Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 2/15/13
Each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver wants to start the year off with a bang. They all have the same goal. This year 19 drivers will try to get a head start on that goal and win the season opening exhibition race in the Sprint Unlimited. The all-star race comprised of 2012 Cup pole winners will try and accomplish a feat only few have done. Most people think winning the season opening all-star race would give the momentum to go on and have a fantastic season. In fact, it does just the opposite. Throughout the race’s 32-year history, only seven times has the winner of the Sprint Unlimited (formerly the Bud Shootout/Busch Clash) gone on to win the Cup championship. To dig in a little deeper and find out how rare that actually is, Dale Earnhardt is the only one to do it multiple times as he did it four of the seven times. Only Darrell Waltrip (1981), Jeff Gordon (1997) and Tony Stewart (2002) have also won both the Unlimited and title in the same season. You would also think at the very least if you were good enough to win at the very track the Daytona 500 is raced on just eight days later, you would be the favorite and likely the winner of the biggest race on the NASCAR schedule. That too isn’t true. Only five times has the driver that won the Sprint Unlimited went on to win the Daytona 500 in the same year. It hasn’t actually happened since Dale Jarrett did that in his No. 88 Ford in 2000 for Robert Yates Racing. Jarrett, also did it in 1996. Jeff Gordon (1997) Bill Elliott (1987) and Bobby Allison (1982) were the only three other drivers to win the double. All of this means is that 27 times has the winner of the Sprint Unlimited not gone on to win the Daytona 500 and 25 times has the winner failed to win the Cup championship at the end of the year. I think we can all agree that winning the Unlimited is nice, but all the winners would trade that trophy for a trip to victory lane in the 500 or a Champion crown at the end of the year.   The post NASCAR: Winning Sprint Unlimited doesn’t usually lead to season success appeared first on Race Review Online.
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