Stories To Watch 2008

    Put away the holiday decorations and throw out that last piece of fruitcake. Ready or not, the 2008 NASCAR season is about to start.

    Testing begins at Daytona in just a few days and with the annual NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte also on tap later this month, January promises to be full of news, previews and predictions.

    In no particular order, here are some of the top stories for us to watch as 2008 rolls on:

    JUNIOR TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
  • Move over John, Paul, George and Ringo - NASCAR is about to have its own version of The Beatles. Team owner Rick Hendrick has assembled maybe the most star-studded stable in NASCAR history with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. joining Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and special guest star Casey Mears. While some speculate keeping all of these high-profile superstars happy together under one roof may cause problems, the success all will surely have will be enough to bring plenty of smiles. Earnhardt, Jr. should have no problems stepping right into the powerhouse mix and with better equipment, will win at least four times including kicking things off big time with a Daytona 500 victory.

    DEI BEGINS LIFE AFTER JUNIOR
  • They can put on a brave face and should be commended for the moves made in the wake of Earnhardt, Jr.'s departure, but this will be a tough year for DEI. Martin Truex, Jr. is poised to continue his rise as a breakout star, but the rest of the DEI stable is spotty at best. It was wise to move Mark Martin into the famous No. 8 ride at least from a PR perspective, but who much longer can the veteran stave off Father Time? Paul Menard needs to step up big time and the young duo of Regan Smith and Aric Armirola need lots more seasoning. And then there's that pesky engine problem that plagued the team in 2007.

    GIBBS FIELDS TOYOTAS
  • The bright side is things can't be worse for Toyota next year than they were in 2007. Landing a big fish like JGR was the absolute best thing the manufacturer could do and although it was denied vehemently by J.D. Gibbs, adding the team probably showed some benefits at the end of last season. Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and newcomer Kyle Busch will probably all score historic victories for Toyota before the end of the season and hopefully for the manufacturer's sake, JGR will continue to have a halo effect on the rest of the struggling Toyota teams.

    OPEN WHEEL MADNESS
  • Did Juan Pablo Montoya make things look easy? My guess is he did and the latest batch of open wheelers including Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish, Jr., Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier will all struggle in 2008. Franchitti and Hornish, Jr. have the luxury of the free pass early on with both in the Top 35, but unless they can be successful right out of the box, the DNQ list will most likely include the majority of this quartet most of the season.

    TV TURNAROUND
  • Television ratings have fallen dramatically in the last two years and fans have cried long and hard about the coverage. The 2008 season will be a pivotal one for the networks as FOX, TNT and ABC/ESPN all face the challenge of providing both quality coverage as well as stemming the tide of smaller audiences.

    HELLO NATIONWIDE
  • While NASCAR ponders moves to its number two series, 2008 will find a new sponsor attached to the circuit for the first time in 26 years. Nationwide will need to find ways to connect with long-time fans as well as attracting new ones to a series that is having a major identity crisis. Hopefully the landscape will change dramatically in 2009, but until then next season will be a challenge in many ways.

    DOWN TO BUSINESS
  • Many fans believe NASCAR is more concerned with the business of the sport than the actual competition. And there's still a credibility issue is many eyes' in terms of officiating and manipulating races. Perception is sometimes reality and NASCAR will have to show fans that it's all about the racing this year.

    Keep your eyes on the clock on RacingOne's front page - the countdown to the 2008 Daytona 500 is on!

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2008

Photos

  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • Pure Michigan 400
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • From the Archives: Michigan
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Allmendinger Breaks Through
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular
  • © 2014 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites