Winning is sweet, but it can be even sweeter when you haven’t done so in a long time.
NASCAR America discussed what winning feels like after a long winless stretch, beginning with Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s 2005 victory at Chicagoland Speedway.
The win for Earnhardt came 20 races after his last visit to victory lane at Phoenix at the end of the 2004 season.
“Going through those times when you’re not successful, not winning races makes you appreciate what winning feels like in that moment of joy,” Earnhardt told Nate Ryan. “It really makes you long for it and miss it and need it. I don’t know that we felt like we were going to be in a position to have that. We hadn’t run well enough to feel, ‘Man, a win’s right around the corner.”
But thanks to strategy and having a fast car “when we needed it” Earnhardt led the final 11 laps to take the checkered flag.
“That took a lot of pain away, that took a lot of frustration away, that took a lot of heartache away,” Earnhardt said.
Analysts Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty discussed their own victories that snapped winless streaks. Letarte chose his 2009 win at Texas Motor Speedway. It was Gordon’s first win since 2007 and his first win at Texas.
“Winless with Jeff Gordon is not a good place to be,” Letarte said. “You asked yourself, ‘Would it ever come again? What was gone? Where did the magic go?’ Not only was it a win that we needed, it was a win at a track that he had never won at. A track that was really snakebitten for Jeff Gordon. That made it even more special.”
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