NASCAR Panel: Phoenix

Published 9:34 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

How do you think Denny Hamlin’s knee surgery will impact the race this weekend?

Ken Mays: If he can stand the pain without drugs, then he is one tough guy. I really do not see him doing that well in the upcoming race. I think it would be hard to focus on driving with the pain that comes with having a knee operation. I wish him luck. He is a pretty good driver with lots of class.

Jason Cannon: He won the week before it was repaired, so apparently he can fight through the pain pretty well. It will be interesting to see how he responds to his first wreck. As far as how it will impact his driving, I doubt it will much.

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Mark Trest: If this was a Talladega race, I wouldnt be concerned. It’s mostly all floorboarding the throttle. But, this is a short track, and there will be lots of accelerating and braking, requiring both legs. Being he just had the surgery a little over a week ago, it could hurt him late in the race should there be multiple cautions.

What do you think about Gov. Rick Perry of Texas sponsoring Bobby Labonte’s car April 18?

Ken Mays: A sponsor is a sponsor these days. You have to take what you can get and if the political sponsors are what it takes to get money, then heck, have at it. Maybe this will be a trend for the next few years. Anything these days will help.

Jason Cannon: It’s a cool idea, but I don’t see how it’s going to make that big of a splash with Texas voters. The track holds almost 160,000 people so his largest audience will be national but I’ll give him bonus points for creativity.

Mark Trest: On the forefront, it appears corny. I mean, who really cares who is running for Governor in Texas other than Texas residents? However, money is tight, racing is expensive, and race teams are taking sponsorship dollars from many new resources this season.

What do you think of the extra 63 laps Saturday night?

Ken Mays: More laps means a longer race and it will be more time on TV for us fans to have something to do that day. I like it. Beats watching paint dry or grass growing.

Jason Cannon: Under the old format, the race took a little less than three hours. Now, it won’t be over with until after 10 p.m. I like night racing, sometimes, but that’s a long time to race that close to my bed time.

Mark Trest: The length of the race doesn’t really change anything. The racers still have to race to the checkered flag regardless if they run 100 less or 100 more laps. I’m guessing the thinking here is to have the race finish in TV primetime in search of a possible ratings boost for the broadcast.

If Dale Junior has a poor showing at one of his better tracks, is his season in trouble?

Ken Mays: I think his season will just be starting if he wins this race. I really look for good things to happen for Dale Junior. It’s time for him to come out swinging his fist and bump drafting as hard as he can.

Jason Cannon: He’s got two top 10s in six races, so his season’s not been too bad so far. But he’s going to have to break from the pack eventually if he has any hopes of winning the Cup. In my opinion, Phoenix is one of his better chances to do that.

Mark Trest: Immediately, should he falter, I would say, no his season is not in trouble. Phoenix is just one race. And, Junior has shown improvement so far. However, should he continue to falter, yes, his season and career at Hendrick Motorsports could be in jeopardy.

Who is your pick to win?

Ken Mays: My pick this week is Dale Junior and the 88 Team. I feel it’s time for him to show what he has. Have a great weekend.

Jason Cannon: I like Carl Edwards on one-mile tracks. He’s got to end this skunk streak eventually.

Mark Trest: I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here, but the standings speak for themselves. Johnson and the 48 car are in the zone.

Even on bad days, they still finish Top 15. I read the expert analysis each week, in addition to my own intuition. Same result. Jimmie Johnson is the man to beat.