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Who’s the Champ, Who’s the Chump & Who’s in the Chase: 2008 Sprint Cup Predictions

Now that another new season is officially upon us, the time is here for our Frontstretch staff to look like geniuses… or fools… with our picks for who makes the Chase – and most importantly, who takes this year’s title.

So, read on to find out who your favorite expert picked to bring home the hardware this season, along with who’s ready to cash their first unemployment check. And while Rookie of the Year might not count for much this year… we made a selection there, too.

2008 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
ExpertTom BowlesKim DeHavenToni Montgomery
TitleEditor-In-ChiefPublisherSenior Editor
1stJeff GordonJeff GordonJeff Gordon
2ndMatt KensethJimmie JohnsonJimmie Johnson
3rdJimmie JohnsonMatt KensethTony Stewart
4thKyle BuschClint BowyerCarl Edwards
5thClint BowyerDale Earnhardt Jr.Matt Kenseth
6thDale Earnhardt Jr.Greg BiffleKurt Busch
7thCarl EdwardsCarl EdwardsClint Bowyer
8thKurt BuschKevin HarvickRyan Newman
9thGreg BiffleKasey KahneGreg Biffle
10thKasey KahneTony StewartJeff Burton
11thRyan NewmanKurt BuschDenny Hamlin
12thTony StewartMartin Truex Jr.Kevin Harvick
First Driver FiredJamie McMurrayKen SchraderKen Schrader
Rookie of the YearRegan SmithDario FranchittiDario Franchitti
Why They Picked How They DidWhile Johnson will be strong in his bid for three straight titles, there’s a reason only one driver in history has accomplished that feat. Gordon will push Johnson to the limit – and finally figure out a rhythm that will carry him through the Chase unscathed. If Gordon falters, look for Kenseth to surprise with his first title in the Chase era; he won’t take as long to adjust to Chip Bolin as you might think.I don’t have a crystal ball, but it is hard to bet against Hendrick Motorsports’ dominance. So why did I go with Gordon, you ask? It’s easy; I tossed the contenders’ names in a hat and drew them out one by one. Is there any other way to determine who will be the 2008 champion?Why Gordon? I have seen nothing that makes me think it’s still not going to be all Hendrick, all the way – and Johnson can’t win them all. Gordon has lost out twice to the Chase system… but he won’t this time.
2008 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
ExpertCami StarrAmy HendersonMatt Taliaferro
TitleSenior EditorAssistant EditorAssistant Editor
1stJeff GordonJeff GordonJeff Gordon
2ndMatt KensethJimmie JohnsonJimmie Johnson
3rdJimmie JohnsonMatt KensethMatt Kenseth
4thCarl EdwardsCarl EdwardsTony Stewart
5thClint BowyerClint BowyerCarl Edwards
6thMartin Truex Jr.Jeff BurtonDale Earnhardt Jr.
7thKevin HarvickTony StewartKyle Busch
8thKurt BuschKyle BuschKurt Busch
9thTony StewartDale Earnhardt Jr.Martin Truex Jr.
10thDale Earnhardt Jr.Kevin HarvickKevin Harvick
11thDenny HamlinMartin Truex Jr.Ryan Newman
12thRyan NewmanCasey MearsGreg Biffle
First Driver FiredJeremy MayfieldThe Driver of Whichever Team Outside the Top 35 That Lures Terry Labonte out of RetirementScott Riggs
Rookie of the YearRegan SmithDario FranchittiRegan Smith
Why They Picked How They DidFinally! Gordon will be able to overcome the Chase format and win his fifth title in 2008. Johnson will be close again this year, but I don’t think even the great No. 48 team can overcome the pressure of trying to pull off the three-peat.If it was not for the Chase, Gordon would be looking to tie Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty at seven titles this year – and don’t think he doesn’t know it. Gordon will come out of his corner fighting in 2008, meaning this could just be the year he finally takes home trophy number five.Gordon has learned his lessons. With the patience and precision of crew chief Steve Letarte to back him up, he’ll finally overcome Johnson after a six-year-long battle within Hendrick, winning his first title under the Chase format in the procss.
2008 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
ExpertNikki KroneJeff MeyerMike Neff
TitleSenior WriterSenior WriterSenior Writer
1stJeff GordonDale Earnhardt Jr.Jimmie Johnson
2ndJimmie JohnsonTony StewartJeff Gordon
3rdTony StewartJeff GordonTony Stewart
4thCarl EdwardsCarl EdwardsDenny Hamlin
5thDale Earnhardt Jr.Jimmie JohnsonJeff Burton
6thKevin HarvickJeff BurtonKevin Harvick
7thGreg BiffleGreg BiffleDale Earnhardt Jr.
8thClint BowyerMatt KensethGreg Biffle
9thMatt KensethDenny HamlinMartin Truex Jr.
10thKyle BuschElliott SadlerClint Bowyer
11thJuan Pablo MontoyaRyan NewmanCarl Edwards
12thRyan NewmanKevin HarvickKurt Busch
First Driver FiredReed SorensonJohn AndrettiJeremy Mayfield
Rookie of the YearDario FranchittiSam Hornish Jr.Sam Hornish Jr.
Why They Picked How They DidWe all know that Jeff can do it. While they are friends, I feel like Jeff has probably already had enough of losing to Johnson, and with Junior coming on board, I think he will want to prove that he is still “top dog” at Hendrick. I think Gordon will be strong right from the start and show that he isn’t the “old man” in the organization – he can still show these “kids” a thing or two.Why Junior for my champion? Why not? Wouldn’t it be cool!? After a year of controversy, Junior can now just drive. Everybody has always wanted to know how good he can be… well, now he is in the best equipment to do prove it. Trust me, Hendrick is going to everything he can to help his newest “golden boy” succeed.For the most part, all of the parts of Johnson’s team have stayed the same – so, there is no reason to think they’ll miss a beat this year. If the chemistry between Johnson and Knaus keeps on going, Cale Yarborough may have company in the record books by the end of this season.
2008 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
ExpertMatt McLaughlinBeth LunkenheimerTommy Thompson
TitleSenior WriterSenior WriterSenior Writer
1stJeff GordonJeff GordonJeff Gordon
2ndJimmie JohnsonJimmie JohnsonKurt Busch
3rdMatt KensethKevin HarvickJimmie Johnson
4thKasey KahneCarl EdwardsCarl Edwards
5thDale Earnhardt Jr.Clint BowyerTony Stewart
6thClint BowyerTony StewartMatt Kenseth
7thCarl EdwardsDale Earnhardt Jr.Clint Bowyer
8thKevin HarvickMatt KensethMatt Kenseth
9thKurt BuschKyle BuschRyan Newman
10thRyan NewmanDenny HamlinDenny Hamlin
11thJeff BurtonKurt BuschKyle Busch
12thTony StewartMartin Truex Jr.Kasey Kahne
First Driver FiredDavid GillilandDavid GillilandAric Almirola
Rookie of the YearDario FranchittiDario FranchittiDario Franchitti
Why They Picked How They DidIt’s not all about the equipment. It’s about the driver, as well; and anyone who thinks Gordon isn’t one of the best drivers ever to take the wheel of a stock car is as full of crap as Ella Sofia’s diaper.It’s virtually impossible to pick the 2008 champion – especially before the first race of the season. But what I do know is how easy it is to pick a Hendrick Motorsports car to win. With Johnson having won the last two championships, Gordon will look to get out of his shadow and show he can still win a title.This should be the year that the active driver with the most career wins finally figures out to save a little for the Chase. The four-time champion ought to have it figured out now, collecting “one for the thumb.”
2008 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
ExpertVito PuglieseTony LumbisMike Lovecchio
TitleSenior WriterSenior WriterSenior Writer
1stTony StewartCarl EdwardsTony Stewart
2ndJimmie JohnsonJimmie JohnsonJeff Gordon
3rdDale Earnhardt Jr.Matt KensethCarl Edwards
4thKyle BuschJeff GordonJimmie Johnson
5thMartin Truex Jr.Kurt BuschKyle Busch
6thJeff GordonTony StewartClint Bowyer
7thKurt BuschMartin Truex Jr.Matt Kenseth
8thDenny HamlinDale Earnhardt Jr.Kurt Busch
9thClint BowyerGreg BiffleCasey Mears
10thCarl EdwardsJeff BurtonKevin Harvick
11thRyan NewmanKasey KahneDale Earnhardt Jr.
12thMatt KensethBobby LabonteJuan Pablo Montoya
First Driver FiredReed SorensonScott RiggsAJ Allmendinger
Rookie of the YearDario FranchittiDario FranchittiDario Franchitti
Why They Picked How They DidEveryone really needs to take a look at how Toyota is dominating the Truck Series and realize that with the CoT, the only thing that is different these days are the engines – and Toyota makes big time power with bulletproof reliability. Mark Cronquist’s group is among the best in the business, and with Toyota’s ability to spend at will, by the second half of the season, Smoke and company could very well hang one on everybody.I think this year, the Hendrick championship juggernaut falls at the hands of the team that is in the best position to do so – Roush Fenway Racing. The No. 99 team demonstrated strength in the CoT Department down the stretch in ’07, and Edwards should be in position to build on his resurgent 2008 season, following up a Busch Series title with a Cup triumph the very next year.If Toyota has the same type of success as they have in other series, it’s Stewart who will be leading the charge.
2008 Sprint Cup Title Predictions
ExpertS.D. GradyDanny PetersKurt Allen Smith
TitleNewsletter ContributorContributing WriterContributing Writer
1stJeff GordonJeff GordonJeff Gordon
2ndClint BowyerJimmie JohnsonJimmie Johnson
3rdJimmie JohnsonTony StewartCarl Edwards
4thTony StewartDale Earnhardt Jr.Matt Kenseth
5thRyan NewmanDenny HamlinDale Earnhardt Jr.
6thJeff BurtonKyle BuschTony Stewart
7thDale Earnhardt Jr.Kevin HarvickKyle Busch
8thKasey KahneJeff BurtonKurt Busch
9thJuan Pablo MontoyaCarl EdwardsDenny Hamlin
10thCarl EdwardsKasey KahneClint Bowyer
11thMatt KensethClint BowyerJeff Burton
12thMartin Truex Jr.Martin Truex Jr.Casey Mears
First Driver FiredJacques VilleneuveDavid GillilandReed Sorenson
Rookie of the YearDario FranchittiDario “Yeah, Right, I’m A Rookie” FranchittiSam Hornish Jr.
Why They Picked How They DidI’m picking Gordon for no other reason than he’s due – that fifth Cup is missing from his trophy case for far too long. With HMS continuing to build on their spectacular past two seasons and his personal life appearing to be dreamlike, Jeff has only to worry about passing the rest of the cars on the track; and that’s something he’s well able to accomplish.The Drive For Five finally happens, while the three-peat falls just short.Probably an easy call after scoring more points than anyone under the old system last year.


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