Dale Jr. spent the majority of the first 26 races amongst the top five drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings on his way to qualifying for the 2012 Chase for the Championship. Junior began the season with 20 consecutive lead lap finishes to set a new Sprint Cup Series record. He also visited victory lane for first time with crew chief Steve Letarte at Michigan International Speedway in June driving an all-black paint scheme in conjunction with the Batman 'The Dark Knight Rises' movie release. Following the season's 19th race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Junior found himself leading the series standings for the first time since 2004.
Junior entered the Chase seventh in the standings. He finished the year 12th in points (-155 to champion Brad Keselowski) with one victory, 10 top-fives, 20 top-10s and a pole award at Richmond. His Chase was spoiled after missing races at Charlotte and Kansas due to a concussion following an accident at Talladega.