With 2009 offering one last chance to shape the story of the decade, more outlandish stories beg to be written. Jimmie Johnson will be looking to set a record never thought possible, especially under the Chase playoff format – four consecutive Sprint Cup titles. To do it, he’ll need to fend off perhaps the strongest field of challengers he’s ever had, with Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch the trendy picks to break his streak. In the background looms one of the better rookie battles of the decade in Joey Logano vs. Scott Speed: NASCAR’s handpicked future messiah against the quirkiest newcomer it’s had in years.
There are very few things in this world that are as consistent as Jeff Burton, and 2008 proved that theory once again.
After 36 points-paying events, nine months, and 14,493 miles of racing, the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is finally in the books. When the smoke cleared, it was Jimmie Johnson winning his third consecutive championship, tying Cale Yarborough as the only drivers in history to accomplish that feat. Behind him, Carl Edwards finished second but won the most trophies, with a total of nine checkered flags captured throughout the year. In contrast, Jeff Gordon snapped his streak of at least one win per season at 14, while Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick were some of the other notables who got shut out of victory lane. However, none of those drivers mentioned got left out of our final Power Rankings poll of the season. As you might expect, Johnson was unanimously voted number one on our list; but where did the other drivers mentioned wind up? Read on to see if your wheelman shone in the Florida sun or got sand kicked in his face in the final edition of our 2008 Power Rankings.
The checkered flag has flown over the field at Homestead marking the end of a historic 2008 season. We saw controversial and exciting finishes, scary crashes and a historic third consecutive championship for the dynasty that is Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. The season also featured three consistently dominant teams who took the Sprint Cup Series by storm. Johnson was obviously one of the three, but who were the two others? We have all that, including the three COLDEST teams of 2008, covered in this week’s edition of edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.
The Desert Southwest held a couple of different surprises for the racers this weekend. Rain and gale force winds threw a lot at the teams; but when all was said and done, it was status quo for the No. 48. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps and won the race handily, all but securing this year’s title heading to Homestead. That dominance was also enough to put almost all of our panel votes behind the point leader, putting him securely in the top spot again this week. But with one week to go, there was quite a bit of movement behind him. Read on to see if your driver was cool and collected or caught in the cactus on rattlesnake hill in this week’s Power Rankings.
Very rarely do you see a former champion show so much admiration for another. But when Kurt Busch finished runner-up to points leader Jimmie Johnson this weekend at Phoenix, he admitted that the No. 48 team was “something special,” and told fans to tune in or come to watch NASCAR’s next big dynasty. It’s true that nobody has been able to touch Johnson, Chad Knaus and Co. in the Chase, and this week’s race was no different. Carl Edwards finished in the top five yet again, but lost points to the two-time defending champion, who won his seventh race of the year and increased his point lead to a nearly-insurmountable 141. Johnson and Edwards have certainly been in a league of their own these last few weeks, but who else has been HOT as the season winds down? Check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup, Chase Edition to find out.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members and car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway.
Jimmie Johnson is determined to rebound from a bad week while Carl is hoping to dominate again and continue to close the points margin on Johnson. Meanwhile, the rest of Hendrick and Roush Fenway look to establish their dominance and seal the manufacturers’ championship for their make, while the non-Chase crowd is still pushing to continue the trend of having at least one Chase race won by a non-Chase qualifier every year since its inception. Also, expect to see some aggressive moves by those drivers who are not employed for next year. Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers will score the most points and which ones will be visiting Checker Auto Parts after the race.
History repeated itself for the third time in a row, as the winner at Atlanta in the fall headed to Texas the following week and won again. That victory this week by Carl Edwards stole a couple of first-place votes away from Jimmie Johnson, but didn’t move him out of the top spot just yet. Meanwhile, Jeff Burton’s drive to the championship is done – that is, if you believe the voters in this week’s poll. But just how far did Burton fall? And what Roush Fenway driver made an appearance in our top 12 for the first time? Read on for the answers in this week’s version of the Power Rankings.
Last week I said in this column that Jimmie Johnson all but had his third consecutive title locked up; Don’t tell Carl Edwards, who is trying his best to make sure that doesn’t happen. Chasing down the series leaders in both Nationwide and Sprint Cup, Edwards is riding back-to-back victories on the Cup side in an effort that has closed the deficit between he and Johnson to 106 points. Still, it appears Edwards needs Johnson to hiccup in one of the final two races to have a shot at the championship. With just two races remaining, the 1-2 drivers at the top of the standings are clearly among the hottest drivers in the series. But who else is on a roll? Who needs a good run this weekend at Phoenix? Check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Chase Edition to find out.