Nationwide Series 2012 Year in Quotes ReviewBy Kelly Crandall
It all started with a big wreck in Daytona, the arrival of Richard Childress’ grandson and the No. 3 to the spotlight and Victory Lane, the never ending story of Danica Patrick and the season capped off by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leaving the series for the big Cup stage, but not without another title. It was a season that will be hard to forget and one that leaves many wondering what can possibly happen next?
Here’s how it all unfolded from those who made it all worth watching this season.
Daytona: “Nobody wanted to work with us, [expletive] ‘em.” — James Buescher radio
Only in video games do the entire field wreck and the driver running almost last win the race. But to open the 2012 season that’s exactly what happened when the leaders all wrecked coming off turn four and Buescher, who was running 11th, came through for the win. Ironically, he was able to avoid the wreck because he had lost his drafting help.
Phoenix: “I am a BIG Boy! But it sure is a kick in my gut to watch these ‘wealthy dad’s’ walk up to MY hauler today offering money for their child.” — Kenny Wallace tweet
Only two weeks into the season it started to look like Wallace’s time with RAB Racing might be over. Upset over lack of sponsorship and seeing wealthy fathers trying to get their kid a ride, Wallace took to Twitter to vent his frustrations. Team owner Robby Benton disagreed with Wallace’s actions, but the team stuck and raced together throughout the year.
Las Vegas: “That was one serious beat down he put on me that last run.” — Mark Martin
At one time the NNS all-time wins leader, Martin knows a thing or two about dominating races. Except, champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. never let Martin get too far ahead of him and ended up taking it to the veteran on a late restart for the win.
Bristol: “After what I’ve been through the last couple of years in racing, this damn sure feels good.” — Elliott Sadler
After going winless in 2011, Sadler took care of business early and often in 2012. Wining two of the first four races and becoming the favorite for the championship.
California: “To win eight in a row takes the total package and it takes some luck, that’s an unbelievable streak for one company. Eight races in a row is ridiculous.” — Adam Stevens, No. 20 crew chief
Whether it’s Kyle Busch or Joey Logano behind the wheel, the Joe Gibbs Racing cars were always ones to beat in the NNS, especially at California. With Busch running for his own team this season Logano became the winningest driver in the series in 2012, including giving JGR their eighth straight win in California.
Texas: “They must love Elliott Sadler, he’s always on that big screen over there. I hate looking at that.” — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Sometimes the best radio communications between a driver and their team is under caution. It leaves time for the mind to wonder and the littlest things to be noticed. Stenhouse seemed to find one in Texas when it involved the man he was racing against for the championship. Apparently it wasn’t too big a distraction, Stenhouse went on to win the race.
Richmond: “I don’t know what to say, to have Kurt do it doesn’t bother me one bit. That’s awesome, just a great feeling for me, for Samantha, for grandma at home. For my dad, everybody, this is cool. This is really cool.” — Kyle Busch
It didn’t take long for Kyle Busch Motorsports to get their first NNS win. Except, it came with Kurt behind the wheel, fending off a hard charge from Denny Hamlin over the final five laps in a photo finish.
Talladega: “You would laugh if I had an in car camera because I was going crazy.” — Joey Logano
Logano has pushed many drivers to victory lane at Talladega, but this time around he was able to change the finish. During the final frantic lap, Logano shot around leader Kyle Busch for the win, his first at the superspeedway.
Darlington: “I got my stripe!” — Danica Patrick
Despite finishing on the lead lap and with a top 12 finish in her Darlington debut, it was something else that left Patrick excited. That was the tradition of scraping the right side of the car against the famous lady’s walls.
Iowa: “The kid is getting really good.” — Kurt Busch on Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Since the first time Stenhouse set foot in Iowa, he’s owned the place. Winning three straight races and going undefeated at the speedway. This win was his third on the season, coming after leading 209 laps.
Charlotte: “If I get to the 6, tell him I’ll hit him as soon as he messes with me!” — Austin Dillon on Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
A week later though, those who were once impressed weren’t feeling the same. Rookie Dillon wanted no part of Stenhouse racing him, particularly since Stenhouse was multiple laps down from a broken drive shaft.
Dover: “I’m on probation so I can’t even pick my nose the right way” and “Race your car. That’s all there is to it. It’s called a race. That’s what we’re doing now. We’re racing.” — Kurt Busch on Justin Allgaier
Always the media darling, Busch is chalk full of memorable quotes. When Allgaier complained about the way Busch was racing him, he responded in his classic, honest manner. Unfortunately for Busch, after the cameras stopped rolling he continued and ended up getting suspended for what he said to a reporter.
Michigan: “I never thought I would look forward to a road course, but we do now.” —- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on his struggles
The month of May was tough for the defending NNS champion. He lost the point lead after mechanical failure in Charlotte, a crash in Dover and an ill handing car in Michigan. He finished 25th and looked to an unlikely place to change his luck.
Road America: “I’m not trying to be a funny guy but I’m tell you, your nerves get awfully tight when the 22 is around you at these road course races.” — Michael McDowell on Jacques Villeneuve
In what has become a running theme anytime he’s in the race, Villeneuve lived up to expectations at Road America. Making contact with seemingly everyone in the field and leaving his competitors with sour tastes in their mouths.
Kentucky: “I’ve never seen Austin so high and so low at the same time. It was like he’d been shot.” — Richard Childress on Austin Dillon
Winning is the best feeling in the world and Dillon experienced that for the first time in the NNS at Kentucky in dominating fashion. That was until post race inspection came around and his car failed.
Daytona: “I’m not concerned … It was a bummer because it was another mistake; it’s two in a row. It’s not fun and I know my grandfather was upset with the guys.” — Austin Dillon on any penalty after failing post qualifying inspection
A week later, it was more of the same. Dillon would have won the pole for the event, until inspection found an open cooling hose in the cockpit. He instead had to start 42nd and his crew chief was subsequently suspended for two weeks.
New Hampshire: “It’s somebody who shouldn’t be on the race track and has no clue what they’re doing in a race car. She wants to be Danica Patrick, but she can’t hold her helmet.” — Kevin Harvick on Amber Cope
This became the feud of the NNS season. When Cope slowed leader Harvick down and allowed Keselowski to get by for the win, Harvick unleashed on the driver. But Cope and her twin sister Angela saw things differently and took to Twitter for months and egged on Harvick and his fans.
Chicago: “We had it won.” — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
A race is never won until a driver has survived a green-white-checkered finish. Stenhouse wasn’t able to do that in Chicago, even though he had the best car. Allgaier pushed Sadler to the lead, and then acted almost as blocker for Sadler who went on to win the race.
Indianapolis: “It’s so wrong to penalize me for a mistake they made. NASCAR just took the championship away from me. They just took the damn championship right out of our hands.” —- Elliott Sadler
When Sadler looks back at his season he’ll see some missed opportunities. A big one will be Indianapolis, which he possibly could have won until he was black-flagged from the lead when NASCAR declared he jumped the restart. Replayed showed that he had been pushed from behind, but a rule is a rule and NASCAR stuck to it.
Iowa: “It’s tough to see Elliott out there and know you’re catching him and there’s not really much you can do.” —- Justin Allgaier
The Stenhouse stranglehold on Iowa came to a close in August, when Sadler rebounded from his tough Indy loss for the win. Allgaier might have had the best car however, and led over 100 laps, but was passed late in the going and was never able to regain the lost ground.
Watkins Glen: “This is huge for us. This win means a lot.” — Carl Edwards
There isn’t much that Edwards can look back on for the 2012 season and have a smile on his face. He only ran one NNS race – this one at The Glen – and in Cup he went winless and missed the Chase. In his one and done race for Roush and the No. 60 team he made the best of it by besting Keselowski and winning the race.
Montreal: “It’s very frustrating because Roger Penske gave me a car that was unbeatable today, but then I guess Justin Allgaier decided he had to win and the only way he could do that was take me out, which is a little bit frustrating.” — Jacques Villeneuve
In a classic case of what goes around, comes around Allgaier gave Villeneuve a taste of his own medicine. That medicine was moving Villeneuve out of the way on the last lap, giving Allgaier the win and Villeneuve an unhappy homecoming.
Bristol: “He just opened it up, we can race each other a lot differently these last 10 races.” — Elliott Sadler on Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Rubbing is acing, or at least it should be. Bristol made the bump and run famous, drivers knowing that it’s coming and normally don’t take offense to it. They may not like it, but it’s apart of racing. When Stenhouse put the bump and run on Sadler on the final lap at Bristol for the second position, he did take offense to it and vowed that the fight for the championship was going to be different.
Atlanta: “It’s pretty obvious. They put it on TV and showed when the caution came out on the same lap … He told me it was intentional, so it is what it is.” — Kevin Harvick
The biggest storyline from 2012 might be one of the weirdest. Harvick dominated at Atlanta, leading by 15 seconds at one point in the night. A late caution however, did him in when Stenhouse Jr. was able to keep with him and steal the victory. Harvick was convinced that it was because Brad Keselowski threw a water bottle out of his car and caused the caution.
Richmond: “I’m not gentler. I still want to punch Kyle Busch in the mouth.” — Kevin Harvick
When it was noted a weak later, after Harvick was able to capture the victory, that it seemed he was a different person since the birth of son Keelan, he set the record straight.
Chicago: “You will not help the 2 car tonight.” — Danny Stockman to driver Austin Dillon about teammate Elliott Sadler
Having a teammate can go a long way when it comes to strategy, setups and drafting. That’s only however, if your teammate is willing to work with you, and on the 3 radio in Chicago it sounded like Stockman didn’t want Dillon to work teammate Sadler. They later said it meant nothing and everyone was one happy family. Sadler announced later in the season he was leaving RCR.
Kentucky: “We had ‘em killed, man. We struggled yesterday and it’s all about teamwork. Austin Dillon and his guys did some testing this week and learned some things. We really fed off Ernie Cope and his guys yesterday because they were really good, we put the total package together and nobody could touch us today. We were so freaking fast.” —- Elliott Sadler
Sadler ended up needed help in Kentucky though, and his teammate did help. He implemented Dillon’s setup and became the fastest driver at the track. Except, we’ve seen that the fastest car doesn’t always win and Sadler watched Dillon sweep the Kentucky races.
Dover: “Hey @austindillon3 why ask me what happen after race and then tell tv something else? I said the engine shut off.” —- Kasey Kahne tweet
Social media has changed the sport over the last year. Now, drivers cannot only interact with their fans and comment on the race, but they can call each other out, too. Kahne did so in Dover when Dillon commented after the race and didn’t get his facts right.
Charlotte: “Discount tire does tires, not gas so they got their part right. Just didn’t have any gas there at the end and they won’t run without it.” — Brad Keselowski
He’s become one of the best fuel mileage racers in the sport, but when the team doesn’t get any fuel in the car, a driver will have no shot at even attempting to win. Keselowski ran out of fuel with less than 10 laps to go at Charlotte while in contention for the win.
Kansas: “That’s our year man.” — Kyle Busch
Getting the first win for KBM came quickly and almost easily, for Kyle though, anytime he was behind the wheel he experienced anything and everything go wrong. Coming off turn four on the last lap in Kansas Busch wasn’t even safe, he ran out of fuel and another win was taken away.
Texas: “First of all, he got his ride because of his name. Second of all, you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity. If he’s points racing, you can’t crowd a guy that’s running for wins. I’m on the bottom; I’m all the way on the apron. I’m doing everything I can, and after the checkered flag, he wants to run into me – so I ran him into the fence.
“Danny [Stockman] says, ‘Look, he ain’t got to fix it.’ Maybe he needs to take his little ass over there and fix the racecar if he wants to keep wrecking. He needs to learn a lesson. I believe he got wrecked at Bristol a couple of times because he crowds really, really bad. That’s part of it. If you’re going to pinch, you’re going to pay.
“I don’t know why he was upset. After the checkered flag he runs into me. I don’t know if he feels entitled by the number on his door to think he’s tough. If he’s going to start it, I’m going to finish it.” — Denny Hamlin on Austin Dillon
Pretty much all that needs to be said about that. Hamlin and Dillon raced each other hard in Texas, with Dillon taking exception and Hamlin driving him into the pit road wall after the race was over. Then he let loose on how he really feels about the rookie driver.
Phoenix: “I did it to myself.” — Elliott Sadler
For the second year in a row it was Phoenix that was the undoing in Sadler’s championship hopes. A wreck last year was not of his doing, but this time around he simply drove into turn three too hot and wrecked himself. It put him in a 20-point hole entering the season finale.
Homestead-Miami: “Well, we lost the race. I like winning races. I didn’t come to Homestead, my favorite racetrack, to run sixth.” — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
After winning his second consecutive championship, everyone noticed the celebration was subdued for the team. When later asked why, Stenhouse showed exactly why he’s a winner and champion. He was still looking for a win when there was a bigger prize on the line.