Despite being just over four years ago, July 6, 2014 feels like it was in another lifetime.
Now imagine how Aric Almirola felt prior to his win Sunday in the Cup race at Talladega.
It had been 149 races since Almirola first visited Victory Lane in the Cup Series. He won the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in 2014 driving Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford.
When Almirola passed Kurt Busch coming to the checkered flag Sunday, it snapped the third-longest streak of starts between wins No. 1 and No. 2 in the Cup Series.
Here are the top five longest streaks.
1. Martin Truex Jr. – 218 starts between wins
Truex’s first win came on June 4, 2007 at Dover International Speedway while driving Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s No. 1 Chevrolet.
He would have to wait until June 23, 2013 at Sonoma Raceway to get win No. 2, this time coming in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 56 Toyota
2. Jamie McMurray – 165 starts between wins
McMurray famously earned his first Cup win in his second career start. Subbing for an injured Sterling Marlin in Chip Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge, McMurray won on Oct. 13, 2002 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Win No. 2 did not present itself until July 7, 2007 at Daytona. Driving the No. 26 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, McMurray beat Kyle Busch by five-thousandths of a second to return to Victory Lane.
3. Aric Almirola – 149 starts between wins
4. Ward Burton – 131 starts between wins
Burton won his first Cup race in his sophomore season, driving the No. 22 Pontiac for Bill Davis Racing. He won on Oct. 22, 1995 at Rockingham Motor Speedway.
Five years later and still driving the No. 22 for Davis, Burton returned to Victory Lane on March 19, 2000 at Darlington Raceway.
5. Morgan Shepherd – 115 starts between wins
After making eight Cup starts from 1970 – 1978, Shepherd finally ran a majority of the schedule in 1981, running all but the first two races. His first win came relatively quickly in race No. 9 on April 26 at Martinsville Speedway.
The second victory came on March 16, 1986 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Of Shepherd’s four career wins, three came at Atlanta.