Ranking the 10 Most Disappointing Seasons in Sprint Cup Series History

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Ranking the 10 Most Disappointing Seasons in Sprint Cup Series History
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Don't let Jimmie Johnson's career statistics fool you. Most drivers have a disappointing season or two over the course of their Sprint Cup careers.

It can happen for any number of reasons, from a slow car to a team's inner turmoil to simply a lack of confidence behind the wheel. But there's often a season on every driver's stat sheet that sticks out like a sore thumb, an anomaly that sees a top driver slip from the sharp end of the field to the middle of it.

This list is designed to rank those seasons.

Fans may read this as a modern era-heavy list, and it's the truth; you won't see a lot of the sport's legends here. Many of them retired early (Ned Jarrett, for example), transitioned into part-time schedules before they passed their prime (Cale Yarborough and David Pearson), or just dropped off gradually instead of all at once (Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip).

Those factors, plus the fact that the field wasn't quite as deep as it is today—in that fewer drivers had cars capable of winning races—keep a lot of legends from making appearances.

There are two kinds of seasons that generally make this list. The first is when a driver follows up a really good season with a really bad one; there are a lot of those present, and many should be apparent to recent fans.

The second is when a driver posts magical numbers, in some cases career bests, only to lose the championship. Let's be honest—running that well and losing a title, for any reason, is a disappointment.

Without further ado, here are the 10 seasons that should have left drivers the most frustrated in the Cup ranks:

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