Before Denny Hamlin won the Helluva Good Sour Cream an Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway I was thinking back on his season so far, and wondered what happened to the success he experienced in the 2010 season when he finished 2nd in points to 5-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
I looked back at previous second place points finishers and realized that those who finished second in points standings seemed to have less success the following year.
In 2009 Mark Martin finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the points standings, with five wins, and 21 top tens. However, in 2010 Martin finished outside of the Chase for the Cup, in 13th, with no wins, and only eleven top tens.
In 2008 Carl Edwards finished second to Jimmie Johnson, with an astonishing nine wins, and 27 top tens having a remarkable season. However, in 2009 he struggled with no wins, and fourteen top 10s. He rebounded some in the 2010 season, finishing fourth in points, but not finding victory lane until the end of the season.
Once again, in 2007, Jeff Gordon finished second to Jimmie Johnson with six wins, and an unbelievable 30 top tens (yes, THIRTY, I even had to double and triple check that to believe it). However, in 2008 he finished seventh in points, with no wins, and a respectable 19 top tens.
What causes this second place slump? Does Chad Knaus have a voodoo habit? Is it just a "second place hangover"? We may never know, but the statistics do not bode well for those who finish second to Jimmie Johnson. Perhaps with yesterday's win Denny Hamlin can break out and break the "second place curse".