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NASCAR Blog - End of 2012, start of 2013

Brad Keselowski 2012 Champion
Brad Keselowski 2012 Champion

Well the 2012 Chase for the Cup has come and gone and our champion is Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski. Now as we head into a new season with a new car here's a few notes and nuggets about last year and the COT "Gen-5" car.

Keselowski is just the third driver in NASCAR's modern era (1972-present) to win a championship by his third season. He joins Dale Earnhardt, who did it in his second, and Jeff Gordon who also did it in his third year.

Another thing Keselowski and Gordon have in common is that by the end of each of their 3rd seasons both drivers had a career total of 9 wins and had won the championship. Brad won a race driving part time for James Finch in 2009, 3 wins in 2011, and 5 wins in 2012. Gordon won twice in 94 and 7 times in his 95 championship season.

Keselowski tied with Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin for most wins in 2012. Each driver scored 5 victories.

This was Roger Penske's first Sprint Cup Championship, and just his second overall title in NASCAR, the other being the 2010 Nationwide championship; also with Keselowski.

Dodge snapped a 7 year streak of Chevrolet winning the championship. Ironically Dodge will not return in 2013 as Penske has switched to Ford.

Jeff Gordon won the season finale at Homestead-Miami. It was Hendrick Motorsports 1st win at the track.

Gordon wins the season finale
Gordon wins the season finale

Gordon's longtime sponsor DuPont announced it's paint division had been bought by the Carlyle Group and would be renamed Axalta Coating and would continue their sponsorship. Fitting that the last time DuPont was a primary sponsor on Gordon's car it went to victory lane in celebration of their 20 year partnership.

Hendrick Motorsports won the first and last races with the Gen-5 (Car of Tomorrow) with Kyle Busch winning at Bristol in the Spring of 07 and Gordon winning the last race of 2012. Gordon also claims the last win in the Chevrolet Impala.

Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with 32 wins in the Gen-5 car.

Johnson tied Earnhardt and Gordon with 3 wins in the All-Star race. Johnson also tied Gordon for most wins (4) at the Brickyard 400.

With Johnson's win in the Southern 500 at Darlington team owner Rick Hendrick celebrated his 200th win as an owner.

Jr returns to victory lane
Jr returns to victory lane

Dale Earnhardt Jr snaps a 143 race winless streak by winning the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan. Jr made his second straight appearance in the chase, however, a concussion sidelined him for two races thus taking him out of contention.

The second place curse continues as 2011 runner-up Carl Edwards went winless and missed the chase, finishing 15th in points. Edwards also fell victim to the jinx in 2009 when, after finishing runner-up with 9 wins in 08, he went winless and finished 11th.

Kyle Busch missed the chase and scored a single victory, his fewest number of wins per season since joining Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008.

Michael Waltrip Racing put cars in the chase for the first time with Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer. Bowyer had the best season of his career scoring 3 wins and finishing second in the points.

Jimmie Johnson scored the most wins in the Generation 5 car
Jimmie Johnson scored the most wins in the Generation 5 car

Matt Kenseth ends a 13 year Cup career with Roush Fenway Racing to join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013. His tenure at Roush produced 24 wins, the 2003 championship, two Daytona 500s, and the 2004 All-Star race.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr joins notable drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr and Martin Truex Jr in winning back to back Nationwide championships. Stenhouse will step up to Cup and replace Matt Kenseth in the 17.