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February 27, 12:03 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:01 PM)

Hi, all. Let's get started. Light traffic here at the beginning, so if you have a question, this should be a good time to get it in. Steiny in NYC, where are you? We miss you.

Eileen Harrisburg Il

Are you surprised in how many women are into racing?

Ed Hinton
  (2:03 PM)

Not in the least. I've been going to racetracks for a lot of years, first just as a kid to the short tracks, and there always seemed to be almost as many women as men in the stands. Women have always been serious race fans. In fact, the ones who are introduced to it usually jump in with more enthusiasm from the get-go than men do.

Coop (Orlando)

Whats your prediction for the race this week?

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

A whole bunch of contenders, maybe a cavalry charge to the finish. Johnson and Edwards are always stout at Atlanta, so look for one or both of them to break their brief stumbled out of the gate. Kyle Busch is excellent at taking advantage of that wide, wide race track. Look for him to make some spectacular moves from top to bottom and bottom to top. Stewart, Gordon, Kenseth, Newman . . .they all love Atlanta with all that room to roam at high speed. Pattern is, you'll see a ton of lead changes and then some sort of dramatic last lap. If you put me in a corner, I'll have to pick Johnson. He could drive that place in his sleep.

becka,va

does reed stay in the top 35 this year or will he drop below the line

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

The merged team seems just strong enough to stay in the top 35, but with marginal teams like that, it's sort of like betting a roulette wheel and trying to decide whether you hit on red or black. About 50-50, depending on luck.

Aaron, Iowa City IA

Whats happened to Nationwide ROTY Landon Cassill? He showed plenty of promise last year, he's young and what the Nationwide series is supposed to be about so where is he as I see the 5 car is doing plenty of racing but he's not driving any of the events including his home race in Iowa.

Ed Hinton
  (2:12 PM)

The key phrase you use is, "what the Nationwide series is supposed to be about." Key word "supposed." It isn't. It's a playground for Cup guys, but open to developmental guys to give it at least some noble, redeeming qualities. Because of the way it is, Rookie of the Year comes from the developmental guys who are at an overwhelming disadvantage. Not sure which financial crack Landon has fallen through, but you can bet it is financial . . . and Cup teams are now focused on dropping their big boys down to Nationwide to make money in this economy. The whole thing is a sham if you ask me, and I've beaten my head against that brick wall for years, and NASCAR and the track promoters won't budge . . . don't get me started. :-)

Aron (Las Colinas, Tx)

Can I go ahead and gamble my last paycheck on Kyle Busch this sunday? You should know that i will reguardless of your answer by the way.....

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

Sure, go ahead. I know Las Colinas well enough to know you folks run wide open out there. In fact, if you can get 5-1 odds, it's a very rational bet. I'd say he goes off at 5-1 at the worst. But if you can only get it straight up, well, that's just a wide-open Las Colinas bet, so have at it.

Nicole New Iberia, La. [via mobile]

Do you see Dale Jr. getting rid of the monkey and win a lot of races this year? And maybe the Sprint Cup Championship?

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

New Iberia? I thought you folks were horse-racing junkies, what with all the famous jockeys from down there. Anyway, I've stopped predicting when or if Dale Jr. will break out. A lot of people are on Tony Eury Jr. I think Eury's a fine crew chief, but maybe they need to be separated again. Eury with Mark Martin could win. Junior with Alan Gustafson would have a fresh start and new traction. Maybe Hendrick will make such a change as the season goes on.

casper

surprise surprise, the 88s not finishing well and now theres talk about tony eury getting the boot.. i know thats an easy solution for sunday fans, but is there any real buzz about that actually happening?

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

I'll go with this one next since it continues the thought. No way, no how is a quality crew chief like Tony Jr. going to get fired. Like I said, maybe Hendrick will swap him over to Martin, something like that. Trouble is, Junior and Tony Jr. have been bickering since they were kids in a sand box. They're both good at what they do, but they're not necessarily good for each other. Let's throw this one out as a wild possibility: How about Tony Jr. paired with Jeff Gordon, and Junior paired with Steve Letarte. Tony Jr. could get Gordon more comfortable with the new, wilder setups. Letarte would have enormous patience with Junior, and find what he needs.

Jim North Carolina

When is NSACAR going to get off all this pre-race circus. People who follow nascar read the news everyday of every week during race season. Now we have to deal with cartoons and like last week 2hrs of nothing waiting on the race...

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

Man, I've heard more comments like that than you can imagine. You're not alone. I think TV's responsibility is, if you're going to have long pre-race shows, then give the fans a LOT of substance in exchange for their time.

Ben (DM, Iowa)

Gibbs racing didn't win a race after they were caught putting magnets under their pedals. With Bush winning Sunday, think there might be another magnet incident waiting to be found? Seemed like he had an awful lot more horsepower then the rest of the pack.

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

Na, the magnet deal was strictly in Nationwide. Toyota had developed an engine with NASCAR allowances that Roush didn't like, so he howled bloody murder and NASCAR went looking for a Toyota advantage. The JGR guys had worked like crazy to get that advantage and they didn't want to give it up, thus the magnet maneuver. Doesn't apply to Cup.

casper

do you think newmans struggles have anything to do with his switch to chevy?

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

Not a thing. He got into a rut at Penske, and now he's trying to adjust to a new team and therefore still not out of the rut. Probably as much mental, trying to get his zone back, as anything.

Chris (Richmond, VA)

I know Marc Davis is putting his own ride together in the NW and Truck series this year. Does he still have any affiliation with JGR or has that completely ended now?

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

Gibbs is helping the Davises with some technical support. Supplying some engines in lieu of the straight up JGR ride Marc was contracted to have this year. Both Joe and J.D. still talk a lot about the bond still being there. But the thing is, Harry Davis, Marc's father, has bought two Nationwide Toyotas out of his own pocket. They're also going to try to mount a Cup effort starting at Sonoma, so will have to see if anything comes from Gibbs to help that.

Michael (Orlando)

If you are starting a 3 team racing team right now who do you choose and why?

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, in that order. Why? Pure, unadulterated talent and guts. And the savvy to win.

Bustos (Queens)

What has happened to the Juan Pablo Montoya rage?

Caroline (Orlando)

Do you think Mark Martin racing a full schedule was a bad idea?

Ed Hinton
  (2:32 PM)

Well, he just hasn't made much of a showing lately. Not necessarily his fault. His team was mediocre, and now they've merged with DEI to create more mediocrity. I'd like to see what he could do if he jumped to Roush or Hendrick, but that won't happen.

Luke, Indy

Are there any Nascar owners willing to overlook Danica's modest success in Indycar and offer her a ride for 2010? She could likely attract some nice sponsors for a team struggling in this economy.

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

They showed some interest a couple of years ago when her dad, T.J., was shopping in NASCAR. I've thought for years Danica would knock the nascar world on its ear for one reason: when she gets hit, she hits back. She wouldn't put up with being shoved around by the NASCAR boys. In a month's time, she'd have 42 different feuds going. And that would turn not just NASCAR, but the whole sports world, on its ear. Her biggest obstacle is, she just doesn't want to do 36 races.

Michael (Orlando)

Big time #24 fan here. Has he really gotten that much better with the COT's in the past year? Where do you see him ending his drought next?

Ed Hinton
  (2:35 PM)

They're getting closer and closer with a very complex setup situation for Jeff. He could break through at Atlanta this week. If not there, maybe Martinsville in a couple of weeks.

Mike, Ny

What are your thoughts on another tire manufacturer coming into the sport? I'm tired of hearing people say it would be a safety issue, but isn't NASCAR about competition...beyond the drivers that is?

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

Well, I covered a couple of tire wars between Goodyear and Hoosier in the '80s and '90s, and there were enormous safety issues with blown tires as the two companies tried to one-up each other with quicker -- and more fragile -- tires. For years I said I'd never like to see another tire war. But Goodyear has been stumbling so badly lately that I'm beginning to wonder if competition isn't the only thing that'll get them back on the ball again.

Michael, Oklahoma

Do you ever see Nascar cutting the starting field before each race to like 35 cars or something?

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

Not in the foreseeable future, because that would be an admission that fields are down due to the economy. I do expect that as the season goes on and these gunslinger teams start to fall by the wayside, you'll see fields of fewer than 43 cars. But NASCAR would just have, say, a 35-car field, with the maximum still at 43. I think 43 is silly -- insecurity from NASCAR's old days of not having enough cars. I think you can have an excellent race with 30 cars, because the backmarkers aren't there to create trouble for the serious racers.

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

Hey, I just realize i posted the wrong question with the wrong answer. When I talked about "not much of a showing" and DEI merger, I meant to be answering a Juan Pablo Montoya question, not a Mark Martin question. Big messup -- but only because I'm techno challenged. I'm fully aware that Martin is with Hendrick. Somehow I posted a question about him and answered a question about Montoya.

casper

hmm.. breaking news alert... this just in! mark martin drives for hendrick!

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

Like I said, egg on my face. I was trying to answer a Montoya question and somehow posted a Martin question. So, Montoya answer with Martin question makes me look like an idiot, when in fact I'm just techno-challenged.

Michael (Orlando)

Answer the Martin Question then please haha

Ed Hinton
  (2:46 PM)

The Martin question was, Do you think his running a full season was a bad idea? No, I don't. He had to get one more full season out of his system. Hendrick wanted to give him at least one more full season. Will it be a SUCCESSFUL idea? The jury is stil very much out on that.

Ed Hinton
  (2:46 PM)

The Montoya question was, what happened to the JPM rage? And that's where I meant to say he just hasn't made much of a showing lately, and that JPM's Ganassi team was mediocre, and has now merged with DEI to put more mediocrity under JPM.

Luke, Indy

Thoughts on the two rookies Logano and Speed so far? About what we should have expected?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

Actually Speed has impressed me a little more than Logano so far, but that's because of Speed's Nationwide debut last week, which was brief but impressive. Did you see him hold off Carl Edwards just before Speed got collected in Wild Thing's wreck?

Adam (syracuse)

Who do you see having a better year at MWR David or Michael?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

David. He runs better across the board, on the various types of tracks.

Saul (San Diego)

Besides the blown engine, with 3 races in the books, have you notice any other impacts the No Testing has had on teams/cars? Has the No Testing been good or bad? Your thoughts?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

The problem is that Goodyear has put a new tire out there that is quicker and allows engines to be turned harder. That kind of stress may be hard to duplicate on the dyno, where engine durability problems are usually solved. No testing was a good thing for a while, then Goodyear threw in the new tire, now it's a bit chaotic. And Atlanta isn't exactly a day at the beach for engine builders either.

Marc (Malden, MA)

How much of the engine problems are wear/tear from qualifying and practice? Do you see teams making late engine changes as a strategy?

Ed Hinton
  (2:52 PM)

I think the next trend you'll see is that teams who have lots of money will go ahead and bite the bullet, change engines and start on the rear. Then NASCAR will have a whole new can of worms to deal with. It's always something, huh?

Steve (St. Anthony, MN)

Do you see anybody driving the number 3 in the future? If so, what would be your best guess/scenario on who?

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

I think it's retired, at least for the foreseeable future. When Junior decided he didn't want to drive it, that was it. Anybody using it for the next 20 years would be booed out of the tracks.

Mike (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

I was wondering who your pick was to win the Sprint Cup Championship before the season and who do you think has the best shot right now?

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

I picked Carl Edwards. That's my story and I'm sticking to it . . .although I'm getting a little nervous about it.

Michael (Orlando)

I was thinking back to the Indy race last year and what has been done to make sure we don't have 25 10 lap sprints?

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

Supposedly they're putting a lot of effort into Indy, because nobody wants that sort of embarrassment again. But lately, with Goodyear and NASCAR, I don't think anybody is guaranteed anything.

sam (louisville,ky)

will kenseth bounce back or were his wins a fluke

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

They weren't a fluke. Whether he'll win again or not is another matter, since everything is tech leapfrog nowadays -- you win some, then somebody figures out another advantage and leapfrogs you, and so on.

Michael (Orlando)

Is Junior the mot over rated athlete in the sports world today?

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

I'll let JuniorNation and AntiJuniorNation fight that one out among yourselves.

Tom, Boston

Who, in your opinion, has the best driver development program right now? I would say Roush/Fenway with Colin Braun and Ricky Stenhouse Jr....your thoughts

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Roush in general has been excellent at driver development -- witness Carl Edwards. As for up and coming developmental drivers, watch Penske's guy, Justin Allgaier, because he's got more funding and support than anyone else. And even families who raced against him while they were all growing up say Allgaier has been terrific at every level.

Ed Hinton
  (3:02 PM)

Thanks for your time, everybody. And VERY sorry about putting a Montoya answer onto a Martin question. My mistake. See y'all next week.