By admin | February 16, 2011
By Richard Allen
For whatever reason, the most recent winners of the Daytona 500 have been somewhat jinxed. For three years in a row the winner of this most prestigious event in NASCAR has failed to make the Chase for the Championship playoff.
In 2008 Ryan Newman began his season by winning the biggest race of his career. From that point on there was little to cheer about for the South Bend, Indiana driver. He went on to record only one other top-5 finish throughout the remaining 35 races on the schedule. He missed out on the Chase and finished in the 17th position in the final Sprint Cup standings.
That end result had to be considered disappointing for a driver who had left Daytona with the early lead.
2009 saw a comparable scenario play out for the winner of the Daytona 500. Matt Kenseth notched his first victory in the ‘Great American Race’ only to suffer a somewhat similar fate as that of Newman in the previous season.
Kenseth did go on to win the next Sprint Cup race in California but from that point on there were very few successes for the driver from Cambridge, Wisconsin. He ended the season with a total of seven top-5s and twelve top-10s. Ultimately and somewhat ironically, after winning the biggest race of his career Kenseth ended up 14th in the standings and failed to make the Chase for the first time since its inception in 2004.
In 2010, the pattern of the Daytona 500 winner missing out on the Chase continued but this time with a very different twist. Jamie McMurray won the season opening event but the rest of his year was certainly not filled with the lackluster results as those of Newman and Kenseth.
The Joplin, Missouri driver went on to claim two of the more valued prizes on the NASCAR schedule when he won the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the fall race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, like Newman and Kenseth, there were enough poor finishes for McMurray that he was unable to secure a place in the ten race playoff for the championship.
Although he placed a disappointing 14th in the overall standings, it would be difficult to label this driver’s 2010 campaign a failure. Perhaps in large part due to McMurray’s odd circumstance of having major race wins but otherwise poor points showings, NASCAR has added a provision that will allow the two drivers with the most race wins who are outside the top-10 in points at the time of the cutoff to make the Chase.
It has been said before that winning the Daytona 500 can make for a successful season no matter what else happens. The last three winners of this race have, in one degree or another, had the opportunity to judge whether or not that statement is indeed true.
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