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NASCAR Panel: Michigan

With Kasey Kahne headed to Red Bull next season, what do you think that means for Scott Speed and Brian Vickers?

Ken Mays: I think it means that Speed might be out and Vickers will be driving a car that will not have a sponsor until he can prove himself on the track. Neither have done much but to me Vickers is the best of the two.

Jason Cannon: I think Scott Speed is gone. In this economic climate, you can’t add a third car with the same sponsor and Speed has been underperforming all year.

It may all hinge on Brian Vickers’ health but, right now, I say Speed is on borrowed time at Red Bull.

Mark Trest: Well, there’s only two seats and three drivers, so someone must go. I think the final answer here lies in the health of Brian Vickers. If he makes a full recovery from blood clots, he most likely stays and Speed is the odd man out. However, if Vickers’ recovery period takes longer than expected, Speed more than likely stays.

Do you think, knowing 2011 is his last year, Mark Martin should have stepped aside and let Kasey Kahne have the ride early?

Ken Mays: No, I believe that if Mark Martin wanted to race another year he has the seniority to stay if he thinks he has a chance to win a Cup. Kahne has a ride and a team in 2012. So he should be satisfied.

Jason Cannon: No. Both Rick Hendrick and Mark Martin signed that contract and both need to honor it. All Mark Martin has done since joining Hendrick is make the

Chase and win races. What’s the hurry to bring Kahne on anyway? Mark Martin

has more than three times as many career wins. Leave the man alone.

Mark Trest: I’m thinking that he probably should have. It appears to me that Martin has not gotten the full attention from the Hendrick camp this season as he did last year and it shows. The No. 5 team is nothing like the team that stormed the Cup field last season. That’s not surprising though. Just look at the 88 team. Does this scenario sound familiar to those guys as well? Face it. Hendrick is putting all his doggies into the 48 and 24 teams. Hendrick is only dragging down Martin and Earnhardt at this point.

What do you think about NASCAR’s decision to open the Chase next year at Chicagoland and drop Fontana all together?

Ken Mays: I think it’s a good thing that they have done this. Fontana’s attendance has been so low over the last few years and that alone shows that the sport is not as important to the people as it is to the Chicago people.

Jason Cannon: The tracks are mostly similar. Fontana is a half-mile longer. I don’t

think it makes a lot of difference. What I would like to see NASCAR do is

rotate Chase tracks every year. Of the 10 races, four of the tracks

should rotate in and out annually.

Mark Trest: This is probably not a bad move. California has never really ever created what we call a “thrilling” race. Some of my best Sunday afternoon naps have come during the California races; not to mention, the attendance has slipped considerably. Therefore, the luster of the race’s involvement in the Chase has lost its shine. Chicagoland has produced some good racing and the fan support is strong. Why not give them a chance? They deserve it more than California. It all comes back to the bottom line. California isn’t producing a winning product any longer, so in with the new.

With four races left, do you think the Chase field is pretty much set or do you expect it to change?

Ken Mays: I believe its pretty much set for the year. I don’t see anyone catching up that is out of the running for The Chase.

Jason Cannon: Only 10 points between 12th place Mark Martin and 13th place Clint Bowyer. That’s going to be a dog fight that goes down to the wire. But, in

the end, I think the Top 12 now will be the Top 12 at the cutoff.

Mark Trest: If there are any changes to be made it would be Clint Bowyer knocking Mark Martin out of the 12th and final position in the Chase. Other drivers close behind, namely Newman and McMurray have been inconsistent all season, and only four races with nothing but Top 5 finishes would secure them a spot in the Chase.

Who is your pick to win this weekend?

Ken Mays: I am going with Jimmie Johnson this week and believe that he has been preparing for this part of the season all year long.

Jason Cannon: I like what I’m seeing from Kurt Busch, so I’ll take the Blue Deuce this weekend.

Mark Trest: Tough call. No one is absolutely dominating right now. Hamlin won earlier this season at Michigan, but his fire has cooled, as has Johnson’s. I like Kurt Busch’s chances. He’s running as good as anyone right now, appears on the verge of another victory and Michigan is a good track for him.