Today’s Season Preview Topic: As always, 2008 will be a year when several driver contracts are on the verge of expiring. So, which driver starts the season on the “hottest seat,” and why?
After an off year in 2006, adding another five pole-qualifying efforts to his resume certainly had to be a satisfying personal achievement for the man they call “Flyin’ Ryan.” Ryan Newman has now tallied an incredible 42 top spots in his short 224-race NASCAR Cup career.
Editor’s Note: With the 2007 Nextel Cup season complete, it’s now time to take a look back. This week, veteran writer Matt McLaughlin starts the process with his annual race review, analyzing each event of the Nextel Cup season and giving us his take on how good – or bad – they really were. Today marks part two of the four-part series.
Jimmie Johnson took his second consecutive Nextel Cup title Sunday, joining Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon as the sixth driver in the modern era to put together back-to-back title runs. Should Johnson now be considered among the best drivers in the modern era?
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson has top-10 finishes in four of his six starts at Homestead, including a second-place result scored here in 2004. For those looking for a little drama, Johnson did crash out here in 2005 en route to 40th place.
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson came home second in this race last year, and has four straight top-10 finishes at Phoenix. He also finished second here in 2003.
The Lone Star State proved a lonely place for drivers out of the playoffs Sunday, as nine Chase drivers finished the race in the top 11. One by one, some of the best hopes to sneak an upset win at Texas crashed themselves out of contention, showing instead why this wasn’t the year they proved capable of challenging for that championship trophy. But amidst the smoke of an ugly day for this large group of underdogs, some longtime veterans kept up steady streaks that left them leaving with a Texas-sized smile.
Jeff Gordon – Quick; Gordon hasn’t won at which two tracks currently on the Cup schedule? That’s right… Homestead and Texas. Gordon did finish second at TMS in 2002 and has top-10 finishes in six of his 13 Cup starts here; however, his average finish in Fort Worth remains a paltry 16th.
With just three races left, the chance to move up is fading fast; just like in the real Chase, the contenders have emerged from the pretenders in most leagues. Now, the circuit heads to the self-proclaimed Great American Racetrack this weekend, traveling down to Texas for 500 miles of jockeying on SMI’s mile-and-a-half facility. With its aged asphalt surface and multiple grooves, the racing should be full of twists and turns, increasing the importance for you to pick wisely at a time where any bad break could cost you the chance to win your league.
Jeff Gordon – In 30 Cup starts at Atlanta, the points leader has posted four victories and 18 top-10 finishes. However, he finished 12th in the race this spring.