-race schedule.
NASCAR Xfinity Series' Top 10 Drivers for 2021
1. Austin Cindric
No. 22 Team Penske Ford
Cindric brings a deep racing pedigree to the Xfinity circuit. His grandfather, the late Jim Trueman, owned Bobby Rahal’s 1986 Indy 500 winner, and his father, Tim Cindric, has been president of Team Penske for two decades. Cindric fulfilled his destiny with an Xfinity title in 2020 and will look to do what only seven drivers have done before him: win back-to-back series titles.
2. Justin Allgaier
No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet
Allgaier has been a contender since joining JR Motorsports after an abortive two-year run in the Cup Series. The former 2008 ARCA Menards Series champion has bloomed into a perennial contender because he is competitive on every type of track: superspeedways, intermediates, short tracks, and road courses.
3. Noah Gragson
No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet
One of the series’ most polarizing drivers gives no quarter on the track, which has led to numerous on-track scuffles including with his own teammates. He backs it up with performance, including a pair of wins last year.
4. Justin Haley
No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet
Haley’s ascension to contender coincides with the transition of Kaulig Racing from an occasional threat to a true weekly challenger. Haley has shown skill and poise beyond his years, particularly on tracks where drafting comes into play.
5. Harrison Burton
No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
The son of 21-time Cup Series winner Jeff Burton has shown the ability to adapt quickly from super late models to ARCA to Trucks to the Xfinity Series. Four wins in his rookie season provide a great foundation for a championship run in 2021.
6. Brandon Jones
No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Jones finally broke through in 2019 with his first career win. He followed with three more in 2020, propelling him on to the Round of 8 in the playoffs. Jones is positioned to contend for his first series championship.
7. Riley Herbst
No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Herbst takes over the ride vacated by Chase Briscoe, who has moved into one of the organization’s Cup Series cars. Herbst will have a championship-caliber team and every opportunity to win races right away.
8. Ryan Sieg
No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet
Sieg is still searching for his first series win, but the past two seasons have seen his trajectory point dramatically upward. Sieg’s family-owned team invested in new equipment, and the resulting upturn in performance has attracted attention from sponsors and fans alike.
9. Michael Annett
No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet
Annett transitioned from a non-productive Cup Series ride to a championship-caliber Xfinity ride. He finally broke through and earned his first series win in 2019, and he should continue to contend for wins, particularly at drafting tracks, in 2021.
10. Brandon Brown
No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet
Another family-owned team and another driver who has transitioned from mid-pack runner to top-10 contender in 2020. His small team is still working on becoming a constant challenger but could provide surprises on drafting tracks and road courses.
(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)