11 drivers have "completed" this challenge, but who else is close to adding their name to the illustrious list of Cup Series drivers.
In a fully-stocked NASCAR Cup Series field, there are 40 possible finishing positions. The goal, of course, is to finish first – but all is not lost for drivers who come up short.
We track an admittedly unimportant metric called the All 40 Challenge – that is, the progress each driver has made over the course of their careers toward finishing in every single possible position, first through 40th, at least once. Once you‘ve notched a finish in each slow, you‘ve completed the All 40 Challenge.
Heading into the 2021 season, only these 11 full-time drivers have completed the elusive All 40 Challenge:
- Aric Almirola
- Ryan Blaney
- Alex Bowman
- Kurt Busch
- Kyle Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
- Joey Logano
- Ryan Newman
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Martin Truex Jr.
Retirees Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth are also among those who‘ve completed the Challenge. Maybe they‘re hanging up the steering wheel because of such an accomplishment. (Probably not.)
In 2020, no driver added their name to the exclusive list – though Austin Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto inched closer to completion. Dillon‘s second-place finish in the Darlington Southern 500 was his first-ever runner-up in his seventh full-time season, while DiBenedetto picked up his first 10th-place finish at Martinsville – his 211th career start.
To complete the All 40 Challenge, Dillon only needs to score a last-place finish; for DiBenedetto, he only needs to win. (No pressure!) They‘re the only two drivers who are one finish away from completing the sweep – but they‘re ahead of Cup Series champions Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski, both of whom only need to finish 28th and 40th, coincidentally.
Could a new ride make the difference for some drivers?
Erik Jones is only a 32nd-place and 37th-place finish away from completing the Challenge – he‘ll move to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021. Upstart Trackhouse Racing Team‘s Daniel Suarez needs a win and a 39th. (He‘d probably prefer to score the former more than the latter.) And when Kyle Larson returns to the driver‘s seat at Hendrick Motorsports in 2021, he‘ll need just 22nd and 32nd to add his name to the list.
With some luck, Chris Buescher isn‘t far from completing the All 40 Challenge himself – he‘ll need a second, fourth, and seventh to wrap it up.
So, even though nobody got the job done in 2020, we‘ll just chalk it up to one of those classic 2020 oddities.
Who will complete the Challenge next is anybody‘s guess, but we‘re feeling pretty confident somebody gets it done in 2021. Check back throughout the racing season – we‘ll update our #All40Challenge tracker after each race.