Three NASCAR Drivers Primed to Break Out in 2009
I wouldn't count on Jimmie Johnson making it four in a row.
Not that Jimmie doesn't have what it takes He has the one of the best crew chiefs in the business, drives for one of the top teams and his teammates is one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.
I just don't think it will be enough for 2009. Not only are Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch going to be geared up to take the title, many drivers that had a mediocre or downright horrible season are ready to turn things around.
Look for 2009 to be one of the most competitive NASCAR Sprint Cup series ever. So who will break out this season?
1. Kurt Busch
A lot of attention went to his younger brother Kyle in 2008, but look for Kurt to step ahead and show everyone why he is a past champion.
Team Penske has made several moves in the right direction since the end of the 2008 in. One of those is a new Dodge engine package.
Crew Chief Pat Tryson said, “When we get it dialed in to where we’re getting all the traction we can exiting the turns and getting all the power out of this engine to the ground, I think it’ll mean a significant gain for us.”¹
Kurt will also have strong teammates this year. Although Sam Hornish may have underachieved in 2008, he knows that 2009 is an important year. He must show that he deserves to be in Sprint Cup.
David Stremme, Kurt's new teammate, is gearing up to restart his Sprint career. David is a focused driver that gives great feedback. It will be interesting to watch what this team does.
2. Jeff Gordon
Jeff cannot have another season like 2008. He is one of the most successful NASCAR drivers of all time and even though, in front of the camera, he was professional and seemed to take it all in stride, watching his student and teammate Jimmie Johnson sweep his third championship in a row had to hurt his pride.
Jeff has the equipment, he has the crew chief and he has the feedback of his teammates, so where did he go wrong?
Speculation about the horrific accident at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway may have scared him into driving more conservatively run rampant, although Jeff denies it. “I’m not going to change how I’m going to race.”²
No one can really say what happened to Jeff in 2008, but I wouldn’t bet against him being a strong competitor and possibly winning his fifth title in 2009.
3. Juan Pablo Montoya
If you watched the Rolex 24 this weekend, you saw the true Juan Pablo Montoya. He is a force to be reckoned with and hopefully with his new team, E.G.R., he will prosper.
He will have more secure teammates in Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola, which is a big change from his 2008 team. His switch from Dodge, which didn’t have a team in the chase to Chevy should help too.
Juan has the talent, and at times during 2008, he had the equipment. In 2009, they will have to come together to give him the opportunity to be competitive for a shot at the title. I think that will happen.