NASCAR panel: Easter weekend

Published 6:46 pm Friday, April 6, 2012

With three wins in the season, and fresh off a championship, where does Stewart-Hass Racing rank among other teams?

Jason Cannon: I would put that organization on par with Joe Gibbs but ahead of Penske and RoushFenway. Hendrick is on a level by themselves but SHR is certainly in the group chasing them.

Mark Trest: They’d have to be considered among the elite teams in NASCAR.  Both cars are annual participants in the Chase, and contend most every week for wins. Many of the so called top teams haven’t been nearly as consistent as Stewart and Newman.

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Ken Mays: I think the team is ranked at the top. They have proved that they will be a contender this year for the championship already. If luck continues to be on their side I look for them to rank at least in the Top 5 when the chase gets here.

Six races into the year and at the first break, who gets your thumbs up and thumbs down?

Jason Cannon: Thumbs down goes to Jeff Gordon. Who has had worse luck on the track than him this year? Thumbs up goes to Tony Stewart. It looks like everything is going in his favor this year.

Mark Trest: Thumbs up to Greg Biffle. What a start to his season! Thumbs down to Kasey Kahne. Total bust of a season thus far, though he does lead the series with pole positions won.

Ken Mays: Thumbs up for the Stewart-Hass organization for coming out strong with both teams and a thumbs down to Gibbs’ teams for not being even close to what they were last year.

Finish this sentence: The biggest surprise this year is …

Jason Cannon: Kasey Kahne performing as poorly as he has. I really didn’t expect him to win right out of the gate but he’s not finished in the Top 10 at all despite two poles.

Mark Trest: Greg Biffle. It was thought that his seat in the 16 car was in jeopardy at season’s start. Don’t think that’s the case these days. Also Dale Junior. Who would have figured he’d be 2nd in the points race at this stage of the season?

Ken Mays: The 48 team for getting caught cheating again.

Since Kyle Busch is known to start the season fast but finish slow, how long do you give the 18 team before the hit the panic button?

Jason Cannon: Give him about another month before you worry. When he starts winning, he can win every race every weekend. It won’t take him long to catch up.

Mark Trest: The 18 team isn’t far off I don’t really think. They’ve run pretty good at times, only to get caught up in a big wreck. Kyle doesn’t seem as dominant as in years past. Makes you wonder if he’s playing safe these days and not driving like the bullyish Kyle we know that got in trouble with NASCAR. Take a style like Kyle’s out of his hands, and you have a totally different driver than the one that’s been so successful.

Ken Mays: I would think the panic button has already been pushed. I would bet the farm that he will show his butt within the next five races and we will see him in a different car like we did his brother.

Danica Patrick is set to run her next Cup race May 12 at Darlington but the No. 10 car she is to pilot is dangerously close to slipping outside the revered Top 35. Do you think she’ll make the cut?  

Jason Cannon: David Reutimann has drained the point cushion to 35th pretty consistently every weekend. It’s not looking good but she could always qualify the car on speed and make the cut.

Mark Trest: She appears to be a pretty decent qualifier from what I’ve seen of her, so she should make her planned races regardless of team points position.

Ken Mays: I think NASCAR will try to figure out how to get her on the track for that race. I think they know how important it is for the fan base she has, and when she is racing they have noticed that the TV ratings go up.