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Leading the most laps seems to be a curse in 2012

By admin | April 22, 2012

By Richard Allen


In Sunday’s STP 400 at the Kansas Speedway, Martin Truex, Jr. dominated the contest by leading 173 of the race’s 267 laps. Unfortunately for the Michael Waltrip Racing wheel man, leading the most laps in 2012 Sprint Cup races seems to carry with it some type of curse that bars the driver in question from victory lane.

In the eight Sprint Cup races held so far this season, only two drivers who have led the most laps have gone on to actually win that particular event. Tony Stewart led the most laps in Las Vegas as did Brad Keselowski in Bristol. Each captured the checkered flag at the end of the day. Everyone else to have shown the way the longest in the other races this year can sympathize with Truex.

Other than Truex’s dominating performance at the front of the field in Kansas, perhaps the most well known case of a driver not winning after leading for long stretches was Jeff Gordon in Martinsville. There, the four time champion ran up front for 328 laps only to be taken out after a green/white/checkered restart in a three-wide dash for victory.

Jimmie Johnson in Texas and Kyle Busch in Fontana also piled up significant amounts of time leading the pack only to fall short at the end. Denny Hamlin in Daytona and Kevin Harvick in Phoenix each had to go home only with the satisfaction of having a front running car while someone else hoisted the big trophy.

It seems as though drivers are able to hold onto the lead for much of the race once they get there. But in the end, circumstances like the sun coming out and changing the handling characteristics of the car or everyone getting a final shot as a result of a late race caution has doomed no fewer than six drivers in eight Sprint Cup races so far in 2012.

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