Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 12 Biggest Moments and Stories of the 2010 NASCAR Season

Today, I’m kicking off my three-part series that focuses on looking back at both the 2010 NASCAR season and the 2010 Motorsports season. In this edition, I’m focusing on highlighting some of the biggest moments and stories from the 2010 NASCAR season.

I would describe the 2010 NASCAR season as action-packed, competitive, but because of the “Boy’s Have at it”, I would say very frustrating at times as well. However I’m focusing on the biggest moments and stories, so here we go:

1. “Boy’s Have at it” got way out of hand and is a classic example of Letting The Inmates Run the Asylum. In some ways, I will give NASCAR credit that they would let the drivers be more open sort of speak, but NASCAR would end up taking this way too far and NASCAR new policy ended up letting the inmates runs the asylum.

A classic example of this new frustrating policy had to be the Edwards vs. Keselowski at the spring Atlanta Cup Series race when Carl Edwards lost it and a lot of fans respect at the same time when he decided to blatantly take out Brad Keselowski on the front straightaway with a few laps to go. The Edwards move, which took no talent or brains what so ever send Brad Keselowski flying in the air on to this roof and back on all four tires.

Of course another example was later in the year when Edwards would step out again at the Summer Gateway Nationwide race when Carl Edwards fearing he will lose the Gateway race in front of his hometown crowd, once again took out Brad Keselowski coming to the checkers. The incident would cause a mult-car pileup just before the start/finish line.

I blame NASCAR for not doing something about this war and this is what’s frustrating about NASCAR right now.

At this point I could go on and on from Kurt Busch vs. Jeff Gordon at Martinsville to Logano vs. Montoya at Homestead, but I wouldn’t. Its all the same anyway.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Wrangler colors: As a Dale Jr. fan, I would say that one incredible moment had to be back in July at Daytona when Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving his father’s #3 Wrangler paint scheme in a one race deal with JR Motorsports, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, and RCR won the Nationwide Series race in the new Nationwide COT car. I would have to say that if you’re an Earnhardt fan, that moment will stick with you for a long time to come.

3. 5x Champ Jimmie Johnson: With all of the hype about the chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, the trash talk and the -46 difference between three drivers heading into the final race at Homestead, Jimmie Johnson was able to clinch his fifth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. That is a huge accomplishment for any driver and team to do to win 5 straight championships in any sport, let along NASCAR. This will be a hard record to beat for decades to come.

This leads to a question, Is Jimmie Johnson the best ever?
No, however Jimmie Johnson is the best active driver. I believe that “The King” Richard Petty with 7 champions and 200 victories is the best in NASCAR. And Richard Petty over his career also drove several different types of cars and won in them including the Plymouth Superbird.

4. NASCAR All-Star race – Hamlin vs. Busch: At the 2010 NASCAR All-Star in the closing laps, Denny Hamlin leads, Kyle Busch closes fast. Coming out of turn 2, Denny Hamlin takes his normal line towards the outside grove as Kyle Busch, who is on his rear end drive straight into the outside wall. Kyle Busch would blame it all on Denny Hamlin, instead of his stupid driving. Basically, Denny Hamlin was just racing for position and did nothing wrong. Kyle Busch wrecked himself.

5. Danica Patrick invaded the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2010 and after a decent finish at Homestead in 11 races, I would say that she showed a lot of talent and promise for a career driving in NASCAR. However those 11 races also told me that she has to commit to NASCAR full-time to be successful. Running a part-time schedule in NASCAR and a full-time schedule in IndyCars simply isn’t going to work. Those two cars are completely different and time is tight.

I predict that 2011 will be better for Danica Patrick, but not the success that she really wants.

6. Jamie McMurray: The biggest comeback of the 2010 season had to be Jamie McMurray. Shortly after McMurray re-united with Chip Ganassi for 2010, McMurray would go on to win two of the biggest races of 2010, the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. Even more, McMurray would finish second in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega and at the Coca-Cola 600. I would say that 2011 might be another good year for McMurray and he is a dark horse to make the chase as well.

7. Gordon vs. Burton fight: One of the biggest moments of 2010 happened between a very unlikely pairing at during the chase race at Texas Motor Speedway. Jeff Burton had had enough with Jeff Gordon and decided to tell him so. However Burton would make a mistake and drill Gordon into the outside wall off of turn 2, killing the #24 DuPont Chevrolet.

But on the back straightaway, Gordon would get back at Burton in a classic fight that started with a push. I was even surprised by this one

8. Elliott Sadler scares NASCAR fans at Pocono: With 35 laps to go in the Sunoco American Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, a vicious, scary wreck involving Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler left me speechless. I still don’t know exactly what happened, but Kurt Busch and Johnson with Bowyer got together and as a result Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler would both go for a wild ride that would leave Kurt Busch’s right front when ripped off and after Sadler’s car hit the inside wall hard, only the driver’s cockpit would remain as the engine would be completely ripped out of the car and left on the ground on the back straightaway.

9. Jimmie Johnson captures number 50: At the spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson would make history when he won the race, winning his 50th career NASCAR Cup Series victory.

10. Kevin Harvick makes it look easy at Talladega: Kevin Harvick makes a perfectly calculated last lap pass on Jamie McMurray coming to the finish line to win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega.

11. Joey Logano comes out of his shell in 2010: 2010 will make a big year Joey Logano as he showed everyone that he can race and isn’t afraid to defend himself. Earlier this year at Pocono, Kevin Harvick would dump Logano going into turn 3. After the race and a heated discussion between Harvick with crew and Logano with crew, Logano would give a classic quote, "I don't know what [Kevin Harvick's] deal is with me," Logano said. "It's probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do. It's probably not his fault." (Read More here…)

12. Clint Bowyer comes up short in 2010 despite two wins: By the time the Cup Series got to Richmond in September for the chase cut off, it was the dark horse Clint Bowyer that would make headlines by making the Chase by the narrowest of margins. But for Bowyer and the #33 team, the chase would be filled with high’s and low’s starting with a NASCAR warning about his Richmond car.

Despite the warning, Clint Bowyer would go out and on fuel strategy win one of the most competitive New Hampshire races in a while. But the victory would be short lived as NASCAR penalized the #33 150 driver/owner points and suspended his crew chief. The penalty would touch off a no win situation for all involved.

At the end of the year, I will say this, Bowyer deserved the penalty he got after the New Hampshire race, his car was illegal and that’s it. However NASCAR messed up when they didn’t explain everything, leaving fans and media in the cold. I explained everything in an article entitled “A loss-loss situation: Bowyer-RCR losses final appeal and NASCAR losses in the eyes of some fans.

Well, the 2010 NASCAR season is over and what a top 12 we have here. I know that I have left several key moments off this list, but between the top moments and headlines of 2010, I did cover most of it. Now I’m looking ahead at part 2 of this four part series with the “Top 5 Biggest headlines of the 2010 Motorsports season – Championship Edition”. Until then, see yeah!