Though the calendar has changed, it's not too late to look back at last season. SB Nation is counting down its top 15 most-viewed NASCAR stories of 2010 during the first two weeks of January.
You hear it all the time on talk radio, read it in columns and listen to it in debates among fans. When asked what NASCAR needs to put a spark into the sport, the answer is often the same: A fight!
When NASCAR loosened its iron grip on competitors and instituted "Have at it, boys" last year, it set the stage for a fight among drivers. But the year nearly passed by without any physical confrontations.
Then came Texas, the third-to-last race of the season. In a bizarre wreck under caution, Jeff Burton took out Jeff Gordon. The four-time champion made a long, angry walk down to where Burton's car was stopped on the track – the anticipation building all the way – and the two immediately began tussling upon their arrival.
It was one of those "WHOAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!" moments that gets fans excited about the sport and shows the passion among its competitors.
And it also go the attention of people who may not be NASCAR fans.
Similar to our No. 2 story on the most-clicked countdown, the Jeff Gordon/Jeff Burton fight generated a lot of searches on Google. In fact, approximately 83 percent of the people who read this story arrived there via search.
Though we can't reveal the exact numbers, there were enough searches to make this by far the No. 1 story of the year. So what does that tell us?
It's not just a theory: Fights and controversy among the drivers are a very good thing for interest in the sport.
Let's hope for more of it in 2011.
Our Most Popular NASCAR Stories of 2010:
15. Instant reaction to Hendrick Motorsports crew chief swap
14. Why Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't tweet
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes 16th at Las Vegas
12. Drivers flattered by portrayal in South Park episode
11. List of drivers' song choices for the Bristol night race
10. '12 Out Of 12' interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Video of Shane Hmiel's USAC wreck
8. Boris Said crew chief screams at Tony Stewart after Sonoma race
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 'Lost' when it comes to answers about team after Dover
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Lance McGrew give comedic post-race interview at Darlington
5. Brad Keselowski explains why he called Kyle Busch an 'ass' at Bristol
4. List of drivers' song choices for spring Bristol race
3. Kyle Busch gets engaged to Samantha Sarcinella
2. Elliott Sadler survives terrifying Pocono wreck
1. Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton fight at Texas