By admin | February 13, 2010
By Richard Allen
Winning the Daytona 500 is a good thing, right? Well, of course it is. This is the biggest race of the season. It is the race everybody wants to win and one of the few events in NASCAR in which the losing drivers don’t get out of the car and say they had a good points day.
So, how could winning at Daytona be a jinx? The last three winners of the ‘Great American Race’ have gone on to have less than successful runs since their monumental triumphs.
In 2007 Kevin Harvick won a thrilling dash to the finish when he beat Mark Martin to the line by inches. However, that was the last points paying win he has recorded since in Sprint Cup racing. He did qualify for the Chase for the Championship in 2007 and 2008 but was unable to unseat Jimmie Johnson for the title in either of those years. 2009 was a disastrous season for Harvick . He did not win a points paying race and finished well outside the top-12 in the standings.
In 2008 Ryan Newman gave car owner Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 victory then gave him his notice that he was leaving the team a few months later to join Stewart-Haas Racing. Like Harvick, Daytona was Newman’s last points paying race win. Unlike Harvick, he was unable to go on and qualify for the Chase for the Championship in his Daytona 500 winning season.
In 2009 it was Matt Kenseth’s turn to win NASCAR’s biggest race then have a less than stellar rest of the season. He did go on to win the next week in Fontana, California. However, there wasn’t much else to brag about for the Roush Fenway Racing driver as the 2003 champion missed the Chase for the first time in his career.
Winning the Daytona 500 would be a dream come true for any driver who competes in NASCAR. But for whatever reason, the time after winning the big race for the last three champions has been a bit of a nightmare.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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