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Seven different winners in the first seven NASCAR races? Quick, someone get Oprah on the line!

You get a win! And you get a win! Everybody gets a win!

After so much parity to start the year, it's tempting to think there could be a record number of winners in the first 26 races — also known as NASCAR's regular season.

If the current mark of 16 different winners does fall, a win would not necessarily secure a berth in the 16-car Chase for the Sprint Cup field. Under NASCAR's new playoff format, full-time drivers who win a race are eligible for the Chase as long as they stay in the top 30 of the point standings.

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But if there are more than 16 winners, one victory wouldn't guarantee anything. Race winners who are futher down in the standings could get the boot.

That's left some of the seven winners, such as Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr., to wonder aloud whether they'll need to win again in order to secure a spot. Left unsaid was the possibililty of reverting to a points-racing mentality in order to put themselves in better position for a tiebreaker.

Fortunately, they won't have to worry or points race. There will not be more than 16 winners — if there's even that many. History simply does not support that argument, even if it seems there could be 26 different victors as of now.

In the Chase Era (2004-present), there have never been 16 different winners in the regular season. Last year, there were only 13 — and that included surprising wins by David Ragan (Talladega) and Brian Vickers (New Hampshire).

The last time seven different drivers won the first seven events was 2003, which set the record with 16 different winners in the first 26 races. But there's no guarantee early-season parity will last. In 2000, there were a record 10 different winners to open the season; by the 26th race, only 13 had won.

NASCAR is always trying to create a more level playing field, and a new rules package to start this season seems to have made teams scramble enough to prevent anyone from winning multiple races.

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Still, all of the drivers who have won so far are from big teams who have the most money and resources. If there were a surprise winner or two among the seven, it would increase the chances of 16 different winners in 26 races.

It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that drivers from Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have won all of the races so far, with Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt and Kyle Busch joining Earnhardt and Edwards on the winner's list. Those are the teams who should — and will — win frequently.

Last year, drivers from those five teams combined to win 28 of the 36 races, including 21 of the first 26. There are more victories to come for those teams in 2014, which might even continue the different winners streak Saturday night at Darlington Raceway.

Defending Darlington winner Matt Kenseth, who won seven times last year, is winless so far this season. And six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson — who has won 29 more races than any other driver in the Chase Era — is also looking for his first win.

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Either of them could easily win on Saturday or in the next few weeks, as could drivers like Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne. But if they do, it'll only increase the chances of a repeat winner.

What if this season turns out to have record-breaking parity, forcing winners to points race again as the Chase draws near? Perhaps a small tweak to eliminate such talk in the future would be to allow any winner into the Chase — no matter how many there are — but keep the first Chase cut (down to 12 drivers) intact.

Either way, NASCAR should be proud of the results so far this year. The regular season has a much different look thanks to the revamped playoff format, and every race has felt like it matters more than before.

Follow Gluck on Twitter @jeff_gluck

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