The NASCAR season is the longest in all of sports. The 2012 Sprint Cup Series season featured 36 points-paying races as well as a couple of exhibition events. Some were more memorable than others. Others, quite frankly, were forgettable.
Through the magic of Twitter, I asked fans to give me the best and worst races of the season. The feedback was extraordinary, and I am in total agreement with the results.
So without further delay, here are the choices for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season:
Best race of the year – Watkins Glen
There was a time when the majority of traditional fans despised NASCAR road-course races. Watching stock cars lumber around twisting road circuits did not capture the imagination of fans who were used to oval-track competition. But in recent years, road racing has provided some of the best action in all of NASCAR. Last August's trip to Watkins Glen topped everything.
The entire race was a non-stop battle of side-by-side racing with drivers jockeying for position, not afraid to rub a fender or two in order to gain a spot. The exciting day came to a crescendo in the final laps with a mad scramble to take the checkered flag.
There were reports of oil being on the racetrack after Bobby Labonte's engine expired, but NASCAR kept the green flag displayed. Marcos Ambrose got by Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski on a wild last lap to score his second consecutive Watkins Glen victory.
Busch had the lead as the white flag flew but got loose and was then tagged from the rear by Keselowski, who drove into the lead and -- with reports of oil on the track -- became locked in a side-by-side battle with Ambrose.
Ambrose finally got by with only a couple of corners remaining around the historic road course and went on to score his second career Cup Series victory.
And, with that, an instant classic was born.
Honorable mention – Bristol night race
Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Bruton Smith promised to return the storied half-mile to its former self with a renovation project that began after the March visit to Bristol. As some fans clamored for more of the rough-and-tumble action that the Tennessee short track was famous for, Smith reconfigured the track to make a more narrow racing groove in hopes of recapturing Bristol's magic.
While it didn't quite have the effect that Smith had planned, the “new new Bristol” did provide its share of fireworks. There was hard racing, bent sheet metal and high emotion -- capped by Tony Stewart's helmet toss at Matt Kenseth's car -- that added up to a memorable summer night in “Thunder Valley.”
Worst race of the year – spring Texas
The April Saturday night visit to Texas Motor Speedway turned out to be a dud. Everything fans don't like about 1.5-mile racing was on display with a strung-out field, limited cautions and restarts and just a plain lack of action.
Incredibly high winds that made it difficult for drivers to handle their cars didn't help. Unless you were a Greg Biffle fan, there wasn't much to remember from the first race of the season in the Lone Star State.
Dishonorable mention – fall Dover
It was a Chase race, but there wasn't much else to keep interest alive when the Cup Series returned to the “Monster Mile” in September.
Kyle Busch dominated but didn't win as Brad Keselowski prevailed with fuel strategy. That about sums it up.