NASCAR 09 – 10 Years Later

Something completely unrelated to school, communications or technology, let’s compare 2008’s NASCAR roster to the present day!

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On this day, 10 years ago, EA Sports released NASCAR 09. Aside from a 2009 kart racing spinoff, it was the final NASCAR game to be released by Electronic Arts, and marked a brief hiatus for yearly NASCAR video games until Eutechnyx and Activision released NASCAR The Game: 2011.

I remember having a conversation with a friend who bought an older NASCAR game at a used game store. It was surreal to realize that none of the drivers in one of the pictures he sent me currently competes on a full time basis. That discussion inspired me to revisit NASCAR 09 on its tenth anniversary and see how its roster holds up. This analysis is based upon the 2017 and current season (up to the Firekeepers Casino 400), discussing whether or not the driver races full time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to feel old.

#01 Regan Smith: 2008 was Regan Smith’s only full time season behind the wheel of the #01 Chevrolet. Following 2008, Smith drove a few seasons with Furniture Row Motorsports, winning the 2011 Southern 500. Smith drove a full time season for Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2016, but hasn’t participated in any full time competition since then. Viewers can now find him on FOX’s NASCAR broadcasts as a pit reporter.

Full Time?: No

#1 Martin Truex Jr.: Your defending champion? Yeah, he’s still competing. Truex piloted the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy from 2005-2009, and currently thrives behind the wheel of the #78 Toyota for Furniture Row Motorsports.  

Full Time?: Yes

#2 Kurt Busch: In the words of Jimmy Spencer, the “Radio Sweetheart” is still regularly competing. Busch was driving for Penske Racing South at the time of 09’s release, but now races the #41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Motorsports, securing positions in the Chase every year since signing on and winning the Daytona 500 in 2017.

Full Time?: Yes

#5 Casey Mears: 2008 would be Mears’ last year behind the wheel of the #5 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, and eight years later, his position with Germain Racing was given to Ty Dillon. Mears raced part time in the Xfinity Series in 2017, but shows no sign of regular Cup Series activity at the moment.

Full Time?: No

#6 David Ragan: The Huntersville native was driving the #6 Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing in 2008, a car he piloted up until 2011. In addition to seasons with Joe Gibbs, BK and Michael Waltrip Racing, Ragan is now in his fifth full time year with Front Row Motorsports, currently driving the #38 Fusion.

Full Time?: Yes

#07 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer was in his third year of full time racing for Richard Childress Racing when NASCAR 09 came out. After four years with Michael Waltrip Racing and a year with HScott Motorsports, Bowyer found employment with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017, and is presently driving the #14 Fusion.

Full Time?: Yes

#8 Mark Martin: Martin was sharing the #8 Chevrolet with Aric Almirola in 2008, but found a career resurgence with his fifth second place championship season the following year, replacing Casey Mears at Hendrick Motorsports. Following a few part time seasons with Michael Waltrip and Stewart-Haas Racing, Martin’s Cup Series career came to a conclusion in 2013.

Full Time?: No

#9 Kasey Kahne: Hailing from Enumclaw, Washington, Kasey Kahne was in his fifth season of full time competition in 2008 at Gillett Evernham Motorsports (later Richard Petty Motorsports after a few mergers). Kahne remained behind the wheel of the #9 car until 2010, and after seasons at Red Bull Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, is now driving the #95 Chevrolet for Leavine Family Racing.

Full Time?: Yes

#10 Patrick Carpentier: A former open wheel racer, 2008 was the only season Carpentier entered into more than half of the races. Carpentier would have occasional starts in NASCAR’s three main divisions up to 2016, but his full time racing days are likely behind him.

Full Time?: No

#11 Denny Hamlin: Hitting the scene in 2006, 2008 was Hamlin’s third full time year in NASCAR, driving the #11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. 10 years later, Hamlin’s still driving the the #11 for Gibbs, earning a Daytona 500 along the way.

Full Time?: Yes

#12 Ryan Newman: The Rocket Man won the Daytona 500 in 2008, piloting the #12 Dodge for Penske Racing South. However, 2008 was Newman’s final year at Penske, and after five years at Stewart-Haas Racing, he can now be found driving the #31 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing.

Full Time?: Yes

#15 Paul Menard: An heir to the Menards dynasty, Paul Menard was driving the #15 Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing at the time of NASCAR 09. 2009 saw him move to Yates Racing, which merged with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010. Following seven years with Richard Childress Racing, Menard is now behind the wheel of the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.

Full Time?: Yes

#16 Greg Biffle: In his sixth year of racing, the Biff was behind the wheel of the #16 Ford for Roush/Roush-Fenway Racing. Biffle stayed with the Cat in the Hat for his entire full time NASCAR career, up until his departure in 2016. He has not found full time NASCAR employment since.

Full Time?: No

#17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth was in his ninth year of full time competition in 2008, driving the #17 Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing. After two Daytona 500 victories and a championship in 2003, Kenseth moved to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013, where he remained until 2017 when he was replaced by Erik Jones. Be it a twist of fates, however, Kenseth is now back at Roush-Fenway Racing, sharing a part time schedule with Trevor Bayne in the #6 Ford.

Full Time?: No

#18: Kyle Busch: After starting with Hendrick Motorsports, 2008 marked Kyle Busch’s first year with Joe Gibbs Racing. A championship and over 40 wins later, Busch is still behind the wheel with Gibbs.

Full Time?: Yes

#19: Elliott Sadler: Emporia, Virginia’s Elliott Sadler was piloting the #19 Dodge Charger for Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2008. Sadler drove the #19 during the Gillett Evernham merger into RIchard Petty Motorsports up until 2010, his final full time Cup Series season. In 2017, Sadler raced three out of the four restrictor plate races, but he currently focuses his attention on the NASCAR Xfinity Series, a series he’s competed full time in since 2011.

Full Time?: No

#20 Tony Stewart: Okay, can we stop this analysis and take some time to appreciate Smoke’s haircut circa 2008? Anyway, 2008 was Stewart’s final year with Joe Gibbs Racing, in which he became a driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart won the 2011 Sprint Cup championship, and continued to race through 2016, concluding a career as a NASCAR driver that spanned over 15 years.

Full Time?: No

#21 Marcos Ambrose: A racer from Down Under, Ambrose made five of his 10 starts in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving the #21 for the Wood Brothers (including a third place finish at Watkins Glen). The Tasmania native made his full time Cup Series debut in 2009 with JTG Daugherty Racing, and moved to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2011 where he’d remain until his 2014 conclusion in NASCAR, winning a pair of races along the way.

Full Time?: No

#21 Jon Wood: A member of the family that gave the Wood Brothers its name, Jon Wood ran three races in his family’s #21 throughout 2008. That year would be the final year Wood raced in any of NASCAR’s three main series’. On an unrelated note, I’m currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising, so I was amused to see Wood’s Wikipedia page say he currently works in my prospective field.

Full TIme?: No

#24 Jeff Gordon: Wonder Boy was in his 16th year of full time Cup Series racing, driving the #24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports as he did throughout his entire career. Gordon concluded his full time tenure in 2015, but returned briefly in the following year to substitute for an injured Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Full Time?: No

#26 Jamie McMurray: In the words of Darrell Waltrip, “Little Jamie Baby” was in his sixth year of full time Cup Series racing, driving the #26 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. In 2010, McMurray moved to the #1 Chevy for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, winning that year’s Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, and remains at Ganassi to this day.

Full TIme?: Yes

#28 Travis Kvapil: After a full time Truck Series gig at Roush Fenway Racing in 2007, Kvapil returned to the Cup Series in 2008, driving full time in the #28 Ford for Yates Racing. Subsequent seasons found Kvapil driving for the likes of Front Row Motorsports, BK Racing and Go Fas Racing among others, and while he hasn’t raced in the Cup Series since 2015, Kvapil made an appearance at this year’s Truck Series season opener at Daytona.

Full TIme?: No

#29 Kevin Harvick: Happy Harvick was in his eighth year of full time Cup Series competition, and his eighth year of racing the #29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Harvick remained at Childress until 2013, and in his first year at Stewart-Haas (whom he currently races for) in 2014, started strong by nabbing the Sprint Cup Series championship.

Full Time?: Yes

#31 Jeff Burton: 2008 was the last year Jeff Burton won any races in the Cup Series, earning a pair of wins in his #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Nonetheless, Burton raced for Childress for another five years after 2008, and following a few 2014 starts for Michael Waltrip and Stewart-Haas Racing, has since worked for NBC Sports.

Full Time?: No

#38 David Gilliland: Hailing from Riverside, California, Gilliland drove the #38 Ford for Yates Racing in 2008, which was also his last year driving for Yates. After a season of driving for a myriad of teams (mostly TRG Motorsports), Gilliland primarily drove for Front Row Motorsports from 2010-2015. Now a co-owner of a team in the Camping World Truck Series, Gilliland still made an appearance at this year’s Daytona 500, finishing 14th in the field of 40 cars.

Full Time?: No

#40 Dario Franchitti: Temporarily leaving IndyCar Racing, Franchitti started 2008 strong when his sports car team won the 24 Hours of Daytona. Franchitti had a position in the #40 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge in the Cup Series, but only competed until June of that year. Since then, Franchitti raced in IndyCar until his 2013 retirement, winning the championship thrice in a row from 2009-2011, along with an Indianapolis 500 victory in 2012.

Full Time?: No

#41 Reed Sorenson: 2008 saw Sorenson in his final year of racing for Chip Ganassi Racing, piloting the #41 Charger. Following a year behind the wheel of the #43 Petty Motorsports in 2009, Sorenson drove for multiple teams, including a full time position with Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2014. Currently, Sorenson drives for Premium Motorsports, where he competed in most of 2017’s races.

Full Time?: Yes

#42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Another crossover from open wheel racing, Juan Pablo Montoya entered 2008 in his second year of full time Cup Series racing, driving the #42 Dodge Charger for Chip Ganassi Racing. After a couple wins and a strange encounter with a jet dryer, 2013 was Montoya’s final full time Cup Series season. After that, Montoya switched to full time IndyCar racing and went on to win the 2015 Indianapolis 500.

Full Time?: No

#43 Bobby Labonte: The 2000 Winston Cup Series champion, Bobby Labonte was in his third and final year of driving the #43 Dodge for Petty Enterprises. 2009 and 2010 saw Labonte race full time across multiple racing teams (Hall of Fame Racing, TRG Motorsports, Phoenix Racing, etc.) before finding full time employment at JTG-Daugherty Racing from 2011-2013. Labonte raced part time from 2014-2016, finishing his NASCAR Cup Series career with Go Fas Racing at 2016’s Fall Talladega race; but can now be found running a full time schedule in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as of 2018.

Full Time?: No

#44 Dale Jarrett: After struggling in Michael Waltrip Racing’s inaugural season in 2007, Jarrett announced his retirement from racing in 2008. The 1999 Winston Cup Series champion drove the #44 UPS Toyota Camry for the first five races of the year, calling it a day following the year’s Sprint All Star Race exhibition.

Full Time?: No

#44 David Reutimann: Following Jarrett’s retirement, David Reutimann switched from the #00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to fill his teammate’s vacant position for the remainder of the season. Nonetheless, Reutimann returned to the #00 from 2009-2011, winning two races before being released. Reutimann spent 2012 and 2013 primarily driving for Tommy Baldwin and BK Racing before running a few races in 2014 for Front Row Motorsports (which seemingly served as his last).

Full Time?: No

#45 Kyle Petty: The son of Richard “The King” Petty (so, “The Racecar Driver Formerly Known as Prince?”), Kyle Petty’s final races came in 2008, driving the #45 Dodge Charger for his family’s Petty Enterprises. Since then, Petty turned to television, serving as an announcer for TNT’s NASCAR coverage, and currently appearing in NASCAR-related shows on NBC’s sports broadcasting.

Full Time?: No

#48 Jimmie Johnson: 2008 was right in the middle of Jimmie Johnson’s domination, driving his #48 Lowes Hendrick Motorsports Chevy to his third out of five consecutive championship victory. 10 years and a few more championships later, Johnson remains at Hendrick Motorsports, driving the same number he started with back in 2002.

Full Time?: No

#55 Michael Waltrip: My personal favorite NASCAR driver growing up, Mikey was in his second of three years as a full time driver/owner, piloting his own team’s #55 NAPA Toyota Camry. After part time racing from 2010-2016, Waltrip concluded his tenure as a NASCAR driver at the 2017 Daytona 500, marking his 30th attempt in the Great American Race, and leaving with a respectable eighth place finish.

Full Time?: No

#77 Sam Hornish Jr.: The three-time IndyCar champion and 2006 Indy 500 winner made his way to full time NASCAR Cup Series racing in 2008 with Penske Racing South. Hornish raced for Penske through 2010, and again for the latter half of the 2012 season before securing a full time ride with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2015. Hornish has since raced on a part time basis in NASCAR, most recently running a handful of Xfinity Series races in 2017.

Full Time?: No

#83 Brian Vickers: Once again borrowing from Jimmy Spencer, “Vickernism” was in his second full time season at Red Bull Racing in 2008, driving the #83 Toyota Camry. Health-related problems sidelined him in 2010, but Vickers made a return with Red Bull Racing in 2011 before running part time in 2012 and 2013 for Michael Waltrip and Joe Gibbs Racing. After a full time season with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2014, health-related issues limited his 2015 season to a mere two races. Vickers’ most recent races were in 2016 when he subbed for Tony Stewart, and he can currently be found on NBC’s NASCAR-related coverage.

Full Time?: No

#84 A.J. Allmendinger: Yet another driver with experience in open wheel racing, Allmendinger ran the majority of 2008 with Red Bull Racing in the #84 Toyota. Allmendinger followed up 2008 with employment through Richard Petty Motorsports and later Penske Racing. Following a drug-related suspension in 2012 and a 2013 that saw him go between NASCAR and IndyCar part time, Allmendinger returned to full time NASCAR competition in 2014 with JTG-Daugherty Racing, the team he continues to race for.

Full Time?: Yes

#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Arguably NASCAR’s most famous driver since Bill Elliott, 2008 was a transitional year for Earnhardt, leaving his family’s Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in favor of Hendrick Motorsports where he drove the #88 Chevy. Jr. remained at Hendrick up until his final full time Cup Series season in 2017, though he has hinted at part time Xfinity Series racing in the future.

Full Time?: No

#96 J.J. Yelay: After making his debut with Joe Gibbs Racing, Yelay’s 2008 saw him move to Hall of Fame Racing for the majority of the season, driving the #96 Toyota Camry. Since then, Yelay has driven for multiple teams, such as Whitney Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports and full time seasons with Tommy Baldwin and BK Racing. Yelay currently spends most of his time in the Xfinity Series, though he has made starts in the Cup Series this year with the likes of Premium Motorsports and the NY Racing Team.

Full Time?: No

#99 Carl Edwards: In his fourth year of full time Cup Series Racing (all of which in Jack Roush’s #99 Ford Fusion), Carl Edwards finished second in the championship standings to Jimmie Johnson, winning nine races throughout 2008. Edwards stayed at Roush Fenway Racing until 2014, and drove his final two seasons for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Full Time?: No

Total Number of Current Full Time Drivers in NASCAR 09: 13/40

The fact that only 13 drivers carried over from the 2008 to 2018 rosters kind of came as a surprise to me. Even though 10 years have passed, I still expected the number to be higher. Names like Harvick, Hamlin and Busch were all prevalent in 2008, and continue to be regular contenders to this day. However, the last five years have consisted of the retirements of multiple drivers who saw significant success throughout the 2000s. Sometimes, it still seems strange for me to call Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. “former NASCAR drivers.” Then again, with drivers like William Byron, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, some analysts see a “youth movement” rising up to fill the void left by the departure of so many big names, and that we are currently living in a transitional period in the sport.

As for any other final words to properly conclude this analysis, allow me to leave you with a trivia question:

What do 2004’s NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup and 2017’s NASCAR Heat 2 have in common? Derrike Cope (your 1990 Daytona 500 champion) is a playable driver in both!

 

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