The Daytona 500 curse


Every sport has its share of Curses. Baseball had the “Curse of The Bambino”, where the Boston Red sox went 86 years before winning another World Series after trading Babe Ruth.  Football the “Madden cover curse”, Where the cover player either suffers an injury or a decline in performance and there are so many more. NASCAR is no different. In NASCAR we have what’s called “The Daytona 500 Curse”.

For those that don’t know the curse it basically says the winner of the 500 will not go on to win the championship and in some cases they have a decline in performance. In the 57 years since the first 500 the winner has only gone to win the championship 9 times between by some of the biggest names in this sport. Those drivers are Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, but they’re not who I’m here to talk about.

Not many have had a decline in performance in fact most had very successful seasons just came up short in the end. Like last year, Joey won the 500 and would win 5 more times for a season high 6 wins, but would fall short at the end of the season and not make it to the final round of the chase. Something similar happened in 99’ with Jeff Gordon. Even winning 7 races wouldn’t be enough to fight the curse.

I’m not going to go through all 48 years. I’m mostly going to look at the last 20 years or so. I’m going to start in 1992 with Davy Allison. He would win 5 races and lead the points most of the season, but after suffering broken bones at both Wilkesboro and Pocono that would cause him to have to have to use a relief driver on more than occasion. His hopes of a championship would completely end when he was involved in a late race wreck in the season ender.

Even someone as talented and well-seasoned as Dale Sr. would fall victim to the curse. After 20 years Dale would finally win the 500. It would be his only win in 98’. Despite an 8th place points finish it would be statically his worst season of his 22 year career.

Dale Jr. on the other hand would win the 500 in 2004 and go on to have one of the best seasons of his career to date, but after two DNF’s in a row during the chase and a 23 place finish at Homestead would leave him with a 5th place points finish. The 2014 500 would treat him even worse.  It was another good season but after three weeks of 20th or worse late in the chase would leave him with an 8th place final standing.

The 2005 and 2008 winners would miss the chase all together. 2005 Jeff would win the 500, but after 9 finishes of 30th or worse and 6 of those being DNFs, he would miss the chase for the first and only time.  Ryan Newman would grab the win in 2008. It would be his only win of 2008 and one of only 2 top five finishes.

These are just a few examples, there are many more examples of how the Daytona 500 curse has effected drivers. Some are worse than others. Now this brings me to this year. Will Denny be another victim of the curse or will rise to greatness and win it all in November?  Only time will tell, but if he can continue to show the speed he had over speedweeks, I think he can do it.

So what do you think? Is there a curse that follows the winner for the rest of the season?  If so what does it take to rise to greatness and win both? I for one do believe that there is a curse and those that can beat that curse are destined to one of the greats.


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