Almost every season, there’s at least one driver who everyone expects to make a deep playoff run but who ends up flaming out early because of bad luck or simply not performing at the level to which he’s been accustomed. Last season, that driver was Kevin Harvick, who despite owning a Cup Series-high nine victories got eliminated in the Round of 8 where he endured three lackluster races in a row. Instead of advancing to Phoenix to compete for the championship with three others, Harvick was left to wonder what might have been if things had just gone a little better in the penultimate playoff round.
With Harvick being winless in 2021 and one of the last drivers in the playoffs, no one will be shocked if the veteran driver has an early exit this year. However, it’s quite possible that one or more drivers who most people are projecting to go far in the playoffs ends up being the Kevin Harvick of 2021. While some drivers are clearly better positioned to advance in the playoffs than others, last year was a reminder that no driver is a lock to move on.
With just one bad race in any of the rounds, a driver who is widely considered a championship favorite could find himself in a deep points hole and need nothing less than a win to advance and keep his championship hopes alive. Which driver or drivers in this year’s playoffs won’t live up to expectations? Stay tuned. The answer could catch everyone off guard.