1) Hendrick Still Dominates the Car Of Tomorrow
Dale Earnhardt Jr. might have won the race, and Tony Stewart might have finished in second, but that is not the big news. The big news was that Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Casey Mears finished third, fourth and sixth respectively. That means that Hendrick cars took four of the top six spots in the field. After having extended time in the off season to continue research and development on the COT, Hendrick has shown to still have a huge advantage, and to be light years ahead of the rest of the field when racing NASCAR's new car.
2) The move to Toyota Won't Kill Gibbs' Season
After a less than news worth rookie season, many wondered why Joe Gibbs Racing would make the move to Toyata cars in the 2008 season. Some thought the move would hurt their ability to compete, with other elite teams like Hendrick and Penske. In the first unofficial race of the season, team Gibbs has gone a long way to squaching those worries. With Tony Stewart taking second and Denny Hamlin finishing ninth, the Gibbs Toyota showed that not only can the Toyota be competitive, but it can win a race too.
3) Reed Sorenson To Compete for the Chase
Entering his third season in the Cup Circuit, Sorenson knows it is time for himself and his teammates at Chip Ganassi racing to step up, and start winning. Sorenson showed he is ready by finishing fifth in the Budweiser Shootout. Sorenson does have two experienced drivers on his side, in Juan Montoya and Dario Franchitti. The problem is they have one season of stock car racing between them and both have some learning to do when it comes to NASCAR racing. Juan Montoya is entering his second season as a NASCAR driver, and showed both flashes of brilliance and mediocrity in his rookie year. While Franchitti is a rookie, he brings with him the bravado of being the reigning Indy 500 winner, along with the experience of a 34 year old racer.
4) We Have Not Seen the End of Stewart V. Busch
The problem with Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch is that they are both similar drivers. Winner take all mentalities, who get frustrated when not winning and struggle to keep their composure when they have to come from behind. Their competitiveness often gets the better of them on the track and these two now have gone at it a couple of times dating back to last season. This time reports are that the run in ended with Stewart punching Busch in the NASCAR trailer. Both have been warned to stay away from each other on the track, but over the course of a 36 week season, thats impossible.
5) Mark Martin is Immortal
There are three constants in life. Death, Taxes and Mark Martin. Change teams, change motors, change cars, change rules, and Mark Martin will drive, and finish in the top 10. Martin finished 8th in the Budweiser Shootout, once again reminding everyone not to forget about him and what he can do on the track. He will race in a scaled back schedule, like he did last season, and will probably still be a force every time he takes he track.