I ran the numbers over the last ten Great American Races and found something really interesting…
Michael Waltrip in 2001 and 2003. Jamie McMurray last year. Matt Kenseth. Ryan Newman…Ward Burton.
Remember Ward Burton?
All the above drivers have won the Daytona 500 since 2001…and all of them went on to, shall we say, less than spectacular seasons.
To be fair, many years the favorites end up wrecking…Johnson, Gordon and Jr. did this year…and a “dark horse” rises to the front to get the win.
Such as this year.
20-year-old Trevor Bayne was in grade school the last time a Wood Brothers-owned car won a Cup race…ANY cup race.
Today he made history by winning the Daytona 500.
Hard-core NASCAR fans will understand why I’m raving about the Wood Brothers. From 1950 thru the 1970’s, they were one of the elite teams…as dominant (if not more) as Hendrick or Roush/Fenway today.
But as a new generation of NASCAR stars came to prominence, the Wood Brothers’ fortunes faded, and for the past decade or more has been a one-car operation…running a part-time Cup schedule since 2006…a team whose last win came with Elliott Sadler in 2001.
Now today, in only his second start in the Cup series, Trevor Bayne not only ran a competitive race, he brought home the Harley Earl trophy as this year’s Daytona 500 winner.
Historic…Trevor, who just turned 20, is the youngest-ever winner of the Great American Race. The victory is also Ford’s 600th in the Cup series.
Exciting. Awesome. However…
In the last ten years, only one Daytona 500 winner went on to win the Cup.
Somebody named Johnson…you know, that guy who’s won the last five Cups. So Jimmie’s the exception.
More often than not, at least since 2001, the Daytona 500 winner goes on to have a less-than-stellar season. Take a look!
YEAR/500 WINNER/CHASE?/SEASON FINISH/CUP WINNER
2001 – Michael Waltrip / NA* / 24th / Jeff Gordon
2002 – Ward Burton / NA* / 25th / Tony Stewart
2003 – Michael Waltrip / NA* / 15th / Matt Kenseth
(Chase began 2004 Season)
2004 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. / YES / 5th / Kurt Busch
2005 – Jeff Gordon / YES / 11th / Tony Stewart
2006 – Jimmie Johnson / YES / WON Cup (first of 5 in a row!)
2007 – Kevin Harvick / YES / 10th / Johnson again
2008 – Ryan Newman / NO / 17th / Guess who
2009 – Matt Kenseth / NO / 14th / Who else?
2010 – Jamie McMurray / NO / 14th / Johnson – 5th in a row!
(*NA – Not Applicable. No chase until 2004)
Seriously I don’t believe in these kinds of curses…but it’s an interesting stat. And whether it even applies this year…I’ll leave to you to decide.
You see, the Associated Press is reporting that Bayne is actually signed to Roush/Fenway to drive in Nationwide this year…and is loaned out to the Wood Brothers for only 17 Cup races this season.
With such a limited Cup schedule, Trevor can’t possibly qualify for the Chase, plus the agreement between the Wood Brothers and Roush/Fenway stipulates he won’t be earning points for Cup racing.
Question is…given yesterday’s victory…might there be a change in plans?
One final note. If you go researching stats on NASCAR‘s website…they show those Cup stats in Chase format even for years prior to 2004. Why they did it that way is beyond me…but for the sake of historical accuracy, I’m pointing it out in this post. If you’re a numbers guy and want the stats the way they actually went down…you might try Jayski.com.
And on the Wood Brothers’ website, you can read about the team’s last Daytona 500 victory …35 years ago.
Now go fast…and don’t forget to turn left!