Taking the checkered flag at Chicago on Saturday evening gave Kyle Busch his seventh win of the season.
Winning seven races is wonderful, but what matters is this gives him a 70-point advantage once the Chase for the Cup kicks off. With seven races remaining before the Chase, it is conceivable to see Kyle Busch in victory lane at least once more.
To say that Busch is an early favorite for the Sprint Cup Series champion is to state the obvious. To write about NASCAR these days is to dedicate a large portion of the article to the new phenom.
Yet it pains me to write about Kyle Busch.
It's not that he wins every week—Jeff Gordon won every week and that didn't bother me. Or maybe it's that it's Kyle Busch winning every week and I can't tolerate his personality (I don't want to hear the tired argument of Hendrick's domination last season, that domination was divided amongst three drivers, not just one).
Before everyone starts setting him up on a pedestal between The King and The Intimidator, why don't we let him prove himself a little more? After all, it was only a few short seasons ago that Ryan Newman visited Victory Lane eight times in ten races. This season, Newman seems to be doing little more than serving as a moving billboard for Alltel.
While I detest Busch's personality, I can't deny his talent. For lack of a better expression, he's a hell of a race car driver.
I wonder next season when Joey Logano fills Tony Stewart's empty seat how Busch will fair. Logano will be Gibbs' new young super star and will be given the golden child treatment. It'll be a situation no different than Busch overshadowing Denny Hamlin who overshadowed Stewart.
As far as the 2008 Champion is concerned, Busch is a strong candidate. Stewart should be hitting his summer winning streak soon and will be a strong competitor for the Cup (I imagine he'll want to leave JGR in style).
If the genius that is Chad Knaus can get the 48 team back in its true form, expect Jimmie Johnson to attempt the famous Yarborough three-peat.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will pose a threat, but I believe that 2009 will be his season to win a championship.
I also believe Clint Bowyer will drive his way back into the top-12 and finish in at least the top six.
Ford will continue to struggle because Roush Fenway teams seem to have problems getting the lugnuts tight in the pits. How many loose wheels can one organization have? On a weekly basis?
As for 2009, I have only one thing to say: Mark Martin at Hendrick? Really? Is he trying to tie Darrell Waltrip with the longest retirement tour in history?
Any and all predictions are not to be taken as fact, only as opinion. I'm still smarting from how incorrect my Silly Season predictions were.