The 2009 NASCAR Sprint cup series schedule has seen its fair share of surprises but what might be most surprising is the number of first time winners.
Talladega’s spring race, the Aarons 499 saw a few crashes and a big crash at the end which leads to Brad Keselowski winning. His first NASCAR Sprint cup series win and car owner, James Finch’s first win in the series as well.
At the longest race of the season (which thanks to rain turned out to be one of the shortest) David Reutimann won the battle of rain and scored his first career win and Michael Waltrip’s first win as a car owner.
New Hampshire Motor speedway’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 was also rain shortened and rookie Joey Logano became the youngest winner in the NASCAR Sprint cup series.
So just how many first time winners will there be this year?
Well only time will tell, but looking at some other win less drivers in the Sprint cup here are some picks that I think might have a legitimate shot to become another first time winner for 2009.
1. Sam Hornish Jr.
Hornish had made a name for himself in the Indy Racing League (IRL) and last year made the change from open wheel to NASCAR.
Last year was not the best year for Hornish, but he gained information on all 22 tracks that the Sprint Cup series races at.
And this year so far, Hornish has had a better year than last year. Also he has found a type of track that he can race well at: flat tracks.
With five more flat track races left, including Indy, Sam Hornish Jr. seems to be in prime position to get a win this year. Also with Penske Racing's new engine package Dodge has made great improvements that could lead to a win.
2. Marcos Ambrose
Another Michael Waltrip Racing/JTG Daughtery racer, this Australian is a great road course racer and has also been able to find his way around an oval or two.
In Sonoma Marcos Ambrose did not have the best practice session as he ended up spinning. But when Sunday rolled around, Ambrose rolled around the 11-turn course and finished in third.
Watkins Glen is about a month and a half away, but Ambrose and crew most likely has that date circled looking for a good run, but a win could come sooner as Ambrose has posted two oval top tens. Marcos Ambrose could send Little Debbie to victory lane before the season ends.
3. David Ragan
David Ragan, the driver that took over the No. 6 Roush Fenway racing ride after Mark Martin departed the seat has had a couple of years to get used to racing in NASCAR’s premier series.
Roush-Fenway racing already has two wins this season both with the No. 17 of Matt Kenseth, but Roush-Fenway is always a strong team. Intermediate tracks are the Cat in the Hat’s specialty and there are a number of those left on the schedule.
So far this season Ragan has only one top ten finish, but despite being caught a lap down has finished most races running.
With Roush-Fenway being out-driven by other teams, Roush seems to be getting into position to pounce on the competition, as two wins will not be enough for a team that has had strong late season races. Therefore the No. 6 UPS Ford seems to be another driver that might get his first career win this season.
I’m not saying that all three of these winless drivers will win this year, they all have a 1-42 shot at every race.
Also I’m not saying that other win-less drivers in the NASCAR sprint cup series will not win this year. With how rain has played out and some tracks, Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) could have the No. 43 or 44 or both win sometime this year.
If anything Talladega proves that just like in the National Football League and all other sports, on any given Sunday any team could win.
The rest of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season is going to have a number of story lines, and so far as there have been 11 different winners that number could continue to climb. As big name drivers like, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and all four drivers of Richard Childress Racing have been winless in this season.
Mark Martin has won three races, that means that some drivers who have not won in a while may be able to win again. Brian Vickers is at most tracks a force to be reckoned with and has had four poles. Elliot Sadler has put together a few good runs with RPM.
Stewart-Haas racing has surprised many, and already put Tony in victory lane. Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart’s partner has had several top fives and looks to visit victory lane soon as well.
Some of the older drivers might also be able to get into victory lane this year, as if it was not for an unfortunate caution at Infineon Robby Gordon would have a win already. If Bobby Labonte’s 96 Hall of Fame-Yates Racing team can end up on the right side of strategy they may find victory lane this year as well.
Either way the fact is that two rookies have scored their very first win this season, and Reutimann also got himself a win. Mark Martin at the age of 50 has won not once but three times. The rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is certainty one to watch for new and old winners.