The 2008 season was one of more downs than ups for the Cat No. 22 crew. Although Dave Blaney was locked-in with a qualifying exemption for the first five events of the season, a crash in the Daytona 500 and a string of subpar finishes saw the No. 22 car quickly fall out of the Top 35 after Bristol.
Marcos Ambrose was merely trying to get his feet wet at the Sprint Cup Series level in 2008 in advance of a full-time venture into the series for 2009. He attempted 12 races and made 11 of them with three different car owners.
In a rollercoaster season for AJ Allmendinger, one could make an argument for several different highs. There was the 10th-place finish at the Brickyard in July – but that race will be forever remembered as the Goodyear tire debacle that no one is really proud of or wants to remember.
It would be most unfair to pin a low point on Aric Almirola, considering he is still essentially a rookie – and a part-time rookie driver at that.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. started strong, but couldn’t close the deal. He was Hendrick’s best driver all spring; but once summer heated up, the No. 88 began to tail off.
Matt Kenseth has 16 wins in 328 starts for Roush Fenway Racing. The bar has been set so high for the No. 17 team, though, that just a Chase berth is considered a disappointment for 2008.
Crew chief Chad Knaus said Jimmie Johnson’s team would be five months behind to start the season, and he was dead on – the first five months went by with hardly a whimper from the defending champions, save for a win at Phoenix.
Carl Edwards had a career-defining year in 2008 winning those nine races. More importantly, he ran consistently well all season.
It was a rebound year for Greg Biffle and the No. 16 team. Having failed to qualify for the Chase the two previous campaigns (after finishing second in 2005), Biffle flexed his muscles late in the year, preserving a now six-year streak with at least one win on the Cup circuit.
Kevin Harvick’s season was more successful than most of his other previous seasons in Cup, tying his career-high points finish of fourth.