Another year gone. We started 9 months ago in Florida, and this weekend at Homestead, we ended in Florida. Who closed out the 2010 season on a high note and who’s already counting down the days to Daytona? We’ve got you covered!
Hot: Jimmie Johnson. We can officially shed Jeff Gordon’s nickname for J.J. Four-Time is now Five-Time. Congrats once again to the champ!
Not: Denny Hamlin. It was a good year for Denny, but the last two races of the season didn’t go his way, and it cost him the title. He’s a darn good driver, and he will win a title. It just wasn’t meant to be this year.
Hot: Carl Edwards. After not winning in 70 races, Carl won back-to-back events to close out 2010. Umm, Carl? Where were you all season?
Not: The other JGR drivers. If Denny’s day didn’t go well, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch’s days were downright dreadful. Joey got spun, though maybe not intentionally. Kyle got turned, possibly intentionally, and his car started on fire. Yeah, not the way you want to end any season.
Hot: Richard Childress Racing. They didn’t win the title, but the RCR drivers had a bounce-back year in 2010 and there’s a lot to be said about that. Harvick, Burton, and Bowyer all had tremendous seasons, and if they improve again in 2011, they may all contend for the title.
Not: Jeff Gordon. While his teammate was off winning another title, Gordon blew an engine and had to watch his ingenious nickname for J.J. go to waste. What a shame.
Hot: Richard Petty Motorsports. Financial problems, sponsorship issues, and losing their star driver may have resulted in the worst season any team has ever had. But RPM pulled it together at Homestead and placed AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola in the top 5. Nice work, guys!
Not: The Chase. It was one of the closest title battles in NASCAR history. But for the fifth year in a row, the same guy won the championship, and ultimately that’s what fans are going to remember. With NASCAR already talking about changes for 2011, don’t expect this exact system in place next year.
Hot: Kevin Conway. Yes, his best finish this season was 14th at Daytona. Yes, he may have the most embarrassing sponsor in NASCAR. Yes, his competition was weak if not non-existent. But give it to him; Kevin Conway is your 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year. Congrats Kevin!
Not: Dale Earnhardt Jr. I loved writing about Junior this year. I feel like we’re almost pals now I’ve talked about him so much. 2010 didn’t start or end well for Dale, but another crew chief change in the offseason should put him on the right side of this list a lot next year…right?