The first seven races of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season have produced seven different race winners. Translation: No clear frontrunner or championship favorite has emerged. And, interestingly enough, the driver who’s atop the standings — Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin — hasn’t yet gone to Victory Lane. Go figure, right?
The fact that the driver leading the points standings is winless after seven races might be the greatest testament of all to just how much parity exists this year in NASCAR’s top division. Also notably winless are Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, who, like Hamlin, participated in last year’s Championship 4. Elliott, of course, is also the reigning Cup Series champion, having finished the 2020 season in style with back-to-back victories.
Of the drivers who haven’t prevailed in 2021, Elliott, Keselowski and Hamlin are certainly the biggest surprises. All three have been in contention to win on multiple occasions, however, so their absence from Victory Lane isn’t due to a lack of speed in their cars. It undoubtedly wouldn’t surprise anyone if Elliott, Keselowski and Hamlin won the next three races, respectively, which would mean 10 different winners in the first 10 races of the season.
At this rate, it’s quite possible that more than 16 drivers will have a victory come playoff time. If that happens, it will mark the first time that a full-time driver with a victory is shut out of the playoffs since NASCAR expanded the Cup Series playoff field to 16 drivers in 2014.