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NASCAR Panel: Atlanta

Who, in your opinion, has had the most disappointing season thus far?

Ken Mays: Dale Junior has had the most disappointing year. There were a lot of changes on the 88 team to get him better but it seemed to backfire on them. I really believe that Junior might have been a little mad at the change and just didn’t have his heart in the right place this year. I kind of wonder what’s going to happen to this team next year.

Jason Cannon: I think you have to look at Dale Junior. Lance McGrew was supposed to fix the 88 team’s biggest problem – inconsistency. It hasn’t worked and he’s going to miss the Chase.

Mark Trest: Dale Junior and Juan Montoya. Hendrick Motorsports poured a ton of effort into the 88 team, but it just hasn’t happened for them. Montoya made the Chase last season and fully expected to contend this season, but again, it hasn’t happened for them either.

Who has surprised you the most this season?

Ken Mays: The biggest surprise this year to me is the Old Spice team of Tony Stewart team has not done as well as they did last season. They seemed to show a lot of potential  last year but just can’t get a win in this season so far.

Jason Cannon: Jamie McMurray. There’s no way this time last year anyone could have picked him to win two of NASCAR’s biggest races. He’s taken his career to a

completely different level in the past six months.

Mark Trest: Kevin Harvick. Not only has he contended week in and week out, he has been the points leader all season.I didn’t expect this.

NASCAR’s popularity explosion seems to be over and it has begun to shrink. What do you attribute this to?

Ken Mays: I think the economy has a lot to do with it. It’s the common people like me that seem to follow them close and save their money to go to races. Money is hard to save right now and I think it’s really hurting the sport of racing.

Jason Cannon: The sport was born from moonshiners and now it’s a polished corporate presence. It’s over-policed by the rules committee and Jimmie Johnson wins too much. I love NASCAR but I recognize the problems.

Mark Trest: NASCAR ran off the fans that made them by price gouging to begin with. Then the economy hit hard, and though prices have been adjusted, it’s too late now. Also, NASCAR is wishy-washy with rules enforcement, a big turn-off to the fans smart enough to know better (i.e. phantom debris caution flags). And finally, the 48 winning all the time has fans looking elsewhere for competition.

Do you think Cup regulars who are also Nationwide regulars help or hurt

their Cup efforts?

Ken Mays: I think it can only help the series. People are not going to go watch a race where there are not any well known drivers racing.

Jason Cannon: I think running both helps drivers get the feel for banking and how a

track reacts to heat and sun. But the cars are so different, I don’t think there’s a huge advantage. Look at Jimmie Johnson. He wins more than anybody and doesn’t run Nationwide.

Mark Trest: I’m a believer that the extra track time does indeed benefit the drivers who run both series. True, the cars are different in handling, etc, but nothing replaces driving the track in both practice and race conditions.

Who is your pick to win this weekend?

Ken Mays: I am going with Kyle Busch again this week. He is on a roll and he is focused on winning the Cup. He will do any and everything he can do do what it take to win that thing.

Jason Cannon: I like Jeff Gordon this week. That car has been running near the top week in and week out. It’s only a matter of time before he gets to Victory Lane.

Mark Trest: I like Kevin Harvick in Atlanta. He’s running strong, he’s in the points lead, and he has no pressure to run safe. I say he lets it all hang out and will show us why he is in the points lead. Bye bye 48!