Top 10 NASCAR Driver of the Year 2012:2. Jimmie Johnson

Birthdate: September 17, 1975Hometown: El Cajon, CATeam: Hendrick MotorsportsCrew chief: Chad Knaus2012 starts: 36Poles: 4Wins: 5Top 5: 18Top 10: 24Annual earnings: $8,129,640Championship points: 2360Championship position: NASCAR Driver of 2011 position: 8th

We admit, we're surprised to see Jimmie Johnson fare this well in the 2012 NASCAR Driver of the Year results. Not because Johnson himself doesn't deserve it, but just because we've always detected a slight hostility from NASCAR fans the world over about Johnson continuing to dominate the sport after having already netted five consecutive titles from 2006-2010.

But voters are smart cookies and they know a stand-out display from a top driver when they see one, and aren't afraid to award their votes appropriately when they see an impressive year-long performance from one of the world's best motor racing talents. Five wins and 24 top-ten finishes - more than anyone else in 2012 - make him the highest-earning driver in Sprint Cup this season.

If not for a tyre blow-out at Phoenix and a mechanical failure at Homestead-Miami, Johnson could well have clinched his sixth title this season. He certainly deserved better than the third place he was pushed down to at the very end, and a sympathetic electorate have duly handed him the runners-up prize in the Driver of the Year vote. Good call!

Check back later in the week for the details of the averages each driver scored, and what happened to those drivers outside the top ten.

The complete top 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver of the Year 2012 results:1. Brad Keselowski2. Jimmie Johnson3. Clint Bowyer4. Kasey Kahne5. Mark Martin6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.7. Marcos Ambrose8. Martin Truex Jr.9. Jeff Gordon10. Greg Biffle



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