Next week’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will conclude the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, and for four drivers, a last chance at a win to extend their number of consecutive seasons with at least one victory.
Denny Hamlin’s is the longest, with a win in each of his seven full-time Sprint Cup seasons from 2006 through 2012. But his 2013 has been a disappointment in every sense of the word, with early season fines and injuries stunting his charge before it ever really got going. His last win came in March 2012, at Phoenix, some 65 races ago. With little else to take as a positive from 2013, a win for Hamlin would be a needed tonic on a frustrating year.
Clint Bowyer can win for the fourth straight year if he takes his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to Victory Lane in Homestead. While Hamlin’s year went off the rails early, Bowyer’s has just in the last two months after his Richmond spin that set off a domino effect of penalties and consequences to his team, one of his teammates, and the sport as a whole. He still made the Chase but the sting of the spin has cast an unfortunate light on his season. He last won at Sonoma in June, 2012.
Marcos Ambrose took the last two Watkins Glen race wins in 2011 and 2012 so would be least likely to continue his streak; the Tasmanian has never won a NASCAR oval race.
Meanwhile Dale Earnhardt Jr. faces the unfortunate prospect of finishing his fourth season in the last five without a win. Consistent but short of wins on a handful of occasions this year, Junior is fifth in points and seeking a win to add to his Michigan triumph in June, 2012.
Expect each of these four to race just that little bit harder on Sunday to ensure they don’t end 2013 with a donut in the win column, instead doing donuts for a win.