Renew for the Historic 2009 Championship Season!
This year’s Championship season will be one to remember. And last year’s seats—remember the thrill of witnessing Jimmie’s second consecutive Cup championship?—won’t be available after March 1. To renew your tickets for Nov. 14-16, 2008, click here.
Major changes have come to the Sprint Cup this season, which concludes with Ford Championship Weekend, Nov. 14-16, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Highlighted by the full-time switch to the New Car, the 2008 NASCAR campaign also plays host to a new beginning, the allure of an elusive three-peat and an open-wheel invasion….
New Beginnings: Dale Earnhardt Jr.— last year voted NASCAR’s most popular driver—this season is racing his first campaign with the heralded Hendrick Motorsports, having left the team built by his late father, Dale Earnhardt Inc., at the end of 2007.
“I've always daydreamed about driving for Rick [Hendrick] since I started to drive race cars,” Earnhardt told reporters after announcing the switch. “Some things will be better with Hendrick Motorsports, and some things will take some getting used to. But I like that challenge, and I'm excited to have it happen.”
Junior showed it by winning both the Bud Shootout and the first Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race during the February Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.
“That was fun” he said after the second win. “These new cars are a handful, but we’ll sort that all out. It reminded me of the old days with the cars slipping and sliding around.”
Many racing observers sense that the proverbial hot seat is warming for Junior to contend for that Sprint Cup Trophy—the one that will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Nov. 14-16.
An Elusive Three-Peat: Reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson—who captured the Cup trophy at Homestead-Miami in both 2006 and 2007—stands in rare territory as just the ninth driver to score back-to-back championships. He also stands in solid position to become only the second driver in history to win three consecutive championships in NASCAR’s most elite series; Cale Yarborough accomplished the feat in 1976, ’77 and ’78.
“It's going to be a long, tough year,” Johnson told an off-season media throng in regards to a possible three-peat. “[But] I feel that we'll be there at the end and have a shot at it.”
Johnson’s late-season heroics in the 2006 and 2007 Chase for the Cup set him apart from the pack. Widely considered the favorite entering the 2008 season, his run at history ends Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway’s series-crowning Ford 400, the final race in the Chase for the new NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Open-Wheel Invasion: Three international drivers—Scotland’s Dario Franchitti, and French Canadians Jacques Villenueve and Patrick Carpentier—highlight this year’s class of open-wheel drivers making the switch to the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
Motivated in large part by Colombian driver (and Miami-resident) Juan Pablo Montoya—who made the widely publicized switch from open-wheel to NASCAR and subsequently captured Cup Rookie of the Year honors—Franchitti, Villenueve and Carpentier’s entrance into NASCAR will quadruple the amount of foreign-born drivers racing in NASCAR’s most elite circuit.
“The world’s drivers are taking notice,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray. “Franchitti, Villenueve and Carpentier all want to compete against the best drivers in the world, and the best drivers in the world right now are all at Homestead-Miami Speedway come Nov. 14-16, 2008.”