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NASCAR Panel: Martinsville

What do you think of NASCAR’s decision to dump the rear wing and going back to a rear spoiler?

Ken Mays: I really think it’s going to make a big difference on the super speedways during the draft. When the cars start to draft close, the rear car is going to take away the down force and cause the car to drive loose. Look for the car of tomorrow to turn into the car of yesteryear. It’s going to make for some fun races to watch in my opinion.

Jason Cannon: I like it. I never liked the look of the wing. It looks like NASCAR is

trying to back down from the COT without totally backing out of it and I think that’s a good thing.

Mark Trest:  It’s a move in the right direction. There have been handling and tire issues ever since the “wing” was introduced to the cars. And, the last straw with the wings was the cars going airborne once they turned around. I think you will see better handling now and, hopefully, no more air shows.

Sunday marked Jimmie Johnson’s 50th career win. Is Jimmie Johnson the most dominant athlete across any sport?

Ken Mays: Yes! I can’t think of anyone else other than maybe Peyton Manning who can even come close to being as dominant in their profession as a sports figure. But, if you are meaning of all time, I would have to say it would have to be Bo Jackson.

Jason Cannon: Without question. Jimmie Johnson is as dominant in NASCAR as Tiger Woods is in golf, and I think even more so. Week in and week out, it’s not a

question of if Johnson can win, it’s “Will he?”

Mark Trest: Plain and simply put, Jimmie Johnson is the man. In this era of parity across the board in all sports, other than Tiger Woods, no one dominates their sport as does Johnson. Week in and week out, he is a threat to win.

Do you think replacing the rear wing with a spoiler will have any short-term effects on the drivers?

Ken Mays: I think it will have the most effect on the drivers with the least amount of miles behind the wheel of a race car. The more experienced drivers are used to changes on their cars and can adjust more easily changes.

Jason Cannon: I think you’ll see drivers like Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff

Gordon – guys who are familiar with how the cars handle with the spoiler in traffic – with a little advantage until everyone else figures it out. But I wouldn’t expect that to last too long.

Mark Trest: Initially, any major changes to the cars tend to upset what has transpired thus far in the season, and you will all of a sudden see drivers who haven’t been contending be running up front, whereas you will also see drivers who were running well suddenly seem lost on the track. There will be some shuffling going on for a little while, but expect your big teams to figure things out rather hastily, and things will return to normal.

During the 93 races NASCAR ran with a rear wing, Jimmie Johnson won 22, nearly twice as many as the driver behind him (Kyle Busch, 13). Do you think NASCAR’s decision to replace the wing was an attempt to corral Jimmie Johnson with the rest of the field?

Ken Mays: My opinion on this is that it’s not just the drivers that win races. I think that teamwork is the key to a successful driver. The leadership over the Lowe’s team with Chad Knaus as the crew chief is the link to the success of the team. So no, I think that people like me are watching the races to see if Jimmie Johnson is going to win just like some people that do not even play golf watched Tiger Woods play to see how good he was and if he was going to win…before he forgot what his priorities were.

Jason Cannon: You read a lot about NASCAR’s fan base growing tired of Jimmie Johnson winning each week and most of them hated the wing to begin with. Tinkering with it lets them kill one bird while possibly injuring another. But I’ve got bad news for NASCAR nation. You know what was on the back of Jimmie Johnson’s car for his first Cup championship? A spoiler. I don’t think it’s going to make any difference at all to the 48 team.

Mark Trest: The change back to a spoiler has nothing to do with Jimmie Johnson. He would probably be the best with no spoiler on the car. The fact is, it’s a safety and handling issue from what I’ve read. Teams were finding it difficult to strike a balance with the front and rear end handling of the car with the wing. Therefore, the spoiler creates a better handling car. Also, the wing created lift on the cars when spun, and airborne crashes were becoming the norm. Not good. Something had to be done.

Who is your pick to win this weekend?

Ken Mays: Historically, Jeff Gordon is the favorite at this track. But I am going against history and picking the person that holds the record  for the fastest qualifying time and that guy is none other than my favorite driver, Tony “Smoke” Stewart.

Jason Cannon: First race with a spoiler in nearly three years sounds like a good time to pick a crafty veteran. I’ll go with Jeff Gordon.

Mark Trest: I hate to say it, but speaking of Johnson, if memory serves me correctly, he has dominated Martinsville in recent years. Gotta go with the 48 car once again.