The Vegas Curse is a fan coined term that the driver who wins freestyle will have a short run the following year, usually falling well without of the top 5 or ending near the bottom.
The Vegas Curse didn't strike until 2003. Even though Dennis Anderson did not back up his title in 2001, he still finished in the top 5. In 2003 however, defending champ Tom Meents in Maximum Destruction only had a one hit run and ended up finishing 14th out of 16.
The curse continued in 2004 with Avenger, in 2005 to El Toro Loco, Maximum Destruction, and Madusa, in 2006 to Bounty Hunter. Tom's run in 2007 can be speculated to be struck by the curse as his run was cut very short, but he did finish 6th out of 24 so it can be debated.
2008 would be a bizarre year as Captain's Curse did do well, but reigning champion Pablo Huffaker was not competing therefore the curse couldn't even be in effect, although Tom Meents in Maximum Destruction had a one hit freestyle and was the most recent freestyle champion in the field.
For two years the curse struck Adam Anderson. First in 2009 when he crashed in racing and was injured, and so not able to defend his title, then again in 2010 when he had a one hit run and crashed.
Damon Bradshaw was the first driver since 2003 to not be struck by the curse. Although he did not defend his title in 2010, he scored 31 and finished 3rd in the field.
In 2014 Tom Meents did very similar to Bradshaw, by although not winning the title, he finished 3rd out of 32 trucks.
In 2017, Adam Anderson in Grave Digger broke a rear spindle ending his run with 33 seconds left on the clock. He finished 13th out of 32.
In 2018, Lee O'Donnell in The Mad Scientist broke the front end of the truck early on the run, ending the freestyle. He finished 25th out of 32.
Still, the ratio of years struck by the curse to those that haven't is quite a gap.
Years without the curse- 3
Years debated to have the curse- 3
Years with the curse- 11