DIEZ: Wrapping up the racing season

Another racing season has come to an end, and race fans will have to wait until January when Speedweek kicks off with the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. In the meantime, here's a quick review of the 2012 racing season and a salute to all the champions.


The IndyCar series had a rebirth in 2012, with a brand new car design, a new officiating team, and exciting racing.

This year's Indy 500 was one of the best ever, with Dario Franchitti notching his third win at the Brickyard. And, Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American IndyCar champion since Sam Hornish, when challenger Will Power took himself out in the final race and finished second in the title chase. Unfortunately, the ouster of CEO Randy Bernard at season's end has IndyCar fans in an uproar.


Another perennial second-place finisher was Ron Capps, who lost the NHRA Funny Car title by a mere two points to Jack Beckman. Antron Brown nipped Tony Schumacher by seven points to take the Top Fuel championship. Allen Johnson dominated Pro Stock, winning the title by 185 points over second-place Jason Line. Eddie Krawiec took the Pro Stock Motorcycle division crown by 82 points over Andrew Hines.

Local racer Karen Stoffer finished fifth in the division. The NHRA has its own version of NASCAR's Chase, with only the top10 in each division running for the championship in the final six races of the 23-race season.


Speaking of NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson looked to be on his way to his sixth Sprint Cup title until a crash at Phoenix and a duff rear-end gear at Homestead-Miami took him from the points lead to third in the Chase. Brad Keselowski is the new Sprint Cup champion, winning Roger Penske his first Sprint Cup title and the last championship for Dodge, which is leaving the sport. Keselowski epitomizes the new breed of NASCAR driver, and seems to be enjoying his success to the hilt. With a different car make (Ford) and a totally new body style for 2013, it will be a challenge for Brad to repeat..


In Formula One, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel appears to be well on his way to matching Jimmie Johnson's five consecutive championships. Vettel scored his third in a row last Sunday in Brazil, finishing where he needed to in order to beat Ferrari's Fernando Alonso for the top honors.

Vettel did not have a stellar weekend, qualifying much further down the order than he usually does, and driving the race with a car that was damaged in a collision on the first lap.


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