2012 Brickyard 400 Results: Drivers Who Will Build off Great Performances

Justin Welton@JustinWeltonAnalyst IIJuly 29, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 28:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 28, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Brickyard 400 turned out to be everything we expected and more. We saw fast starts, great finishes and a dominating performance from a familiar face.

Here are three drivers who will build off their great performances:

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

15 top-10 finishes, nine top-five finishes and a victory is what Dale Earnhardt Jr. has produced in 2012. It's been a completely different year from his recent history, and that is a great thing for his fans and his career.

Earnhardt Jr.'s fourth-place finish at the Brickyard 400 pushed him into first place in the standings. Yes, I know, it's kind of hard to believe, seeing how it has been eight years since he last accomplished this feat.

2012 has been a year for building confidence and riding out the highs for Earnhardt Jr. His victory this season was a victory that pushed him to another level of focus heading into his future races.

Now that he's on top of the standings, expect his run to continue throughout the rest of the season. Earnhardt Jr. hasn't given people a reason to believe it won't continue. He's been one of the most consistent drivers this season.

Jimmie Johnson

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Four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson will build off his dominating performance Sunday. His victory was a great reminder of just how great his career has been.

His fourth victory at the Brickyard 400 was the perfect example of what his career has been about—outstanding results. Johnson's performance was nothing short of spectacular.

Johnson has won three times in 2012; he has finished in the top 10 15 times and the top five 10 times.

We're getting to the point of the season where Johnson cranks up the pressure. Judging by what we saw on Sunday, the stretch run towards another title has already begun.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon may have failed to get that illusive victory at the Brickyard, but his fifth-place finish wasn't so bad.

Gordon is now No. 15 in the standings, and this top-five finish will give Gordon the necessary confidence heading down the stretch in 2012.

With eight top-10 finishes and only three top-five finishes, Gordon has dug himself a hole at this point of the season. There is still time to turn it around, and his finish Sunday will be the race people look back on at season's end and say was the turning point of his season.

For complete results at the 2012 Brickyard 400, check out ESPN.