NASCAR could end a streak that began in 1950

Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has opened up with back-to-back first-time winners. We haven’t seen three in a row to open a year since 1949.

The start of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has been anything but predictable. Following two races at Daytona International Speedway, including the Daytona 500 on the oval and the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 on the road course, two new drivers have joined the all-time wins list, becoming the 196th and 197th drivers to do so.

Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell opened up the season with a Daytona 500 victory in his 358th career start. Only one other driver in Cup Series history had gone more than 358 starts before securing his first victory, with that being Michael Waltrip (463rd start, 2001 Daytona 500).

Then in his 38th career start, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell won the road course race to become Oklahoma’s first ever Cup Series race winner, making the state the 35th different state to produce a winner.

Now the big question is this: will we see a third straight first-time winner to open up the 2021 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway?

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If we do, it would mark the first time since the 1949 season, and that was the first season of what is now known as the Cup Series (NASCAR Strictly Stock).

That season opened up with five consecutive first-time winners. Jim Roper won the season opener at Charlotte Speedway before Red Byron won at the Beach & Road Course in Daytona Beach, Florida, Bob Flock won at Occoneechee Speedway, Curtis Turner won at Langhorne Speedway and Jack White won at Hamburg Speedway.

Byron won the season’s sixth race at Martinsville Speedway to end that streak.

The 2021 season is already the first season since 1950 to see two consecutive first-time winners to open up the year.

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That year, Harold Kite won at the Beach & Road Course to open up the season before Tim Flock won at Charlotte Speedway. The third race was held at Langhorne Speedway and won by Curtis Turner for the second year in a row.

So will NASCAR see its first season with three consecutive first-time winners to start the year since 1949, ending a 71-year streak?

Notable drivers in the Cup Series who are still seeking their first victories include Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace, Trackhouse Racing Team’s Daniel Suarez, Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ross Chastain and Stewart-Haas Racing rookie Chase Briscoe.

Reddick finished last year’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in fourth place — despite forgetting that there was one lap to go when the white flag flew. He is especially great at running the high line at this track, where he won back-to-back Xfinity Series championships in 2019 and 2020 before he was promoted to the Cup Series.

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Will the Cup Series open the season with three straight first-time winners for the first time since the 1949 season, the first ever season of competition? Tune in to Fox at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 28 for the live broadcast of the Dixie Vodka 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway.