This article contains statements that are anachronistic. (June 2020)
The 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was the 62nd season of professional stock car racing in the United States, the 39th modern-era cup series, and the first Cup season of the 2010s, the 21st century's second decade. Beginning at Daytona International Speedway, the season included 36 races and two exhibition races. The season concluded with the 2010 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. During the 2009 offseason, NASCAR announced a few calendar changes, including the standardized start time. Rick Hendrick won the Owners' Championship, while Jimmie Johnson won the Drivers' Championship with a second-place finish at the final race of the season. Chevrolet won the Manufacturers' Championship with 261 points. Johnson extended his record of consecutive championships with the 5th title in a row. 2010 is the first season without drivers Jeremy Mayfield since 1992 and Sterling Marlin since 1975.
Teams and drivers
There were 43 full-time teams in 2010.
- Roush Fenway Racing removed one of their cars because of the five to four car maximum rule.
- Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates Racing merged to form one team. Richard Petty Motorsports switched from Dodges after the merger to Yates Racing with Fords.
- Richard Childress Racing removed one of their cars to form a three car team.
- Martin Truex Jr. left Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's No. 1 car to drive for Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 56 in 2010, replacing Michael Waltrip, who ran a partial schedule with the team's No. 51 and Prism Motorsports No. 55. Truex Jr. signed a multi-year agreement, with options for further years.
- Jamie McMurray moved from Roush Fenway Racing to replace Truex Jr. in the No. 1 for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
It was announced in January as part of the annual preseason media tour in Charlotte that, after years of restrictions, drivers would be let loose as it were, popularly referred to as "Boys, Have At It". Rules were altered to allow for "bump drafting", especially at Daytona and Talladega. On February 10, the green-white-checker finish rule was altered in all three major series (including the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series) to allow for up to three attempts for said finish. Starting with the Shelby American, NASCAR extended its post-race inspections to include the first car out of the race that was not involved in a wreck; in other words, the first start and park.
At Martinsville, spoilers returned to the Car of Tomorrow after the finish of the 2009 Aaron's 499 that saw Carl Edwards' car becoming airborne and flying into the catch fencing after colliding with eventual winner Brad Keselowski on the last turn.
All teams were capped at four full-time teams starting in 2010, the only casualty of this was Roush Fenway Racing's No. 26 Ford, Which was closed following 2009. However, teams were able to have a part time fifth car for lower division rookie drivers. In 2016, NASCAR banned any form of a fifth car.
Hall of Fame opens
On May 11, the NASCAR Hall of Fame was officially opened in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three-story building houses historic artifacts, interactive displays and the shrine for inductees. The Charter Class of 2010 — made up of seven-time champions Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., his son and owner/driver Junior Johnson — were inducted on May 23.
The total scheduled distance of the season was 14,461.9 miles (23,274.2 km), but race distances could be shorter or longer depending on weather and green-white-checker finishes. The final schedule was released on September 15, 2009.
- For the 2010 season, all races adopted standardized start times; east coast day races began at 1:00 pm. ET, west coast day races began at 12:00 pm. PT (3:00 pm. ET), and most night races began at 7:30 pm. ET. These changes were intended to alleviate fan confusion over the inconsistent scheduling practices of previous seasons, allow teams a "shorter" race day due to the earlier start times, and to provide more "flexibility" in the event of rain delays. The Coca-Cola 600 maintained its traditional early-evening start time, while the Coke Zero 400 was delayed due to weather.
- The Autism Speaks 400 was moved before the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600.
- The Subway Fresh Fit 600 and Samsung Mobile 500 switched their dates.
Fox Sports, their corporate sibling Speed, TNT, and ESPN/ABC are in the fourth year of a seven-year television contract scheduled to expire after the 2014 season. Showtime is going to show a highlights show for the first time.
Fox Sports broadcast the first 13 races, including the Budweiser Shootout, the 52nd Daytona 500, and the Coca-Cola 600. With Dover moving to mid-May, Fox ended their coverage with the 51st Coca-Cola 600. The Sprint All-Star Race XXVI along with the Gatorade Duels, practice sessions, and all qualifying and practice sessions (except for Daytona qualifying, which aired on Fox) were all broadcast on Speed. The network's Gopher Cam mascot, Digger, returned for on-screen displays.
Time Warner's Turner Sports division (through TNT) broadcast the next six races, including the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in its limited commercial interruption wide open coverage format. That race will also be telecast in 3-D on both NASCAR.com and DirecTV. TNT's coverage will begin with the June Pocono race and end with Chicagoland. Qualifying and practice sessions will remain on Speed. Adam Alexander will be the new lead announcer, with Lindsay Czarniak hosting pre-and-post-race shows, replacing Bill Weber and Marc Fein respectively.
ESPN carried the remaining races, beginning with the Brickyard 400. ABC, which formerly carried the last 11 races of the season, will carry the Saturday night races in Bristol, Richmond, and Charlotte. Although previously races could not be moved from ABC to ESPN, early start times and ABC's plans to expand its Sunday morning political shows meant that NASCAR had to allow most Chase races to move to ESPN. This was met from criticism from most of ABC's southern-based affiliates, who had originally counted on NASCAR on those Sundays for ratings gains against the NFL.
Most qualifying sessions will air on ESPN2, practice sessions and some qualifying will be shared by SPEED and ESPN2. Qualifying for the Pep Boys Auto 500 and AMP Energy 500 air on Speed because they are Saturday afternoon sessions during the college football season. Additionally, Jerry Punch was replaced in the play-by-play position by Marty Reid; Punch will return to the pits where he worked at ESPN until 2000.
CBS-owned pay cable premium service Showtime carried a weekly one-hour highlight show titled Inside NASCAR every Wednesday at 10 pm ET/PT, with the series premiere on February 10. Chris Myers, who also hosts FOX's NASCAR coverage, will serve as host, joined by SPEED's Randy Pemberton & Michael Waltrip, and ESPN's Brad Daugherty, with the shows taping at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Studio 43. 38 episodes are planned, covering the season.
On radio, Sirius XM Radio carried all races in the series. Terrestrial radio rights are being handled as follows:
- Motor Racing Network carried races at tracks owned by their corporate sibling, International Speedway Corporation as well as the races at Dover and Pocono and the All-Star Race at Charlotte;
- Speedway Motorsports, Inc.-owned Performance Racing Network carried events from those SMI tracks, and will jointly produced the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.
Other North American channels
In Spain, Teledeporte telecasted six races of the season.
In Latin America, Speed Channel broadcast all Sprint Cup races and Nationwide races live.
In France, ABMoteurs broadcast all Sprint Cup races live.
In the United Kingdom, it was originally thought that Sky Sports had not secured the rights to the series for 2010. However, this changed in early February as Sky announced that they will show live coverage of the Daytona 500, with an hour-long highlights package for the rest of the races, on the Monday following each race. The remainder of the season, starting with the Shelby American, were shown on Open Access 3.
Top 35 owner's points
Beginning at Martinsville, NASCAR used the 2010 owner's points standings. Teams in the top 35 positions were guaranteed entry into the race; those below had to qualify on time.
- Changes after Phoenix race: No. 7 team moves into the Top 35, replacing the No. 34 team.
- Texas: The No. 34 entry moves up to 34th, No. 37 falls to 35th, No. 7 is 36th, one point out of safety (Fifteen points separate 33rd (No. 38 team) and 36th).
- Talladega: No. 34 team moves up to 33rd, No. 7 is 34th, No. 38 team is 35th, No. 37 team is two points out of safety.
- Richmond: Front Row Motorsports cars are 34th (No. 34), 35th (No. 37), and 36th (No. 38).
- Darlington: No change in and out initially. No. 7 entry penalized 25 points for violating NASCAR rules and slips to 35th.
- Dover: No. 7 and No. 38 tied, No. 37 is two points out of safety
- Charlotte: Front Row Motorsports cars (No. 34, No. 37, No. 38 in order) are in Top 35, No. 7 is 15 points out
- Pocono: After a 150-point penalty, the No. 38 team falls out of the Top 35, while the No. 7 moves in.
|Pos||Number||Owner||Points||Difference from 35th|
Results and standings
(key) Bold – Pole position awarded by time. Italics – Pole position set by final practice results. * – Most laps led. Bold italics – Drivers currently in "wild card" qualifying positions for the Chase. (R) – Competing for Rookie of the Year
|Chase for the Sprint Cup cut-off|
|17||Juan Pablo Montoya||10||37||37||3||26||36||5||34||3||6||5||35||38||8||13||10||34||27||16||32*||16||1*||7||7||9||7||16||14||29||14||11||19||3||28||16||35||4118|
|19||A. J. Allmendinger||32||25||25||6||17||38||15||13||19||17||37||14||14||10||11||13||10||36||14||16||24||4||17||31||18||8||12||10||10||19||25||12||32||14||18||5||3998|
|21||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||2||32||16||15||7||15||12||8||13||32||18||30||22||19||7||11||8||4||23||27||27||26||19||13||22||34||4||23||22||16||29||7||39*||25||14||27||3953|
|22||Martin Truex Jr.||6||39||20||27||12||5||17||9||12||7||19||12||23||25||17||42||22||35||11||26||9||15||8||17||12||22||20||34||20||18||15||29||6||38||15||11||3916|
|29||Sam Hornish Jr.||37||16||28||28||32||13||18||19||24||36||31||34||17||11||26||36||23||21||24||30||11||14||32||25||30||28||10||36||36||15||40||25||15||18||32||24||3214|
|35||Kevin Conway (R)||31||36||31||28||31||33||27||30||37||33||33||35||35||40||28||32||14||33||34||31||31||36||37||41||37||38||31||DNQ||QL||30||1830|
|44||J. J. Yeley||41||37||34||37||39||26||38||19||DNQ||DNQ||38||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||40||42||42||42||43||39||DNQ||31||42||891|
|54||Robert Richardson Jr.||31||26||23||37||301|
|56||P. J. Jones||41||35||41||37||190|
|† – Due to feeling sick, Kasey Kahne did not complete the race and during a caution, he was replaced by J. J. Yeley after he started and parked his normal No. 36 car. Since Kahne started the race, he is officially credited with the 38th-place finish.|
Note:This list does not include exhibition races.
- 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series
- 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
- 2010 ARCA Racing Series
- 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
- 2010 NASCAR Corona Series
- 2010 NASCAR Mini Stock Series
- "Truex Jr. will make move to MWR for 2010 season". NASCAR. July 7, 2009. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
- Pearce, Al (September 16, 2009). "McMurray poised to replace Truex Jr. at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing". Autoweek. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
- "2010 Schedule". www.jayski.com. Archived from the original on August 19, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
- "After Falling Asleep At Wheel, Changes Coming". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
- "Races will start at consistent times". ESPN.com. October 7, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
- "Race Summary". NASCAR.com. Archived from the original on July 4, 2010. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
- "Nine of 10 Chase races on ESPN". ESPN.com. ESPN. January 13, 2010. Archived from the original on January 19, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- "ABC Affiliates Decry Migration of Sports to ESPN". Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- "No more NASCAR". huewen.com. Keith Huewen. January 9, 2010. Archived from the original on February 3, 2010. Retrieved January 17, 2010.
- "Daytona 500 live in UK". huewen.com. Keith Huewen. February 5, 2010. Archived from the original on February 9, 2010. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
- "NASCAR gets new UK TV deal". autosport.com. Haymarket Publications. February 25, 2010. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- "Maunfactuer Standings". Archived from the original on August 13, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2010.