Chat with Ed Hinton
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Hinton Archive: Columns
Ed Hinton (2:02 PM)
Good afternoon, all. We'll get started in a moment. As a heads-up, I'm going to welcome back Steiny in NYC, then answer a couple of Dale Jr. questions to get that part done -- we always have a lot. Then we'll go to other topics. If you see higher numbered questions than yours come up, that doesn't necessarily mean I've missed you. I'll be jumping around somewhat at random. Here we go . . .
Mr. Hinton, I am sorry I missed the chat last week. I hope all is well. I was wondering, will NASCAR change its pit stop rules in Nationwide and Sprint series?
Ed Hinton (2:04 PM)
Welcome back, Steiny. We missed you. Good question. My answer is, they'd better NOT change the pit rules for NW and Cup the way they have the trucks. Forcing teams to pit separate for tires and gas is just about the worst pit rule I've ever heard of. I'll leave it to the Truck teams to fight it out with NASCAR on that one. But if they impose it on the two bigger series, I'm going to be all over them in columns.
Ed Hinton (2:05 PM)
Now to a bit of Dale Jr. conversation, then we'll move on to other topics.
Brady Pottsotwn PA
Ed, I have been supportive of Tony Jr. for a long time because Junior seems comfortable with him in his pit box. I am starting to wonder though, that maybe Junior needs to get out of his comfort zone to perform back to levels he did early in his career. Do you think a Ron Malec or someone else within the Hendrick organization could spark that magic for Junior?
Ed Hinton (2:06 PM)
I've said for weeks now that Jr. and Jr. should be separated. But not in the harsh way DEI did it. I think it'll take some Rick Hendrick diplomacy. I suspect Rick is studying the situation quietly but carefully right now.
jason claypool hill va
when will junior, learn tony eury jr. is not a winning crew chief. i've been a junior fan for a long and he hasn't won anything with him. So the big boss at hendrick needs to step in and do us all a favor and tell junior the truth. that he should have left eury behind with dei.........
Ed Hinton (2:09 PM)
Tony Jr. CAN be a winning crew chief. The problem with Jr. and Jr. is that they're cousins and have been associating since they were little boys playing together. They've never learned to stop bickering. They've tried, but it hasn't happened yet.
hey Ed how much longer will jr continue to get the pass that his name gives him
Ed Hinton (2:11 PM)
This is getting to be a very relevant question. Jeff Gordon is doing well. Jimmie Johnson WILL do well, soon. Mark Martin will be a steady runner. Dale Jr. has to keep up, or something's gotta give. Trouble is, nobody is more aware of the situation than Dale Jr. himself. One reason he gets so ornery is that he knows full well what the public expects of him, and he's struggling to live up to it.
Mark Martin's horrible start - do you think Hendrick may shuffle up the shops at all? It seems the 24 & 48 are far superior to the 5 & 88.
Ed Hinton (2:13 PM)
OK, this'll wrap up the Jr-related things for a while. Keith, I've said for a while that an interesting switch would be to move Tony Jr. to be Mark Martin's crew chief, and put Dale Jr. with Alan Gustafson. The rough starts for both teams would argue for that. Rick Hendrick is probably looking carefully but quietly at the situation. Thing is, he knows crew chief swaps have rarely worked well anywhere . . ..
Ed, please explain the need for a week off this early in the season, it drives me nuts every year. they're going to take off for Easter in a few weeks anyway. Wouldn't this week off serve the teams better in the heat of the summer? I was looking at the schedule and moving Texas to this week then moving Phoenix up to Texas' spot before Easter would have been much more logical to me. A block of 1.5 mile tracks followed by a block of short and sort of short tracks
Ed Hinton (2:16 PM)
Beats me, Glynn. For a while they front-loaded the off weekends: this one, Easter, and Mother's Day weekend before they put Darlington on Mother's Day weekend. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes dealing with track promoters. Maybe a lot of them figure this one would risk rain and cold. I would suspect, for example, that Bristol and Martinsville would rather push back to the weeks where they're run.
Matt (Oxford, MS)
Ed, with Harvick having the best average finish at Bristol, is next week when he finally gets a win?
Ed Hinton (2:18 PM)
Hotty Toddy, Matt! How're things on the Square? I love Oxford. Anyway, Harvick should be strong again at Bristol, but to be honest, Kenseth might be my pick. He's been strong there for a while, and his team is off to that excellent start. And there could be a rematch of last August's slugfest between Edwards and Wild Thing.
Brenin (C-bus, OH)
I absolutely dispise the varied/late start times to the races. When I was young, you could always bank on being able to get home in time from church to change clothes and grab some food for the "start your engines" call. At the rate it is going now with the West coast races etc., we fans never know when they start - unless you do some work to find out. Well - on Sunday, I do not feel like doing any work period. If NASCAR wants to keep viewers - we need to have a somewhat dependable start time weekly, with only a couple variations each year. How the hell are you supposed to watch when you are never sure when they begin in the first place. People's lives are too busy these days. When NASCAR started adding viewers in droves - the start times were dependable.... OH - ALSO, take some races away from the tracks where the product is boring as hell - and give extra "promotional dates" to the big boys with the best action (aka Talladega, Daytona, Bristol etc). Watching that shit at Fontana and Vegas was as boring as the races in the 70's when you couldn't buy fans.
Ed Hinton (2:22 PM)
Brenin, you are by no means alone. There's such a fan voice about it, maybe we'll see some changes -- not this year, but in the future.
Sam ( AZ)
Ed, is it just me or do these young hot shot drivers (Edwards, Ky Busch, etc..) need to have a great car to have a great day? They don't seem to have the skill that guys like Kenseth, Gordon, and Stewart have to take a horrible car and turn it into a good day. If Carl and Kyle have bad cars it seems they just run around in 20th all day.
Ed Hinton (2:23 PM)
That's part of maturing as a driver -- keeping on working at getting a bad car better. Edwards is pretty good at forcing the issue, but I think in general you're right. It just takes experience -- and the reinforcement of having success by being patient stop after stop -- to keep the focus to get a car right, even if it takes 400 miles or so. They'll learn.
Jerry (Tampa, FL)
NASCAR suspended Jimmy Watts (the now infamous tire chaser) for four races. I understand some form of punishment so that he doesn't do it again, but doesn't the punishment seem just a little harsh? I remember a few years back when Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch had a spat and Kurt pulled to a screeching halt alongside Tony on pit road and nearly hit one of Tony's crew members. So Kurt nearly injures someone and gets summoned to the hauler (slap on the wrist), Jimmy Watts chases a tire and gets four races. I think NASCAR has some discrepancies in their punishment.
Ed Hinton (2:26 PM)
You're absolutely right about the Busch-Stewart deal at Dover. I'd have parked Busch for a minimum of four races on that one. I'm old enough to have seen pit crewmen fatally injured, and I hope we never see it again. I don't think the penalty on Watts was too severe. I do think NASCAR should have admonished those crewmen a lot harder, a lot sooner, about running out like that. But, typical NASCAR: when the horses are out of the barn, they close the door. Let's all just be grateful he got back safely. Over the years, I've seen two pit crewmen killed at that very track, Atlanta -- one in 1979, another in 1990.
Jason, Oxford, AL
Ed, I think NASCAR and DRIVER's greed is coming full circle. Ticket prices should dramatically reduced if they want fans to come to the borefest. It's that simple.
Ed Hinton (2:29 PM)
Hey, the other Oxford. I like the one in AL, too. I stay in Anniston for Talladega races. On the greed part, I think drivers have gotten the message big time. Now it's the track owners. And they're coming around. I don't think we've seen the bottom of the ticket price reductions, or the hotel rate reductions. Lowe's, for example, has really put the heat on the hotel chains in the Charlotte area to get them to stop gouging. Believe me, never before have I seen the powers that be pay so much attention to the fans -- except for that enormous foulup of calling the Daytona 500 too early.
After Clint Bowyer's impressive start with the new #33 car, I have to ask if Clint is just that good or is the chemistry on that #33 car this amazing coming out of the box. I think that Clint has potential to perhaps someday "Kenseth" his way to a title (meaning utilizing super consistency over vast numbers of victories).
Ed Hinton (2:30 PM)
Clint is just that good. I mean, very good. He hasn't gotten the top treatment at RCR, but he's really positive, great attitude, excellent driver -- so the chemistry has come together around him because he mixes so well himself.
Matt (DeLand, FL)
Ed, in regards to Atlanta, would NASCAR have thrown a caution flag when the tire rolled into the infield regardless of whether or not it was being pursued by a crew member? The reason I ask this is because I can see them doing that out of fear that a car could slide through the infield, hit the tire, and hope for the best. It just seems to me that they are using him as a scapegoat.
Ed Hinton (2:33 PM)
Excellent question. The tire looked to me like it had enough momentum to have rolled on into the middle of the track. Then what? Somebody probably would have hit it. Then where would it have gone. All of that said, I still think the penalty against the crewman was fair. As I said before, I've seen too many crewmen badly hurt or killed. Bottom line: I think they should have penalized the crewman. He was wrong. But also, I think there would have been a caution anyway.
Jim North Carolina
Ed when will people really start leadving Jr alone seriously. People complain he is not doing well. I dont believe he asked to be popular, he did ask for the following of a nation. If I had the press or a camera shoved in my face every time I turned around doing my job it would be very distracting. Maybe Jr could work on his game if he could get left alone for a while. If the poor guy stumbled 1 time as he walked, or ANYTHING else he does the world knows 5 minutes later...
Ed Hinton (2:35 PM)
Jim, Having been around Dale Jr. off and on since he was 5 years old, I agree with you totally. He didn't ask for any of this. It just happened to him. From time to time I write columns trying to remind people of this, and AntiJuniorNation howls that I'm too soft on him. Unfortunately, I don't think he's ever going to be left alone, poor guy.
Mike (Athens, Georgia)
I'm not surprised at Kurt Busch or Jeff Gordon and how they've performed so far. It's still a new car but they're getting more and more races with it so we are seeing the results of that. The drivers are figuring out set-ups that really work for them and allow them to win races. And yes, Gordon will win at least a few this year if that's not obvious already.
Ed Hinton (2:37 PM)
Mike, you're right: Gordon will win again, any Sunday now. I'm working on a column on that very thing, scheduled to be posted tomorrow, I think.
Paul from Tucson, Arizona
Ed, So far this season, it seems as though nobody has actually talked about racing. Nearly every topic has been about sponsorship problems, tire issues, top-35 rule, and engine failures. When is everybody going to get back to caring about the racing? Thanks, Paul
Ed Hinton (2:39 PM)
I think we got back to talking about racing last Sunday, for sure. At least, that's all I talked about in the latter half of my live blog, and then in my column, from the Atlanta race. You get 43 drivers slipping and sliding all over the place, Kurt Busch scraping the wall and still winning, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards giving him a run while sliding around themselves -- i mean, drivers were sideways coming off corners all day. With all that, it's enough to make you forget about sponsorships, attendance, economy, or whatever.
Ed,I gotta say that I like that races tickets are now very affordable yet attendance is still down. Do you see Nascar cutting some dates if this keeps up and what tracks do you think would get cut first?
Ed Hinton (2:42 PM)
I don't see NASCAR cutting dates -- as, for example, when airline travel falls off, the airline just cuts the number of flights -- any time soon. For the next season or more, they'll continue to have all 36 dates, and they probably won't even reduce the starting fields. That would be too blatant an admission there's a problem. But I will tell you this: If some economists are right and this mess lasts three or four more years, then therell be absolutely nothing wrong with, say, 32 car field and 30 races. It'll be just fine. If anything, the situation will seem vastly improved to all of us.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Is 43 drivers too many?
Ed Hinton (2:44 PM)
I think so. I think they could have great races with 30 cars, without all the backmarkers getting in the way. But high numbers of cars are NASCAR's security blanket, going all the way back to the pioneer years. I think 43 is definitely too many for places like Martinsville and Bristol. I'd go to 36 at those places, even in the best of times.
Andy (Toledo, OH)
Hey Ed - love your stuff, keep it up. Anyways, do you think we will see a tweak in the COT at all after this season? I still think they need to raise the splitter up an inch or two to give more downforce and adjustability into the car. I've heard several drivers say that would help them feel more comfortable to run side-by-side. What are your thoughts?
Ed Hinton (2:47 PM)
Pemberton has dug his heels in on this (Meaning Helton whispering in his ear). I would hope for relief on the splitter after this year -- they only have to say "No!" for a while to flex their muscles -- except that drivers like Jeff Gordon are getting the hang of this bump-stop issue, which is a symptom of the splitter and no front-end travel. If Gordon gets the hang of it, there may be no incentive for them to budge. And as we know, they do love to stand there with their arms folded, their eyes closed and their heads shaking.
Will someone PLEASE tell FOX to get rid of Digger!PLEASE
Ed Hinton (2:49 PM)
Ben, you are by no means alone. I'll leave it at that.
Matt (Ogdensburg, New Jersey)
Ed man i was wondering do you think dale jr has a chance at a championship this year i know he had a slow start but he has had to solid finishes and if he keeps it up do you think he will finally get that championship everybody has been wating for him to win
Ed Hinton (2:50 PM)
OK, Matt, one more Dale Jr. answer. I have absolutely, positively stopped making predictions on Dale Jr.'s seasons. There is just no way of knowing.
Josh (South Bend,IN)
Im a huge Denny fan He always seems to be right there then gets taken out or looses it or gets some part problem what does he and his team need to do to break through that threshold to being among the elite drivers and teams
Ed Hinton (2:53 PM)
I agree with you about Denny showing flashes of brilliance. I still think he's getting the short end of the stick at JGR as far as the prime crewmen, etc. I feel sorry for him. People say he's a complainer, but, man, how much of that stuff can you take -- bad stops, falloff in setups, etc. -- and just sit there silently?
Steve (St. Anthony, MN)
I noticed that Kyle Petty is wearing a number 45 hat with black tape through the middle of the number. Why is he still bitter about losing his ride? he should have been out of the car 3-4 years ago. What are your thoughts?
Ed Hinton (2:55 PM)
Kyle's not wearing that hat because of losing his ride. He's wearing it in memory of his son Adam. Now that Kyle's out of a ride, he has no way of keeping his son's memory alive with the fans than to wear that hat. And the black tape is to acknowledge that he is still in mourning over the loss of Adam.
Joe Missoula, MT
Ed, I am huge JGR fan, but do you have nay idea whats up with Denny Hamlin? I understand he is caught in the middle between Joey and Kyle. But shouldn't he be more of a factor than he is year in and year out?
Ed Hinton (2:56 PM)
Joe, I think what you say here is correct. He's in an awfully crowded room with Wild Thing and Logano. As I said in an earlier answer, I think he's getting the short end of things at JGR.
Why is nascar without an African American driver?
Ed Hinton (2:58 PM)
If you ask me, NASCAR isn't trying hard enough. Check out my column from last week on the subject. There are two promising African-American drivers right on the brink of breaking into the big time, and NASCAR has done diddly for them lately. Basically, NASCAR says it wants diversity, but needs to put its money and its effort where its mouth is.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Chris Meyers was a sports anchor in New Orleans and he stunk there. Why should he be any different at FOX. When does ESPN's coverage of NASCAR begin?
Ed Hinton (2:59 PM)
In the name of diplomacy, I will say only that our coverage of the Cup season begins with the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Indianapolis, in July.
Dan, Charlotte, NC
Ed, what do you think about the 'Dinger. Any chance he gets sponsorship for the rest of the season? Or is his performance not good enough yet?
Ed Hinton (3:01 PM)
I don't think it's about performance at this point. It's about corporate dollars available. And there ain't any.
Can Jeff Gordon win the Cup this year?
Ed Hinton (3:02 PM)
Not only can he, but he's off to a very good start. Leading the points, and the winning streak that's sure to come hasn't even begun yet. But then comes the Chase -- which has been a real struggle for the 4-time champ under the old rules.
have you noticed when kurt busch has a good car he makes it dominant? look back to 07 with the old car at pocono and michingan. i think if he keeps getting good cars we could see him in victory lane like little bro last year
Ed Hinton (3:03 PM)
One more, then I gotta go. Yes, Kurt can dominate. And Carl Edwards, for one, thinks Penske has hit on something with the new car. Been a lot of fun, folks, but gotta go. Thanks for your time.