2012 season in the rear view: Matt Kenseth

Vitals: 7th in the points standings. 3 wins, 13 top 5s, 19 top 10s. 1 DNF.

Moment to remember: Matt Kenseth's victory may not be the first thing that everyone remembers from the rain-delayed prime time Daytona 500, but it's certainly the highlight of his season.

Kenseth was a beast on restrictor plate tracks this season. After winning the 500, he led 73 laps at Talladega and finished third. (In fact, his car might have been too strong that day, as his car had so much space between it and second place Greg Biffle that Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were able to storm by together on the outside on the penultimate lap.)

On the return leg to Daytona, Kenseth started on the pole and finished third, and then at the second Talladega race, Kenseth avoided the crash on the final lap and won the race.

Moment to forget: Oh Chicago and Dover. Kenseth qualified third for the first race of the Chase at Chicago. However, he lost a shock and because of the repairs, finished 18th. And then at Dover, the third race of the Chase, Kenseth lost an engine. Through three Chase races, he was 12th in the standings and his championship hopes were gone.

The wrap: We weren't quite sure what to expect from Kenseth in the Chase, given that this was his final season at Roush Fenway Racing before moving on to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013. Over the first 26 races of the year, Kenseth was one of the strongest drivers in the series, but that whole lame duck thing was hanging over his head as his tenure at Roush was coming to a close.

But, a parts failure and Kenseth's only DNF of the season in the first third of the Chase made those questions a moot point. (And no, they had nothing to do with his departure.) Kenseth bounced back nicely from those races, however, and thanks in part to a win at Kansas, was fifth in the standings after Texas before finishing the season in seventh.

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