With 12 drivers in the Chase, a lot of drivers had something to prove—and just as much to lose.
In the following pages I highlight three drivers who gained the most in this year's Chase, and two drivers who lost the most.
With the historic and impressive finish at Homestead, the book can be closed on this Chase.
While moving ahead, it comes time to look with a retrospective eye and see if lessons can be learned from mistakes during this Chase.
It's pretty hard to make the argument that the Chase winner didn't somehow accomplish something, or come out ahead at the end of the season.
When a notebook is filled with constant improvement, and a come from behind victory like Smoke had at Homestead, it's hard not to think Stewart won't hit the ground running when NASCAR starts back up.
For now, Tony doesn't need to concern himself with next season. All he has to do is enjoy the Champagne.
Car control and crashes became a problem towards the end of the Chase for Jimmie.
Jimmie goes in the loser bin because, at one point, he could have contended for the trophy. When things went south for Jimmie, they went full on Antarctica south.
He has the talent, generally speaking he has the car and the crew to get it done. However, a streak of bad luck and at times poor performance came to bite Johnson in the butt, leaving him outside looking in come Homestead.
Coming in second in the Chase might be painful for the Edwards crew, and might leave them feeling like losers. But buck-up boys, there's a lot to look on positively.
No driver dominated all year long like Carl Edwards did. Carl amassed three poles, 19 Top-5's and 26 Top-10 finishes and one win.
Sure more win's might have been a better deal, and even won him the trophy, but with the consistency and sheer dominance the #99 crew showed all season, almost every race its hard to say this was a bad year for Carl.
With a chip on his shoulder, Edwards might come back next year and be an even bigger threat. Should make for some good racing.
If Kyle Busch had any form of input for his own slide he'd be quoted as saying "Winner" likely, which was why I fought the urge to place a photo of Charlie Sheen instead of Kyle.
Regardless, he was far from a winner.
Kyle made an ass out of himself, disgraced the sport and put a fellow driver in a dangerous spot Like any child with a temper tantrum, NASCAR patted his bottom, slapped his wrist and put him on probation.
Here's hoping anger management helps.
Kyle Busch was a loser before, now he's just an asshat who disgraces the sport.
Yes, this is a slideshow of Chasers. I'm also well aware Kasey Kahne was not in the Chase.
Problem is he ended his year on a bit of a hot streak, and drove better in the last several races than about half of those drivers in the Chase.
Kahne's can go into next year knowing he closed out fairly solid for the year, and hope that 2012 will find him a contender for the Chase.