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So you won the Daytona 500. What have you done lately?

Jamie McMurray wins the Daytona 500 – but it doesn't mean he'll enjoy a strong season in the Sprint Cup
Forget everything you just saw.

On Sunday, Jamie McMurray won a Daytona 500 that gave fans some of the most dramatic, edge-of-the-seat action in the history of the Great American Race — when the cars weren't parked on pit road.

The race also featured two long, tedious stoppages while track workers attempted — hardly with unqualified success — to repair a hole in the low-side racing line near the transition between turns one and two. By the end of the six-hour-plus marathon, the temperature had dropped into the 40s.

Ultimately, McMurray took the chequered flag under the lights, squelching, for this event, all the good intentions of earlier start times for NASCAR races, one of the mantras of fan-responsive 2010.

The good news is that McMurray's popular win, which also featured runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s eruption from a frantic pack of cars to chase McMurray through the final two corners, gave those inclined to be equitable good reason to forget the problems with the racetrack — at least temporarily.

The bad news for McMurray is that a victory in the Daytona 500 is all but worthless as a predictor of what will happen the rest of the season.

Kevin Harvick won the 2007 race and hasn't won a points event since. The same goes for Ryan Newman, who hasn't been to victory lane in a Cup race — points or otherwise — since he took the chequered flag in the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008.

Matt Kenseth, winner of last year's rain-shortened race, won the following week in California but struggled for the rest of the year and missed the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the first time in his career.

The bottom line is that the Daytona 500 is a special event, not only in its import but also in its conduct. Daytona is a superspeedway where restrictor plates, designed to limit horsepower and speed, are mandated by NASCAR.

This week, at California, what drivers call the “real” Sprint Cup season begins with a three-week diet of 2-mile (California) and 1.5-mile tracks (Las Vegas and Atlanta), the staples of the Cup schedule, where restrictor plates give way to open motors.




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Jamie McMurray leads Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Their success, however, might be short-lived. The Daytona 500 has not proved to be a barometer of what will happen the rest of the season. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #9 Jacob Companies Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 26, 2015 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet Chevrolet SS races to victory followed by second place finisher Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Amp Energy Chevrolet SS, and third place finisher Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS Sunday, June 14, 2015, in the rain shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 ARRIS Toyota, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, race three-wide at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, affixes the winners decal to his car in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, races to victory, Sunday, June 7, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS is congratulated for his victory by Chevy teammate Jimmie Johnson (r), driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet SS Sunday, June 7, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Johnson finished third. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, celebrates in Victory Lane, Sunday, June 7, 2015, after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory, Sunday, June 7, 2015, after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta `We Paint Winners` 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position, Friday, June 5, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Truex, Jr. is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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