By admin | December 25, 2012
By Richard Allen
There were a number of memorable things about the 2012 NASCAR season, some positive and some negative. Here, in no particular order, are a few of the memories I will take away from this past year:
Jeff Gordon adds to his career win total- Every time Gordon wins he makes history. His two Sprint Cup victories in 2012 pushed his career total to 87 and has placed him solidly in third place on NASCAR’s all-time list, trailing only Richard Petty(200) and David Pearson(105).
Keselowski breaks HMS dominance- Either a Hendrick Motorsports driver or someone associated with that organization had won the Sprint Cup every year since 2006. But after five titles being claimed by Jimmie Johnson and one by Tony Stewart, the HMS mastery of NASCAR’s top division ended in 2012 when Brad Keselowski won the title for Penske Racing.
Dodge wins the Sprint Cup before leaving the sport- Coming into the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Dodge had not won a series title since 1975 when Richard Petty took the big trophy back home to Randleman, North Carolina. Finally, Brad Keselowski broke through for the manufacturer and claimed the Cup for them. However, the brand will not be associated with any major team in 2013, which will leave them unable to defend their long sought after championship.
Roger Penske wins his first Sprint Cup title- Hard to believe as it may be, iconic American motorsports figure Roger Penske had never won a NASCAR Sprint Cup title in all his many years of being involved in the sport. The winningest IndyCar owner in history finally added NASCAR’s most coveted prize to his trophy case in 2012.
Jeff Gordon vs Clint Bowyer- The penultimate race of the NASCAR season in Phoenix was less than exciting for most of the way to say the least. However, late race contact between Bowyer and Gordon set off a chain reaction of events that led to one of the season’s most talked about incidents. Gordon delivered retaliation when Bowyer back came around to lap him. Then, with both cars essentially destroyed, drivers and crew members scuffled and chased each other through the track’s pit and garage areas, creating a media frenzy and a significant elevation of the excitement level for that race.
Tony Stewart demonstrates his displeasure with Matt Kenseth in Bristol- Phoenix was not alone when it came to driver disagreements. During the Irwin Tools Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, on-track contact between Stewart and Kenseth left the defending Sprint Cup champion’s car disabled on the front stretch of the half-mile facility. As Kenseth came through the pit area after having service performed on his car, Stewart flung his helmet scoring a direct hit on the nose of the #17 Ford. The move provided one of the most used highlight reel moments of the season.
Matt Kenseth leaves Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing- After winning his second Daytona 500 earlier in the season, 2003 NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth announced that he would leave the only team he had ever driven for on a full-time basis. JGR’s #20 crew will be the recipients of Kenseth’s driving talents in 2013 and beyond.
Danica, Danica, Danica- In case you haven’t noticed, Danica Patrick now drives in NASCAR. Of course, barring the possibility that you have been held in solitary confinement for the past 24 months, you have been bombarded with every possible piece of information regarding the female driver. And consider that was only with her running on a part-time basis at the Sprint Cup level. That will likely be magnified greatly as Danica moves toward NASCAR’s highest level as a regular.
Boring racing and empty grandstands- It seemed as if a recurring theme played out at the Sprint Cup level time after time in 2012. Drivers and cars seemed to roll around most every track in a parade-like formation only to have the race be decided by a fuel mileage coast over the final miles of the event. In turn, fans reacted to the product being offered to them by not showing up, often leaving grandstands with large numbers of empty seats. It is hoped that changes made to the Car of Tomorrow, or Gen 6, will alleviate this type of situation in 2013. Only time will tell.
There are just a few of the memories I have of the 2012 season as we bring the curtain down on the calendar year. No doubt there were a number of things I left off of my list that you may have on yours. Please feel free to share your memories in the comment space below.
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