Yesterday (Tues., Nov. 4), we took a brief look at some of 2012′s most memorable moments in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Here’s a look at some more.
– Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver (the NMPA Most Popular Driver award last week made it official, yet again) is the subject of two memorable moments, the first being the breaking of his winless streak at Michigan International Speedway. Just a little more than four years since his last win at MIS in 2008, Earnhardt traveled back to Michigan and made his long-awaited return to victory lane. Contrary to Tony Stewart’s beliefs, the win made for a national holiday, of sorts, for NASCAR and JR Nation.
– Okay, another Earnhardt moment, but this one’s not quite as pleasant. After suffering a concussion during a late-race incident involving more than 20 cars, his second concussion in about a month-and-a-half, Earnhardt announced that he was taking a two week break to recover. Earnhardt’s return to the Chase was shot as the driver missed the following two races at Kansas Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
– A.J. Allmendinger found himself in some hot water prior to the July race at Daytona International Speedway. During the previous Kentucky Speedway race weekend, Allmendinger was given a random drug test, ordered by NASCAR. The driver tested positive for amphetamines and was, therefore, indefinitely suspended by NASCAR. He also, subsequently, lost his ride at Penske Racing. Allmendinger claimed to not realize he had taken a banned substance when a friend of a friend gave him a pill that was supposed to give him energy. After completion of NASCAR’s Road to Recovery Program, Allmendinger returned to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing near season’s end.
– Michael Waltrip Racing didn’t bring home the Sprint Cup in 2012, but the season was a banner year, nonetheless. Both full-time drivers, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer, made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in the first year that MWR had ever put any driver in the Chase. Bowyer iced the cake by finishing second to champion Brad Keselowski in the season-ending points standings.
– Bristol Motor Speedway’s slogan is “Racing the way it oughta be.” Maybe it should be more like, “Helmet chucking at its best.” Tony Stewart was unhappy with the way he was raced by Matt Kenseth at Bristol in August. He then decided that the best way to vent his frustration was with a two-handed helmet throw at Kenseth’s No. 17 Ford as it drove by under caution.
– Jeff Gordon’s had enough — of Clint Bowyer, that is. Gordon, frustrated with Bowyer, wrecked Bowyer’s No. 15 Toyota in the next-to-last race of the season at Phoenix International Raceway. The incident led to a brawl between Gordon and membors of the No. 15 crew in the garage, and Bowyer running to join in the mix. The two drivers were, reportedly, still not on speaking terms during Champion’s Week in Las Vegas. Didn’t think I was going to leave that one out, did you?
And here’s where I repeat Tuesday’s disclaimer or footnote: The above moments are in no particular order, other than the order in which they came to mind. What do you consider some of the most memorable moments of the 2012 season? Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook to let us know. Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook — NASCAR Examiner