NASCAR Sprint Cup: Jimmie Johnson and the Top 20 Stories of 2010

Ryan Papaserge@@RyanPapasergeCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2010

NASCAR Sprint Cup: Jimmie Johnson and the Top 20 Stories of 2010

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02:  NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson does a burnout during the NASCAR Victory Lap through the streets of Las Vegas on December 2, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    The 2010 Sprint Cup season ended much like the four seasons prior to it, with yet another Jimmie Johnson championship.

    However, there was so much more to the season than another Chase ending with the No. 48 Chevy being showered with confetti, with shocking victories and feuds signaling a new era in NASCAR's senior circuit.

    In chronological order, here are the 20 stories that impacted the Sprint Cup Series throughout the 2010 campaign.

Jan. 21: "Boys, Have at It."

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    The above quote came from NASCAR competition director Robin Pemberton during a press conference in Charlotte outlining the changes planned for the 2010 campaign.

    The vast concern previously associated with bump drafting at restrictor-plate tracks would be essentially eliminated, and drivers were encouraged to show more emotion on the track throughout the season.

    Pemberton's brief quote would lay the groundwork for most of the events associated with this list.

Feb. 14: Jamie McMurray Wins Daytona 500

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    McMurray entered the 2010 season with a great deal of uncertainty. After being released from Roush Fenway Racing after the 2009 campaign, McMurray joined Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, replacing Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 1 Chevrolet. It was expected that the Joplin, Mo.-native would play second fiddle to teammate Juan Pablo Montoya's success.

    The No. 1 team dispelled any notions of that concept, as McMurray passed Kevin Harvick for the lead in a green-white-checkered finish to win his fourth career race—by far, his biggest victory.

    Little did anyone know that McMurray's shocking victory would be anything other than a fluke.

Feb. 14: Pavement Potholes Delay Daytona

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    McMurray's victory at Daytona would take over six hours to complete, as potholes in turn two of the 2.5-mile super speedway caused a pair of red flag periods totaling two hours and 20 minutes in length.

    The debacle caused Daytona to repave the track following the July race at the track, a process completed in time for Goodyear tire tests earlier this month on the new surface. 

March 7: Carl Edwards vs. Brad Keselowski, Round 1

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    By now, you probably know the backstory behind this entire incident. It was one of the most played clips during NASCAR programming throughout the season.

    Edwards's recklessness in punting Keselowski into the Atlanta fence raised questions regarding the danger tied to Pemberton's "Have at it, boys" edict. Were drivers taking their on-track actions a little too far?

    The fine and probation given to Edwards by NASCAR after the race showed that the governing body was serious about letting the racers race, regardless of how they do so.

March 29: Goodbye, Car of Tomorrow Wing

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    MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 29:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Jason Sm
    Jason Smith/Getty Images

    Delayed by one day due to rain, the spring race at Martinsville Speedway signaled the end of the Car of Tomorrow's winged portion. In its place, a four-inch spoiler stood at the rear of the car, allowing cars to resemble those used before the 2008 season.

March 31: Denny Hamlin Undergoes ACL Surgery

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    MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 29:  Denny Hamlin celebrates in victory lane after driving the #11 FedEx Toyota to a win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by
    Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    One day after winning at Martinsville, Denny Hamlin underwent surgery on an ACL ligament torn during a pickup game of basketball in December 2009. 

    Joe Gibbs Racing tapped Casey Mears as a relief driver in the No. 11 Toyota if Hamlin was not able to complete a race during his recovery. Luckily for both Hamlin and JGR, Mears never had to take the wheel.

April 14: Kasey Kahne Announces Move to Hendrick Motorsports for 2012 Season

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    FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 19:  Kasey Kahne, driver of the #9 Budweiser Ford, looks on prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 19, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    The 2010 edition of "Silly Season" began before a quarter of the season was in the books, as Kasey Kahne announced that he would leave Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season and replace Mark Martin as driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

    It would be up to Rick Hendrick to find Kahne a ride for the 2011 season—one the driver would fill months earlier than expected.

April 25: 88 Lead Changes at Talladega

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    The first race with a spoiler on the Car of Tomorrow design at a restrictor-plate track saw a Sprint Cup record 88 lead changes and 29 leaders. Harvick passed McMurray on the final lap to win for the first time since his photo-finish victory at the 2007 Daytona 500.

May 14: Brian Vickers Benched for Season

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    CONCORD, NC - MAY 21:  Brian Vickers, driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota, speaks to the media during a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina. Vickers will miss the remainder of the NASCAR season because of
    Jason Smith/Getty Images

    Vickers, a 2009 Chaser, was abruptly replaced by Casey Mears in the No. 83 Toyota for Red Bull Racing at the spring race in Dover, Del. for undisclosed medical issues.

    Those medical issues would later be revealed as blood clots in his veins that spread to his lungs and legs. Due to the blood thinner Vickers had to take, the driver was forced to sit out the remainder of the 2010 season.

    Red Bull Racing replaced Vickers with a myriad of drivers, including Reed Sorenson, Mears, and Mattias Ekstrom.

May 23: NASCAR Hall of Fame Inducts First Class

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 23:  The 2010 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees placard sit on stage during the 2010 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Charlotte Convention Center on May 23, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Im
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in May, and inducted Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Junior Johnson as its inaugural class.

June 6: Joey Logano vs. Kevin Harvick

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    "We were racing with the 29, and he let me go in the middle of the straightaway and decided to dump me in the next turn. I don't know what his deal is with me, but it's probably not his fault. You know, his wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do, so it's probably not his fault."

    -Joey Logano, providing the best summary of this situation you'll ever read.

July 17: Carl Edwards vs. Brad Keselowski, Round 2

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    On the final lap of a Nationwide Series event at Gateway International Raceway, Edwards and Keselowski met once again. This time, Edwards again managed to dump Keselowski as the two were battling for the lead. However, Edwards didn't only collect Keselowski in the mayhem.

    Once again, Edwards received a fine and probation for his actions.

July 25: McMurray Wins at Brickyard after Another Montoya Error

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    After a speeding penalty on pit road derailed Juan Pablo Montoya's hopes of winning the event in 2009 despite leading almost every green flag lap, the Colombian appeared to have a path to victory in 2010.

    However, a decision to take four tires instead of two during yellow-flag pit stops on lap 138 put him in sixth place—in prime position to become involved with a wreck with Dale Earnhardt Jr. eight laps later.

    McMurray, his teammate, took the lead coming out of the caution and continued his Cinderella season by winning both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same season.

    It was especially sweet for co-owner Chip Ganassi, as he became the first owner to take the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same season.

Aug, 3: Elliott Sadler Survives Hard Impact at Pocono

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    Words cannot properly describe what can be viewed in the video.

Aug. 21: Kyle Busch's Weekend Sweep at Bristol

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    Kyle Busch began the fall race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway (well, more like the week, as the Camping World Truck Series race occurred on a Wednesday) with a dominating victory from the pole position in the Truck race. The Las Vegas native then won the Nationwide Series race two days later and completed the sweep with a win in the 500-lap Sprint Cup event on Saturday night.

    Busch became the first driver in NASCAR history to win in all three national touring series in one weekend.

Sept. 22: Clint Bowyer's Chase Hopes Derailed by Penalties

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    LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 19:  Clint Bowyer, driver of the #33 Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet recieves a huge lobster during Victory Lane ceremonies at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2010 in
    Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    After winning the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at New Hampshire, Bowyer's No. 33 Chevrolet team was fined 150 driver points, 150 owner points, and $150,000 after non-approved racing equipment was found in the car. Crew chief Shane Wilson was suspended for six races.

    Instead of being in the thick of the Chase hunt, Bowyer was mired towards the back of the pack for the remainder of the schedule.

Oct. 13: Second NASCAR Hall of Fame Class Announced

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 13:   The 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame class is displayed during NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on October 13, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    A panel of esteemed voters elected David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, and Bud Moore to the NASCAR Hall of Fame's second class to be inducted next May in Charlotte.

Oct. 21: Kahne Bolts To Red Bull

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Kasey Kahne, driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota, looks on prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2010 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    After refusing to return to the No. 9 Ford after repairs were made at Charlotte Motor Speedway, RPM relieved Kahne of his duties as driver for the team, replaced by Aric Almirola. 

    Almost immediately, Red Bull Racing announced that Kahne would drive the No. 83 Toyota for the team for the remainder of the season—with plans already made to join the team in 2011 as a teammate to Vickers.

Oct. 30: Jim Hunter Passes Away

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    DARLINGTON, SC - MAY 08:  NASCAR Vice President of Communications Jim Hunter participates in a press conference prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup series SHOWTIME Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 8, 2010 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo by Stre
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    NASCAR's Vice President of Corporate Communications, Hunter, died Oct. 30 after a year-long bout with cancer.

    A former journalist and public relations representative, Hunter was one of the most well-respected figures in the NASCAR garage on a weekly basis.

    Teams honored his memory with decals similar to the hat he wore in the picture to the left of this text.

Nov. 21: Jimmie Johnson's Five-Peat

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    The video pretty much says it all at this point.

    Thoughts? Anything I should have included? Comment below.

    Ryan Papaserge is a junior journalism/mass communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.