By admin | July 28, 2010
By Richard Allen
Has Jamie McMurray had a successful season so far? If he fails to make the Chase for the Championship will his season have been a failure?
In February, McMurray won the biggest race in NASCAR when he took the checkered flag for the Daytona 500. And this past Sunday, he claimed another of racingâ€™s great prizes when he beat the field to the finish line of the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
However, there is one problem with this season McMurray is putting together. As he stands right now, he is on the outside looking in on NASCARâ€™s championship playoff. The Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing driver currently ranks 16th in the Sprint Cup standings. Only the top-12 make the cutoff for the Chase with the final â€˜regular seasonâ€™ race in Richmond fast approaching.
For a driver to miss the Chase after having won the Daytona 500 is nothing new. For that matter, the last two winners of the big race, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth, each failed to qualify for the playoff in the year in which they won the â€˜Great American Raceâ€™.
But in 2010, McMurray looks to take the Daytona curse one step further. Never has a driver won the February Daytona event and another â€™crown jewelâ€™ race such as the Brickyard 400 in one season and not made the ten race playoff.
Looking at the standings as they are right now, there are seven drivers inside the all important top-12 who have not won a single Sprint Cup event in 2010. Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer are those seven drivers.
I wonder if Carl Edwards would give up his 10th spot in the standings for McMurrayâ€™s two wins? I wonder if McMurray would trade his two wins for Gordonâ€™s 2nd place in the standings? Does either Matt Kenseth or Jeff Burton consider the season they have had to date better than McMurrayâ€™s?
I donâ€™t know how any of those drivers would answer those questions, but I know how I would. Give me those two trophies in one year and I would consider my season a success, in the Chase or not.
Before the Chase for the Championship was brought into being in 2004 it seemed as though individual race wins were more important than stockpiling points. Now, it seems as though everything centers around being inside the top-12 of the standings. A driverâ€™s success or failure is derived from making the playoff. So long as drivers can 8th place their way through the year, they are doing well under the new mindset.
This year, Jamie McMurray is causing an interesting question to be asked. Can a driver who does not make the Chase have what is considered to be a successful season in NASCAR?
Right now, McMurray is 625 points behind series points leader Kevin Harvick. But more importantly, he is 151 points behind Clint Bowyer in 12th place. If he is not able to make up those points and jump over four other drivers, he will not have a chance at the Sprint Cup title. So, if he does not make the Chase for the Championship will his season be counted as a success?
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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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