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From the Marbles

2012 season in the rear view: Jimmie Johnson

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

Vitals: 3rd in the points standings. 5 wins. 18 top 5s. 24 top 10s. 6 DNFs.

Moment to remember: Winning from the pole in two consecutive races isn't too shabby is it? Especially when it's in the Chase.

That's what Johnson did at Martinsville and Texas. At Martinsville, Johnson took over the points lead, and then extended it slightly at Texas after his epic late battle with Brad Keselowski that at one point saw both drivers wash up the track in turns 1 and 2 side by side for the lead.

Keselowski had gotten to the front with a two-tire pit stop, but couldn't hold off Johnson after a green-white-checker restart where Johnson successfully pinched Keselowski down as the two entered turn one and pulled away for the win.

Moment to forget: Just a week removed from those two first-to-first performances, Johnson's pursuit of a sixth title effectively ended at Phoenix thanks to a cut tire.

Johnson entered Phoenix with a seven point lead over Keselowski. He left with a 20 point deficit after Keselowski survived the final lap melee as the field headed to the checkered flag to finish sixth.

The wrap: How do you characterize Jimmie Johnson's 2012? A failure because of the massively high standards he's set for himself over the past seven years? (If it is, then prepare to call every title-less season for Johnson a failure. That's when you know you're really, really good.)

Or is it truly a fantastic season given Johnson's six DNFs? Could any other driver finish in the top 10 of 80 percent of the races he completed? Yes, he was snakebitten at restrictor plate tracks, but come on, we all know at this point that they're pretty much just one big roll of the dice. When he was running at the finish, he only finished outside the top 17 once, and that was at Phoenix. Johnson led over 300 laps more than any other driver (Kyle Busch was second) despite being just 19th in laps completed.

After coming out on top in so many late season races and situations, it was only natural regression that Johnson was going to suffer some bad luck to derail his chances like what happened this season. But title or no title, it's still blatantly obvious that Johnson should always be one of the presumptive favorites for the title and that 2012 was a pretty dominating season.

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