CONCORD, N.C. -- As 2016 comes to a close, we thought we would look back at an eventful year that culminated in Hendrick Motorsports' 12th NASCAR Cup Series championship.
We've already recapped the top social posts of the year. Now, here are the top web stories of 2016.
Following his win at Homestead which solidified his claim on the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, Jimmie Johnson returned home to find that his neighbors had a celebration of their own -- in his front yard.
A special decal adorned the No. 88 Chevrolet SS as Jeff Gordon made his 800th NASCAR Cup Series start while filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in August at Watkins Glen International.
While meeting with 200 fans at a local Pennsylvania Walmart, Earnhardt met one special fan in particular: 90-year-old Arlene Campbell.
Alex Bowman received the phone call of a lifetime this year from No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives, asking him to fill in for Earnhardt while he was sidelined from NASCAR competition with a concussion.
Did you know each hauler weighs up to 80,000 pounds and holds 240 gallons of fuel?
Chad Knaus and his lucky fan drew the pole position in a random drawing for the 75-lap Sprint Unlimited exhibition race, placing Johnson on the front row for the green flag.
After being sidelined from NASCAR competition for 18 races this season due to a concussion, Earnhardt was medically cleared earlier this month to resume competing in 2017 following a test session at Darlington Raceway.
We gave you an inside look at the engines that help power cars to the checkered flag every year, including this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. For instance, did you know that in a typical year, Hendrick Motorsports will build between 730 to 750 engines?
In August, Kasey Kahne and Terry Labonte joined LiftMaster at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to unveil the throwback paint scheme Kahne would pilot at Darlington Raceway in September. The design was modeled after Labonte's 1982 JD Stacy Buick paint scheme and also corresponds with LiftMaster's founding year.
Following Gordon's first fill-in race in the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, the seasoned driver was just as excited to chat with Earnhardt as he was to head to Pocono the following week.
"I can’t wait to talk to Dale Jr. and debrief him on how today went and see how he’s doing," Gordon said.
At Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson made history, leading the field to the checkered flag for his fifth victory of the season while also clinching his seventh Cup championship.
“My heart is so full," Johnson said. "I had this crazy calmness over myself all day long leading in to this. Chevrolet – it is the only car I have ever driven. Hendrick Motorsports -- it is home for me. It has been the perfect place. My family, friends as well. You wish you could say something really impactful in these moments but there is so much swirling going on right now in my head. I’m overly blessed and thankful.”
Following in Gordon's footsteps, Chase Elliott climbed into the seat of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS and earned the pole in his first qualifying session of the year -- and for his first career Daytona 500 nonetheless.
Following the first announcement that Earnhardt would not compete at New Hampshire Motor Speedway due to concussion-like symptoms, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick met with the media and discussed the organization's support of Earnhardt and his recovery.
“Dale is special to me when you take the driving part away, and I just want him to feel good when he gets back in the car,” Hendrick said. “I don’t want him to push himself. He’s kind of an ‘Ironman’ – he doesn’t want to let the team down and doesn’t want to let his fans down. We need him for the long haul.”
After missing six Sprint Cup races beginning with the July New Hampshire race, it was announced that Earnhardt was not medically cleared to compete for the remainder of the 2016 season while he recovered from a concussion.
“The support from both inside and outside the race team has been overwhelming," Earnhardt said. "Everyone has been so encouraging and positive, from my teammates and sponsors to my family, friends and fans. It’s motivating and humbling at the same time.”
After missing his first race of the season at New Hampshire in July, HendrickMotorsports.com announced that Earnhardt would also miss the races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway, with Gordon being the substitute driver.
Following an evaluation by his Charlotte-based doctor, the first announcement of Earnhardt's concussion was made, revealing that the driver would not be competing in the July 17 race at New Hampshire. Bowman took over the driving duties of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS that weekend.
“I’m disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend," Earnhardt said. "I’m looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back in the race car when the doctors say I’m ready.”