NASCAR StatWatch – Kurt Busch’s drought reaches 50 races

NASCAR


The NASCAR Cup series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway was dominated by talk of whether the race would be better with restrictor plates, and then whether the race would be better without, well, weather.

We got enough of two races in to call it a weekend as long as you didn’t mind a little wait to start things off. I chose to exercise my right to nap during rain delays. Zero regrets.

But amid the raindrops, a Cup winner emerged along with a historic team effort. Here’s the cream of the statistical storylines to get you through the Cup series’ upcoming off weekend.

Stewart-Haas has won seven of the 15 races run this season, but those have all come from Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick. Still waiting to break into Victory Lane are Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola.

Of course, both have won Cup races before, with each of their last wins, or in the case of Almirola, his only win, coming at Daytona.

Busch looked like the favorite for a while on Sunday. He started on the pole, led a lot of the first segment, and hung around the front all day. Still, Busch’s winless streak since capturing last year’s Daytona 500 extended to 50 races.

But waiting for another win after a Daytona 500 victory isn’t too unusual. Six drivers have gone more than 50 races without a win immediately following a Daytona 500 victory, including four since 2000.

Trevor Bayne is still waiting for his second win, while Ryan Newman (77 races), Kevin Harvick (115) and Michael Waltrip (51) both had long streaks. Before 2000, a 50-plus race winless streak immediately following a Daytona 500 win happened only twice, by Dale Jarrett (53 after his 1993 wins) and Tiny Lund (51).

Total team effort

Bowyer picked up his 10th career Cup series win, becoming the 61st driver in series history to reach double-digit victories. And when you consider that it took him 191 attempts to get from his eighth to ninth win, the eight-race drought between win nine and 10 wasn’t all that long.

But what made this win especially rare was that right behind him were his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, Harvick and Busch.

We hadn’t seen a team with a 1-2-3 finish in nearly 10 years, since Roush Fenway Racing did it at Dover in September 2008. Stewart-Haas became just the seventh team in series history to get a 1-2-3 finish.

Three of those teams did it in a span from 1956 to 1957. Teams owned by Carl Kiekhaefer, Pete DePaolo and Hugh Babb did it a combined 10 times in those two seasons.

Since 1957, only Roush Fenway (five times), Hendrick Motorsports (1997 Daytona 500) and Richard Childress Racing (2008 Bristol) have pulled off that feat.

And what’s amazing is that Bowyer and Harvick have pulled it off before. When RCR pulled it off, Harvick was second and Bowyer third behind race winner Jeff Burton.

While the Stewart-Haas Fords secured the top three spots, the Penske and Penske-affiliated teams were also strong, led by Menard’s fifth-place finish.

It was Menard’s first top-5 finish for the Wood Brothers, the fourth team he’s had a top-5 finish for.

Ryan Blaney helped get the Wood Brothers racing in the front of the field again last season, winning at Pocono. But before Blaney, the last time the team had a top-5 finish outside of a road course (where Marcos Ambrose had one) or restrictor-plate win (where Bayne had one) was Ricky Rudd’s fourth-place finish at Bristol in 2005.

Menard pulled just four points back of a playoff berth and a chance to get the Wood Brothers in the playoffs for a second straight season. Last year, Blaney got them a ninth-place finish in points. The Wood Brothers haven’t had a top-5 finish in points since David Pearson in 1976.



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