Well it was left up to you dear readers. There were many stories in NASCAR in 2019. After an exhaustive list of the top ones in the pack (pun intended) here are the top 5 NASCAR stories as vote on by over 3000 of you. To all those who voted, and to all those who followed along with me in 2019, thank you.

The top 5:

5. NASCAR announces sweeping changes to its 2020 schedule (8.3%)

In March NASCAR announced it will throw tradition out the window in 2020 and made somewhat surprising changes to the upcoming schedule. The changes include the July Daytona race moving to August as the last regular season race, replaced by the Brickyard 400. Phoenix will now end the season, and that season end will come earlier in November, on the 8th. This season ended on Nov. 17.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family escape a plane crash in Tennessee (12%)

The popular driver turned broadcaster was the only one who had to spend a few hours at the hospital after the plane, owned by his team JR Motorsports, suffered a “hard landing” as he, his wife and infant daughter were heading to Bristol for that weekends race. Earnhardt skipped the race but returned the next race no worse for the wear.

3. Jimmie Johnson announces his retirement (14.8%)

Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson announced on social media a few days after the season ended in November that he will leave NASCAR’s premier series at the end of 2020. The 44-year-old California native will leave with a resume that will no doubt be unmatched for years, if ever, in NASCAR. He will have one more shot at a record eighth championship before he calls it quits.

2. Denny Hamlin wins second Daytona 500 shortly after J.D. Gibbs his friend and mentor passes (18.5%)

Denny Hamlin led a Joe Gibbs Racing trio in NASCAR’s biggest race, the Daytona 500 in February, surviving 12 caution flags, 2 red flags and winning his second Daytona 500 by .138 of a second. Hamlin held the lead on a green-white checkered flag overtime finish after the race’s second red flag period of just over 14 minutes and kept his JGR teammate Kyle Busch at bay to break a 47-race winless streak dating back to 2017. The win was made even more emotional as it was the first for the team since J.D. Gibbs, son of team owner Joe Gibbs passed away at age 49 the previous month.

1. NASCAR goes all in on the next generation racecar (25.9%)

Though it won’t make its competitive debut until at least 2021, everyone got its first look at NASCAR’s next generation racecar in 2019. It was tested for the first time at Richmond in October, followed by a further test at ISM Raceway in early part of December. The prototype was built by Richard Childress Racing, which continues to play a leading role in the car’s development. Delegations from Team Penske and NASCAR’s competition wing were in Phoenix for the test, observing and assisting in making changes to the vehicle.

Now for the rest.

Out of all the stories put out there for voting, here are the rest.

Driver changes: Menard retires, Suarez out, Bell, Custer, Reddick move up to Cup (2.8%)

Defending Cup champion Logano misses final 4 (1.9%)

Homestead track hosts final title races (1.9%)

Safety pioneer Bill Simpson dies (1.9%)

Matt DiBenedetto wins hearts and gets ride at Wood Brothers for 2020 (0.9%)

Kyle Busch wins his second Cup championship (0.9%)

NASCAR penalizes 4 teams for manipulation of Cup season finale (0.9%)

NASCAR Cup awards banquet goes to Nashville (0.9%)

NASCAR changes its business model from one single title sponsor to four premium sponsors (0.9%)

Stories that didn’t get a vote:

NASCAR modified champion Ted Christopher dies in plane crash

Felix Sabates retires from ownership

Champion crew chief Cole Pearn steps away from NASCAR to spend time with his family

Thanks for following along with all my NASCAR adventures in 2019. Now time for a very short hibernation before Daytona comes a-calling.

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