Ever hear of the great Texas jinx?

April, 7, 2011
04/07/11
4:25
PM ET

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Do you know about the Texas jinx?

It's a bit of a secret, but we'll pass it along.

Winning at some tracks is not a good omen for winning the championship that season. Texas Motor Speedway is one of them.

Of the 20 Cup winners at TMS since 1997, only one went on to win the championship that season -- Jimmie Johnson in 2007.

Take the checkered flag Saturday night and the statistical odds are against you winning the title. That won't keep anyone from trying to win, of course, but it's an odd quirk.

Tony Stewart, a TMS winner in 2006, loves the high speeds on the 1.5-mile oval.

"We run really, really fast here," Stewart said. "That makes it one place on the schedule that you look forward to because you know you're going to get to let your legs stretch out, so to speak, and run some quick lap times."

Fast in the car, but no fast track to the Cup title, statistically speaking. Texas, however, isn't the worst example of the strange phenomenon.

No Pocono winner has gone on to win the Cup championship in the past 12 years. That's 0-for-24 races.

The odds aren't with a winning driver at Talladega, either. Johnson is the only winner (the spring race of 2006) to go on to win the title the same year of the latest 32 winners at the giant Alabama oval.

Michigan has only one champ in the same season in its past 23 races (Jeff Gordon in 2001) and none in the past 19 on the 2-mile oval.

Two newer tracks never have seen the winner go on to win the title in the season he won there -- Homestead-Miami Speedway (0-for-12) and Chicagoland Speedway (0-for-10).

But this week it's Texas, where Kevin Harvick is trying to win his third consecutive Cup race. Would winning Saturday night jinx his championships hopes?

Maybe not. The last time a driver won at least three consecutive Cup race was 2007. That came at Texas in 2007, the third of four straight wins for Johnson en route to the title.

So winning three in a row might be the secret elixir to breaking the jinx. Harvick never has won at Texas, but he never had won at California or Martinsville before going to Victory Lane in the past two races.

"This year our goal is to put ourselves in position to win more races," Harvick said. "I think that's the biggest difference of what we have from last year to this year."

Harvick considers TMS one of the most challenging tracks in Cup.

"It's a really fast racetrack," he said. "The grip goes away fast. It still has big bumps in the middle of Turns 1 and 2 and it still has the little bumps on the bottom of Turns 3 and 4.

"It wears the tires out and the cars become harder to drive as the run goes on. It's a fun racetrack to race on because you have options to move around, but you still have really, really big speed at the beginning of the runs."

The Bayne Effect

Things have not gone well for young Trevor Bayne since he rocked the racing world with his dramatic victory in the Daytona 500.

Bayne's average finish is 31.8 in the five races since Daytona. He doesn't earn points in Cup, but Bayne would have gone from first to 30th in five races if he did.

He will race Saturday night at TMS, then try to equal his restrictor-plate magic one week later at Talladega before taking a break on Cup races to concentrate on his Nationwide Series schedule. He's sixth in the Nationwide standings.

Many people were expecting Bayne to become the next young star after his Daytona shocker. That still may happen down the road, but the expectations were unfair and unrealistic after Daytona for a 20-year-old who had only two Cup starts.

What's the point(s)?

The points system looks a lot of different this year, but it really hasn't changed that much.

After six races this season, 11 drivers are within the 47 points of leader Kyle Busch, the most points a driver can make up in one race. One year ago, it was exactly the same -- 11 drivers were within the one-race total, which was 161 points in the old system.

The difference is it's easier to understand, the standings look closer and it is a little tougher to make up ground.

Bankroll Joe

Assuming he qualifies Friday, Joe Nemechek's season earnings will top $700,000 after the Saturday night race at TMS.

Not bad for a guy who has completed only 11 percent of the laps this season. Through the first six races, Nemechek completed 221 of 1,986 laps.

He has earned $638,773 (an average of $106,462 per race), but has not finished more than 15 percent of the laps in any event.

Start and park? More like start and cash in.

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer

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