IT'S IN THE STARS
AMID NASCAR racing's ever waxing and waning competitive fortunes, sometimes it's hard to know which teams and drivers are set to blast off for the stratosphere and which are headed for the dark side of the moon. If you're feeling a little, er, lost in the Chase, consider this chart, as we boldly go where no NASCAR preview has gone before.
The Nextel Cup gets a new name in 2008, but the trophy, awarded to the season's champion, remains the center around which the year—and all the action—revolves.
Johnson. Gordon. Mears. And now Junior? As this superplanet's domination grows with every lap, its gravitational force threatens to overwhelm all other worlds.
Made up of Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and now Kyle Busch, this seething, volcanic mass of talent and superheated ego promises an eruption of victories—or violence.
PLANET ROUSH FENWAY
Perennially powerful, though a collision between the moons of Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth could poison the atmosphere.
You can't buck Roger Penske. The most successful owner in Indy racing wants a NASCAR title. With 2004 champ Kurt Busch at the wheel, it could be in the stars.
Richard Childress Racing may not be running rings around the competition, but with the steady laps of contenders Bowyer (07), Harvick (29) and Burton (31) it remains a fixture in the Chase constellation.
Number 1 driver Kasey Kahne went from the sunshine of six wins in 2006 to total eclipse in '07. Can the sport's pinup boy lead Evernham out of the shadows again?
After the seismic upheaval of Dale Jr.'s departure, this world belongs to Martin Truex Jr., who will benefit from the circling influence of part-time driver Mark Martin.