Clint Bowyer and his Michael Waltrip Racing team put together a stellar year and a runner-up finish NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup.
What does his finish, and those of other top performers, mean for 2013?
Every time we think and we try to predict what something from this year means for next year, it means absolutely nothing.
It means whatever you want to make out of it, but you still have to make it. You can predict, you can anticipate, you can wish and you can pray, but until you make it happen, you don't know what it really is going to turn into.
You can say right now that Bowyer's No. 15 team is a logical challenger for the 2013 championship because it was a new team and because of what they accomplished. In 2013, they should be bigger and better than they were the year before, but we thought the same thing about Carl Edwards on a couple of different occasions and it hasn't happened. Now Carl has a whole new team - does that mean he's going to be back in contention? We don't know, but we hope he's going to be part of the mix.
But at the same time, Denny Hamlin got himself a new crew chief, a championship crew chief, entering this season. Then he's making all this noise. He looks like he's going to be a championship contender. But once again, when it got to the end of the year, he and his Joe Gibbs Racing team didn't close it out.
There's just so many things, so many intangibles, so many things about attitude and, once again, the luck factor of how your season goes and what puts you on the right path that you can write anything and you won't be wrong, you can say anything and you won't be wrong.
That's what makes it so wonderful about our sport. No matter how much you look at it on paper, we can't control it and we can't predict it.
Who would ever predict that at the final race of the year, five-time champion Jimmie Johnson would have the problems that he did? Who would ever predict that this young upstart Brad Keselowski, in a relatively short time, has been able to win two of the most prestigious racing championships that any man could ever win and basically in about a three-year period?
You can't write that stuff.
The two guys who were basically fighting one another at Phoenix - Jeff Gordon and Bowyer - a week later there they were being celebrated because one is in Victory Lane (Gordon) and the other winds up second in the points race.
It just shows that anything is possible.
We don't make this stuff up - we just talk about it.