Regardless of whether or not you're a NASCAR fan, there's no denying that the motorsport is starting off its 2008 season in the best possible way. Early festivities for the season opener Daytona 500 began this past weekend and resulted in Jimmie Johnson, last season's champion, taking the pole position. Next to him on the grid will be a somewhat redeemed Michael Waltrip, who was embroiled in a scandal at last year's Daytona 500 that resulted in the largest ever fine handed down from NASCAR at the time.

That would probably be enough for a great kick off to the season, but the newly minted NASCAR Sprint Cup is swimming in merchandise sales after Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Bud Shootout on Saturday in his first race as a member of Hendrick Motorsports. Driving his new No. 88 Chevy, Earnhardt Jr. came out swinging in this exhibition that nets no points for the winner, but is a good omen for winning the 500 next weekend.

[Source: ESPN, Photo by John Harrelson/Getty]

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