NASCAR Panel: Charlotte

Published 8:41 pm Friday, May 27, 2011

Rank, in order, your favorite to least favorite: NASCAR all-star race, MLB All-star game, NBA all-star game and Pro-Bowl.

Ken Mays: NASCAR all-star race, Pro Bowl, MLB All-star and The NBA All Star. I’m not real fond of any of them.

Jason Cannon: NASCAR and MLB, and in a distant tie for last, NBA and the Pro-Bowl.

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Mark Trest: NASCAR All-Star race, NFL Pro-Bowl, MLB All-Star game, NBA All-Star game. The last NBA All-Star game I actually watched was when Michael Jordan was in his prime, if that tells you how long it has been.

Do you think NASCAR should find a way to limit what is basically a popularity contest for a driver like Dale Junior who can’t win races?

Ken Mays: I think it’s good that he has a fan base like that even if he’s not winning races.

Jason Cannon: Popular drivers sell tickets and commercials but if it’s truly an all-star event, you shouldn’t be in it if you can’t win races.

Mark Trest: If NASCAR even thinks about limiting that rule, there would be a riot! Popularity is what voting is all about. I remember Bill Elliot carrying that torch for years, so no rule changes will really change anything. You start telling people who they can vote for and you open a new can of worms you don’t want to eat.

In what way would you improve the all-star race?

Ken Mays: I think the best way to improve it is to race in pairs for 50 laps and have a double elimination until the best drivers take it all.

Jason Cannon: Take it out of Charlotte. Put in on a track that’s not on the regular circuit. It levels the playing field. There’s not a lot of preparation time and no one really has much of an advantage.

Mark Trest: I know tradition, and the fact that most all of the teams are based in Charlotte makes it the place to be for the All-Star race, but I personally would like to see the race held at different venues, much like the Super Bowls are done. This would renew interest, as other fans in other parts of the country would have an opportunity to see the All-Star event.

We’re about halfway into the season, who is the biggest surprise and who is the biggest loser?

Ken Mays: The biggest winner to me is Carl Edwards. He has struggled in the last few years and has come back and won and placed in several races. The biggest loser so far this year to me is Tony Stewart. After a great year last year with his first year as a owner/driver it seem like it would have carried over a little bit into this year. Something is just not clicking for his team.

Jason Cannon: Biggest surprise is Richard Petty Motorsports. The whole team looks like they’re getting their act together. Biggest loser so far is Jamie McMurray. He’s coming off a monster year and is showing everybody why Chip Ganassi wasn’t too heartbroken to lose him the first time around.

Mark Trest: Biggest surprise has got to be the re-emergence of Dale Junior in the points race, currently 4th in the standings. He hadn’t done much of anything competitively the last 2-3 years. The biggest disappointment would have to be Jeff Burton. Primed to contend for the title after a very good 2010 season, he has fallen by the wayside much like Dale Junior did the last few seasons.

Who is your pick to win this week?

Ken Mays: I am going with Kyle Busch because my daughter, Jesi, said he would win.

Jason Cannon: Have to stick with Jimmie Johnson in Charlotte.

Mark Trest: As long as Jimmie Johnson is in the field, and the race is held at Charlotte, you’d be foolish to not pick Johnson as the favorite.