In professional sports there are things known as curses. Curses to some are real and to a majority of people just a myth. In my opinion I dont' believe in them. I believe in circumstances and performance dictating what happens. In baseball there is the "Curse of the bambeano" The Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for a cash sum. The Red Sox then went 86 years without winning a world series until 2004. The Chicago Cubs have "the curse of the billy goat" A fan's goat was denied access into Wrigley Field one afternoon and for that he placed a self-imposed curse on the Cubs. The Cubs have went a 100 plus years without a World Series Championship and almost as long without even appearing in the World Series. In football there is the Super Bowl curse. In the 2000's it seemed as if if you lost the Super Bowl then the next year you would fail to even make the playoffs the next year. This happened several years in a row. There is also the Madden NFL curse. Every athlete from Madden 01-Madden 10 either got hurt during the season or missed significant playing time due to injuries. Of course there is also the famous Sports Illustrated Curse as well.
NASCAR isn't immune from "curses". There is the Daytona 500 curse. You hear all the time announcers mention that winning the Daytona 500 makes your season. In a lot of cases it is your season and in some its your career. The following winners of the 500 in the last 20 years have experienced either a winless season or maybe getting another win during the season but overall being inconsistent for whatever reason. In other cases there is even the fact where if you win the 500 then something bad is surely to happen to you shortly afterwards. Lets review the last 20 years of Daytona 500 winners where this has occurred.
1990: Derrike Cope
Cope got the most unlikeliest of wins when Dale Earnhardt who had dominated all day cut a tire on the last lap giving Cope and his Bob Whitcomb owned number 10 their first wins. Cope would win another race at Dover months later but would never to this day win another Cup race. Some called the win a fluke but others argue that Cope ran up front all day during that race. Cope's team would fold two years later and Cope would become a journeyman in all 3 major series bouncing from ride to ride.
1991: Ernie Irvan
Irvan wasn't an established star but this win made him one quickly. Irvan would win several more races during his career. Irvan suffered two life threatening injuries at Michigan in 1994 and 1999 respectively to end his career. It's worth noting that in 94' he was battling Earnhardt for the Championship.
1992: Davey Allison
Allison joined father Bobby as a winner of the 500 in 92'. Allison would win 5 races in 92' and lead the points standings most of the season. In 92 however he would suffer broken ribs at Wilkesboro and a broken collarbone in a horrific accident at Pocono. Those injuries caused him to exit his car early during races. Allison at the final race of 92' was involved in a late race wreck with Irvan that ended his race and any hopes of a title. Perhaps the most trying event to take place for Allison that year was his brother Clifford losing his life in Michigan that year while practicing for a Busch Series race. Nearly a year later, Davey would lose his own life in a helicopter crash in Talledega Alabama
1993: Dale Jarrett
Jarrett at this time had only won one race and had rarely contended for race wins. Jarrett out-ran Dale Earnhardt to win the first of his 3 Daytona 500s (96 and 2000). Jarrett would go winless the rest of 93 and 3/4ths of 94 before winning at the Fall Charlotte race just a week after dnq'ing at Wilkesboro. Jarrett wouldn't get his career back on track really until 1996 where he won 4 times and the rest after that is history
1994: Sterling Marlin
Marlin had come close many times to a win but finally broke through in the 500. Marlin would not win another race in 1994. He of course in 1995 won it again but that year contended for the championship
1998: Dale Earnhardt
Everyone knows the story about Earnhardt. He had gone 20 years trying to win the 500 before finally doing so in 98. The story behind this though was Earnhardt hadn't won in nearly 2 years and many said that he was on his last legs as a competitive driver. Earnhardt would go the rest of 98 without winning again. Earnhardt would win twice in 99 and contend for the championship in 2000. Unfortunately Earnhardt would lose his life in the same race in 2001 that he had won just three years earlier.
Jeff Gordon won the race in 1997 and 1999 and would enjoy a championship season in 97' and a competitive year in 99'
I'll have part 2 on this on the next blog
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