The struggle continues in 2021 for several drivers who qualified for last year’s NASCAR Cup Series playoffs and entered this year with equally high hopes. Among those still looking to get their season turned around are 2021 playoff drivers Aric Almirola and Cole Custer, who are teammates at Stewart-Haas Racing. If the playoffs began today, both would be on the outside looking in.
“Last year, for me, it was all about just getting used to the cars and figuring out what I needed to be doing,” Custer said. “And then from just a team standpoint, I think it was just working really hard on trying to figure out what’s the best package for me at the various tracks and figuring out what I like in the car compared to what my teammates like, and then using our teammates’ notes to see what we can try. The process continues this year.”
Meanwhile, Matt DiBenedetto — another 2021 playoff driver who started off 2020 in a hole — has turned it up considerably over the past few races, recording three consecutive top-10 finishes that have included a pair of top fives. “I knew we had the strength of the team after such a rough start to the season,” the driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford said. “It’s amazing to come back like this, so it just shows that momentum can go one way or another, and when it clicks and you get on a roll, it can go well. I’m just really proud of the team. Nobody ever got down during those times when it was a rough start, and we’re really rebounding.”