Those who disapprove of the Chase format have a new standard-bearer in Busch, who was arguably the best driver in the Cup series in 2008, at least through the regular season. For the first time in his short but brilliant career, he won races on every kind of track that NASCAR could throw at him -- superspeedway, short track, road course and intermediate oval -- and he did it across all three series. He was undone in the Chase only by factors beyond his control, suffering a stunning series of mechanical failures and accidents in the first four races. If he and his team can avoid such mishaps in 2009, then his first Cup championship should be well within reach.
Text: Mark Beech
Photo: Fred Vuich/SI, Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images