NASCAR Panel: Phoenix week

Published 12:08 am Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is Busch’s bad boy attitude keeping him from being an elite driver?

Ken Mays: It might be keeping him from being in the “elite” group of drivers. The only thing to me that stands out in my mind is that he is one of the best drivers on the track.

Jason Cannon: I think so. It seems like he melts down under pressure. Look at last

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year’s Chase. He was running away with the season and fell off the map when it mattered most.

Mark Trest: Kyle Busch’s bad boy attitude is who he is. The attitude is what drives him. If he has to be a “pretty boy” like Johnson and Gordon, we will never see or hear from him again. He’s already attained elite status with this persona. Don’t change now.

Is Gordon’s reaction a sign of his frustrations with his season?

Ken Mays: It could be. But as a fan I loved it. I just wish that they would have let them just duke it out. It all kinda played out like it had been planned and who knows, NASCAR is really wanting more people to watch races and might have told them who ever wrecks get out and have at it. NASCAR seems to be losing fans every year.

Jason Cannon: He had to be frustrated with the season. I can’t think of anybody who thinks Jeff Burton would wreck somebody on purpose. He’s just not that kind of driver.

Mark Trest: Definitely frustration setting in. Yeah, he was mad at Burton initially, but that could have been any driver out there that felt the brunt of Gordons ire. Personally, I was glad to see Gordon go after someone. In my eyes, he shed the whiney persona and became a man by defending his turf and letting someone know he was mad as opposed to the politically correct answers he is known for giving.

Chad Knaus made the decision to swap pit crews with the 24. Big picture, was this a good call?

Ken Mays: It looked to me to be a good call. The pit stops that the 48 team had looked really bad Sunday. When they swapped, things sure went better. Now, the Rainbow Warriors are going to be with the 48 team the rest of the year. So that right there should tell us something.

Jason Cannon: In any sport, if your starter is struggling, you bench them; pitchers,

quarterbacks, whatever. It’s up to them to respond and earn their way back on the field. The 48 crew was struggling so they got benched. I didn’t see the big deal.

Mark Trest: Big picture, good call for Team Hendrick. Long term, Team 48, not so good. I see a whole can of worms opening up with internal strife. Essentially, the pit crew of the four-time champion was told to step aside. How is that supposed to make them feel? This could be a costly move for Hendrick, and it may just cost them the championship. Whether it’s this year or next year has yet to be seen.

Do you have more confidence in Hamlin or Johnson?

Ken Mays: I think Jimmie will keep on doing what he does best and that is get points. Like I said before, that team knows how to race for points and not just win every race. The points are important and not the trophy. I hope Denny can win the points just for the fact that someone needs to win a Cup besides Johnson just for the sake of keeping NASCAR from getting in the slump that are in.

Jason Cannon: I like the 11 team right now. With the 48 team having some pit road

glitches, I think Denny’s in the driver’s seat. Johnson will give Hamlin all he can handle but I don’t know if it will be enough.

Mark Trest: Based on the past four championships, my money is still on Johnson. Hamlin has shown the ability to win big and often, but he is just as apt to blow a motor and finish dead last the next week, whereas Johnson manages to log a decent finish even in the worst of races. It is hard to beat the high average finishes Johnson consistently produces, which is exactly why he is the reigning champion four years running.

Who is your pick to win this weekend?

Ken Mays: I am going to pick Cam Newton because he is mean, lean football machine. Oh wait, I forgot this is NASCAR. I am going with Jeff Gordon for the win because he is due a win.

Jason Cannon: Hendrick cars have won five of the last seven races here and I like the fire in Jeff Gordon’s belly right now. Give me the 24 team Sunday.

Mark Trest: Gonna go with Hamlin on this one. He is hot, and can smell the Championship Trophy.