From The Marbles

  • Needing some random and totally useless NASCAR facts about the 2012 season to tantalize your friends with at your New Year's Eve party? You've come to the right spot! Today, it's the Camping World Truck Series!

    John King won the season opening race at Daytona for Red Horse Racing. Because of a lack of funding, he ran just four more races for Red Horse and six more overall. He finished 9th in the second race of the season at Martinsville, and that was that for his top 10 finishes.

    Todd Bodine finished 14th in the standings. That’s his lowest finish since he started running full time in the series in 2005. In fact, that’s the first time he’s finished outside the top 10 in that span.

    In that same stretch, Ron Hornaday never finished below 7th in the points standings. He was 13th this year. Hornaday was also winless in 2012, only the second time in his Truck Series career that he’s gone winless in a season. The other year was 2004, and he ran just one race that season.

    17 drivers ran all

    Read More »from Random Facts about the 2012 Camping World Truck Series
  • Vitals: 1st in the points standings. 5 wins, 13 top 5s, 23 top 10s. 1 DNF.

    Moment to remember: Duh.

    We're also going to choose a race win though, and for that, we've got many options. But let's go with Brad Keselowski's victory at Talladega in the spring, one that saw him defy conventional wisdom as he and Kyle Busch headed towards the checkered flag.

    That conventional wisdom said that Busch, who was on Keselowski's bumper as the back half of a two-car tandem out in front of the field, would have the upper hand. He would have the momentum whenever he decided to pull out of line and would be the first to cross the finish line.

    [Slideshow: Top 5 NASCAR stories of 2012]

    Not so, said Keselowski. While the duo was in turn three, Keselowski darted from the high line towards the low line very quickly. By the time Busch reacted to Keselowski's move, contact between the two cars was already broken. Busch couldn't get back to Keselowski's bumper.

    Moment to forget: Keselowski and electronic

    Read More »from 2012 season in review: Brad Keselowski
  • Vitals: 2nd in the points standings. 3 wins, 10 top 5s, 13 top 10s. 4 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Clint Bowyer's first season at Michael Waltrip Racing netted him his first road course victory and (surprisingly) his first victory at a 1.5 mile track in the Sprint Cup Series.

    In June at Sonoma, Bowyer started sixth and was damn good, leading 71 of the race's 110 laps. He had Kurt Busch alongside him and Tony Stewart behind him when a caution to bring out a green, white, checkered restart flew, but easily pulled away from Stewart and Busch over the final two laps for the win.

    In the fall race at Charlotte, Bowyer took the lead on lap 310 from Greg Biffle and made it to the end on fuel for the win. The victory moved Bowyer to within 28 points of leader Brad Keselowski with five races to go.

    Moment to forget: This is only here because of the impact it had on Bowyer's Chase chances, because this sure as hell isn't a forgettable moment.

    After Bowyer and Jeff Gordon made contact racing for

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Clint Bowyer
  • 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

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Jimmie Johnson
  • Vitals: 4th in the points standings. 2 wins, 12 top 5s, 19 top 10s. 4 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Kasey Kahne's first win with Hendrick Motorsports came at Charlotte in May in the Coca-Cola 600, but his win at New Hampshire in June was more significant. Kahne has always been very, very good at Charlotte, but not so much at Loudon, where he hadn't won and even after the victory, sports an average finish of 16.2.

    In the Lenox Tools 301, Kahne took the lead for the first time on lap 236 under caution and held on the rest of the way.

    Moment to forget: Man, Kahne's Hendrick tenure got off to an inauspicious start in the results column.

    He came to Hendrick with long-time crew chief Kenny Francis, and they had speed to start the season -- not counting Daytona, the first time that Kahne started outside the top 10 was Dover in the 13th race of the season. But the results didn't show it, like when he started on the pole at Martinsville and lost an engine and finished 38th. At that point, he was

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Kasey Kahne
  • Vitals: 5th in the points standings. 2 wins, 12 top 5s, 21 top 10s. 0 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: After winning at Michigan in August, Biffle issued this statement:

    Biffle was battling with Jimmie Johnson in the waning laps when Johnson lost an engine. On the ensuing restart for the oil that Johnson's car dropped on the track, Biffle pulled away from Brad Keselowski for his second win of the season.

    The win also vaulted Biffle to the Sprint Cup Series points lead for the second time of the season and he'd hold that lead until the points were reset before Chicago.

    Moment to forget: Biffle's proclamation at Michigan wasn't supported by finishing outside the top 10 in the first three Chase races. But the final blow to his championship hopes came at Kansas, when Biffle hit the turn four wall. He finished 27th, his lowest finish of the season, and left the track 11th in the points standings.

    The wrap: Heck, it's almost like Biffle and Carl Edwards swapped places at Roush from last year to

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Greg Biffle
  • Vitals: Sixth in the points standings; five wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s, four DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Denny Hamlin entered the Chase as the top seed thanks to his four pre-Chase wins and got his fifth win in the second race of the Chase in dominating fashion.

    At New Hampshire, Hamlin struggled in qualifying, starting 32nd, but quickly, and we mean quickly, drove his way to the front. And when he lost the lead on pit strategy? Well, he just quickly got back up to the front again.

    He led a total of 193 of the race's 300 laps, including the race's final 52.

    Moment to forget: Hamlin's best track in the Sprint Cup Series has been Martinsville, so it was expected by many that he'd make a move at the paperclip to keep himself in Chase contention. That move in the standings happened. However, it was one that knocked Hamlin out of the title hunt.

    Hamlin had already had two speeding penalties, but because he's so good at Martinsville, he looked like he was going to be able to overcome them

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Denny Hamlin
  • Vitals: 7th in the points standings. 3 wins, 13 top 5s, 19 top 10s. 1 DNF.

    Moment to remember: Matt Kenseth's victory may not be the first thing that everyone remembers from the rain-delayed prime time Daytona 500, but it's certainly the highlight of his season.

    Kenseth was a beast on restrictor plate tracks this season. After winning the 500, he led 73 laps at Talladega and finished third. (In fact, his car might have been too strong that day, as his car had so much space between it and second place Greg Biffle that Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were able to storm by together on the outside on the penultimate lap.)

    On the return leg to Daytona, Kenseth started on the pole and finished third, and then at the second Talladega race, Kenseth avoided the crash on the final lap and won the race.

    Moment to forget: Oh Chicago and Dover. Kenseth qualified third for the first race of the Chase at Chicago. However, he lost a shock and because of the repairs, finished 18th. And then at Dover,

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Matt Kenseth
  • Vitals: 8th in the points standings. 1 win, 5 top fives, 14 top 10s. 2 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Phoenix International Raceway was very good to Kevin Harvick.

    Harvick finished second and led 88 laps in the spring race at the track and then in the fall, took the lead on a lap 305 restart and held on for 15 laps for the victory, slipping and sliding through the fluid from Danica Patrick's wrecked race car in turns 3 and 4 on the way to the checkered flag. (And while the rest of the field crashed behind him.)

    Moment to forget: Having finished outside the top 10 in the first five Chase races, Harvick's Chase chances weren't exactly good when the series hit Martinsville for the second time. And his expired engine made them worse, as it let go with 27 laps remaining in the race. Harvick finished 32nd.

    The wrap: Cupcake made the Chase on a string of consistently top-half of the field finishes and a lack of DNFs. (Kyle Busch finished in the top five eight more times than Harvick did, and he

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Kevin Harvick
  • Vitals: 9th in the points standings. 3 wins, 12 top 5s, 16 top 10s. 2 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Tony Stewart was at his July Daytona best once again, winning for the fourth time in the last eight Coke Zero 400s.

    To do it in 2012, he took advantage of a huge push from Kasey Kahne before Kahne got loose from contact with Jeff Burton and side-draft split apart Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle to take the lead for good on the backstretch before carnage erupted behind him in turn 4.

    It was Smoke's third (and final) win of 2012.

    Moment to forget: Like we've said before, the restrictor plate giveth and it also taketh away. Stewart was at the front of the pack at Talladega in the Chase on the final lap, but this time, instead of being far enough in front of the crash in turns three and four, he was the crash, flipping over after making contact with Michael Waltrip in an attempt to stay in front of both Waltrip and Casey Mears.

    The wrap: How much different would Smoke's 2012 Chase have been

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Tony Stewart
  • Vitals: 1oth in the points standings. 2 wins, 11 top 5s, 18 top 10s. 5 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Yeah, yeah, yeah, there was that whole thing at Phoenix. But we're saving that for Clint Bowyer. Instead, we're going to go with Gordon's surprise win at Pocono after he went from sixth to first in less than a third of a lap.

    As the pack entered turn one, Gordon had Kasey Kahne to his inside and Martin Truex Jr. to his outside. But leader Jimmie Johnson got loose while racing Matt Kenseth and the two made contact and washed up the track. Brad Keselowski and Greg Biffle, the drivers immediately behind them, were forced to check up, and that opened the door for Gordon, who was in front by the time that Kenseth spun into Denny Hamlin, causing the yellow flag to fly. Before the race got back going, the skies opened up, and the race was called. Gordon was in victory lane.

    (However Gordon's win was marred by the death of a fan outside of Pocono Raceway after the race. The significant weather

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Jeff Gordon
  • Vitals: 11th in the points standings. 0 wins, 7 top 5s, 19 top 10s. 2 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: At Texas and Kansas, the seventh and eighth races of the Sprint Cup Series season, Martin Truex Jr. led a combined 242 laps. Texas was a sixth place finish and at Kansas, he looked poised to take his first win since at Dover in 2007. However, after hiding behind the clouds all day, the sun appeared over the final laps of the race and Truex faded while Denny Hamlin's car came to life and he took the win. Truex finished second.

    That race was Truex's fifth straight top 10 and through those eight races, he was second in the points standings. While he finished 25th and 28th in the next two races, that stretch showed that Other Junior was going to be a significant player in 2012.

    Moment to forget: Given that a typical Sprint Cup race features more than a handful of start and parkers, it takes a significant early calamity for a team who races for the win to finish last. And at Phoenix, the second

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Martin Truex Jr.
  • Vitals: 12th in the points standings. 1 win, 10 top 5s, 20 top 10s. 0 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Where were you on Sunday, June 17, 2012, the day that Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended his winless streak?

    If you're a tried and true NASCAR fan, you likely remember every moment of that historic and incredible day in NASCAR history. One that saw Earnhardt Jr. lead 95 laps and pull away from Tony Stewart to record his first win in four years and cause many men, women and children to cry tears of joy.

    Moment to forget: Entering Talladega, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in seventh place, 39 points behind the Chase lead. After Talladega, he was 11th, and 51 points back.

    But the standings weren't the issue. During that wild crash on the final lap (one that has seemed to be a staple of these year-end reviews because of the individual circumstances it created for many drivers) Junior suffered his second concussion in weeks. The first was a previously undiagnosed one he suffered while tire testing for Goodyear

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Vitals: 13th in the points standings. 1 win, 13 top 5s, 20 top 10s. 4 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Busch's first and only win of the season came at Richmond in the spring, when he took the lead on pit road during the race's final caution and held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the win.

    Moment to forget: The back-to-back engine failures that Busch suffered at Dover and Pocono on the first two weekends of June. Before Dover, Busch was eighth in the points standings. After Pocono, he was 12th. After those two races, Busch was never able to crack the top 10 in points again.

    The wrap: It seems pretty hard to believe that a driver with 13 top fives and 20 top 10s didn't make the Chase, but that was Busch's season in 2012. Had Brad Keselowski not deftly pulled off a move to separate he and Busch on the final lap at Talladega, Busch might have made the Chase. Had Busch not crashed at the second Pocono race, he might have been in the Chase. It was just one of those years.

    And, fittingly, in a

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Kyle Busch
  • For a brief moment, the 2012-13 offseason was over.

    Sprint Cup Series teams tested the new sixth generation Sprint Cup car Tuesday and Wednesday at Charlotte, and you can check out the comments from champion Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. above.

    The cool temps Wednesday morning meant higher speeds, and Kasey Kahne's fast lap of 193.771 MPH was faster than the existing Charlotte track record. Cup Series testing resumes January 10 at Daytona International Speedway.

  • Vitals: 14th in the points standings. 1 win, 6 top 5s, 14 top 10s. 5 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Ryan Newman, king of the stealth victory. His only win in 2010 came when he held off a race dominating Jeff Gordon after a late two-tire pit stop for track position at Phoenix. And his only win in 2012? Well that was even stealthier.

    Newman was third on the inside line after a late-race caution for David Reutimann, and he made contact with Clint Bowyer's bumper before they dove into turn one. Bowyer was committed to the inside line and had a ton of momentum. Too much, in fact. There was no room for he and Gordon and Jimmie Johnson side-by-side-by-side in Martinsville's tight corners, and the three went around, opening the door for Newman to take the lead and hold on for the win.

    Moment to forget: With three races to go in the race to the Chase, Newman was ahead of both Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch for the final Wild Card Chase berth. But then Newman crashed at Bristol after contact with old

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Ryan Newman
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    Vitals: 15th in the points standings. 0 wins, 3 top 5s, 13 top 10s. 2 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: The year that many thought was Edwards' to seize started off with a flourish when he won the pole for the Daytona 500. Edwards finished that race eighth while his teammates, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, finished first and third respectively. Oh, Daytona, how you reflected the season.

    (Edwards' highest finish in 2012 was fifth. Fifth. How staggering is that?)

    Moment to forget: An apparent miscommunication between Edwards and his spotter that resulted in a restart penalty at Richmond in May.

    Edwards (wrongly) assumed that he was the leader of the race after a caution flag flew in the middle of green flag pit stops. However, Tony Stewart, the driver to his inside was the race leader. Stewart appeared to spin the tires, complicating matters, and Edwards went in the restart zone.

    Edwards was penalized for jumping the restart in a race after leading a race high 206 laps. He finished 10th, but

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Carl Edwards
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    Vitals: 16th in the points standings. 0 wins, 1 top 5, 9 top 10s, 1 DNF.

    Moment to remember: Menard's lone top five of the season came at newly repaved Kansas Speedway, where he finished third, the highest finishing Chaser of the race and led six laps. It was crew chief Slugger Labbe's first race back from a suspension after Menard's car was found to have altered framerails after the August Michigan race. In that race, Menard finished 9th.

    Moment to forget: With one DNF, it seems pretty easy to pinpoint, right? Well, we won't go with it. That DNF came in the fall race at Talladega, when Menard was caught up in that mass of sheetmetal with almost everyone else on the final lap and finished 28th. That was his second lowest finish of the season.

    For the forgettable moments, we'll say both Phoenix races. His worst finish of the season came in the first Phoenix race when he finished 31st and in the second race there he was caught up in that final lap carnage and ended up with Danica

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Paul Menard
  • Vitals: 17th in the points standings. 1 win, 2 top 5s, 12 top 10s. 3 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Logano started and finished first in the spring Pocono race, leading 49 of the race's 160 laps. And he made his pass for the lead on Mark Martin on lap 157 with authority.

    After looking to the inside down the frontstretch, Logano entered turn one on Martin's bumper and made slight contact with Martin's rear. That was enough to move Martin up the track and opened the inside for Logano to shoot through for the lead.

    It was a risky move; had Logano hit Martin harder, it could have sent Martin (and Logano) careening into the fence. Had Logano backed off, he would have lost his momentum and may never have gotten to Martin's bumper again. He had his run, he went for it, and he got it, notching his second career Cup Series win.

    Moment to forget: That win at Pocono put Logano in the thick of Wild Card contention at 14th place in the points standings. He would never be any higher. The following week

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Joey Logano
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    Vitals: 18th in the points standings. 1 win, 3 top 5s, 8 top 10s. 4 DNFs.

    Moment to remember: Hey, we have a winner! Being the lowest ranked winner in the points standings isn't much of an honor, but Marcos Ambrose's win was sure fun to watch. Let's watch it again.

    That win was followed by two top five finishes, suddenly making Ambrose a legitimate Chase contender as the Sprint Cup marched towards the final race before the Chase at Richmond.

    Moment to forget: And then things started sputtering from there. In the 12 races since his fifth place finish at Bristol, Ambrose's highest finish was a 12th place at Kansas Speedway. In that stretch, Ambrose had three crew chiefs (Todd Parrott, Mike Ford and Drew Blickensderfer) and finished outside the top 20 six times, including crashing at Talladega and then at Texas after losing a tire.

    The wrap: After Richmond, Ambrose was 15th in the points standings, but was 17th after Chicago and then settled into 18th. He showed enough flashes at non

    Read More »from 2012 season in the rear view: Marcos Ambrose