NASCAR Panel: Pocono
Is the Denny Hamlin/Kyle Busch feud good for Joe Gibbs Racing?
Ken Mays: I think it is. Look at the how much of the air time their sponsors get. It’s good for the sport in a lot of ways. It shows what passion the two have for what they do as race car drivers and who cares if they bump and grind on the track. I think it makes for some good fun racing from a fan’s point of view.
Jason Cannon: It doesn’t come at a very good time with that whole team firing on all
cylinders but both cars finished in the Top 5 Sunday, so it looks like it’s not affecting on-track performance.
Mark Trest: Knowing Joe Gibbs, the master motivator, he will turn this feud into a positive for JGR. Handled correctly, he will utilize these drivers’ energies to fuel their fire on the racetrack. If successful in harnessing these two, they could become unbeatable.
Is Steve Addington the key to Kurt Busch’s recent surge?
Ken Mays: He could be. He is running as well as he ever has before. Maybe it was the key that the team needed. Maybe the the 88 Team needs to look at what they did and look back to where Junior was at this point in seasons past, maybe even think about putting Tony Junior back in the crew chief’s position.
Jason Cannon: Without a doubt. Look at what happened to Kyle Busch when the 18 dropped Addington. He’s just now getting his old form back and he’s still not quite there. Kurt Busch is a great driver and now has a great crew chief. Big things are in store for the rest of the year for the Blue Deuce.
Mark Trest: I believe Addington is to Busch as Chad Knaus is to Jimmie Johnson. The driver has to be in tune with his crew chief first and foremost, and if not, see Dale Junior for a complete explanation of what happens to your perfomance. If you remember, Addington was brother Kyle Busch’s crew chief through last season until he couldn’t get along with him any longer, and look how stout a team the 18 car was with Addington calling the shots.
What’s wrong with Jimmie Johnson?
Ken Mays: I think he is just in a slump. As the best of the best, he still has bad days or weeks too. Look for him to come back strong in the second half of the season.
Jason Cannon: I think the squabble with Jeff Gordon’s gotten to him. Keep in mind,
Gordon owns part of the 48 and those two are close friends. Jeff Gordon is the one who convinced Hendrick to give Johnson the ride in the 48. I think Jeff got into his head a little.
Mark Trest: The change back to the spoiler versus the wing has the 48 team obviously looking for answers involving their race setups. Since the change, the 48 has either been lost on the track or running as good as ever, only to get caught up in a wreck. Johnson will be fine. All drivers, Johnson included, have parts of their season where nothing seems to go right. But, watch out when he gets it all figured out
Who gets your thumbs up and thumbs down for the month of May?
Ken Mays: Denny Hamlin has to get my two thumbs up for showing that he is a tough dude after coming back after a knee surgery and winning the way he did. My two thumbs down has go to go to DaleJunior. I know he is not his dad, but that team just ain’t hitting on all its cylinders. They need to regroup and start over with some kind of changes. It might need to start with a new crew chief.
Jason Cannon: It’s hard to not give the thumbs up to Kurt Busch. He closed out NASCAR’s big week in Charlotte with two wins. Thumbs down go to Carl Edwards. Where are you, man? He’s only led two laps all year!
Mark Trest: The dynamic duo of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch has risen to the top of the NASCAR elite, and appear capable of giving Jimmie Johnson a run for his money on the way to the Cup championship. So they get my thumbs up. Thumbs down, Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team had a mostly forgettable May by their standards.
Who’s your pick to win this weekend?
Ken Mays: This track is a track that Tony Stewart always has done good at in the past, so he is my pick to win this week. It’s about time for him to do something other than winning in the Top 10 week by week.
Jason Cannon: I’ve said it before. I like Denny Hamlin north of the Mason-Dixon line.
Mark Trest: Denny Hamlin won both races at Pocono as a rookie who had never even set foot there, and has been a threat to win every race since. And he is red hot right now!