by Garrett Horton
Brad Keselowski had just one finish worse than 18th in the final 28 races this year. He had three finishes of 32nd or worse in the first five races in 2012.
Carl Edwards led more than one lap in just two races this year – Richmond in the spring where he led 206 laps and the Bristol night race which saw him pace the field for 45 circuits. He has not led a single lap since Bristol.
All four manufacturers represented the top-5 in the final point standings this year, the first time since 2001 this has happened (Chevy, Pontiac, Ford, Dodge).
Kasey Kahne finished fourth in the final point standings, the highest he has ever finished and the first time he has had a top-5 points finish.
For the first time in six years, we have a new champion in the Sprint Cup Series in Brad Keselowski. Jimmie Johnson was able to repeat his first title in 2006 for the next four seasons and Tony Stewart won his third title last year.
Stephen Leicht, who is the 2012 rookie of the year, had 10 DNF’s in 15 starts.
Is there really a championship runner-up curse? Clint Bowyer certainly doesn’t hope so, but it would appear that is the trend in recent years. Since 2007, the man who has finished second in the year end final point standings has averaged just an 11th place finish in the standings the following year.
Denny Hamlin’s average finish in 2012, his highest since his rookie year in 2006.
Chevrolet had 15 wins this year, more than any other manufacturer. Toyota had the second most with 10, Ford had five, and Dodge, in its final year had five, all with Brad Keselowski .
Tony Stewart had just 16 top-10’s this season, matching 2008 for the fewest top-10’s he had in a year.
Tony Stewart’s average start in 2012, a career low.
Despite the disappointing end to 2012, Jimmie Johnson ended the year with 24 top-10 finishes, more than any other driver and tied his career high for most top-10’s in a season (also had 24 in 2006, 2007, and 2009).
Greg Biffle had 32 lead lap finishes this year, more than any other driver.
In addition to leading the league in lead lap finishes, Biffle was also the only driver to be running at the finish in every race this year, completing all 36 events.