NASCAR started out strong in 2012, so what happened?

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, poses with the Championship Trophy after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It started out on such a high note. The start of NASCAR’s 2012 season was delayed for an entire day when for the first time in its history the Daytona 500 was delayed for rain. In fact not only were fans forced to wait an entire day, they had to wait until Monday evening before the green flag dropped.

It turned out to be worth the wait. Five time champion Jimmie Johnson and rookie Danica Patrick making her first Daytona 500 start, crashed out on the first lap. Then in one of the most bizarre accidents to ever occur, Juan Pablo Montoya suffered a suspension failure on his car during a caution period and crashed into a jet dryer and igniting a fireball. No one was injured, but the race was delayed for several hours. Matt Kenseth would power to victory early the next morning wrapping up a Speedweeks the likes of which will probably never be seen again. The TV ratings were a big hit and there seemed to be a great deal of optimism moving forward into the season.

There was some great racing in the spring; Tony Stewart scored some rare early season victories with his new crew chief. His teammate Ryan Newman scored a popular victory at Martinsville after the top runners, Johnson his teammate Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer, crashed out near the end. MORE>>>

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