Up until now, Stewart could probably shrug this off. But today was his 15th try at the 500 and he is still leaving empty-handed. Back in the late 1970s and 1980s, the Daytona 500 monkey was on the back of Darrell Waltrip. Year after year he would win just about all the other races during February. But on Sunday, somebody else took home the hardware. Waltrip won the 300-mile race on Saturday five times before winning the "Big One".
But on his 17th try he finally did it. If you think that wasn't a huge relief, watch his victory celebration. Waltrip actually cried in Victory Lane. That gorilla had to move on.
It moved on to the back of another driver who dominated the sport, and the big track at Daytona, even more than Waltrip did. It hopped on the back of "The Man in Black".
No driver ever dominated Daytona like Earnhardt did. He would win on Thursday in the Twins, at one time sweeping an entire decade. He would, many times, win the Sprint Unlimited race at the beginning of Speedweeks—six times to be exact. And he would then follow that up with a win at an IROC race on Friday.
He also won the Nationwide Race at Daytona seven times, including a streak of five in a row and won a couple of times in the July Coke Zero Race, too.
Finally, in his 20th try, he was able to win the Daytona 500. If you think it was no big deal when he won, look at his victory lane celebration.
Where would the monkey go from there? Look no further than Tony Stewart. In an eerie similarity to Waltrip and Earnhardt, Stewart now has won the 300-mile Nationwide race seven times, the Sprint Unlimited three times and the Coke Zero 400 four times. But, he still has yet to win the Daytona 500.
The tough part of it now is that the longer the streak goes on, the more he will be asked about it. The more he is asked about it, the more he will be pressing. That is usually a bad combination at Daytona.
But he should take solace in the fact that both Waltrip and Earnhardt finally got their Daytona 500 win. Although he may not want to think about what Earnhardt gave back to the Daytona 500 later on.