Chat with Ed Hinton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com NASCAR writer Ed Hinton will stop by to talk about all the latest news and notes from around the track.
Hinton began his career covering NASCAR in the 1970's working for the Orlando Sentinel. He has also worked for Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, where he worked until leaving in January 2008.
Send your questions now and join Hinton Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ed Hinton (2:02 PM)
Good afternoon, all. I was over on the open-wheel side of things for the month of May. Know you NASCAR fans aren't big on open-wheel, but let's get some Danica questions done -- open-wheel and NASCAR -- and get back to fenders.
Drew (Bloomington, IN)
Ed, I remember you saying in a previous chat that Danica Patrick is not overrated because she's never had the best equipment in IndyCar. I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree more. Her 2005 Honda-Panoz at Rahal Letterman was as fast as any car in the field that year. Penske and Ganassi were using inferior Toyota machines. When she switched to AGR, that team was on equal footing with Penske and Ganassi as Dario won Indy and the title and Kanaan won five or so races. I don't think Danica is a bad driver, but I do think she's overrated. Impressive run at Texas last week though.
Ed Hinton (2:03 PM)
Not overrated, but overpublicized. And that's natural, all things considered.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that Danica Patrick will finish in the top 10 in a Nationwide Series Race?
Ed Hinton (2:04 PM)
I do. But not at her next one, New Hampshire. That place is a bear for a learner.
Good day, Mr Hinton. Miss you on the chat boards. Hope all is well. On to my query. Is there any discussions about NASCAR bringing in fuel-injection for 2011? Also, any news about Walmart and Hendrick? Budweiser? Take care. And remember, "All of our final decisions are made in a state of mind that won't last."
Ed Hinton (2:06 PM)
Fuel injection is inevitable, but perhaps not that soon. Manufacturers want it, but some team engineers who are former factory people like the engine setup just the way it is. Contacted Hendrick folks about the Walmart possibilities and they neither confirm nor deny. Which tells me the talks are ongoing. Bud? If Hendrick still can't take 'em, Childress would be a good fit.
Ed Hinton (2:07 PM)
Now let's dispense with the obligatory Junior stuff, and get on with other . . .
Hey Ed. If the 88 keeps running like they have been and miss the chase this year what changes so you expect to see with that team?
Ed Hinton (2:08 PM)
I don't think Rick himself knows what to expect yet. They'd probably be forced into a new CC, but when that one doesn't work, then it's down to Junior.
Andrew (Orlando, FL)
How has little dale lucked into his 18 wins and popularity? Little dale could not make it in todays nationwide series if it wasn't for his name.
Ed Hinton (2:09 PM)
Most of the wins weren't luck, but earned, with a different team and a whole different mindset where he wasn't all up tight and pressing so much. The popularity you could call unlucky just as easily as lucky, because it's been an enormous burden on him.
Andrew (New Hampshire)
Ed, do you think Junior's struggles over the last several years have anything to do with him becoming a team owner in the NW Series? Since he now sees how much it costs to replace/repair wrecked cars, he's now unwilling to make some of the moves he would have made in the past?
Ed Hinton (2:10 PM)
The business side might distract him a bit, but I don't think the "owner syndrome" about wrecking cars has changed him at all.
Hello Mr Hinton, do you think Harvicks scuffles with Biffle, Rudd, Biff-again, Juan Pablo, Carl and now skinny Joey demonstrate a lack of disipline and level of maturity required to be a Sprint Cup champion?
Ed Hinton (2:11 PM)
Na, Kevin's just a rough-and-tumble kind of guy, raised in a tough oilfield town. Thrives on controversy and mischief. He's a lot like his predecessor, Big E . . . and I think that's one of the things Childress saw in him in the first place.
Ed, please tell me the "spy-satellite photos" comment from Roush was a joke
Ed Hinton (2:12 PM)
All I know is what the man said.
Richie Mikemond (French Island, Wi.)
Enjoyed your articles on the demise of Open Wheel racing and all of your work. Is Ben Blake still writing and if so where can one read his work? JC France back in Grand Am? They can't be serious.
Ed Hinton (2:13 PM)
Thanks. That open-wheel "memoir" was a project we felt was needed, even if it was sad to recall all the foulups. Haven't heard from Ben Blake in ages, have even asked the editors at Racer, and they've lost touch too. JC is a France. Of course they're serious.
Fred (Al) [via mobile]
Are Gibbs still lookin ta put Justin Allgaier in a fourth cup car
Ed Hinton (2:14 PM)
I figure Penske will do what it takes to keep him -- such as replacing Hornish with Allgaier. That's just a guess, savvy as it may be.
Easy now...without the obligatory Junior stuff, the need for NASCAR reporters would probably be cut by half or more. :)
Ed Hinton (2:15 PM)
I was here not only before Junior came along, but before Senior came along. And I will assure you they have not been, nor ever will be, the only stories in NASCAR.
Shane (Piqua Ohio)
Ed...Kentucky needs a cup date..I know it would be better racing then California. Your thoughts?
Ed Hinton (2:17 PM)
Better than California isn't saying much. And it's still all contingent on whether NASCAR thinks they need the Cincinnati market. So far they haven't shown much interest.
Genie (Near Ohio)
Does Jack Roush have connections at NASA for the use of the space shuttle?
Ed Hinton (2:18 PM)
Not that I know of, but the photos he's talking about weren't from the shuttle. There's lots of commercial availability of satellite flyovers.
Bob (San diego)
Will jimmies dirt win get his mind back ontrack
Ed Hinton (2:18 PM)
I don't think his mind was off track in the first place. And dirt is so vastly different it'll have no impact.
How do you thing Jeff Gordon will do the rest of the year?
Ed Hinton (2:19 PM)
I think he'll continue to get himself in position to win. Whether he does or not . . .
James ft.worth tx [via mobile]
Braun gets penalized for trading tires with their teammate. At end of coke 600 kurt was using the 77's tires but got no penalty, whats the deal? Nascar loves to make examples out of small teams and not the bigger ones, need some consistency enforcing
Ed Hinton (2:19 PM)
Nationwide has an entirely different, and MUCH more restrictive, set of tire rules. Very limited.
Any chance Matt Kenseth can muster up a win this year?
Ed Hinton (2:20 PM)
He's got as good a shot as anybody at Roush, IF they can get their simulations act together.
Jenn (DJI Awsome) (NJ)
Blah blah Jr Jr Jr Jr Jr. I have no question, I just wanted to write Jr.
Ed Hinton (2:21 PM)
So there you go.
Ed, the prelude race each year is by far the best show put on by the drivers. any chance of dirt track series finding its way to TV and getting the coverage of at least what the truck series gets?
Ed Hinton (2:22 PM)
Probably not. I've always thought the World of Outlaws was consistently a great show, but somehow they just don't come across on TV and have never really caught on like they should. I like dirt as much as anybody, but it's more of a live spectator sport.
Ironhead Forever (New York)
Which teammate battle will be more interesting to watch this weekend: Kahne vs Allmendinger at Michigan or Vettel vs Webber in Montreal?
Ed Hinton (2:23 PM)
Oh, I would imagine team "principals" have cooled things down on all four sides. I wouldn't count on anything serious either place.
Would it be crazy for RCR to take Dale if that scenario presented itself? Alot of people think going back to a 3 car team is part of the reason for the RCR rebound. Or would this mean Jeff Burton or Clint Boyers ride is in jeopardy?
Ed Hinton (2:24 PM)
Driving a "3" car would put even more pressure on Junior, and open him up to even more criticism. Otherwise, RCR would be a great place for him.
Computer simulations? Spy satellites?This is NASCAR, Ed. Not F-1
Ed Hinton (2:24 PM)
That's what I was trying to say in the column.
when will a driver hwo doesn't run cup win a nationwide championship? thanks.
Ed Hinton (2:25 PM)
About the 12th of never, the way things are going. And that's a pity.
Alan (Columbus, OH)
Hi Ed! I'm considering going to my first NASCAR race this weekend in Michigan, but I really only want to go if I can meet Kyle Busch, my favorite driver. Is there an affordable chance at doing this? I've never been to a race before so I'm not familiar with how things function.
Ed Hinton (2:26 PM)
I wouldn't go based on that. Kyle might have some sort of sponsorship tent appearance on Sunday, but you'd have to check there, and even then you'd have to have an in with the sponsor who's got the tent. Just a walkup meeting? Zero chance, even if you have a garage pass.
jeff (anderson, SC)
What exactly did the 38 Yates team do to the tires to get whacked by NASCAR
Ed Hinton (2:27 PM)
Apparently they were trying to bleed air pressure out during long runs. Must have had a "short run" car that they were trying to keep the same on long runs.
We are fearful that Kyle will not finish well this weekend. Do you agree with our fears?
Ed Hinton (2:28 PM)
Not in the least.
I figured Roush would have blamed those Toyotas for all the Ford issues.
Ed Hinton (2:28 PM)
He's all worn out blaming the other manufacturers and the supposedly exotic this or that they're supposedly getting away with.
Good to have you back in the land of 5 lug nuts and bumpers Ed. First, if Roush was indeed using some sort of pictures from satellites, why would he say so? Second, (good article by the way) everytime Roush talks about his drivers you can see that he is infatuated with Edwards, and his other drivers are not held in as high regards. Do you think that has built resentment within the Roush shop? I've read stories about that, but I figured I'd ask you since you say it how it is. Thanks.
Ed Hinton (2:30 PM)
I think there's been resentment on the Roush team for some time. If Jack talks more about Carl, it's because Carl has more public and sponsorship pizzazz. . . . Roush has always revealed "secrets" for psych-job reasons known only to Jack.
Since Joey made the firesuit comment about Delana, maybe Kevin should have asked who wears the diapers in Joeys family. I think we already know who.
Ed Hinton (2:31 PM)
I'll let that one stand on its own.
Kyle Fan Forever (Hometown USA)
Did the way the Kyle bagged pole position, ran in the top 5 all day and finished 2nd at Pocono look like a Sprint Cup Champion to you?
Ed Hinton (2:32 PM)
He's got a championship or two in his future. We all know that.
With Dale jr turning 36 in a few months does history tell us that he's missed his window of opportunity on Sprint cup championships and greatness?
Ed Hinton (2:33 PM)
His old man didn't have his best year until he was 36, in 1987. Now that doesn't mean Junior will pick up. But 36 is not over the hill.
Caster and Camber (Bahama, NC)
Whats going on Mr. Hinton? I still can't believe you guys got Mr. Roush on video without the hat. I thought the hat was just apart of his body like his arms, fingers, legs, toes, etc.... My question is this, Can Ford really pull off a victory this weekend? I know they are pretty good at Michigan but, they are usually good at most tracks and have a win or two by now.
Ed Hinton (2:35 PM)
If they're going to win anytime soon, MIS is the place. They pour all their efforts into that place. But it still depends on whether they've got their simulations act together yet. Jack's right -- without testing, simulations are huge.
Ed, you are my favorite ESPN personality. Am I your favorite fan?
Ed Hinton (2:36 PM)
Unless somebody else out there has me as their favorite. Then they tie you as my favorite.
Gibbs and Penske has obvious successors when they retire in JD and Gregg but not so at RCR, Henricks and Roush. Rick, Richard and Jack ain't no spring chickens. Who takes over then they step aside?
Ed Hinton (2:38 PM)
I suspect Marshall Carlson, Rick's son in law, is the likely heir at Hendrick. At Childress, his daughter, Tina, and her husband, Mike Dillon -- who has already been moved around in executive positions -- will take over. Not sure about Roush.
Why won't NASCAR lift the testing ban already? The economy excuse is getting old. Let the team owners decide if they can afford it. Have some sort of testing luxury tax of sorts that helps out the smaller teams if need be. But these teams need real rubber to the road test sessions.
Ed Hinton (2:38 PM)
Who if any driver besides Kurt Busch has a chance at the cup from a non joe gibbs or hendrick team
Ed Hinton (2:39 PM)
How 'bout Harvick, or really any of the RCR drivers.
Iron Head Forever (New York)
When Tony George instituted the "25-8" rule, did he seriously expect the CART owners to meekly join his series? If he really wanted a young American driver like a Tony Stewart to get a shot, why not form his own team? I enjoyed your four part series but disagree with you calling George "noblesse oblige". He was even more pig headed and power hungry than CART, who at least had a series that gave F1 and NASCAR worried over how popular they were.
Ed Hinton (2:40 PM)
I think Tony had bad advice, with guys telling him that yes, CART would cave in. They were, of course, wrong.
Is is bad, being a Jr. fan, that I would prefer to see him qualify last just so I can see him gain positions in a race for once?
Ed Hinton (2:40 PM)
Well, that's one way to look at it.
"I think there's been resentment on the Roush team for some time." Would you care to elaborate? That team interests me for some reason. It seems like the structure there is much different than the other top Cup teams.
Ed Hinton (2:42 PM)
Well, it's been well-documented over the past few years how Kenseth and Biffle have taken shots at Edwards, even to us in the media. They've ganged up on him at times during controversies within the team.
Do u expect an announcement from HMS ab their driver line-up for next season by the end of the month
Ed Hinton (2:43 PM)
That would surprise me. I think they've got a lot more work to do while Mark makes up his mind -- and if he stays, as he has said he'll do, they've got sponsors to work on with SHR or JRM or wherever they create a seat for Kahne.
Jenn (DJIC) (NJ)
Mr. Hinton, how do you feel about fan who throw things at drivers cars?
Ed Hinton (2:45 PM)
Depends on what it is. Seat cushions are one thing. Full beers are another. Junior Johnson used to tell about a race at North Wilkesboro where he kept leading Lee Petty, but barely. Everytime Junior would go into the first turn, a fan in the bleachers would stand up and wave him on with a half-gallon moonshine jar. Finally Junior lost the lead to Petty, and here came the moonshine jar over the fence.
Lemans 24 hours coming up this weekend, Ed.Do you think this is still a relevent race?
Ed Hinton (2:46 PM)
I do. The engines they're using there, and will soon use -- such as the GRE -- are the world's street and road engines of the future. Besides, there's just no race in the world like Le Mans. I've covered it a few times.
Ed, I know you're an NCAA football guy as well, and that this is completely unrelated, but what do you think of the USC sanctions and the PAC-16 or 38 or 482 superconference situation?
Ed Hinton (2:47 PM)
The Pac 482 has sort of come out of the blue, hasn't it? I think it's all crazy, with them expanding so wildly and their centerpiece team in such trouble. Weird.
Why didn't Dale Jr race in the Prelude when Gordon, Jimmie, Kasey, Kyle, and a bunch of other stars showed up?
Ed Hinton (2:48 PM)
I've had about 100 versions of this same question, and honestly don't know the answer. Maybe it had to do with one guy's charity foundation versus the other's, and the obligations that go with it.
My guy has had a few good runs. But he seems to be off. What is the issue?
Ed Hinton (2:49 PM)
I think he's troubled by the whole Kahne upheaval, and that might have the whole team off a bit.
In your article on open-wheel, did you get the impression that Randy Bernard is the right guy for the IRL? It seems his idea of what the IRL should do is totally different than Tony George's (grow the other races vs. the IRL is there to serve IMS).
Ed Hinton (2:51 PM)
I didn't get the same golly-gee read on Randy as others have . . . but then I haven't had enough "quality" time with him to talk on background. Robin Miller spent two hours with him and was very, very impressed. Gordon Kirby is high on him. And those are the two most critical writers in the history of the IRL. The racers, to a person, seem impressed. But then, nobody's going to knock the new boss. I'm fairly impressed, but will wait and see because his task is mountainous and monumental.
JR (Denver, CO)
They are building a new motor sports complex here with a 60-90,000 seat mile oval track. Do you think we have a shot at a Cup race in the near future?
Ed Hinton (2:52 PM)
If the thing really is completed, and really is quality, I think NASCAR would love to have the Denver market.
Mr. Hinton, is is safe to say that with all of Rick Hendick's success with HMS and various car dealerships that he is a billionare?
Ed Hinton (2:53 PM)
Well, you'd think so. But I've never seen him listed in Forbes' annual ranking of billionaires. You do see Roger Penske, John Menard, Bruton Smith, and you used to see Bill France Jr.
Has the satellite detacted what team Kahne will drive for next year?
Ed Hinton (2:54 PM)
The satellite shows clear data that Kahne won't be driving for Roush.
Many other drivers did not race in the Prelude. You said you have had 100s of Jr questions. Has anyone cared the other people did not race or do they just need an excuse to complain about Jr?
Ed Hinton (2:54 PM)
It's partly what you're saying, but also it's a matter of NASCAR's most popular driver being conspicuous by his absence.
Aj (Indy )
Well done Mr Hinton....your IRL article was well written. Normally, I am not your biggest fan (As you probably know) but that article was great and in a way let's me see you in a new light. Your like the Tony Stewart of reporters with the attitude of "You either like what I write or you dont, and if you don't @#$ off"...well done Mr Hinton.
Ed Hinton (2:56 PM)
Fist nice thing Aj has ever said about me. Thanks, Aj. But you're right: If you hadn't liked it, I still would have written it just the way it was.
With Old Spices firing Stewert and #39 only partially sponsored you think Rick migh scale back his satelite team SHR to a 1 car operation for 2011?
Ed Hinton (2:56 PM)
I think they're contractually obligated to Newman through 2011. So, no.
Ed, you are right on about how Kenseth and Biffle resent Carl. I still remember when Carl won his first Cup race at Atlanta, Biffle spent the entire post-race whining about how Carl wouldn't let him pass with less than 10 to go. Pretty sad.
Ed Hinton (2:57 PM)
Yeah, that's a long-running tag-team . . except Carl has no partner.
According to Forbes, Penske could buy and sell Henricks 5 times and John Menard could buy and sell Penske 3 times over.
Ed Hinton (2:58 PM)
That's pretty close. Menard is the richest racer there is, at $6 billion plus.
True. Jr does so much for charity though through MAW and VJ that he should not feel obligated to go to every charity thing.
Ed Hinton (2:58 PM)
A voice in Junior's defense.
I'm a Jr fan, and I know there's wild speculation on what's caused his decline. Granted, this is a personal topic, but how much of Jr's problems could be solved by having his own firesuit-wearing wife? Maybe he'd be a little more grounded out there. It seems like he just needs to take a step back, take a deep breath, and drive the wheels off the damn thing.
Ed Hinton (2:59 PM)
Last sentence is spot on, Mike. Exactly.
Boo Hoo, Carl has no allies. Maybe he's a jerk behind closed doors.
Ed Hinton (2:59 PM)
And maybe he suffers from a lot of jealousy behind closed doors.
We used to root for Elliott Sadler but now he like he doesn't care much how he performs, sort of like Dale Jr. Do you think Elliott will be racing in trucks full time next year?
Ed Hinton (3:00 PM)
I don't think it's that he doesn't care, but I do think he's hanging onto his ride.
I sat next to Robby Gordon at the CMT Music Awards last night. I'm definitely not a Robby fan but he was such a nice guy. How do you think he would run if he had Gibbs or Hendrick equipment?
Ed Hinton (3:02 PM)
Robby is definitely a great guy. With Gibbs or Hendrick, he'd still be free-spirited. That's his trouble. Plus, he's still wild on the track, and the better the ride the more it shows -- like when he was at RCR.
Ed Hinton (3:03 PM)
Well, the clock on the wall says . . . see y'all next time. Thanks for stopping by. We had a great turnout today.