NASCAR & Auto Racing

Edwards, Bowyer back for more, and they're in fast company in the Nationwide Series



1. Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing


Ran away with the driver's title and shows no signs of slowing.



2. Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing


Returns to series fulltime and should challenge for title.



3. Jason Leffler, Braun Racing


Got Toyota's first win in the series last season and looks like more should follow in 2008.



4. David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip Racing


Finished second to Edwards, but needs to get to Victory Lane more.



5. David Ragan, Roush Fenway Racing


All the seat time in Nationwide and Cup last season should give him a solid foundation.



6. Kevin Harvick, Kevin Harvick Inc.


He won't run a full schedule, but that shouldn't keep him from top 10 in points.



7. Marcos Ambrose, JTG Racing


Made great strides during his first season and could be the series' biggest surprise in '08.



8. Brad Coleman, Baker Curb Racing


Left Joe Gibbs Racing, but Baker Curb (formerly Brewco) should be a solid home to develop his career.



9. Brad Keselowski, JR Motorsports


His tenure as a fill-in during 2007 earned him the full-time ride, and JR Motorsports' merger with Hendrick is an added bonus.



10. Johnny Sauter, Phoenix Racing


Out of a Cup ride, but owner James Finch always has fielded strong teams in the Nationwide Series.



Elevator

ROUSH FENWAY RACINGWasn't happy losing the car owner's title to Richard Childress and looks to add it in '08.

TOYOTA: More teams in the series should help the manufacturer's fold improve performance.

ESPN: The network spends most of its time promoting coverage of the series it covers part-time (Cup) and little on the series it covers full-time (Nationwide).

Observations

 NASCAR has been flirting with the idea of raising the minimum age to participate in the Sprint Cup Series to 21, hoping to direct those who wish to get started in NASCAR early to the Truck and Nationwide series. I don't think NASCAR has had a better idea during the past five years. Just because someone has the ability to drive, doesn't automatically mean they have the maturity to deal with the off-track issues in NASCAR's biggest series.

 Let's stop pretending Cup drivers who run a full-time schedule in the Nationwide Series are something other than a series "regular." If you attempt to run all the races in a series, I don't see anything irregular about it. Nor should you be made to feel guilty about participating.

 It looks like Richard Childress Racing will take another stab at an owner's title with Cup veteran Jeff Burton again sharing a Nationwide Series ride with Scott Wimmer. The two managed to win the owner's title over Carl Edwards' team in 2007 and should provide another stout challenge.

What they're saying

"The fact that we have more Toyotas in the field is definitely going to help. Getting Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing together is a win-win for everybody. It's certainly good for Toyota, and certainly good for JGR. Any information that trickles down will help everybody. It will also help from a morale standpoint."

-- DRIVER Jason Leffler.

"The team is very happy at the moment because we had a really good test in Daytona. Our crew only took one car to Daytona rather than two. We've had a lot of work to do over the offseason with a lot of cars to sort out and a lot of new people coming on board."

-- driver Marcos Ambrose.

"You just need to be consistent on a weekly basis. You try to lead laps when you can, so you can get the five points that add up at the end of the year. We weren't consistent until about the middle of last year, so we need to work on that."

-- Driver David Reutimann.

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