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Trevor Bayne's surprising victory at the 2011 Daytona 500 was one of the year's biggest stories (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

With the NASCAR season wrapped up for another year, Inspiring Athletes thought it might be a good time to look back at an exciting nine months that saw a number of unpredictable twists and turns.

Trevor Bayne kicked off the crazy year with his improbable win at the Daytona 500. We also saw his best friend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., end the season with a dominating Nationwide Series championship. Justin Allgaier had a solid year with an NNS victory at Chicago and Sam Hornish Jr., breathed life into his stockcar racing career with a late season NNS victory in Phoenix.

Other highlights included a down-to-the-wire Sprint Cup championship between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. Amazingly, the two drivers finished one-two at the Ford 400 in Homestead where Stewart outlasted Edwards and won his third title by just one point.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., celebrated his Nationwide Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Other notable events included the announcement of Darrell Waltrip’s selection for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Morgan Shepherd’s 70th birthday, the end of Mark Martin’s time at Hendrick Motorsports in the #5 car, and trouble for Kyle Busch (including an off-track speeding violation and an intentional wrecking of Camping World Truck Series competitor Ron Hornaday) that resulted in the controversial young driver’s suspension and called his bright future into question.

To properly wrap-up the season, Inspiring Athletes has brought together all of the interviews and news stories posted this season. Make sure to click on the names below to read more about these popular figures within the NASCAR community and some of the events that impacted the racing world in 2011:

Justin Allgaier – Nationwide Series driver

Trevor Bayne – 2011 Daytona 500 winner and Nationwide Series driver (interview #1)

Trevor Bayne – 2011 Daytona 500 winner and Nationwide Series driver (interview #2)

David Gilliland – Sprint Cup driver

Sam Hornish Jr. – Nationwide Series driver

Matt Kenseth – Sprint Cup driver

Blake Koch – Nationwide Series driver

Parker Kligerman – Camping World Truck Series driver

Bobby Labonte – Sprint Cup driver

Mark Martin – Sprint Cup driver

Eric McClure – Nationwide Series driver

Michael McDowell – Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series driver

Casey Mears – Sprint Cup driver

Kyle Petty – TV analyst and former Sprint Cup driver (Part 1)

Kyle Petty – TV analyst and former Sprint Cup driver (Part 2)

Richard Petty – NASCAR Hall of Fame member and Sprint Cup owner

David Ragan – Sprint Cup driver

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Nationwide Series driver and 2011 series champion

Darrell Waltrip – NASCAR Hall of Fame member and TV analyst

And here’s a look back at some of the NASCAR stories Inspiring Athletes reported during the 2011 season:

Trevor Bayne wins in Texas

Sam Hornish wins first NASCAR race

Mark Martin signs with Michael Waltrip Racing

Jamie MacMurray impacted by Joplin tornadoes

Pastor Joe Nelms invokes Ricky Bobby in pre-race prayer

Marcos Ambrose collects first win of the season for Richard Petty Motorsports

Matt Kenseth contends for Sprint Cup championship

David Ragan wins Coke Zero 400

Morgan Shepherd turns 70

Reed Sorenson drives for MacDonald Motorsports

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., wins Nationwide Series championship

Hope you enjoyed this year’s NASCAR coverage. In February, we’ll ramp it up once again with season previews and interviews with notable racing figures such as David Reutimann, Larry McReynolds, Morgan Shepherd, Andy Petree, Robert Richardson, Joe Nemechek and Dr. Jerry Punch.

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