November 21, 2007

Jimmie JohnsonA series-best 10 wins, including four of his last five races. 'Nuff said.

Chad KnausWhen a driver has the fastest car week in and week out, as Johnson did in the Chase, it's a reflection of the crew chief's ingenuity and skill. Knaus, put simply, is the best in the biz.

Carl EdwardsEdwards silenced the one-year-wonder whispers (third in the points in '05, he failed to make the Chase in '06) by winning three times and finishing ninth in the standings. What he didn't silence were questions about his temper, which leads us to ...

Carl Edwards vs. Matt KensethIn the most dangerous sport Edwards's feigned punch at a teammate's noggin on Oct. 21 was one of the scariest moments of the year.

Juan Pablo MontoyaThe former Indy 500 champ and Formula One winner lived up to his considerable hype, reaching Victory Lane once and finishing a rookie-best 20th in the standings. He'll be a Chase contender in '08.

Clint BowyerBefore the Chase, he had never finished higher than third in a race in his two years on the circuit; during the Chase he had a win and two second-place runs, which propelled Bowyer -- NASCAR's version of Appalachian State -- to third in the final standings.

Kasey KahneKahne wasn't very able in '07. A year after winning a series-best six races, Kahne never seriously contended for a checkered flag and plummeted to 19th in the standings.

Aug. 12 at Watkins GlenThis one featured a near fight (Kevin Harvick vs. Juan Pablo Montoya), an unexpected flop (Jeff Gordon's late spinout) and more fender rubbin' than any other event of the season. Bring on more road-course racing!

Michael WaltripWe interrupt this TV ad featuring Michael Waltrip to ask a question: Why on earth is Waltrip, who was at the center of the Daytona 500 cheating scandal and finished 44th in points, still one of NASCAR's most ubiquitous pitchmen?

Mark MartinEven though he had the points lead at the time, the 48-year-old Martin took a break from driving after four races to spend time with his family -- just as he promised he would.

Clint BowyerAfter skidding across the finish line upside down and in flames at the Daytona 500, Bowyer climbed out of the wreck and -- either still woozy or trying to win the understatement of the year award -- dubbed his race "pretty uneventful."

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