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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

A Look Back at the Top Performances of 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008

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Top Drivers (in alphabetical order)

o Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch dominated the season’s first 26 races, claiming eight victories, to go along with 15 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. He was the points leader heading into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Across all three national series, Kyle won a total of 21 races in 2008, including a NASCAR Nationwide Series record-tying 10 victories.

o Carl Edwards – Carl Edwards won a series-high nine races in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, including three victories in the Chase. He finished runner-up in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series. Edwards also posted a NASCAR Sprint Cup series best 27 top-10 and 19 top-five finishes.

o Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson etched his name in the record books by claiming his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, joining Cale Yarborough as the only other driver to accomplish the feat. Johnson was particularly strong during the Chase, as he had three wins, six top fives, eight top 10s, and an average finish of 5.7 during the season’s final 10 races.

Top Rookie of the Year

o Regan Smith – Regan Smith was named the Raybestos Rookie of the Year for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In 34 starts, Smith became the first rookie in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to not record any DNFs over the course of the season. He turned in a pair of 14th-place finishes at Martinsville (first) and Bristol (second). Smith completed 98% of the scheduled laps in 2008.

Top Team Owner of the Year

o Rick Hendrick – Rick Hendrick won his eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner championship, second only to Petty Enterprises (nine).  Jimmie Johnson claimed his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, becoming only the second driver in series history to accomplish that feat. Three of Hendrick’s drivers finished in the top 12 in driver points in 2008: Jimmie Johnson (1st); Jeff Gordon (7th); and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12th). 

Top Breakthrough Performer of the Year

o David Ragan – In just his second season of competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, David Ragan finished 13th in the point standings, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Chase. Ragan posted six top-five and 14 top-10 finishes, including a pair of career-best third-place showings at Michigan in August and Talladega in October. Ragan completed a series-best 99.4% of the scheduled laps during the season.

Comeback Driver of the Year

o Greg Biffle – Greg Biffle re-established himself as a championship contender, following a two-year absence from the Chase. Seeded ninth heading into the Chase, Biffle got off to a blazing start by winning the first two Chase races – at New Hampshire and Dover. He finished third in the final point standings.

Top Five Races of the Year (in chronological order)

Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 17) – At the 50th running of the Daytona 500, Ryan Newman got a last lap shove from teammate Kurt Busch to win his and car owner Roger Penske’s first ever Daytona 500. Newman’s margin of victory was .092 seconds in a highly competitive race that featured 42 lead changes.

Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond International Raceway (May 3) – Clint Bowyer took advantage of Kyle Busch spinning out leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. with two laps remaining to claim his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career victory. Denny Hamlin led a race-record 381 laps, but a flat tire on Lap 383 ended his chances for victory. Bowyer edged Kyle Busch in a green-white-checkered finish.

LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway (June 15) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. snapped a 76-race winless streak and held off Kasey Kahne to win on Father’s Day. In a suspense-filled race that featured a green-white-checkered finish, Earnhardt Jr. conserved fuel down the stretch and coasted across the finish line when a caution flag came out on the final lap.

Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 23) – Carl Edwards executed a textbook bump-and-run to pass Kyle Busch on Lap 470 to win at Bristol and secure a spot in the Chase. Edwards led the final 31 laps of the race to post his sixth win of the season. Unhappy with the way Edwards had passed him for the lead, Busch bumped the No. 99 car after the checkered flag. Edwards wasted no time in bumping the No. 18 car back and a rivalry was born.

Camping World RV 400 Presented by AAA at Dover International Speedway (Sept. 21) – Greg Biffle continued his hot start in the Chase, winning for the second straight week, in an event that featured three-wide racing down the stretch between a trio of Roush Fenway teammates. Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards all battled for the lead, before Biffle passed Kenseth with eight laps to go to secure the victory.

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