Here’s our take on the best and biggest moments in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series and Trucks in 2012:
DRIVER OF THE YEAR
Joey Logano entered 22 races and won nine — one short of tying the series record. Only five times did he finish outside the top 10.
RACE OF THE YEAR
The spring race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway was remarkable for its finish — which saw Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin battle door-to-door on the final lap with Busch emerging as the winner. It was the first victory for Kyle Busch Motorsports. But the race also marked a magnificent series debut for 18-year-old Ryan Blaney, who finished seventh.
STORY OF THE YEAR
Ricky Stenhouse replicated his championship of a year ago by winning more races and having to battle from behind in the series standings most of the year. Elliott Sadler led the points 25 times during the 33-race season and never ranked lower than second. But a costly mistake in the next-to-last race of the season opened the door for Stenhouse — and he knocked it down.
Michael Annett didn’t make it to Victory Lane in 2012, but he finished in the top 10 in points for the third time in four years with a career-best fifth-place. He also racked up six top-five finishes — a career high.
DRIVER OF THE YEAR
James Buescher’s favorite number was 1.5 — as in 1.5 tracks. He won a season-high four races, all on 1.5-mile tracks including a season sweep of both events at Kentucky Speedway. A year ago, Buescher failed to qualify for one race. A year later he is the season champion.
RACE OF THE YEAR (TIE)
It was hard to match the season finale at Homestead, Fla., which featured five drivers with a mathematical chance to win the championship. Ty Dillon, a rookie, put on quite a show in an effort to come from behind and win the championship but Buescher’s steady performance paid big dividends.
One of most anticipated races of the season — the Trucks’ debut and NASCAR’s return to Rockingham Speedway — didn’t disappoint. In front of a near-capacity crowd, Kasey Kahne gave Turner Motorsports one of its seven wins on the season.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Ryan Blaney was never planning on running in the Truck series but joined Brad Keselowski Racing late in the season to replace Parker Kligerman. In this third career start, Blaney became the series’ youngest winner and handed BKR its first win.