It was a wild and crazy year in NASCAR again, with big stories breaking out seemingly all season long, plenty of fussing and feuding, some of the best racing action in years and no shortage of controversies.
Here are some of the key story lines of 2010:
Boys, Have At It - “We will put it back in the hands of the hands of the drivers and we will say, ‘Boys, have at it and have a good time.’ That's all I can say.” — NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton, Jan. 21, 2010... When Robin Pemberton uttered those words during NASCAR’s annual stop during the pre-season Sprint Media Tour in Concord, N.C., little did anyone know it would become the most quoted phrase in NASCAR for 2010.CUP: Boys Have At It One Last TimeCUP: Feud - Harvick Vs Kyle BuschCUP: Gordon And Burton Crash, Then Scuffle
Hendrick Motorsports Reorganizes - Rick Hendrick stunned the racing world with a wholesale shakeup of his vaunted four-car team, a reorganization announced less than 48 hours after Jimmie Johnson won his record fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. CUP: Hendrick Shakes It UpCUP: Focus - And Pressure - Now On EarnhardtCUP: Changes A Necessary Move For Hendrick Motorsports
Jimmie Johnson Wins Fifth Consecutive Championship - It appeared for much of the Chase for the Sprint Cup that Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus might be mortal after all. As it turns out, that wasn’t the case, as Johnson became the first driver in the Chase era to rally from behind and win the championship in the final race of the season.CUP: Johnson Bites Big Apple - AgainCUP: Johnson Seems To Shine PerpetuallyCUP: No. 48 Team Seems Unbeatable
RPM Melts Down - It took George Gillett less than three years to virtually destroy the team that Ray Evernham built from the ground up from 2000-07. The dysfunction of Richard Petty Motorsports was one of the saddest and most sordid tales of 2010. CUP: Richard Petty Motorsports Scales Down To Two TeamsCUP: Rumors Swirl At RPMCUP: Tough Times Test Team Owners
Jamie McMurray Wins Indy 500 And Brickyard 400 - In a year that was otherwise mostly forgettable, Jamie McMurray won NASCAR’s two biggest prizes and then won the fall Charlotte race to boot. CUP: McMurray Doubles Up Daytona, IndyCUP: McMurray Wins Wild Daytona 500CUP: McMurray Wins At CMS; Johnson Third
Richard Childress Racing Reinvents Itself - One of the most amazing turnarounds in recent memory was the Phoenix-like ascension of the proud Richard Childress Racing organization, which saw Kevin Harvick win three races and nearly claim the 2010 Sprint Cup championship. CUP: Losing Taught RCR How To Win AgainCUP: Harvick – This Is The Moment You Live ForCUP: Harvick Finishes Strong Third
Denny Hamlin Recovers From Knee Surgery - The moment of truth for Denny Hamlin came at Phoenix International Raceway in April, when he was expected to have Casey Mears relieve him because he’d just undergone knee surgery. Instead, Hamlin toughed it out and rallied the team behind him.CUP: Turning Points Shaped SeasonsCUP: Where Does Hamlin Career Go From Here?CUP: Hamlin Crushed By Late-Race Turnaround
The Red Bull Saga - In one of the most bizarre and unfortunate incidents of the season, Brian Vickers was sidelined for most of 2010 by blood clots in his legs and lungs, and Kasey Kahne will join the team for one year only.CUP: Breaking News - Vickers Has Blood ClotsCUP: Kahne, Red Bull RollingCUP: Martin Will Stay In No. 5
Edwards, Roush End Year Strong - After going 70 NASCAR Sprint Cup races without a victory, Carl Edwards won the last two races of the season, and Roush Fenway Racing drivers Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle rallied to finish fourth through sixth, respectively in points.CUP: Edwards Already Looking To 2011CUP: Edwards Wins At PhoenixCUP: Roush Back Out Front Again
Farewell To A Legend - NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter lost his year-long battle with cancer in October. He is already dearly missed, by racers and journalists alike.CUP: NASCAR VP Hunter Dead At 71CUP: NASCAR Community Mourns HunterJENSEN: So Long To A Legend
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.