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August 12, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:01 PM)

Hi, all. Getting a lot of feedback here, via e-mail and on the ESPN Conversation about fans' aches and pains with NASCAR. This might be a good place to vent, so jump in. But please keep your venting short, as this IS a chat.

Russell (Jacksonville, FL)

Hi Ed, Great story today and thanks for listening to the fans. My question is shouldn't the fan opinions be rated on: 1. fans who attend races and buy tickets and 2. stay at home fans? Haven't the paying fans earned a louder voice?

Ed Hinton
  (2:02 PM)

That's a great point. Fans who pay the big bucks, fight the traffic, get broiled in the sun and soaked in the rain, should get a heavily weighted say. I do think NASCAR, with its "fan panel" or whatever they call it, does place greater weight on the ticket buyers.

Jay (Chicago)

Can you please please please tell Kentucky not to group their tickets in a package like Chicagoland does ? I tried to take my family of 4 to the Chicago race this year and they wanted $145 per ticket (Had to buy a Natiowide ticket and Cup ticket together). What a rip off !!! It would have cost me $580 for a family of 4 to watch 1 race !!!! No wonder the stands were empty. Who did what to who to get that as the first Chase race !!!!!!!!

Ed Hinton
  (2:04 PM)

Hasn't Chicago at least separated the NASCAR races from the IndyCar races? I used to work for the Tribune and thought that whole "season ticket" was tough on fans. I doubt Kentucky will make that mistake, but you never know.

Rob (Colorado Springs)

Ed, great article on the state of racing today. My only problem with today's NASCAR is the car. First, there is no brand identity, hard to root for just an engine manufacturer. I've always prefered NASCAR to open wheel because the cars at least looked like cars that I drove too. Second, the aero dependene of these cars make it too hard to pass at the front. This started long before the current car but wasn't a problem when the templates were based off of production cars. Not a huge fan of the chase either, but I can live with it.

Ed Hinton
  (2:05 PM)

You're right, Rob. Real car identity issues began about 1997, when NASCAR let Ford get away with a "Taurus" that was nothing like the street Taurus. It all went down hill from there. To me, the cars from '97 up till the COT were not much better for brand identity than the COT. The manufacturers felt that way too.

Mike ((Northampton Ma))

Hi Mr. Hinton. What do you think JPM brings to Nascar ?

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

A whole lot of pizzazz, really cool attitude, and saying whatever's on his mind.

Matt (NC)

Do you believe that Jamie McMurray can make it to the chase and if so could he finish say top 5?

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

I do think he has a legit chance, what? 93 points out of 12th? One early wreck by Martin and he could be in. Richmond always lends itself to that sort of thing too.

David (Wilkes-Barre, PA)

If NASCAR really listened to the fans, there would be 3 or 4 cookie-cutter races and more short tracks.

Ed Hinton
  (2:08 PM)

Think NASCAR knows that now, but it's hard to tear 'em all down and start over. The NYC track would have been a short track, had they gotten it off the ground. That's why I think Bristol, Richmond and even Martinsville are safe with two races for the foreseeable future. They are NECESSARY.

James (Hartford)

I'm too young for the "good ol' days" but I saw some stretch of really good racing last weekend.

Ed Hinton
  (2:08 PM)

There ya go. I'm plenty old enough for the "good ol' days," but I saw the same thing you did.

Jack Trae (KCMO)

Ed, do you have any news on why Mattias Ekstrom was testing a Red Bull car the other day?

Ed Hinton
  (2:10 PM)

Red Bull tests a lot of drivers with all its various race teams. Ekstrom seems to be a quality young driver and they probably wanted a look-see. Don't know anything beyond that.

Jake (Irving, TX)

If Nascar listened to the fans there would be more big, comfortable, fast tracks like Texas and no horrible short tracks like Martinsville.

Ed Hinton
  (2:10 PM)

You wouldn't be biased, would you, Jake? Have you ever been to Martinsville?

JAMMER83 (UTAH)

NOW THAT KAHNE IS GOING TO RED BULL AND MM STAYING IN THE 5, DO YOU THINK MM HAS ANY RESENTMENT TOWARDS MR. HENDRICK FOR KICKING HIM OUT OF THE 5 IN 2012 AND NOT GIVING HIM THE OPTION TO RESIGN?

Ed Hinton
  (2:11 PM)

My understanding was that MM was guaranteed only through 2011. If he's bitter at all, it's over how the whole 2011 thing has been handled.

Scott (Indy)

Man, are we having another peace/love/happiness chat? Where are the trolls at these days? Is the hot weather keeping them inside? How long until Penske switches from Dodge to something else?

Ed Hinton
  (2:12 PM)

Yeah, I'm curious about the absence of the trolls myself. Roger's got a pretty good thing going with Dodge right now, and until he becomes uncompetitive, he'll stay. If he goes eventually, it may well be to Toyota.

Mike (Nijmegen, Netherlands)

Don't you think Kasey Kahne is part of a bigger plan involving an engine and chassis alliance between Hendrick and Red Bull? Maybe Kasey stays at Red Bull after 2011. For me it's not clear what the benefit for Red Bull is if Kasey leaves after 2011. Don't you think it's obvious now Speed won't be at Red Bull in NASCAR anymore after this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

Can't see an alliance per se between Chevrolet loyalist and Toyota loyalist teams. I think Kahne is just going there to win some races, and I think Red Bull wants him because they can win some races and get a lot of attention with him, even in only one season.

Tayo (Chicago)

Ed, I'm 26 and love NASCAR. I think the racing is great and several of the new changes have been good for the sport. As I mentioned to Marty in yesterday's chat, more emphasis has to be put on 1st place. I'd say 10 points for the pole to make qualifying more exciting to the fans and better for ticket sales on Fridays, as well as 25-50 points for a win both before and during the chase. I go to Chicago and one other track around the country each year and what I always remember is who WON the race NOT who finished top 5.

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

Agree there needs to be lots more emphasis on winning, and I'm coming around to the idea of giving some points for the pole.

Iron Head Forever (NY)

When Ron Dennis of McLaren was at the Brickyard recently trying to sell launch control, did he have any comments on his former driver Montoya (who put a whoppin' on the field at Watkins Glen)?

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

hahahaha. He kind of bristled when I mentioned launch control to him. He did say, "I consider Juan a friend" and said he was glad to see him running well, if that's what he wants to do. Dennis the diplomat.

JAMMER83 (UTAH)

JIMMIE AND DENNY HAVE BEEN PRETTY MEDIOCRE SINCE THEY BOTH GOT THEIR 5 WINS. WHEN THE CHASE STARTS, WHO DO YOU SEE COMING OUT FIRST? I HAVE TO BET DENNY BY THE WAY THEY ADJUSTED TO THE SPOILER. JIMMIE HASN'T SEEMED TO FIGURE IT OUT.

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

I think they'll both come out pretty strong, pretty quick. But I agree Denny might get the jump.

Aron (Las Colinas, Tx)

Night Racing at Texas??? Ed, the tailgating will be wild!

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

Yeah, I just plan to get inside the track real early -- out of any possible crossfire. :-)

Matthew (Columbia, NJ)

Hey Ed, id Jimmie Johnson still a threat to win the title despite his recent struggles?

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

You better believe it. This entire regular season has been one big R&D session for Chad. They'll show their hand soon enough.

Dan (NC)

Kahne to Red Bull for 11' than off to Hendrick. This is a bit disgusting to me. Basically, Hendrick can manipulate other teams into solving his problems. I'm glad Mark Martin has stood his ground, because it looks pretty obvious that Hendrick just expected him to step aside for another marketing machine. Add another mark to the "why I hate Hendrick Motorsports" list.

Ed Hinton
  (2:19 PM)

Jay Frye, the Red Bull GM, is a plenty smart guy and is in no way being used here. Jay knows Kasey can win races for them, quite a few, and that could get the old Red Bull brand a whole lot of publicity in 2011. Jay is no babe in the woods. He knows exactly what he's doing, and I guarantee you he's got it approved all the way to Austria.

Tim (AZ)

Ed, why do you think that all of a sudden the 16 and 99 are reborn, yet the 17 is still struggling? I read that Biffle and Edwards are running a new chassis, and the 17 is running the old one. Is it as simple as that, or have all the cc changes and Kenseth's pretty consistent defeated attitude this season put that team in a bad place. Thanks.

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

Matt just can't over being discontent with his cars. CC switches don't seem to help. Even the night before he won the Daytona 500 last year, he said to his wife, "I'm tired of losing."

Mel (Michigan)

I have never Chad so confused or frustrated in the last five years. Can he and Jimmie regain their magic that earned them the 4 championships.?

Ed Hinton
  (2:21 PM)

Yeah, I'm wondering if Rick isn't going to have to break out the milk and cookies again before the Chase starts. But he will if he needs to, and they'll be OK.

Drew (Bloomington, IN)

Ed, is it just me or did the Glen feature some of the best racing NASCAR has seen in a while? I was loving it! Do you think it's possible that more road courses might be added to the schedule in the future?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

Same here, Drew. If they were smart they'd add two more road courses, because there's always a lot of beating and banging and sliding. But NASCAR's skittish about that because of the conservative fan base. I bet Laguna Seca, for example, would be a better race than anything Fontana produces.

Alan (SC)

I'm sure im not the only person that feels this way, but Paul Menard getting the ride at Childress reeks of backdoor politics. I guess the Menards have money to burn. If your Childress why have a 4th team when the driver is proven to be a 20th to 25th place finisher?

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

At $6 billion the last time I looked, John Menard could hold a money bonfire at every Cup race next year. If I'm Childress, I know the Menard sponsorship will allow me to fund a fourth team fully, so I'm not worried at all.

Tayo (Chicago)

Ed, is too out there to think Kasey Kahne could end up loving his ride with Red Bull next year? The equipment there is pretty good and combined with his talent, I don't think it is unreasonable to see him winning 2-4 races and contending in The Chase. Red Bull seems like quite the fun sponsor to have especially compared to his his rumored future sponsorship with UPS in 2012. I know Hendrick equipment is the best in town but could Kahne be put in quite the odd situation if he has success with Red Bull next year? Love your work. Thanks.

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

Not way out there at all. Like I said earlier, Jay Frye knows what he's doing. And if Kasey gets cozy there, and with Danica on the horizon, everybody might be flexible. And look at Red Bull in F1! They're big guns now. Jay will get them there in NASCAR too.

Kaleb (Fargo)

I think Bud has finally gotten their perfect BUD man with Harvick what say you?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

I say you hit it on the head.

Doug (OH-IO)

Hey Ed, I know NASCAR has attedance issues but why take a race from Atlanta? Fasted track on the circuit and very exciting races normally, Michigan, Pocono, Texas, California and road courses not to mention Indy are very boring for TV veiwers!

Ed Hinton
  (2:28 PM)

This wasn't NASCAR's deal. It was SMI's deal. Atlanta has a hard time drawing because it's 90 miles south of the old-school race fans of Georgia. Check out my blog on that. But it was all Bruton Smith's call, not NASCAR's. They just responded to his request. Of the other tracks you mention, Texas is the only one he owns.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Do you think that Danica Patrick will race in the Inaugural "Blue Grass" or the "Kentucky" 400 at Kentucky Speedway?

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

She and her folks won't be able to make that call until they've gotten the IndyCar schedule and laid it side by side with the NASCAR schedule. I get favorable vibes from her camp about Kentucky, but through 2011 her IndyCar deal takes priority.

Cody (NE)

Most likely to be in Sprint Cup in 2012: Trevor Bayne, Danica Patrick, Michael McDowell, or Austin Dillon?

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

Austin Dillon my frontrunner because of both talent and the right grampa. Danica second because of sponsorship appeal.

brad (pa)

Hi Ed, I was angry to see how much everyone is against menard. He's 405 points better than Sadler and right behind Dinger in the same equipment yet no one thinks he can drive. It makes me wonder if they're just worried that if he's finally in top level equipment he might prove a rich kid might still have the grit and drive to be good in NASCAR. the complete disrespect he gets has actually made me root for his to shove it back in everyone elses face. I think he'll be top 15 in points next year with a win. what are tyour thoughts

Ed Hinton
  (2:32 PM)

Rich kids have indeed proven to be good drivers from time to time. Take Peter Revson, heir to the Revlon cosmetics fortune.

John (Illinois)

I'm confused... Can you briefly explain the structure of team Red Bull to me? Does Red Bull just pay all the bills and forego outside sponsors? If so, why do they go to all of the expense of running a team when they could just sponsor somebody on an existing team?

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

The guy in Austria figures more direct control means more exposure, and more self-determination. He doesn't have to sit by and HOPE a team will perform for him. He builds from the ground up.

Tom (South Dak.)

What is with #24??? He has a some very good cars but can't seem to win! Is he unlucky or has he lost his touch?

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

I wonder if he has that real hunger that used to make him drive a fitful car at the end of a race. Now he doesn't seem to want to force the issue.

Swanky Frank (Ansonia, CT)

Ed, I think that most of these fools who B & C'ing about the racing or the chase are full of themselves and have nothing better to do. I LIVE for raceday. Between work and school, I don't have much time to do anything else, but I look oh so forward to Sundays. In fact, I like the current number of races and the chase format(I must be in the minority). And there is no lack of personality, just watch post-race interviews(which crack me up on a consistant basis). My only gripe, why are Cup races only replayed on Speed(which I don't get) once a week? Why hasn't NASCAR allowed for a streamed replay(that I would be happy to pay for)? I love today's NASCAR and hope it stays the same. Thanks Ed!

Ed Hinton
  (2:35 PM)

Yeah, I think a lot of people have plenty of time on their hands and forums on the Internet. But hey! They keep me busy.

Paul (Roanoke)

How about the most privledged, rich kid in the history of Nascar: Dale Earnhardt Jr?

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

Will let that one stand on its own.

James (North Little Rock)

Will the F-1 track being built in Austin get considered for a cup race when it opens?

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

First it has to get built, which I still doubt. Second, Mr. Gossage at TMS would scream bloody murder if NASCAR gave Austin a race. Third, quality F1 tracks (even if they get built) aren't necessarily wide enough for the slam-bang of NASCAR.

Richie Mikemond (French Island,Wi.)

Enjoy your work. Do you find it ironic that Danica's only win came in the last race where the two series ran separate? Also, with Simona showing as much speed as DP do you see her making the jump sooner than you originally thought? I would like all racing to be like Drag Racing where gender doesn't have relevance.

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

Agree on the gender freedom. You mean Simona jumping to NASCAR? Don't see that anytime soon because she's just not as well known as Danica -- although she just might be as talented.

Bill (Winchester, VA)

Great story Ed! How cool would it be to see Gordon go winless this year and still win the championship!? I think he's the greatest threat to Jimmie!

Ed Hinton
  (2:39 PM)

Now that would be cool. That would give us something to talk about until the drop the green flag on the 2011 Daytona 500!

Jenn (DJIC) (NJ)

Does Paul not know that Jr was not given anything from his dad? He changed oil and went to military school. Spoiled rich kids are people like the Busch brothers, Logano, Menard, etc.

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

I will let this debate go on without much interference, except to say that when Junior first came up to Cup, he lived in a mobile home and was paid a weekly salary of about $700, while his dad invested the rest for him.

doug (satx)

Ed, I think everyone should watch Irl and F1 races then they will see how good Nascar racing is.

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

If you're talking about the amount of passing, yes. The IRL used to be better than nascar on that count, but now . . .

Rob (Colorado Springs)

Ed, asked this one a few times but never got a response. How well do you think it would work if Pops Eury was Jr's spotter or even just hung out on the pit box to tell Jr to shut up and drive instead of bickering with Lance like he did Eury Jr?

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

It certainly would help and couldn't hurt. If you'll notice, Junior's downfall started when Pops was no longer there to referee Jr and Tony Jr. When Pops was the one talking to Junior on the radio, he was fine. After that, the rest is history.

Jeff (TN)

Do you think this new "Stavole Labonte Racing" team is going to take off? Plans for this year include running at Richmond, Charlotte, and Texas with sponsorship from Gander Mountain. No word on 2011 plans though.

Ed Hinton
  (2:44 PM)

Stavola, you mean. They're hinting that they'll have an enhanced schedule in 2011. I think it's mainly a matter of Stavola and Terry just having the itch to get back in. Whether it'll fly depends on how much money they can get and spend.

Tracy (CT)

I doubt Austin Dillon will be in Cup in 2012. RC already said he is staying in trucks next year. Hopefully he goes to NW in 2012 and then to cup. The kid is good and he is humble. No need to rush him.

Ed Hinton
  (2:44 PM)

Agree. It was just that someone gave me a list of names to choose from, and Austin seemed to be the best qualified from that list.

Chuck (Cleveland)

If NASCAR wants to make the Chase entertaining and me the regular season that a normal regular season is then here are my suggests:1) Anyone that wins a race during the regular season makes the Chase.2) Talledega, Martinsville, Charlotte, Bristol, Darlington, Phoenix, a Road Course (probably), Texas, Vegas and wrapping up the year at Daytona with the 500 need to be the Chase races.Why you may ask on that, cause it'll add drama and excitement that everyone wants.

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

I've agreed for years that the season needs to finish at Daytona in November. If you gotta have a plate race in the Chase, might as well make it the finale and make the Chase a total crapshoot.

Scott (Kansas City)

It is interesting that Khane's announcement he was leaving RPM to Hendrick in 2011 (thus creating a lame duck season from teh number 9 team) effected them less than it negatively effect MM and teh 5 team. Now that the Khane to Red Bulll announcement has happened, due you eexpect MM and the 5 to start buliding more momentum?

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

Guess that's possible, but I think it'll take the 5 team until next year to completely recover from that mess.

Jeff (Cubicleland)

BREAKING NEWS: NASCAR can care less about its fans. Its about the almighty $$$. Thats proven by giving Chicago first race in Chase.

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

Not to mention giving Kansas another race just to draw gamblers to the casino, right?

Bill (Winchester, VA)

It cracks me up to hear people bash Martinsville and talk about how it should lose a date! Have these morons ever attended a race there!?!? I've been to Charlotte, Richmond, Pocono (boooooo), and Dover. Of those tracks, Martinsville has just as good racing, if not better! I guess a lot of these "so-called" fans are clueless to what good racing really is!? Shame on those who wish to see Martinsville lose a date! What do these people want, cookie cutter tracks for 36 straight weeks???

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

Ditto on the Martinsville part.

David Yee (Stockton, CA)

With Jack getting released from hospital you figure he will be back on the pit box at Mich?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

Depends on how serious his injuries really are. But knowing him, he'll be back Sunday if at all possible.

David Yee (Stockton, CA)

Hello Ed, is Kurt Busch carrying the whole Penske team on his back? seems that Sam has bad luck and that signing Brad was a major mistake. your thoughts?

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

Don't think signing Brad was a mistake. It's just that Kurt is the savvy veteran of the three, so for car input he may well be carrying the team on his back.

Jeff (Cubicleland)

Great point about Kansas. Your a genius Mr Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

I know.

chris (MD)

Thanks for the great Chats Ed! Paul, JR may be a somewhate priveledged rich kid (except he had to work his way up and change the oil in cars at his Dad's dealership) but he also has 18 wins in his cup career and two nationwide series championships. Tell me what menard has ever done except bring his daddy's sponsorship money, run 23rd in points? ha. I'd take JR any day.

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

The two Nationwide championships and the 18 Cup wins are what Anti-Junior Nation tends to forget.

Rafa (Kendall, FL)

Do you think Homestead's problems drawing fans is like Atlanta's....that the place is too far away and south of the fan base?

Ed Hinton
  (2:52 PM)

Could be, but you're living proof there are fans in Kendall, right up the Turnpike from the track. :-)

JP (Rainy MIA)

People in Nascar have to stop complaining about the racing I'm a hardcore race fan and watch Grand Am Indy F1 and Nascar and anyone who has watched any of these series can tell you even running one line at Talladega is more entertaining than a car with a 54 second lead in Silverstone.

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

I hear you, JP. But not all NASCAR fans watch all kinds of racing like we do.

Tracy (CT)

What is the big deal with Kahne? His highest points finish is 8th and he has only finished ahead of Jr once int he points. Yet people say he is great and Jr stinks?

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

Kahne can win on any given Sunday, especially in a solid ride.

Jerry (Michigan)

What's turning NASCAR fans off is a spec car with no character and chevy winning all the races. Ford fans have left the sport. Also really can't get excited about jimmie johnson who is very blah. Blah car and blah champion. Enough said!

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

You pretty well summarize the discontent, Jerry.

Pat (Boston)

To Bill in Winchester VA and I guess to you as well Ed-If Martinsville is such a great track and the racing is so great and they should not lose a date, How do you explain the horrible showing of only 10,000 fans for the Truck Race on a perfect 65 degree sunny day in March??

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

It's a small market. But it's great TV racing, and that's why they need it.

Dick (NC)

I bet that Jr. is richer now than his father ever was and money didn't win him 18 cup races and two Nationwide titles. He has talent but at this point he is like Tiger his head isn't in it

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

Yep, the head issue is what I think too.

Scott (Kansas City)

Ed...love reading your stuff and great takes on NASCAR, but Kansas is a a GREAT facility with great fans that fills the stands and has a big draw in the midwest region. Also, rememeber Carl's banzai move at Kansas? The racing is exciting and I think you should actually visit the track and watch a race. You already mentioned that Atlanta lost a race due to attendance...well Kansas is getting another race becasue of its greta attendance and attractions (ie.., development and, yes, the casino).

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

Equal time for KC.

jason (ny)

They need to make the whole season matter again. They try to hype Harvicks points lead but it just don't matter, he won't even be the points leader at the start of the chase.

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

Well, the whole season does matter. JJ and Hamlin will start in the lead because they won five races each during the season.

Chris (N. Carolina)

Good afternoon Ed, why is Bristol not in the Chase? If its to spite Bruton Smith, that says a lot about the current brass of NASCAR and hiw little they care about the fans and on-track product.

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

I think it has more to do with wanting to keep Bristol's "Hot August Night" atmosphere. On both sides.

Jolt (KC)

I agree that KC has a pretty rabid fanbase but there's a definite concern about that subsiding with oversaturation. Check the KC Star. Almost nada on the NASCAR front except on Fridays and a short article on Monday morning. Any news on Gordon's sponsorship Ed?

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

And another perspective from KC. Still think it's Wal-Mart on Gordon, but don't think that's a good demographic fit, and some experts agree.

Freddy (Houston)

If the old school fans don't like modern Nascar why don't they go watch late models on some dirt track and leave us alone?

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

Because late models on dirt ain't what they used to be either . . . :-)

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Well, gotta go, folks. Another great group, and thanks for your turnout. Still wondering what happened to the trolls, though. See you next time.