NASCAR Panel: Easter weekend

Published 7:46 pm Friday, April 2, 2010

It would appear an old rivalry is being reborn in Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth. What do you think about all the on-track punch trading that’s been going on between drivers?

Ken Mays: I love it. It’s what put NASCAR on the map and on TV to start with. Look for this to happen more and more as the year goes on, I hope!

Jason Cannon: I like it. The “boys, have at it” rule is certainly making things more interesting. But, I don’t think Kenseth running under Gordon like he did Monday was as dirty as Jeff wants to believe it is.

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Mark Trest: Every season, there are usually drivers that always seem to run around each other other on the track every week, basically fighting for the same space on that track. Eventually, frustration sets in, and you see the end results, which are finger pointing, jawing, banging fenders, wrecking and sometimes even pushing and shoving. Welcome to the 2010 installment featuring Gordon/Kenseth. Kinda reminds you of the Earnhardt/Waltrip days doesn’t it?

The surprise story this early in the season is Paul Menard, who is sitting in 11th place right now. How did a relative unknown from the past few seasons become the lead dog at Richard Petty Motorsports?

Ken Mays: Who would know a good race car driver better than The King himself? Paul has been on an uphill crawl since his debut on the track. I look for even better things from this guy.

Jason Cannon: That Roush affiliation isn’t hurting any. He has access to some pretty good equipment right now and that’s not something he’s had, historically. It’s good to see someone make so much of an opportunity.

Mark Trest: The stars finally have lined up correctly for Menard apparently. It’s a combination of better equipment and a better team, and a little luck never hurts either. I’m sure he learned some things running in subpar equipment prior to this season, and now he’s taking advantage of the opportunity and it shows.

At the opposite end of the surprise spectrum we find Juan Montoya. After a stellar sophomore campaign last year, the No. 42 team currently sits 25th in points. What do you think is the problem this season?

Ken Mays: In my honest opinion, I think that him getting in a race car is the biggest problem he has. To me, he is not cut out for NASCAR. He needed to have stuck with what he was doing before. He’s pretty good at times and had a “lucky” season. I have to give him one thing as a driver. He does make pretty good commercials.

Jason Cannon: The problem is inconsistency. Montoya’s finished in the Top 10 twice but it’s the times that he’s finishing 30th on back that are killing him. He’s not done a very good job at avoiding accidents either and that’s killing him.

Mark Trest: Whereas some drivers are having all the luck thus far, I don’t think Montoya has had much of any luck. What a difference a season makes. That’s the thing about racing. Last year was just that, last year. Maybe Montoya should ask Dale Junior for some advice. He knows about being on top, then plummeting to the bottom. Once again, the same combination of equipment, team chemistry, and luck that other drivers are enjoying this year just isn’t happening for Montoya..

Who gets your thumbs up and thumbs down for the month of March?

Ken Mays: Two big thumbs up for the 48 team of Jimmie Johnson. There is not a better team out there when it comes to doing what it takes to be good on a consistent level. With the smartest man in the history of the sport in Chad Knaus as the leader and with Jimmie Johnson being the smartest driver out there, there is nothing this team can’t overcome. But the team with the big two thumbs down would have to be the 18 team of Kyle Busch. They have seemed to not be able to get things started this year.

Jason Cannon: Thumbs up: Kurt Busch. Cup ran three races in March and the Blue Deuce logged a win and a Top 5 in two of them. Thumbs down: Ryan Newman. I think he’s overrated as a driver. He deserves all the flack NASACR nation gives Dale Junior.

Mark Trest: Kurt Busch definitely gets my thumbs up nod for the best March. The Penske driver and team put together a great string of races, only being overshadowed by the success of Johnson and the 48 team. I look for Busch to contend all season long. Their team is solid. Thumbs down to two drivers who drive for high profile teams but are invisible on the track, David Ragan and Ryan Newman. Neither have shown much this season.

If you could throw all your rotten Eater eggs at any driver’s car as it passed by, who would be be any why?

Ken Mays: That’s an easy question! Juan Montoya, to me, is the guy I love to hate. If he is a Sprint Cup driver, there is one behind every tree. Happy Easter everyone.

Jason Cannon: Elliot Sadler. He just rides around the track and runs into people. I can’t imagine a scenario where I would hire him to drive my car if I was an owner. He’s terrible and his accent drives me nuts.

Mark Trest: I can’t honestly say that I have a driver that I just hate. I did used to hate Montoya when he first came into NASCAR with a snotty, holier-than thou attitude, and like Keselowski, he thought he was going to come into the sport, and push and shove his way around, only to have Kevin Harvick snatch him up on the track after a wreck and give him an attitude adjustment. His attitude has since changed for the better and my respect for him has improved as well.