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Coca-Cola Family carries momentum to 2013

November 26, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM,

The Coca-Cola Racing Family finished the 2012 season strong, and they face next season with good momentum -- as well as new teams and new crew chiefs for some.

Here is a recap for the contour-bottle bunch and look ahead for next season.

Greg Biffle

Season finish: Fifth

Bottom line: Fourth top-seven finish in five seasons, best average start and finish (9.9 and 10.2, respectively) of his career.

Highlight: Leading the points standings for 11 races early in the season.

What's ahead: Building on success from his first year with crew chief Matt Puccia. He should continue being Roush Fenway's dominant driver, especially with Matt Kenseth going to Joe Gibbs Racing

Denny Hamlin

Season finish: Sixth

Bottom line: Fifth straight top-nine season finish, best average finish in six seasons.

Highlights: Tied Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson with season-best five wins, second with 14 top-fives.

What's ahead: Recover from starting the Chase in the lead but stumbling in the final five races with mechanical issues and wrecks.

Tony Stewart

Season finish: Ninth

Bottom line: Thirteenth top-10 finish in 14 career seasons.

Highlights: Won two of the season's first five races, made sixth consecutive Chase appearance.

What's ahead: Get better starting position after averaging career-worst 18.3 this season. The race team he owns will add Danica Patrick full-time in the Sprint Cup series next season and is expected to bring Kevin Harvick aboard in 2014.

Ryan Newman

Season finish: 14th

Bottom line: One win away from the Chase; failed to get a pole for the first time in 12 seasons.

Highlight: Won in April at Martinsville.

What's ahead: Try to maintain momentum from last four races, when his average finish was 7.8.

Joey Logano

Season finish: 17th

Bottom line: One win from making the Chase.

Highlights: Won in June at Pocono; best starting average of his career (11.9).

What's ahead: Leaves Joe Gibbs Racing to join championship team and Brad Keselowski at Penske Racing.

Jeff Burton

Season finish: 19th

Bottom line: Struggled much of the season, worst average finish (19.6) in seven years.

Highlight: The superspeedways, where he had two top-fives at Daytona -- fifth at the 500 and second at the 400 -- and a pair of 10th-place finishes at Talladega.

What's ahead: After he recovers from wrist surgery, Burton will have reunite with crew chief Luke Lambert. The two were together during the last 17 races of 2011.

Jamie McMurray

Season finish: 21st

Bottom line: First career season without a top-five finish.

Highlight: Back-to-back top-10s in March at Las Vegas and Bristol.

What's ahead: Team is switching from Earnhardt Childress Racing to Hendrick Motorsports engines, hoping to end two-year win drought.

Bobby Labonte

Season finish: 23rd

Bottom line: Highest spot in final standings and average race finish in four seasons.

Highlight: Fans voted him into the Sprint All-Star race; among 10 finalists for most popular driver award.

What's ahead: His team is looking to improve in its second season with a standalone shop.

Danica Patrick

Season finish: N/A

Bottom line: Ran 10 Cup races to prepare for full 2013 campaign.

Highlights: Had the best finishes of the season in her final two races.

What's ahead: Build on confidence in top series after netting seven top-15 results in her last eight Nationwide races.

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