By Ben White
Driving the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson won seven races in 2008 on his way to joining Cale Yarborough as the only drivers to claim three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championships.
Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus were on top of their game and were the team to beat heading into the 36-race NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
Then, reality set in and dealt them some difficult cards.
For a second straight season, Johnson had a slow start at Daytona with a 27th-place finish, even though he was running at the end. He rebounded with a second-place finish at Auto Club Speedway the next week and rose to eighth in points. Another bad showing at Las Vegas and not so desirable outings at Atlanta and Bristol meant things were not going to plan.
A top-5 effort at Texas led to a win at Phoenix. Over the next 11 weeks, Johnson’s average finish was 13.6, numbers that weren’t good enough for a championship. A win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, however, put him back in fourth position in the point standings.
The roller-coaster season continued with a third at Pocono, seventh at Watkins Glen, 17th at Michigan and 35th at Bristol before a win came at Auto Club Speedway in his home state of California, followed by another at Richmond. Twin top-5 results led to a win at Kansas. Johnson then added victories at Martinsville and Phoenix down the stretch to secure the title.
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford, won nine times and had 27 top-10 finishes. However, Edwards fell short of Johnson by 69 points in the final points tally.
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POP CULTURE: BRITNEY SPEARS CLIMBED TO THE TOP OF THE CHARTS WITH “WOMANIZER,” WHICH ALSO HAPPENED TO BE HER FIRST NO. 1 HIT SINCE HER DEBUT SINGLE TOPPED THE CHARTS ALMOST A DECADE EARLIER.
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford, logged nine wins, 27 top-10 finishes and one pole position in 36 starts. Edwards notched seven superspeedway wins and two short tracks victories during the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series season and enjoyed performing his signature backflip after each. Led by crew chief Bob Osborne, the team was a contender each time the Columbia, Mo. native strapped in. It was the best season of his 13-year career.
Kyle Busch, driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, led 61 of 160 laps to win the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5. The race ended under a green, white, checker scenario when Joey Logano, Travis Kvapil, Michael Waltrip, Sam Hornish Jr. and several others crashed in Turn 1 on the final lap. Busch was in front of the carnage and won his sixth of eight races that season.
Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Lowe’s Chevrolet won seven times and recorded 22 top-10 results in 36 starts.
Driving the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford, Carl Edwards notched nine victories and 27 top-10 finishes during the 2008 season.
2008 Season Recap
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
Feb. 17 | Daytona International Speedway | Ryan Newman
Feb. 25 | Auto Club Speedway | Carl Edwards
March 2 | Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Carl Edwards
March 9 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch
March 16 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Jeff Burton
March 30 | Martinsville Speedway | Denny Hamlin
April 6 | Texas Motor Speedway | Carl Edwards
April 12 | Phoenix Raceway | Jimmie Johnson
April 27 | Talladega Superspeedway | Kyle Busch
May 3 | Richmond Raceway | Clint Bowyer
May 10 | Darlington Raceway | Kyle Busch
May 25 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Kasey Kahne
June 1 | Dover Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch
June 8 | Pocono Raceway | Kasey Kahne
June 15 | Michigan International Speedway | Dale Earnhardt Jr.
June 22 | Sonoma Raceway | Kyle Busch
June 29 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Kurt Busch
July 5 | Daytona International Speedway | Kyle Busch
July 12 | Chicagoland Speedway | Kyle Busch
July 27 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson
Aug. 3 | Pocono Raceway | Carl Edwards
Aug. 10 | Watkins Glen International | Kyle Busch
Aug. 17 | Michigan International Speedway | Carl Edwards
Aug. 23 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Carl Edwards
Aug. 31 | Auto Club Speedway | Jimmie Johnson
Sept. 7 | Richmond Raceway | Jimmie Johnson
Sept. 14 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Greg Biffle
Sept. 21 | Dover Motor Speedway | Greg Biffle
Sept. 28 | Kansas Speedway | Jimmie Johnson
Oct. 5 | Talladega Superspeedway | Tony Stewart
Oct. 11 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Jeff Burton
Oct. 19 | Martinsville Speedway | Jimmie Johnson
Oct. 26 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Carl Edwards
Nov. 2 | Texas Motor Speedway | Carl Edwards
Nov. 9 | Phoenix Raceway | Jimmie Johnson
Nov. 19 | Homestead-Miami Speedway | Carl Edwards