After Regan Smith signed with JR Motorsports to drive the #5 car full-time in 2013, the team decided to have Smith drive the car at Homestead-Miami.
That decision appears to have paid off.
After taking the lead late in the final stages of the race, Smith was able to hold of Kyle Busch and win the Ford EcoBoost 300 by 1.3 seconds.
Rounding out the top-five were Brendan Gaughan, Sam Hornish Jr, and Austin Dillon (who will be the 2012 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year).
If this race is any indication, Smith and JR Motorsports could be a threat towards the Nationwide Series championship next season
While Smith won the race, Ricky Stenhouse Jr was able to keep himself out of trouble and win his second consecutive Nationwide Series championship by finishing sixth.
There was growing concern over Stenhouse's fuel pressure late in the race. To make matters worse, he raced aggressively to the point where he almost crashed into the the #3 of Austin Dillon.
With his second championship, Stenhouse Jr joins the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr, Martin Truex Jr, Sam Ard, Jack Ingram, Kevin Harvick, and Randy LaJoie as the only drivers to win multiple Nationwide Series championships.
As the 2012 season comes to an end, several drivers are going to be moving to new teams (along with moving up to the Sprint Cup Series).
Nationwide Series champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr will be moving on to the Sprint Cup Series in 2013 driving the #6 car full-time. Danica Patrick will be moving up to the Sprint Cup Series full-time next season as well.
Elliott Sadler, who finished ninth in his final race with RCR, is leaving the team. There is speculation that he will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing next year in both the Nationwide Series (full-time) and the Sprint Cup Series (part-time).
Joey Logano, who is in his final race with Joe Gibbs Racing, was able to keep his car on the track (after being involved in a late-race incident with Johanna Long) and gave Joe Gibbs Racing the Owners Championship. Logano will be moving to Penske Racing.
Travis Pastrana, who ran a limited schedule in 2012, will be driving full-time in the Nationwide Series next year in the #99.
As we look back on what was the 2012 season, we've seen a ton of moments this season in the Nationwide Series. We've seen hard side by side racing, we've seen a fierce points battle, we've seen tensions, we've just about seen it all.
With the 2012 season officially over, we now have to wait (unfortunately) for two months before we see the Nationwide Series back in action at Daytona. It will be a long wait, but when racing returns, we'll have something to look forward to.