From Bubba Wallace to Alex Bowman: Who Are the Most Under-Rated NASCAR Drivers in the 2020 Season?

Published 12/27/2020, 8:40 AM EST
SPARTA, KENTUCKY – JULY 12: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, races Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, during the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season concluded with Chase Elliott triumphing. There were a lot of stellar performances throughout the season, and the results showed it.

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However, there have been plenty of performances that went under the radar. Out of a field of nearly 40+ cars, it is hard to pick out standout performers.

This does beg the question, who are the most under-rated drivers of the 2020 season?

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If we’re looking at the Hendrick Motorsports stable, that team was filled to the brim with talent. Not only did they have a famous driver in the form of Jimmie Johnson, but they also had newly-crowned champion Chase Elliott, William Byron, and Alex Bowman. In 2020, Bowman grabbed his first Cup Series win at the Auto Club 400.

He also finished as the second-best Hendrick Motorsports driver behind Elliott. Finally, when Johnson announced his retirement, the team saw fit to let him literally fill Jimmie’s shoes.

Aside from that win in California, he put in a series of Top-10 performances and was more consistent than William Byron.

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 29: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Cincinnati Chevrolet, walks on the grid before qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 29, 2020 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Which other NASCAR drivers join Alex Bowman in the under-rated category?

In all honesty, Tyler Reddick was stuck in a car that would be in the mid-field, at best. Despite that, he managed to finish second at the Texas Motor Speedway. The Richard Childress Racing driver also managed to sneak into the top five on a few occasions.

Unfortunately, he barely missed out on a playoff position, but 19th is a career-best for him. It is also worth mentioning that the 2020 season was Reddick’s first full season in the Cup Series.

Next up is Austin Dillon, who has seven wins under his belt. The 30-year-old currently races for RCR, and it appears that he will stick with them for a long time. He may have a bit of pressure on his shoulders, as he is in the car that powered Dale Earnhardt Sr to glory.

It also helped that he stormed to victory at Texas, effectively leading an RCR 1-2.

FORT WORTH, TX – APRIL 11: Austin Dillon, driver of the #51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet, sits in his car during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Gen-6 Testing at Texas Motor Speedway on April 11, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by John Harrelson/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Can Bubba Wallace make it count in 2021?

Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace is definitely an under-rated driver. He has always been touted as a driver who is capable of winning, given the right equipment. It has also been statistically proven that he has consistently outperformed the limits of his own car.

Now that he is going to race for 23XI Racing, can he truly achieve the success he deserves? Admittedly, the fledgling team’s pace is still unknown, as no wheel has hit the tarmac yet.

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL – JULY 05: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, stands by his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Finally, Corey LaJoie is another driver who has outperformed his car. The Go Fas Racing team runs on a limited budget. In spite of this, LaJoie has been a consistent finisher, even though he has only broken into the top 10 a couple of times.

Hopefully, all of these drivers can prove their mettle once again in 2021. The upcoming season will provide plenty of new challenges, especially with a couple of new tracks, a few new faces and new teams. One thing is for sure, 2021 will be just as competitive as its predecessor.

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DIVE DEEPER

Key Statistics Reflect How Bubba Wallace Outperformed his Equipment in 2020 NASCAR Season

5 months ago

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Dhruv George

11392 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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