Thursday, June 21, 2012

Winless Streaks: Both Positive and Negative

Winless streaks are one of the most widely talked about topics in NASCAR during the season and even during the off-season.  The majority of the drivers have them - maybe they're only for a few races, but they're always present in our sport. 

When you think about it, a winless streak must always be on a driver's mind; it has to be near impossible to not think about them when the reporters and fans are constantly talking about them.  "How does it feel to have not won in (fill in the blank with a number) races?"  "Do you think this weekend is your weekend to finally break your winless streak?" "Your contract is almost up, do you think you need to win to keep your ride?" are all questions drivers are asked on a weekly - if not daily - basis.  And quite honestly, I could see how they would get upset or annoyed after a while. 

The drivers have to have a very good mindset to be able to keep their focus and not let these questions get to them. They have to put all of their focus on going out and doing the best they can and try to win to end their winless streak.  Put yourself in their shoes; now imagine being asked about your winless streak all the time.  It could be annoying, correct?  It's not like the drivers aren't thinking about it, I'm sure it plagues their minds all the time - especially if their jobs depended on it. 

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images N. America
Fan support is also a key factor in the winless streaks.  No, I'm not saying that the fans are responsible; I'm saying that the fans help to support their driver when the driver has a good day or a bad day.  A major example is Junior Nation.  Dale Earnhardt, Jr. went one hundred and forty-three races without winning; that's an excess of four years.  Did I doubt that Dale Jr. was ever going to win again?  Not at all; I knew he would, it was just a matter of time.  In that four year time span, I'm almost positive that Junior didn't lose any fans.  If anything, his fan base grew because they saw how he didn’t give up and they didn’t give up on him.  If you asked a member of Junior Nation on any given weekend when they thought Junior's winless streak would be over, they would say that weekend.  They stuck with him through the good finishes and the bad, stating "there's always next week for the win."  Those are loyal fans if you ask me.  After Junior's win at Michigan this past weekend, the fans' reactions that I witnessed on Facebook and Twitter was incredible; only a few people had anything bad to say, everyone else was overjoyed and proud of their driver. 

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images N. America
Another driver who had a lot of pressure on him to do well this year was twenty-two-year-old, Joey Logano.  After being dubbed "the best thing since sliced bread," people assumed he would produce results each week that a NASCAR veteran would be envious of, and that, he did not.  In 2009, his first season in the Cup Series, his season started out rough, not what anyone expected; but he won the rain-shortened race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and people thought that this would be the motivation the team needed to get the finishes expected.  Occasionally getting a top-ten in 2010 and 2011, Logano had a lot to prove this year, especially since it was contract year and the rumor mill started to spin about whether Joey would keep his ride with Joe Gibbs Racing since his results the past two years have been lackluster at best.  After one hundred and four races, Logano finally pulled back into Victory Lane last weekend at Pocono, breaking the winless streak. 

Winless streaks are definitely positive and negative.  In a positive light, they give the drivers and teams the motivation to go out there each week and give it their all.  Negatively, after a while of not winning, you can be sure that the lack of wins makes the drivers and teams feel bad and makes them question if they will ever win again, which is why positive fan feedback and support is crucial to help your favorite drivers keep a good mentality!

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