Unexpected.  Yes, that’s a good word to describe 2021’s first three winners.  I wouldn’t have thought we’d go through three races and the three guys we’d have seen in Victory Lane would be Michael McDowell, Christopher Bell and William Byron.

But, I’m not on board with the folks who are proclaiming this occurrence as “blowing up the playoffs”.  Of the three, McDowell is the only one who you can honestly say that you didn’t see in the 16-car playoff. 

Byron was there last year, and there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t be back this year, and I’d bet, at least half of the folks who put together predictions, had Bell making it in his sophomore season.  That #20 team barely missed the playoffs a year ago.

I still maintain that we won’t have more than 16 winners in the first 26 races, so a win does guarantee you a spot in the post-season. 

New and different faces in Victory Lane are never a bad thing.  But, taking the long range view, the playoff picture isn’t as topsy-turvy as some would have you believe.