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NASCAR Panel: The Chase culminates

Has this tight points battle changed your opinion of the Chase?

Ken Mays: Not at all. I think Jimmie Johnson will come out on top.

Jason Cannon: No. I don’t like the Chase format and I can’t tell that it makes racing

any more competitive. The guys who run well the first 20 weeks, run well in

the final 10, for the most part.

Mark Trest: No. I am still NOT a fan of the Chase. Harvick has been the man all year and, even in this Chase, he is still in the thick of things. So he hasn’t been running badly, but he stands to lose the championship because the other two leaders are having a better Chase. He’s not the first to lose a commanding points lead, nor will he be the last unless the Chase format is ditched.

Had Jimmie Johnson run out of fuel, his title hopes would have disappeared. Was the 48 team’s fuel strategy the call of the year?

Ken Mays: Yes, but it’s not unusual for his crew chief to make good calls. I have always said that he has the smartest man in NASCAR giving him directions.

Jason Cannon: The 48 team has stuff like that down to a science. I don’t think it was

that big of a gamble. I think they were pretty sure they had enough fuel to

make it all the way and then some.

Mark Trest: Based on the outcome, you would have to say so, especially with the Championship on the line. Basically put, either the call saves him or sinks him. He’s still afloat with a chance to win it all.

Three drivers. Once race. Who will be the champion?

Ken Mays: Just like I said in the second question, Jimmie johnson would come out on top because of his driving skills and the genius he has a crew chief.

Jason Cannon: Denny Hamlin. If I’m the 11 team, I follow every move Jimmie Johnson makes Sunday. I pit when he pits and I move when he moves. Hamlin has a big enough cushion that finishing a place or two behind the 48 shouldn’t hurt

too much.

Mark Trest: All three have a legitimate shot at winning it all. But, as I’ve said all season, the championship still goes through Johnson and the 48. He is coolest under pressure, and Hamlin is showing signs of stress.

It’s time for wild predictions: What’s the biggest offseason move you think will be made that we don’t know anything about right now?

Ken Mays: I look for Dale Junior to move to another team. I don’t think the chemistry is good where he is at.

Jason Cannon: I can’t see Richard Petty fielding a team next year. I know he says he will, but given what we know about their finances and the current state of the economy, I just don’t see him making it.

Mark Trest: Dale Junior steps down from Hendrick Motorsports and the 88 team, gives up driving altogether, and focuses his energies on his Nationwide Series team, citing burnout as a driver, and trying to live up to the high standards Papa Dale set for him to follow.

Who is your pick to win this weekend?

Ken Mays: I am picking Jimmie Johnson. I just watched him on Sportscenter and he said that his team is planning on leading laps and making sure there are no mistakes on his behalf and the rest of the team’s.

Jason Cannon: This is a good track for Greg Biffle and he’s make a hard, late-season charge. Give me the 16 team to finish out the season on a high-note.

Mark Trest: Johnson is going to show everyone why he is the four-time champion by smoking the field, leaving no doubts in anyone’s mind who is No. 1. This team responds the best when the pressure is on. Doesn’t get any better than a one race shootout.