Friday, February 15, 2008

2008 Sprint Cup Predictions

These two look pretty happy with their new Jr. stuff.....

So, before the season actually starts, I thought I'd humor myself (and you) and make some predictions for the season. Let's go:

First-time winners
Reed Sorenson

I would be truly shocked should anyone besides Sorenson register their first win this season. The open wheelers aren't ready this year, and they aren't going to contend week-to-week for at least 2 years. Still, I have faith in Sorenson should Ganassi improve their operation, which I thought would happen last year.

Most improved driver
Kasey Kahne

For the second time, I see Kahne coming back with force for '08. You may remember seeing this story in 2006, but given how bad Evernham ran last year I don't think it would be that much of a stretch to see Kahne return to victory lane. Also in this category, you can put David Ragan.

Most likely to be fired by May
Jacques Villeneuve and David Gilliland (tie)

Already, problems are abound with Villeneuve and Gilliland... well, he just can't drive. Add that up, and you get a driver shuffle in just a few short months.

Now, the big ones..

Top manufacturer

Come on... you kidding? Of course it's Chevy. Although Toyota may make a push for 2nd, mostly behind the strength of Joe Gibbs Racing.

Rookie of the year
Dario Franchitti

To be honest, this is a hard one to predict. The unknowns of this rookie class are big. Start with the open wheelers: Franchitti, Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, and Sam Hornish Jr. All four have small stock car experience, although Hornish has competed semi-regularly in Busch and DNQ'd about 8 Chase races in the COT. The other two competitors for the award are Regan Smith and Michael McDowell. Smith brings arguably the most stock car experience to the class, given his aborted run last season as Mark Martin's understudy. This year though, he has the car to himself. One problem I see with that is the lack of sponsorship may derail his run. McDowell is a wild-card in my book. Yes, he has talent. However, he takes over the #00 for a seemingly improved Micheel Waltrip Racing and will inherit the #44 team after Dale Jarrett retires. I could go in four directions: Franchitti, Hornish, Smith, and McDowell. I favor Franchitti because he is locked in, is the oldest of the group, and has a temperament that may serve to give him the edge in a 36-week season that I don't see Hornish having.

The Chase drivers
I must emphasize this one is in no particular order. Should be fun to go back and look at this in September.

1. Jeff Gordon
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Carl Edwards
6. Kasey Kahne
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Tony Stewart
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Kurt Busch
12. Kyle Busch

For kicks, the last 2 out are Greg Biffle and Casey Mears.

We have 3 Hendrick cars, 2 Roush cars, an Evernham car, a DEI car, a Childress car, 3 Gibbs cars, and a Penske car. Now I'm ready to crown the 2008 champion.
The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion
Jeff Gordon

I'm aware a few people's heads may have exploded seeing a dedicated Hendrick-hater like myself pick Jeff Gordon to win the championship. But let me tell you why he'll win his 5th championship this year: he wants it. Sure, he wanted it last year. This year he will kick it up a notch or two. He could taste the title last year, only to be beaten by his teammate and protege. For all the pleasantries he gave Jimmie, Jeff was miffed and clearly upset. Remember back in 1997, when Jeff had lost the title to Terry Labonte the year before? He wanted to make a statement. I see him having that type of mentality for 2008, where he won't try and dominate through the regular season before losing it all in the Chase. Jeff has come close to winning the Chase twice. He won't fail a third time. You'll be seeing this at Homestead in November, and Jeff Gordon will claim his 5th Cup Championship:

1 comment:

Vroom said...

You're spot on! I never have understood David Gilligan being in Cup!