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NASCAR: Ranking the Best Race Finishes of the 2012 Season

Christopher OlmsteadSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 10, 2013

NASCAR: Ranking the Best Race Finishes of the 2012 Season

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    The start of the 2013 NASCAR season is only two weeks away.

    As we gear up for what is expected to be another exciting season, let's take one last moment to reflect on 2012.

    There were a lot of great late-race moments last season. This list is only going to focus on the best moments from a race's closing laps. All 36 of last season's events were taken into consideration while compiling this ranking.

    Let's see if your favorite finish made it into the top 10.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon Races into Chase (Richmond)

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    This was the final race before the Chase.

    Coming into this race, Kyle Busch held the final spot in the Chase, 12 points ahead of Jeff Gordon.

    Busch and Gordon were not the only ones battling for that final spot—five other drivers were also still in contention.

    The winner of this race may not have been in doubt in the final laps, but that last Chase spot certainly was.

Honorable Mention: Joey Logano and Mark Martin Battle (Pocono)

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    NASCAR television analysts had picked Mark Martin and Joey Logano as the favorites to win during their pre-race coverage.

    How they came to this conclusion, I have no idea. They were spot on, though.

    As the laps come to a close, Martin is leading and Logano is running second.

    Would Logano have enough to run down Martin?

10. Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski Two-Stepping (Texas)

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    Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski came into this race first and second in the point standings.

    In the final laps of this race, they were running first and second.

    They both wanted and needed this run, and neither of them was afraid to trade some paint to get it.

    This race was pivotal in regards to the championship.

9. Danica Patrick into the Wall? (Phoenix)

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    It was a rough season for Danica Patrick, and that might be putting it nicely.

    This race was business as usual for her, as she managed to find the wall in the final moments.

    Interestingly enough, that was just the tip of the iceberg in regards to how crazy this race ended.

    Usually, wrecks like this are reserved for the bigger tracks.

8. Streak Breaker (Michigan)

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    In regards to other driver competition, this finish didn't have much of that.

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered this race having not won in his previous 143 attempts.

    Streaks are meant to be broken though, right?

    Even though the second-place driver was well behind him, I doubt that any Jr. fan felt like this one was in the bag.

7. Superspeedway Racing 101 (Talladega)

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    Rule of thumb on a superspeedway is to not get yourself too far in front of the pack.

    Sounds kind of backwards, one might think.

    Matt Kenseth attempted to bend this rule at the finish of this race.

    Some say rules are meant to be broken; maybe this is one of those times.

6. All-Star Showdown (Charlotte)

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    Prior to the 2012 All-Star Race, we had the All-Star Showdown.

    The Showdown was a chance for those not in the All-Star Race, to race themselves into it.

    The winner of the Showdown and the second-place driver would be awarded the final two spots in that night's $1 million All-Star event.

    The winner of the Showdown was not in question, but that all-important second spot was a battle to the finish.

5. Rain Rain Go Away (Pocono)

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    This was once of "those" races—the kind where you are excited for a three-hour race, but instead you get multiple hour-long rain delays.

    The video picks up with the race coming out of its most recent rain delay. If you notice the clouds, you can see that more rain is clearly on the way.

    The drivers were prepared to treat this restart, and the next few laps, as their last. It's a good thing they treated it the way they did, because shortly after, the rain returned and the race was called.

4. Racing for the Boss (Martinsville)

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    Team owner Rick Hendrick was sitting on 199 career wins.

    In the final moments of this race, his drivers were running first, second and third.

    Johnson and Gordon, who were running first and second, were responsible for nearly three-fourths of Hendricks 199 wins.

    Everything was lined up for one of the Hendrick drivers to bring home win 200 for their boss.

    Then again, is anything in life really that simple?

3. What a Save That Was (Daytona)

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    In any given race, any slight mistake could lead to disaster. That theory is multiplied tenfold when you're racing at a superspeedway.

    This Daytona race ends in total mayhem, but it could have broken down a whole lot sooner if not for an amazing save by Jeff Burton.

    I still have no idea how he was able to bring that car back.

2. The Big One (Talladega)

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    Sometimes, you go to Talladega and "The Big One" doesn't happen. I, for one, hate when something like that happens.

    Matt Kenseth looked like he wanted to start a wreck when he shoved Clint Bowyer out of the way. But luckily, all was well.

    Tony Stewart shot to the lead as the white flag flew, only for the announcer to ask, "Will they make it back?"

    Well, some of them made it back.

1. Now This is Road Racing (Watkins Glen)

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    The final laps of this race had everything.

    There were fuel issues, there was rubbing, there was crashing, there was oil all over the track.

    This might be one of the greatest last few laps ever in regards to road-course racing.

    Every NASCAR fan should have enjoyed this...unless you happen to root for Kyle Busch.

Conclusion

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    Well, that's an official wrap on 2012.

    If this year's Daytona 500 is anything like the last few, I am sure that we are going to be in for quite the finish in two weeks.

    Was there an awesome race finish that I missed? What final lap moment was your favorite? Be sure to comment below and let me know!

     

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