Chat with NASCAR Now's Mike Vega
In addition to college football and basketball, Vega also covers auto racing for the Boston Globe. He has written about NASCAR, Indy Car and Formula One racing, having covered such events as the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500 and US Grand Prix at Detroit and Indianapolis. A former sports intern in 1985, Vega has been a member of the Boston Globe sports staff since 1986.
He will be one of the guests on today's special hour-long edition of NASCAR Now, along with USA Today's Nate Ryan and Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis.
Send in your questions below and stop by at 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday!
Buzzmaster (1:30 PM)
We're getting Mike Vega to talk some NASCAR!
Buzzmaster (1:31 PM)
We've got Mike!
Ted (New Jersey)
Do you think an off week is really necessary so ealry in the season?
Mike Vega (1:32 PM)
I was just wondering that myself. They didn't really do any offseason testing. That gave teams a whole month off in December. I don't think they were as exhausted as they would be this point in the year, a year ago. But these guys do go hard and they do work hard. You can't begrudge them any time off.
Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start. What do you make of that?
Mike Vega (1:33 PM)
That's a little bit puzzling. He's been slow out of the gate before. You can't discount him right now. But the important thing is that they've been strong start to finish
Who got hurt more by this week off - Kyle Busch or Matt Kenseth? Kenseth won the first two weeks, but Busch was getting hot.
Mike Vega (1:34 PM)
Yeah, certainly both guys have incredible momentum into the break. I would say actually Kurt Busch has the most momentum right now. He's looking very good. Carrying that team on his back right now. He really is gaining momentum. But I'm not so sure it's hurting either or at this point.
jeff (north carolina)
will earnhardt jr ever become a dominant driver?
Mike Vega (1:36 PM)
This isn't Jeff Gordon is it?...When Junior left, he left under the premise that he wanted a team that could help win championships. Now he's with that team. There's no hiding. It's up to him to bring it home. Sometimes they need to get the cars up to task. Right now, he has to be looked at kind of a wing man at Hendrick. He is a talent, no question. Four races into it, we're still waiting to see if he's going to be a factor.
What do you make of Clint Bowyer's start?
Mike Vega (1:37 PM)
Really impressive. He's been pretty solid. Even more impressive is the fact that he's doing it with a whole new team. He hasn't gone outside Childress Racing, but it's a whole new operation. The most impressive thing is his average start is 25.2 and his average finish is about 7.8. That's astounding. It won't be long before he starts winning some more.
Please settle a debate for me and my friends: Are NASCAR drivers athletes?
Mike Vega (1:39 PM)
Hahahahaha. My friend Ted is the radio voice of the Boston College Eagles, we used to go around around on this. I went to the NASCAR banquet and asked Tony Stewart. He said if he doesn't think we're athletes, I invite him to come with me and take some rounds on the car. To duplicate it, he can take his car on the hottest day of the year, with the windows rolled up and drive for 4-5 hours for 500 miles. These drivers have a defined skill and do have to bring some athleticism to the sport. So, yeah, they are athletes.
Hey Mike im sittin in school wonderin who do u think will win the championship this year? GO STEWART!!!!!
Mike Vega (1:40 PM)
Yeah, Stewart's doing well. You can't count out him. But you have to look at Jeff Gordon, he's right there. Carl Edwards, you can't discount him. Kyle Busch. He looked like he was running away with it last year, but stubbed his toe in the Chase. That left the door open for Jimmie Johnson to win his third. My favorites are Edwards, Gordon, Johnson. Dark horse Greg Biffle.
Mike Vega (1:40 PM)
Kyle Busch in there too. Pick one.
What was your reaction to the pit member getting fined for chasing the tire? Was it too harsh?
Mike Vega (1:41 PM)
No, not at all. Someone in his position has to know the kind of risk he's putting himself in in taking that action. You can not run out there in the middle of the race chasing a tire. I'm sure he knows the error. That is no man's land in the pit crew. You never stray that far. To do that you put yourself in grave danger.
Adrian (Libertyville, IL)
The teams get last week off and then another week off around Easter. Wouldn't they rather have a week off in the summer when it's hot out?
Mike Vega (1:43 PM)
Well, you also have to understand that in the summer time they have to make hay. The summer time is when they are in the prime of their season. Really, you're racing toward the 26th race of the season. I don't begrudge anyone time off. Mother's Day Weekend, Easter Weekend, NASCAR recognizes the time to be around family. But by the end of the year they're going all out.
Who's the favorite this week?
Mike Vega (1:44 PM)
I like Kurt Busch. He's coming into this race with a ton of momentum. He had a dominant race in Atlanta. He's won at this track five times before. Whenever a driver has success at a track, you have to go with that. The week off may have stemed a little of the momentum, but he has to feel pretty good about going into Bristol.
Why does it seem that Dale. Jr. cant finish off a race and get a win? He always starts strong and then falls, what is wrong?
Mike Vega (1:45 PM)
I'm not so sure what's wrong with him. I'm not inside his head. I'm not a psychologist, I just play one on TV. I think some of it was self inflicted with the pit road incident. The incident with Brian Vickers. That was just someone on the ragged end of frustration. The guy drives hard. I'm not sure why he just throws up his hands at that point. Right now, he's probbaly feeling a little bit of pressure that it's on me right now and I have to perform.
josh lake jackson tx
When do you think Jeff Gorden will win?
Mike Vega (1:47 PM)
He could have had one in California if it were not for Kenseth. He has been running strong. I think it will be soon that he gets that win. He had the win at the Gatorade Duels. I thought maybe at Daytona that he got back into Victory Lane. He might do it this weekend at Bristol. He and Kurt are the active winners at that track. I don't think we're done. We haven't heard the last of Jeff Gordon.
Who have you been more impressed with so far. Joey Logano or Scott Speed?
Mike Vega (1:48 PM)
Well, I'd have to say Scott Speed at first. But Joey has kind of fell into a rhythm. Both of those guys will be pretty stout competition for the roookie of the year race. They're both doing a good job.
Cory, Geneva, IL
Would racing improve if teams were able to drop their worst two results pre-chase. Maybe teams would go for more wins if they knew they had a couple mulligans.
Mike Vega (1:50 PM)
Interesting proposition. That might be something that NASCAR could do to tweak the Chase. By adding the bonus points, I think that puts more emphasis on winning races. It's not so much about giving a guy on a chance to catch up. Giving a guy a mulligan, that might give them an out. You've got a system in place now that serves meritocracy. It's based upon your performance that week. I don't know about giving someone a mulligan will enhance the competition that much.
which do you like better covering nascar or Formula 1
Mike Vega (1:53 PM)
(laughs) Becka, I've covered more NASCAR races in my career than Formula 1. In the F-1 races, I've had some interesting run ins. F-1 is an incredible experience and the cars are at the height of technology. I think I just prefer NASCAR. It's something that appeals to a lot of people What happened with the Michelin deal was a travesty. It was interesting to note that NASCAR almost had the same situation. But you saw Goodyear handle it better. NASCAR handled it as well. That's what they're about, keeping the competition level. In F-1 you've seen team members sell their team manuels to another. Some stuff is a little unseemly and it makes it more like it's WWF. NASCAR does its best to keep things above board.
Ken (Trenton, NJ)
How sad are you to see Mark Martin's dream season turning into a nightmare?
Mike Vega (1:54 PM)
I don't know if it's turned into a nightmare, it's started out as such. Certainly with the engine failures. I felt strongly enough to pick him to win at Daytona. But I don't think the season's over for him. I think that it's too premature to write him off and call his season over.
Mike Vega (1:55 PM)
I didn't realize I had so many fans across the country. I still don't know if Jeff (Charlotte) was really Jeff Gordon or not. Thanks for chatting!
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