The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season was one to remember for many reasons. Brad Keselowski overtook five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in the final two races to take home his first Sprint Cup championship. Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon finished second in the Chase cut-off race at Richmond International Raceway, edging past Kyle Busch as the second Wild Card spot by a mere three points. Hendrick Motorsports recorded its 200th victory after Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag in the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
Along the way, there were a lot of good moments, along with a lot of bad moments. What am I referring to? Well, while Santa Claus has probably already completed his naughty and nice list, could there be such a list created for drivers and some of the events that took place on the track in 2012? Absolutely!
Take a look at our 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup naughty or nice list.
Let’s be honest. Who is really surprised to see Tony Stewart on this side of the list? Tony wasn’t pleased with Matt Kenseth during the running of the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol. After the two collided while fighting for the lead, Stewart waited for Kenseth to pass by on pit road before launching his helmet two-handedly at the grill of Kenseth’s car. After the race, Stewart was still steaming.
“I’m going to run over him every chance I’ve got from now ‘til the end of the every chance I’ve got,” he said in a post-race interview.
Come on, Tony. You can’t make the “Nice” list by throwing you’re helmet.
If you haven’t seen what happened between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer in Phoenix, you must be living under a rock. In what can only be described as something you’d expect to see at a WWE event, a collision that took place with seven laps to go turned into an all-out brawl. It started when Bowyer made contact with Gordon, who was black-flagged. However, instead of leaving the track, Gordon waited to get even. As Bowyer made his way around the track and attempted to pass Gordon, the No. 24 car slid down the track, wrecking both Bowyer and Joey Logano.
It didn’t end there. As Gordon drove back into the garage area, Bowyer’s team followed. What ensued will go down in history as one of the craziest things to ever happen off the track. A member of Bowyer’s team grabbed Gordon from behind, forcing Gordon’s team to step in. A brawl took place between the two teams that involved approximately two dozen team members.
Less than two hours before the start of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, Allmendinger was suspended for failing a drug test. Allmendinger, whose drug test a weekend prior at Kentucky Speedway came back positive, forced Penske Racing officials to find a last-second replacement driver. What was already a nightmare for Allmendinger became even worse, when his “B” sample also came back positive. The results matched his “A” sample that showed a stimulant present in his system. Allmendinger was suspended by NASCAR indefinitely and later let go by Roger Penske and Penske Racing. After completing NASCAR’s “Road to Recovery” program, NASCAR reinstated Allmendinger.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt entered June’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway winless since he took home the checkered flag at MIS four year ago. In fact, it had been 143 races since Earnhardt had won a Sprint Cup series event. That all ended on Father’s Day 2012, when the No. 88 car visited Victory Lane. Earnhardt led for 95 of the 200 laps, ending the most talked about streak in NASCAR.
How could we not include Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet on the list? His win in 2012 in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville didn’t come easily. Newman earned in first win in 23 races by edging out Allmendinger and Earnhardt Jr. Newman took advantage of a late caution flag after Bowyer took out Gordon and Johnson, and hung on to defeat Allmendinger by .342 seconds.
The win wasn’t the only reason Newman made the list. When you take a look back on his season, Newman had a couple of different paint schemes that fans loved. I’m talking about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paint scheme he rocked in Charlotte during the Bank of America 500 and the Veterans Day paint scheme he showed off in Phoenix during the AdvoCare 500.
I know, I know. This one isn’t about an individual driver, but it’s still noteworthy. Throughout the season, Quicken Loans Racing gave fans some very unique opportunities. Those opportunities were presented in the form of sweepstakes. For starters, the winners of the Quicken Loans You’re The Boss Sweepstakes got to experience a race weekend with the Stewart-Haas Racing team in Charlotte, home of Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Bank of America 500. The lucky couple also got to take a tour of the SHR shop, eat lunch with Ryan and Tony, as well as take home $10,000 in cash.
The Skip-A-Year Mortgage Sweepstakes was another big hit. Why? Because Quicken Loans is paying five lucky grand prize winners’ mortgages in 2013 (up to $50,000 each).
It’s your turn, race fans. Which drivers or what events make your naughty and nice list? Let us know in the comments section below!