The NASCAR Cup Series is witnessing an anomaly – there have been nine different winners in the last nine races.
That’s the equivalent of one-fourth of the 36-race Cup season without a repeat winner.
While it would seem that such a streak – Cup last had nine different winners in a row in 2017 – would have been broken by now, the fact is it hasn’t. And with the series moving to Michigan International Speedway, the question is will the streak hit 10 races and 10 different winners?
The nine drivers and the venues they’ve won at in the last nine races are Kyle Busch (Pocono I), Joey Logano (Michigan I), Martin Truex Jr. (Sonoma), Alex Bowman (Chicago), Justin Haley (Daytona), Kurt Busch (Kentucky), Kevin Harvick (New Hampshire), Denny Hamlin (Pocono II) and Chase Elliott (Watkins Glen).
While Bowman, Haley and Kurt Busch have won just one race this season, the other six drivers have won multiple races in 2019.
The only driver who has previously won a race this season but has not won during the nine-race stretch is Brad Keselowski. His three wins this season have been at Atlanta, Martinsville and Kansas.
Four races remain to set the 16-driver playoff field: Michigan (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN), followed by Aug. 17 at Bristol, Sept. 1 at Darlington and Sept. 8 at Indianapolis.
Looking back over the last 12 races at Michigan – dating back to August 2013 – Joey Logano has won three times, including the most recent race at the 2-mile oval in June.
Kyle Larson, who could keep the streak of different consecutive winners, going won three in a row from August 2016 through August 2017. Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick all have single wins during that stretch. The two other winners in that period are retired: Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth.
If you look at drivers with overall career wins at Michigan that may have the best chance of winning Sunday – and finally snapping the 9/9 streak – are Larson, Logano and Kurt Busch (all with 3 wins each); as well as Ryan Newman, Hamlin and Harvick (2 wins each)
Those who’ve won only once in their Cup careers at Michigan are Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.
There are plenty of drivers in the running for the playoffs who could use their first win of the season to lock themselves into the 10-race event.
Among those winless drivers are Aric Almirola (ranked ninth), Ryan Blaney (10th), William Blaney (12th), Erik Jones (13th), Larson (14th), Bowyer (15th), Johnson (16th), Newman (17th), Daniel Suarez (18th), Paul Menard (19th) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (20th).
So who wins at Michigan? And will that extend the current 9/9 streak and make it 10/10?
One of the top candidates could be Jones, a native of the Wolverine state. Jones has been on one of the strongest rolls of any Cup driver of late, with top-four finishes in each of the last four races: third at Kentucky and Loudon, second at Pocono and fourth at Watkins Glen.
Another driver to keep your eye on to potentially extend the 9/9 streak is Matt DiBenedetto, who has earned four top-10 finishes in his last seven starts and is in the hunt for both a playoff spot as well as his first career Cup race win.