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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
Expert Tom Bowles Kim DeHaven Toni Montgomery
Title Editor-In-Chief Publisher Senior Editor
1st Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon
2nd Matt Kenseth Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson
3rd Jimmie Johnson Matt Kenseth Tony Stewart
4th Kyle Busch Clint Bowyer Carl Edwards
5th Clint Bowyer Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt Kenseth
6th Dale Earnhardt Jr. Greg Biffle Kurt Busch
7th Carl Edwards Carl Edwards Clint Bowyer
8th Kurt Busch Kevin Harvick Ryan Newman
9th Greg Biffle Kasey Kahne Greg Biffle
10th Kasey Kahne Tony Stewart Jeff Burton
11th Ryan Newman Kurt Busch Denny Hamlin
12th Tony Stewart Martin Truex Jr. Kevin Harvick
First Driver Fired Jamie McMurray Ken Schrader Ken Schrader
Rookie of the Year Regan Smith Dario Franchitti Dario Franchitti
Why They Picked How They Did While 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
Expert Cami Starr Amy Henderson Matt Taliaferro
Title Senior Editor Assistant Editor Assistant Editor
1st Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon
2nd Matt Kenseth Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson
3rd Jimmie Johnson Matt Kenseth Matt Kenseth
4th Carl Edwards Carl Edwards Tony Stewart
5th Clint Bowyer Clint Bowyer Carl Edwards
6th Martin Truex Jr. Jeff Burton Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7th Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Kyle Busch
8th Kurt Busch Kyle Busch Kurt Busch
9th Tony Stewart Dale Earnhardt Jr. Martin Truex Jr.
10th Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kevin Harvick Kevin Harvick
11th Denny Hamlin Martin Truex Jr. Ryan Newman
12th Ryan Newman Casey Mears Greg Biffle
First Driver Fired Jeremy Mayfield The Driver of Whichever Team Outside the Top 35 That Lures Terry Labonte out of Retirement Scott Riggs
Rookie of the Year Regan Smith Dario Franchitti Regan Smith
Why They Picked How They Did Finally! 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
Expert Nikki Krone Jeff Meyer Mike Neff
Title Senior Writer Senior Writer Senior Writer
1st Jeff Gordon Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jimmie Johnson
2nd Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart Jeff Gordon
3rd Tony Stewart Jeff Gordon Tony Stewart
4th Carl Edwards Carl Edwards Denny Hamlin
5th Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jimmie Johnson Jeff Burton
6th Kevin Harvick Jeff Burton Kevin Harvick
7th Greg Biffle Greg Biffle Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8th Clint Bowyer Matt Kenseth Greg Biffle
9th Matt Kenseth Denny Hamlin Martin Truex Jr.
10th Kyle Busch Elliott Sadler Clint Bowyer
11th Juan Pablo Montoya Ryan Newman Carl Edwards
12th Ryan Newman Kevin Harvick Kurt Busch
First Driver Fired Reed Sorenson John Andretti Jeremy Mayfield
Rookie of the Year Dario Franchitti Sam Hornish Jr. Sam Hornish Jr.
Why They Picked How They Did We 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
Expert Matt McLaughlin Beth Lunkenheimer Tommy Thompson
Title Senior Writer Senior Writer Senior Writer
1st Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon
2nd Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson Kurt Busch
3rd Matt Kenseth Kevin Harvick Jimmie Johnson
4th Kasey Kahne Carl Edwards Carl Edwards
5th Dale Earnhardt Jr. Clint Bowyer Tony Stewart
6th Clint Bowyer Tony Stewart Matt Kenseth
7th Carl Edwards Dale Earnhardt Jr. Clint Bowyer
8th Kevin Harvick Matt Kenseth Matt Kenseth
9th Kurt Busch Kyle Busch Ryan Newman
10th Ryan Newman Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin
11th Jeff Burton Kurt Busch Kyle Busch
12th Tony Stewart Martin Truex Jr. Kasey Kahne
First Driver Fired David Gilliland David Gilliland Aric Almirola
Rookie of the Year Dario Franchitti Dario Franchitti Dario Franchitti
Why They Picked How They Did It’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
Expert Vito Pugliese Tony Lumbis Mike Lovecchio
Title Senior Writer Senior Writer Senior Writer
1st Tony Stewart Carl Edwards Tony Stewart
2nd Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon
3rd Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt Kenseth Carl Edwards
4th Kyle Busch Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson
5th Martin Truex Jr. Kurt Busch Kyle Busch
6th Jeff Gordon Tony Stewart Clint Bowyer
7th Kurt Busch Martin Truex Jr. Matt Kenseth
8th Denny Hamlin Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kurt Busch
9th Clint Bowyer Greg Biffle Casey Mears
10th Carl Edwards Jeff Burton Kevin Harvick
11th Ryan Newman Kasey Kahne Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12th Matt Kenseth Bobby Labonte Juan Pablo Montoya
First Driver Fired Reed Sorenson Scott Riggs AJ Allmendinger
Rookie of the Year Dario Franchitti Dario Franchitti Dario Franchitti
Why They Picked How They Did Everyone 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
Expert S.D. Grady Danny Peters Kurt Allen Smith
Title Newsletter Contributor Contributing Writer Contributing Writer
1st Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon Jeff Gordon
2nd Clint Bowyer Jimmie Johnson Jimmie Johnson
3rd Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart Carl Edwards
4th Tony Stewart Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt Kenseth
5th Ryan Newman Denny Hamlin Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6th Jeff Burton Kyle Busch Tony Stewart
7th Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kevin Harvick Kyle Busch
8th Kasey Kahne Jeff Burton Kurt Busch
9th Juan Pablo Montoya Carl Edwards Denny Hamlin
10th Carl Edwards Kasey Kahne Clint Bowyer
11th Matt Kenseth Clint Bowyer Jeff Burton
12th Martin Truex Jr. Martin Truex Jr. Casey Mears
First Driver Fired Jacques Villeneuve David Gilliland Reed Sorenson
Rookie of the Year Dario Franchitti Dario “Yeah, Right, I’m A Rookie” Franchitti Sam Hornish Jr.
Why They Picked How They Did I’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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