For the first time in five years, the Sprint Cup Series began its season without Jimmie Johnson as defending champion. 34 points races and two All-Star events later, he's on the verge of opening 2013 in a familiar spot, his only obstacle a late-season charge from new superstar Brad Keselowski.
It's been a long, strange trip to get here, though—from a completely unpredictable Daytona 500, to weeks without almost any cautions midseason, to the tooth-and-nail battle for the championship that we're in right now. There have been plenty of thrills, spills and milestones along the way.
It's hard to pick only 10 exciting moments out of the past 10 months, especially when there are still two weeks' worth of races and a championship to settle. The best, in all honesty, may be yet to come. But it's about time to look back on the rest of the year as we set up the upcoming races in Phoenix and Homestead.
Here are the defining moments of this Sprint Cup season so far.