"Am I dreaming? Is this real?" screamed then-nobody Trevor Bayne after stunning the racing world last February with his win in the season-opening Daytona 500. Little did we know, we'd be thinking the same thing as the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season culminated in a closest-ever battle for the points championship a week and a half ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In all, NASCAR waved checkered flags 95 times over points-paying national series races this season — leaving plenty of hits and misses to remember from the season that was. Here's a look back at what made the 2011 NASCAR season tick:
HOT: Tony Stewart won five races in the Chase and Carl Edwards had a better average finish than anyone, ever. And then? Stewart wins the Sprint Cup title on a walk-off win. Need we say more?
NEUTRAL: New pavement at Daytona, the bane of any race track's existence, allowed drivers to add a new trick to the restrictor plate handbook this year in the form of two-car tandem drafting.
It was a noveltyRead More »from Hot/Not: Sifting through 2011′s NASCAR highs and lows