NASCAR Cup heads into 2008, part 5

NASCAR Cup heads into 2008, part 5

NASCAR Sprint Cup 2008: Preview - Part 5 The final part of this 2008 preview is here! I am delighted and I am certainly ready for the 2008 season. In this final section we'll take a look at all the major teams in 2008, pick a top-12, and then ...


NASCAR Sprint Cup 2008: Preview - Part 5

The final part of this 2008 preview is here! I am delighted and I am certainly ready for the 2008 season. In this final section we'll take a look at all the major teams in 2008, pick a top-12, and then review where all the drivers are predicted to finish in 2008.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

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.

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BAM Racing - No. 49

The No. 49 team finished 47th in the 2007 owner standings and has John Andretti running for them full-time in 2008. This team will struggle to make races with no primary sponsor; don't expect much from this team in 2008.

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Bill Davis Racing - No. 22, 27

Bill Davis Racing showed most of the instant success for Toyota in 2007 and so far in testing, things have looked good for BDR once again.

BDR has a boost of confidence coming into 2008 with Dave Blaney and the No. 22 working their way back into the top-35 at the end of 2007. So BDR has at least one of their cars locked in. The No. 27 of Jacques Villeneuve qualified his way into the Fall race in Talladega and his car has looked fast for the Daytona 500; we'll have to see how he can race during the qualifiers. Unlike Talladega, he can't just ride around this time, he'll have to get up and do something.

BDR will have another solid year for a lower rung team, with the continual improvement of Toyota, perhaps BDR will work its way back up the ladder.

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Chip Ganassi Racing w/ Felix Sabates - No. 40, 41, 42

Team race engineer Brian Burns reviews data with Dario Franchitti.
Photo by Getty Images.

This is going to be the team to watch in 2008. With Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya being full of talent and both occupying very competitive rides, this could be a good year for Chip Ganassi Racing. All three of the cars are locked in and CGR has continually been getting better, it is going to be a great year to watch CGR, along with Franchitti and Montoya. It is almost as if Reed Sorenson is now in the third seat.

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Dale Earnhardt Inc. - No 01, 1, 8, 15

Martin Truex Jr. is going to be the only full-time standout for DEI in 2008. Expect the No. 01 and 15 to struggle along with the No. 8 when Mark Martin isn't driving it. DEI has a ways to go but they have the funding and a four car team that will help them compete for solid finishes. DEI needs to go out and hire some better drivers to pilot their equipment and it would make the team stronger all around.

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Front Row Motorsports - No. 34

They plan on running a full schedule but they don't have a driver or sponsor yet for 2008. Looks like another hopeful team that will probably dissolve shortly after 2008. Why don't some of these teams go racing in Grand National, NCTS, or ARCA? It could save them money and they could get their act together before they go throw it all away in Cup. It just doesn't make any sense sometimes.

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Furniture Row Racing - No. 78

Furniture Row Racing made an impressive 19 events in 2007 and finished 42nd in the owner standings. FRR has signed Joe Nemecheck through 2010 and their COT program has looked good for being a small team. Nemecheck still knows how to go fast and if they can get the right connection with driver and crew chief, FRR could get stronger in 2008.

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Elliott Sadler.
Photo by John Dunagan - Fastlines.

Gillett Evernham Motorsports - No. 9, 10, 19

Gillett Evernham Motorsports really needs to turn things around in 2008. With one new driver and two experienced drivers, GEM should make gains in 2008 and challenge for victories again. The GEM COT program hasn't looked great but with a new business partner, Ray Evernham can focus on making the cars go fast again, and he is one of the best at doing it. The No. 10 should struggle but Patrick Carpentier has a bit of a gift with the new car, less of a learning curve, as all the drivers are getting used to it. This is a team that needs to get back towards the front. GEM has too much funding, quality sponsorship, and top level staff to continue to struggle.

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Haas CNC Racing - No. 66, 70

This might be the second most impressive team in Cup racing right now. Why? Because of their two car operation that continually keeps both of its cars in the top-35. Haas CNC will continue to keep both of its cars in the top-35 and they should continue to finish well for a small operation and perform well. This team gets a big kudos for competing as good as they do and never complaining about the difficulty of being a small operation.

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Hall of Fame Racing - No. 96

Now this is the most impressive team in Cup racing today. This single car operation that gets support from Joe Gibbs Racing finished 25th in the owner standings, yes, 25th! Simply amazing! Tony Raines did an outstanding job as a driver for this team when they were just entering into Cup and HOF owes Raines more than a boot out the door for doing what tons of other drivers couldn't do; keep the car in the top-35. J.J. Yeley is more talented than Raines and is even younger, but his track record isn't as impressive in my eyes. Yeley was in quality equipment at JGR and couldn't deliver as well as if Raines had been in that same equipment. We'll see how this combination goes in 2008 but HOF deserves some credits for hanging in there with the big dogs.

J.J. Yeley.
Photo by John Dunagan - Fastlines.

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Hendrick Motorsports - No. 5, 24, 48, 88

Hendrick Motorsports has three championship contenders and Casey Mears who will finish in the top-15 again. What a solid team, I don't know what else to say about these guys. Look for them in the front in 2008, their actions speak louder than my words.

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Joe Gibbs Racing - No. 11, 18, 20

Everyone please say hello to the "Anti-Hendrick" team. Joe Gibbs Racing brings three championship contenders to the mix in 2008. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Tony Stewart are extremely talented and all of them have a proven track record of success. They'll get over the Toyota hump quickly and challenge for the championship again.

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Michael Waltrip Racing - No. 00, 44, 55

Any type of season is better than last season for Michael Waltrip Racing. Having the No. 44 locked into the first five races and David Reutimann really makes the season look good for the No. 44. For Michael Waltrip and Michael McDowell, things are still kind of iffy. McDowell's season depends on the success of Reutimann during the first five races and Waltrip needs to figure out how to get into races and finish in the top-30. This will be an up and down year for MWR, but it will help them improve for 2009.

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Morgan-McClure Motorsports - No. 4

Too much is still in the air with this team for the 2008 season. Driver is still undecided and too many rumors about sponsorship. MMM finished 46th in owner standings and had a driver change for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. We shall all see what shall come forth from this team in the 2008 campaign.

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Penske Racing (South) - No. 2, 12, 77

Start: Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman lead the field.
Photo by Action Sports Photography.

Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman will have successful seasons with Penske Racing. Sam Hornish Jr. will struggle but he will at least be in the races. With Busch's championship provisional, all three cars will be in the first five races of 2008. Smart planning by Penske and it keeps the stress off Hornish on trying to qualify for events. I know Hornish is good, so he'll have some good runs in 2008, but it'll be a tough season, and we'll have to see if Penske sticks with him past 2008. Penske's COT program has been very strong and it should be a good year for Penske Racing.

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Petty Enterprises - No. 43, 45

I feel the only positive here is Bobby Labonte. Kyle Petty isn't washed up, he just isn't good anymore, and I think there is a difference. They have been claiming to turn it around forever and they are struggling to stay in the top-35, although Labonte had a great season finishing in 18th. Perhaps they should merge with Haas CNC Racing and things could improve for both of them.

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Red Bull Racing - No. 83, 84

Two fully funded teams with two fully funded cars and two capable drivers. It is another uphill battle for Red Bull Racing in 2008 but now they have some experience and much faster cars than 2007. The COT really helped RBR out and it should help them put together a better campaign for 2008. Brian Vickers and A.J. Allmendinger can get it done.

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Richard Childress Racing - No. 07, 29, 31

Richard Childress Racing has turned its program around from a few years ago and they have moved towards the front, although they still are not at the level of Hendrick and Gibbs. RCR should once again put at least two of its three cars in the playoffs and RCR should have another solid year, winning a few races along the way.

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Robby Gordon Motorsports - No. 7

Kurt Busch and Robby Gordon.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Robby Gordon Motorsports has one driver, Robby Gordon. Their one driver is extremely talented, but doing this all alone. Gordon finished 26th in the driver standings in 2007 and 28th in the owner standings. He did very well for being a single car team and the transition to Ford has seemed to help him. Gordon continues to do so well on sheer talent alone and he just needs some help. It is unfortunate he has made enemies with nearly everyone in the garage by his driving style or brash attitude.

Someone get him some money!

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Roush Fenway Racing - No. 6, 16, 17, 26, 99

One of these cars is not like the other, okay, maybe two. Roush Fenway Racing should expect good success from Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and maybe even Greg Biffle in 2008, but they should be prepared for a struggle with David Ragan and Jamie McMurray. Three out of five isn't bad though.

We should all look forward to what negative comments Jack Roush has to say towards Toyota in 2008.

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Wood Brothers - No. 21

Jon Wood will run nine races, Marcos Ambrose will run 12, Bill Elliot will run at least Daytona, but most likely the first five. So that is 26 races for the Wood Brothers. Elliot will have to qualify in on speed and assuming Kurt Busch makes it in on time (which he probably will) than Elliot will get to use his past champions provisional. I guess if things are going bad for Villeneuve, he can run the last ten races for the Wood Brothers. It will most likely be Ken Schrader though competing in the ten races that yet to have a driver.

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Yates Racing - No. 28, 38

If you have 40 million dollars, this would be a team to sponsor. Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland are the drivers and they are both locked into the first five races of 2008. Most companies have their budget set for 2008 so this should be a long year in the financial department for Doug Yates. Hopefully Gilliland and Kvapil can perform well so they can find sponsorship for 2009.

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Now, who will make the final races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2008, well, so far I have it figured out to be like this.

Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus pose for a photo with the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series trophy in Times Square.
Photo by Getty Images.

Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and why not, Juan Pablo Montoya.

So there are the top-12, in no particular order, and since we are here, let's make a championship prediction.

I don't think it is much of a stretch, but the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion will be Jimmie Johnson.

There, I said it. I am not much of a fan of Johnson, but he has what it takes to win a third consecutive championship.

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There is one last prediction, and it is the entire prediction of 1st - 46th.

1st: Jimmie Johnson, 2nd: Jeff Gordon, 3rd: Kurt Busch, 4th: Dale Earnhardt Jr., 5th: Matt Kenseth, 6th: Tony Stewart, 7th: Jeff Burton, 8th: Kyle Busch, 9th: Denny Hamlin, 10th: Carl Edwards, 11th: Kevin Harvick, 12th: Juan Pablo Montoya

13th: Clint Bowyer, 14th: Martin Truex Jr., 15th: Kasey Kahne, 16th: Ryan Newman, 17th: Greg Biffle, 18th: Casey Mears, 19th: Bobby Labonte, 20th: Elliot Sadler, 21st: Jamie McMurray, 22nd: Dario Franchitti, 23rd: Reed Sorenson, 24th: David Ragan, 25th: Dave Blaney, 26th: Mark Martin (Aric Almirola), 27th: David Reutimann, 28th: Robby Gordon, 29th: Travis Kvapil, 30th: Scott Riggs, 31st: Regan Smith, 32nd: Jeremy Mayfield, 33rd: David Gilliland, 34th: Kyle Petty, 35th: Michael Waltrip, 36th: Paul Menard, 37th: Brian Vickers, 38th: Michael McDowell, 39th: Jacques Villeneuve, 40th: Sam Hornish Jr. 41st: No. 21, 42nd: Patrick Carpentier, 43rd: A.J. Allmendinger, 44th: Joe Nemecheck, 45th: No. 4, 46th: John Andretti

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I hope you have enjoyed this and hopefully I am semi-accurate in my predictions, if not, I am sure I can write something at the end of the season to justify my incorrect theories.

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

See also:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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About this article
Series General , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Red Bull Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Richard Childress Racing , Team Penske , Furniture Row Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Front Row Motorsports , Roush Fenway Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , Robby Gordon Motorsports , Bill Davis Racing , Hall of Fame Racing , Yates Racing