NASCAR Cup heads into 2008, part 3

NASCAR Cup heads into 2008, part 3

NASCAR Sprint Cup 2008: Preview - Part 3 Now that we are part three, we are now past halfway and we are starting to glide towards the finish line of this commentary. We'll tackle No. 22 through No. 41 in this section and keep the wheels moving...


NASCAR Sprint Cup 2008: Preview - Part 3

Now that we are part three, we are now past halfway and we are starting to glide towards the finish line of this commentary. We'll tackle No. 22 through No. 41 in this section and keep the wheels moving forward.

In some cases, where things aren't quite set yet, we'll just include all scenarios in that category to keep the confusion to a minimum.

Dave Blaney.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

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No. 22 - Dave Blaney
Team: Bill Davis Racing

Dave Blaney and Bill Davis Racing can be proud that they were the strongest and most consistent Toyota team in 2007. If Blaney had better luck, he would have easily finished in the top 20 instead of 31st in the drivers standings. The No. 22 car doesn't have a fulltime crew chief right now though and that could be a problem for Blaney and BDR in keeping up their level of competition they had in 2007.

This team is strictly a team of potential and Blaney proved he could get the job done with his win at Lowes Motor Speedway in 2006.

If this team can keep it together and finish well, they should easily finish 21st - 25th.

***

No. 24 - Jeff Gordon
Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Do I even need to write anything about Jeff Gordon, or do we already know? Gordon should once again challenge for the championship and I really want to see him win his fifth so that he can make a run at seven championships. Gordon and Steve Letarte obviously work together well, so it should be another championship run for Gordon in 2008 with Hendrick's strong program in the new car configuration.

Gordon should finish 1st - 5th in 2008.

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No. 26 - Jamie McMurray
Team: Roush-Fenway Racing

Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth.
Photo by Action Sports Photography.

Does anybody really know what happened with this team? Jamie McMurray took over Kurt Busch's championship equipment and did not perform immediately as expected, and still hasn't performed up to his billing since leaving Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray only finished better than Roush-Fenway teammate David Ragan in 2007, and with his experience, he should have performed better. McMurray did double his win total in 2007 after winning the Pepsi 400 and showed some signs of getting back to being average with an average finishing position of 22.2 in 2007.

McMurray is a tough one to call, his contract is up in 2009 and with a lack of young talent, and he might just luck out and get re-signed with Roush-Fenway. McMurray needs to get things working with Larry Carter and if they don't, they'll still probably finish 16th - 20th in 2008. McMurray might be the biggest disappointment of the past two years, but remember had McMurray made the playoffs in 2004, he would have won the championship.

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No. 27 - Jacques Villeneuve
Team: Bill Davis Racing

Jacques Villeneuve will be running his first full season in Sprint Cup in 2008 and might be pairing up with Richard 'Slugger' Labbe as the crew chief. Villeneuve and BDR have no sponsor for 2008 and that could be a huge problem for this team. Although Villeneuve will be running for rookie of the year awards, he has to qualify into the field on time until locked into the races and if qualifying is rained out, Villeneuve currently sits with 44th place in the owner standings. (Villeneuve took over the points from the No. 36 in 2007)

I know Villeneuve is a great driver, he is a former Formula One World Champion, but with no sponsor, no owner points, and little experience, it could be a bad year for the No. 27 team.

Villeneuve should try and finish as well as possible for the few races he makes and just because I know he is good, will finish 35th - 40th in 2008.

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Travis Kvapil.
Photo by John Dunagan - Fastlines.

No. 28 - Travis Kvapil
Team: Yates Racing

Travis Kvapil never really got a fair shake at things when he first broke into Cup a few years ago. Roger Penske signed Kvapil to the same deal Brendan Gaughn had and after not performing too well in one season, Kvapil was gone and Penske shut the No. 77 team down and sold the points to Michael Waltrip.

Kvapil now takes over the famous No. 28 and will be teaming up with Todd Parrott for 2008. The main problem here is that Yates Racing hasn't shown any speed since Elliot Sadler left and the No. 28 car has yet to find a sponsor for 2008.

Kvapil has talent, but he might not have the resources or funding to be successful in 2008 - at least he has the owner points to get him into the first five races and keep him solidly in the show for the rest of the season.

We'll see what becomes of Yates Racing and the No. 28 team in the future and I am going to give this team the benefit of the doubt that they'll finish 26th - 30th in 2008.

***

No. 29 - Kevin Harvick
Team: Richard Childress Racing

Kevin Harvick returned to his competitive ways in 2007 and finished 10th in the driver standings. Harvick showed signs of strength by winning the 2007 Daytona 500 and the All-Star race but only had one win and four top-five's in 2007 -- the lowest total of all drivers in the playoffs. Even though Harvick didn't perform well in the playoffs, he still earned the second largest amount of money in 2007 with 7.4 million earned, less than only Jimmie Johnson. Harvick was winning the right races in 2007 for his pocketbook.

Race winner Kevin Harvick celebrates.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Harvick once again teams up with Todd Berrier and I feel confident that this team will be competitive again in 2008. Look for the No. 29 team to finish 6th - 10th in 2008.

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No. 31 - Jeff Burton
Team: Richard Childress Racing

Jeff Burton seems to have the worst luck in the playoffs. Burton is no slouch but just cannot seem to put it together for the final 10 races of the season. Burton and RCR get to keep AT&T on the car till the end of 2008 but then they have to go sponsor searching again.

Burton is quiet, consistent and will perform well in 2008 again. Look for Burton to finish 6th - 10th in 2008.

I do apologize for not having much to say about Burton, but he is one of those drivers that always finishes solid, but doesn't really light up the scoreboards. Burton is just flat solid, you can't ask for more from him.

***

No. 38 - David Gilliland
Team: Robert Yates Racing

David Gilliland is hoping that Cully Barraclough can help him turn his Cup career into something positive. Gilliland hasn't performed well during any of the 2007 races and finished 28th in the driver standings, with a best finish of fourth at Talladega in the spring. Gilliland only had two top-10's in 2007 and now in 2008, he is teamed with a new crew chief in a car that has no sponsor.

Gilliland is the second best closer, moving up 1.611 positions in the last ten percent of every race, but mainly because his average running position is 27.535, 30th of 36 drivers in that statistic in 2007.

Gilliland should finish 31st - 35th in 2008.

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No. 40 - Dario Franchitti
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing w/ Felix Sebates

Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Photo by Getty Images.

Dario Franchitti will take over the No. 40 from David Stremme and team up with Steve Lane as crew chief in 2008. Franchitti is very talented and has shown signs of adapting very well in the Grand National series. With mentoring from Juan Pablo Montoya and Franchitti's incredible ability to adapt fast, Franchitti is the front runner to win the 2008 Rookie of the Year award.

Look for Franchitti to finish 21st - 25th in 2008.

Franchitti is going to transition just fine into NASCAR.

***

No. 41 - Reed Sorenson
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing w/ Felix Sebates

Reed Sorenson has just kind of been floating along with a solid sponsor and solid team since he came into Cup. Once again Sorenson teams up with Jimmy Elledge as crew chief and they hope to improve in 2008.

It is tough to think that this is only Sorenson's third full-time season in Cup, seems like he has been around longer, hasn't it?

The 2008 Daytona 500 will only be Sorenson's 75th career start and this should be a stronger year for this young driver.

Look for Sorenson and the No. 41 bunch to finish 21st - 25th in 2008.

***

In part four, we'll go a little bit longer and handle the No. 42 through the No. 99.

After part four, we'll take a look at the teams overall and see how things will shake out for them in 2008.

***

All statistics provided by NASCAR.com, USAToday.com, and Jayski.com.

See also:
Part 1
Part 2

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About this article
Series General , NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Richard Childress Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Bill Davis Racing , Yates Racing