Just like anything in life, success in the world of motorsports can often times be cyclical. Just when the highest high has been hit, the lowest low can come with a crashing blow. Success is often fleeting in this business, some know this better than others. Lets just say though, sometimes you’ve got it and sometimes you don’t.
Penske Racing has 54 Cup series wins since 1991. This team, perhaps better than any other, exemplifies the roller coaster of success. Off and on for the last two decades they have had great seasons and some not so great seasons. While the team has yet to win a championship, they have proven several times they have the equipment to do it (Rusty Wallace had 10 wins with the team in 1993, finishing in a very close second behind Dale Earnhardt and Ryan Newman had eight wins in 2003). Despite Newman winning the Daytona 500 earlier this season (Roger Penske’s first), the team has not had great success. Their struggles have been apparent, but with the advent of the COT and the unsettled driver situation their position is a little more understandable.
In 2002 Sterling Marlin was on top of the Cup series. He won two races and was within reach of the championship when tragedy struck. In an accident at Kansas Speedway Marlin nearly broke his neck. The championship run was over and Chip Ganassi Racing had no choice but to go on with another person behind the wheel. That driver if you do not remember was a young Jamie McMurray who actually went on to win the race in Charlotte just a couple weeks following Marlin’s accident. That team though was forced to undergo a rebuilding process due to very unfortunate circumstances. From that point, the team has never really gotten back to where they were. Success has come, but it has not stuck around. That being said given the right set of circumstances a return to the top is a very real scenario.
DEI is another good example of a team who has been on top of the mountain as well as deep in the valley. In all their years of operation they have amassed 24 wins with four different drivers. Following the death of Dale Earnhardt and departure of Dale Earnhardt Jr., the team’s greatest asset and hope for the future has become Martin Truex Jr. While the team is not where they need to be at this moment, the talent and facilities are in place for them to become a winning organization once more.
Even the largest and most successful teams have struggles. Look at RCR this season, or even Hendrick (they have won three races, but they are not as dominent as they have been), the cycle has not really been in their favor.
My point with all this is, is do not get discouraged if your team or driver is not doing as well as they once were. While it is possible to be consistently good, it is incredibly difficult to be consistently great. Sometimes things click, and other times they do not. The hope and reality though is that the success will someday return making all the tough times worthwhile.