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NASCAR News Recap for the Week of December 1, 2008

Johnson, remainder of top 10 finishers in the points feted at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan On Friday night, NASCAR held its’ annual Sprint Cup Series Banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Jimmie Johnson was awarded his championship ring by surprise guest Cale Yarborough during the ceremony, which …

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2008 Driver Review: Jimmie Johnson

*Jimmie Johnson* *2008 Ride:* No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet *2008 Primary Sponsor:* Lowe's / Kobalt Tools *2008 Owner:* Rick Hendrick / Jeff Gordon *2008 Crew Chief:* Chad Knaus *Stats:* 36 races, 7 Wins, 15 Top 5s, 22 Top 10s, 1 DNF, 2008 Sprint Cup Champion. *Best Finish:* 1st (Seven times: Phoenix - 2; Indianapolis; Fontana (Fall); Richmond (Fall); Kansas; Martinsville (Fall)) *High Point:* While a 15th-place finish wasn’t what Johnson and his team hoped for at Homestead, it was more than enough to win the 2008 Sprint Cup championship for the third time in a row -- tying Johnson with Cale Yarborough as the only two drivers in NASCAR’s six decades to win three straight.

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2008 Driver Review: Carl Edwards

*2008 Ride*: No. 99 Roush Racing Ford *2008 Primary Sponsors*: Office Depot, AFLAC, Dish Network *2008 Car Owner*: Jack Roush *2008 Crew Chief*: Bob Osborne *Stats*: 36 Races, 9 Wins (series high), 19 Top 5s, 27 Top 10s, two DNFs, 2nd in points. *High Points:* It’s all good… just not quite good enough. Edwards started the year with two wins in the first three Cup points races, won three of four between Pocono and the Bristol night race, then closed the season with wins in three of the final four Cup events (while still battling for a Nationwide title, I might add). Throughout it all, he genuinely seemed to be having a blast on and off the track.

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2008 Driver Review: Greg Biffle

*2008 Ride:* No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford *2008 Sponsors:* 3M, DISH Network *2008 Owner:* Jack Roush/John Henry (Fenway Sports Marketing Group) *2008 Crew Chief:* Greg Erwin *Stats:* 36 Races, 2 Wins, 12 Top 5s, 17 Top 10s, 3rd in points. *High Point:* Following a roller coaster of a 26-race regular season, Biffle came out swinging when the Chase began. His Roush Fenway team posted back-to-back victories (New Hampshire and Dover) to open the playoffs, and followed those runs with a third at Kansas. Just like that, one of the five Chase drivers who had failed to win a race in the regular season put the field — most notably title favorites Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson — on alert that this was anything but a two-man battle for the ’08 crown.

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2008 Driver Review: Kevin Harvick

*2008 Ride*: No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet *2008 Primary Sponsor*: Shell / Pennzoil *2008 Owner*: Richard Childress *2008 Crew Chief*: Todd Barrier *Stats*: 36 Races, 0 Wins, 7 Top 5s, 19 Top 10s, 0 Poles, 4th in points. *Best Finish*: 2nd (Bristol - Spring and Homestead). *High Point*: In a season marked by a failure to visit Victory Lane, Harvick’s high point of the season was arguably leading 80 laps in the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond before fading to 7th at the finish. Harvick also finished second at Bristol and Homestead, but did not really look as though he would have a chance to win those races.

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2008 Driver Review: Jeff Burton

*2008 Ride*: No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet *2008 Primary Sponsor*: AT & T Mobility *2008 Owner*: Richard Childress *2008 Crew Chief*: Scott Miller *2008 Stats*: 36 Races, 2 Wins, 7 Top 5s, 18 Top 10s, 6th in points. *High Point*: When Jeff Burton crossed the finish line in first place for the Bank of America 500 in Charlotte, NC, it marked the first time since 2001 that the Virginian would record multiple wins in a season. Even more importantly, the victory vaulted Burton into second place, just 69 markers behind leader Jimmie Johnson and putting one of the sport's veterans in the best position to unseat the two-time defending champion.

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2008 Driver Review: Clint Bowyer

*2008 Ride*: No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet *2008 Primary Sponsor*: Jack Daniel’s *2008 Owner*: Richard Childress *2008 Crew Chief*: Gil Martin *Stats*: 36 Races, 1 Win, 7 Top 5s, 17 Top 10s, 5th in points. *High Point*: It was another impressive season for the young Kansas native, who burst onto the scene with a 3rd place points finish in 2007. His 2008 campaign on the Cup side was nearly as successful, finishing 5th in the final standings, but the high point of Bowyer’s season undoubtedly came at Homestead, where he won the Nationwide Series driver’s title by a mere 21 points over 2007 champion Carl Edwards.

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2008 Driver Review: Denny Hamlin

*2008 Ride*: No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota *2008 Primary Sponsor*: FedEx *2008 Owner*: Joe Gibbs *2008 Crew Chief*: Mike Ford *Stats*: 36 Races, 1 Win, 12 Top 5s, 18 Top 10s, 1 Pole, 8th in points. *Best Finish*: Win - Goody’s Cool Orange 500, Martinsville (Spring). *High Point*: A “hometown” win at Martinsville -- where Denny spent some formative years racing late models -- was probably the high point, but the runner-up would probably be the momentum he carried into the Chase after three consecutive third place finishes. Man, how quickly that “mo” disappeared when the playoffs began for real...

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2008 Driver Review: Jeff Gordon

*2008 Ride:* No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet *2008 Primary Sponsors:* DuPont, Nicorette *2008 Owner:* Rick Hendrick *2008 Crew Chief:* Steve Letarte *Stats:* 36 Races, 0 Wins, 13 Top 5s, 19 Top 10s, 4 Poles, 7th in points. *High Point:* It would be difficult to find a high point in the first winless season since 1993 for the four time champ; but if you had to pick, it would probably be a second place finish at Texas Motor Speedway. One of two tracks on the Cup circuit where Gordon has never visited Victory Lane, he pulled off a strong performance on fuel mileage after a dismal showing in the April race there. Combine that with other strong runs towards the end of the season, when -- after all the dust had cleared -- the No. 24 team had climbed to seventh in the standings. That's hardly an awful season by anyone's standards, and only slightly under par for a team that is a threat to win it all every year.

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2008 Driver Review: Kyle Busch

*2008 Ride:* No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota *2008 Sponsor:* M&M's / Interstate Batteries *2008 Owner:* J.D. Gibbs *2008 Crew Chief:* Steve Addington *Stats:* 36 Races, 8 Wins, 17 Top 5s, 21 Top 10s, 7 Poles, 10th in points. *High Point:* Kyle's bow after taking an unbelievable win at Darlington Raceway. Kyle hit the wall so many times during that event that the car afterward looked more as though it had been hit with an IED than as if it had just won a race. There were also many other high points in what looked like a fantastic season before the Chase started: wins at Talladega, Atlanta, Dover, Daytona, Sonoma, Chicago and Watkins Glen seemed to foretell a dominant season ahead for the No. 18.

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