Appreciating Every Win by Matt Becherer - South Dade News Leader: Sports

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Appreciating Every Win by Matt Becherer

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2019 7:30 pm | Updated: 2:05 pm, Fri Apr 19, 2019.

Winning doesn’t come easy in sports. In fact, team sports provide the highest opportunity of defeating your opponent, and even that is only a 50/50 chance.

However, in other sports such as NASCAR and golf, the odds of winning are significantly less as drivers are competing amongst roughly 40 cars each week and golfers may be going up against as many as 156 opponents in a given tournament.

If you were paying attention to The Masters Tournament at August National Golf Club last weekend, you may have noticed a familiar face putting on the green jacket. Tiger Woods capped off his remarkable performance by sinking a par putt on the 18th hole to win his fifth career Masters Tournament.

His victory at Augusta adds to his prestigious career in which he trails only Jack Nicklaus with 15 major golf championships, but perhaps even more impressive is that at 43 years old, Tiger won his first major in 11 years. It was one of the longest droughts in between majors in golf history and it was an incredible feat to see Tiger be able to get back atop of The Masters leaderboards after so many years.

In the last two years, Woods has now broken two of the longest winless streaks in golf history. Aside from ending his majors drought last weekend, Woods also ended a Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour winless stretch that lasted more than five years with a victory last season in the Tour Championship.

Much like golf, it’s not all that uncommon to see a driver in NASCAR go a long stretch without recording a victory. In some extreme cases, such as NASCAR’s Dave Blaney who drove in 473 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, a driver may never reach Victory Lane during their entire career. As I watched Woods complete his comeback on Sunday, I couldn’t help but think back to some drivers who went years in between wins and had some memorable moments here at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Bill Elliott holds the NASCAR record for most races in between wins at 226. From 1994-2001, the Hall of Fame driver failed to collect a checkered flag until he came to South Florida and won the 2001 Pennzoil Freedom 400, taking his iconic No. 9 car back to Victory Lane once again. For Elliott, one of the sport’s most popular drivers ever, it was an incredible moment that every NASCAR fan was rooting for. Ellliott would go on to win three more races before retiring from a full-time ride.

While Elliott’s winless streak came toward the end of his career, some drivers experience these difficulties when they first move up to NASCAR’s premier series. After scoring a win in just his second full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Martin Truex Jr. went more than six years before finding Victory Lane again. While the winless stretch added to Truex’s well documented adversity in his Cup career, he didn’t let it stop him from becoming one of NASCAR’s elite drivers.

Since his victory at Sonoma in 2013, Truex has gathered 18 additional wins and in 2017, won the Monster Energy Series Championship at the Speedway, capping off one of the most extraordinary career turnarounds in NASCAR history. I’ll never forget watching the raw emotion Truex displayed after lifting the championship trophy and hearing him talk about how far he’s come from his winless days. It was hard not to be happy for Truex, who had gone from one of the longest winless streaks ever in the sport to the pinnacle of NASCAR in just a handful of seasons.

When you think of winless streaks, Jimmie Johnson, one of the most decorated drivers in auto racing history, isn’t the first name that comes to mind. Johnson has won seven championships at Homestead-Miami Speedway, tying him for the most all-time in NASCAR record books with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. Johnson, though, is currently in the midst of the longest winless stretch of his career at 68 races, having last won at Dover International Speedway in 2017.

Similar to what Woods experienced in golf, Johnson has gone from being one the most dominant drivers in motorsports to trying to find his footing and regain his championship form. Still having one of the largest fan bases in the sport, Johnson has plenty of support cheering him on and rooting for him to once again find Victory Lane, and perhaps even another championship.

As we watch so many drivers go years in between wins, remember just how hard it is to win a race. With so many factors contributing to having a winning car, it’s not easy to show up to the track each week and run with the best in the field. So whether you root for Kyle Busch, who’s won more than 200 NASCAR national series races in his career, or Daniel Suarez, who is seeking his first career MENCS win, appreciate every win because you never know how long it might be until your driver is standing in Victory Lane again.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

All three of NASCAR’s national series are off this weekend. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series will return to action next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, while the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will return on May 3 at Dover International Speedway.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Apr. 20

Performance Driving Group

Apr. 27-28 Championship Cup Series

May 3

Fast Lane Friday

May 4

Miami Exotic Auto Racing

May 5

Florida Track Days

May 11

Performance Driving Group

May 18-19

Florida Motorcycle Road Racing Association

May 25-26

Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA)

May 31

Xtreme Xperience

2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 15

Ford EcoBoost 200 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 16

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship

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