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February 18, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Good afternoon, all. Just made it back to the media center from taping a segment for Outside the Lines over at our "Tech Garage." Wild golf cart ride out, wild ride back. Excuse me if i'm out of breath.

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Plus, Carl Edwards just walked in for a press conference and they've got the p.a. system turned up way too loud. Hope I can hear myself think.

Ryan (Ventura CA)

Thoughts, concerns for the 500?

Ed Hinton
  (2:02 PM)

Actually I don't have as many concerns as most seem too. I sort of like the deucy-deucy racing as something different from same ol' same ol'. And most teams either have their cooling systems figured out or the drivers have figured out how to breathe from behind fairly efficiently.

Ray (CT)

Two chats in one week. To what do we owe the honor? Who is the odd driver that gets left without anyone to pair up with.

Ed Hinton
  (2:03 PM)

Probably because a lot of my Daytona stories were done in advance, so I've had afternoons fairly free while Terry and Newt chased after news. Odd driver out? I don't think it'll matter in the back for the first 20 or so laps. By then somebody'll be off the pace or parked. For the real race, look for about 10 or 12 serious pairs.

00 fan (South florida)

Who do you think will win the 500?

Ed Hinton
  (2:05 PM)

Kurt Busch has learned the two-by-two better than anybody, BUT: RCR has the strongest engines and four cars. Menard may not be experienced enough to work in the mix, so watch for Burton and Bowyer to hook up like yesterday while Harvick finds others, such as Kenseth. Bottom line, it's a tossup between Kurt and Happy, I think.

Clay (Charlotte)

Do you think it'll be teams trying to pair up or just whoever is close?

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

It'll be teams wherever possible. Then it'll go to whoever is closest that they've worked with before -- e.g., Harvick-Kenseth, Kurt-Smith, Kurt-Jamie, etc.

Kevin (Texas)

Do you know if the 24 will get repainted before the 500?

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

what, the skinned up part from yesterday. far as i know, painting is still allowed without penalty.

Clay (Charlotte)

Like, love, or hate the two by two racing?

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

none of the above. I'm curious about it more than anything. If I had to pick one of those words, I'd say like, because it's different from the same ol' big pack drafting.

Damon (Hilliard, Ohio)

Why do the reporters there in Daytona keep asking Danica about her future plans? She stated the same thing yesterday that she did on Media Day. Enough already.......let her work on her craft as a stock car driver.

Ed Hinton
  (2:08 PM)

I wasn't at her press conference, but heard about the questions. Just remember, you've got hundred of reporters down here, some of whom haven't covered a race since last Daytona 500.

Mike (Cincinnati, OH)

Hey Ed, How many cars do you think will be running at the end of the race? Do you think it's possible for two cars to lap the field this year? Given the Ford cooling system I gotta believe it's possilbe. What do you think?

Ed Hinton
  (2:10 PM)

I think you'll see a fairly normal number of cars finish. Ford does seem to have the cooling systems figured out better. But, for example, Kyle and Denny have low temp thresholds -- 250 or so -- but have figured out ways to breathe. Kenseth showed both ability to breath AND had a good cooling system. Don't think two cars will lap the field. Like there's holding in football, there's debris on the track. It's al a matter of degree.

Mike (MD)

If Dale Jr is leading in the last lap or two on Sunday, will anyone even try to pass him? My impression from the July 2001 Daytona race was that many drivers (the Gibbs cars a noticeable exception, as Stewart received a somewhat dubious black flag) didn't try very hard to win at the end, as Jr came back up through the field and re-took the lead.

Ed Hinton
  (2:11 PM)

Believe me, people will try to pass him if they can. In '01, Junior just had a superior car -- as the DEI cars went on to prove they were at Daytona and Talladega for two or three years after July '01.

YAR8packX2 (Candor)

Good afternoon, Mr Hinton. Shouldn't the conspiracy theorists/buffoons be clamoring for heads to roll since Austin Dillon put the #3 on the pole for tonight's race? The double-standard and the ignorance of some people is quite baffling to me. Anyways, GO DILLON!

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

Don't know whether the conspiracy theorists think as far out as Dillon and Trucks. But if they should rear their heads, Austin's track record in Trucks speaks for itself. The kid's just good, in great equipment, no massaging necessary.

ERICKA (FONTANA, CA.)

I KNOW JR HAS TO START IN THE BACK OF THE FIELD FOR THE 500 BECAUSE OF THE CRASH IN PRACTICE BUT DOES HE STILL GET FIRST PICK SELECTION FOR A PIT ON PIT ROAD?

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

He does. And Letarte is excellent on that. I wouldn't count Junior out at all. This is plate racing. Heck, he could be in the top six in eight or 10 laps.

Den (NJ )

I think that the name of Sundays race should be changed the the "Rabbit Foot 500" Cause the winner of this race is going to be the one with the biggest "Rabbit Foot" I think this is going to be one of the most unpredictable races ever! In my opinion this type of racing is going to create lots of cautions and I expect to have someone that was not even thought of winning or being in contention steal the 500. Do not get me wrong I can't wait, but I expect to have some good drivers get knocked out of the race because of the type of racing now in Daytona. Who do you think will win this race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

There's a lot of skill being developed on the fly at this deucy-deucy stuff, so I think it'll be the guy who learns the fastest, and Kurt is currently at the head of the class. But the RCR boys have enormous horsepower in big numbers. This could turn out to be an exhibition of Childress horsepower all afternoon. Or it could be a demonstration of Kurt's new skill at this stuff.

Jenny (Elizabethtown LA)

How will Brian Vickers do this season? I would love to see him win the Daytona 500 Thank you for your time

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

Don't know how much of a shot he has in the 500. I'd pick his new teammate KK above him. But KK will make Red Bull a better team, and Vickers can win a race or two or three this year.

Scott (Charlotte)

Hey Ed,NASCAR's greatest fantasy question.If Danica wins the 300 and Dale Jr. wins the 500, who gets the cover on Sports Illustrated?

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

Oh, that's easy. I worked there for nine years, and know how they think. They'll pose the two together for one picture. It'll be an easy deal, since Danica works for Junior.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Who do you think the next up and comer is going to be? I like Cole Whitt in the Truck series, he has some talent.

Ed Hinton
  (2:19 PM)

I think the big splash is going to come in Cup, from Trevor Bayne, with the newly rejuvenated Wood Brothers. Look how they ran yesterday before the screwup. My understanding is, Ford is adding some umph to the Wood Brothers support. And Bayne is walking enthusiasm.

Jeff (Charleston)

Guys wont keep pushing Kurt to victory. His car is slow. He got pushed by faster cars both times by the 2 nicest guys in the garage probably. That wont happen come Sunday.

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

Clearly an anti-Kurt person here. Plenty, plenty of guys left to push him. And the car is fast. You can't get in that kind of position with a slow car.

Otto (CA)

Will Rusty return to NASCAR? I quit watching when he retired.

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

Nope.

chance calton (lexington)

is jeff gordon done? has he won his last title?

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

Every time I think he's fading I see new enthusiasm. I think he's ready to give 'er another shot, both Sunday and this season.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Juniors chances of winning the 500 are pretty much over now that he will be starting 43rd. Do you agree? Could you imagine the uproar from the haters about the race being fixed if Junior did win on Sunday?

Ed Hinton
  (2:21 PM)

I don't think it's over at all. In a plate race you can go from the back to the front in a hurry. The haters won't have a leg to stand on, because if he wins this he'll have to work hard for it.

Marc (Malden, MA)

Is Saturday going to be the same pairs garbage that Sunday will be?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

Nationwide will be a little bit different, but you'll still see pairs.

Jake (Cincinnati)

Do you think that Johnson will win again this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

yep

Matt (Staunton, VA)

Everyone seems to think Logano is going to make a big jump this year. What's the thought process behind that?

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

I guess it's because he came on fairly strong at the end of last season. I'm not so sure he's going to become a consistent winner any time soon. I mean the next couple of years. But we'll see.

Jason (bay Area)

Whats the feeling at the track today?? Today being the 10 yr anniversay of the death of Dale Sr..

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

there's some talk of him, but no more than other days. when speedweeks gets to this stage there's just too much going on to dwell on any one thing.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Do you think Pastran will do better than Danica this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

No. Ricky Carmichael's experience shows us the transition is rough. Danica's had way more experience and it will begin to show this year.

Wes (Las Vegas)

The bigger nightmare: For Randy Bernard, if Danica wins the Nationwide race at Daytona or for Danica if Johanna Long finishes top 10 in the Trucks race tonight?

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

Oh, Randy, for sure. Trucks aren't visible enough to outsplash Danica -- certainly not with a top 10. Now a win might be a different matter.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Are the drivers getting tired of talking bout Sr. yet? I loved the guy but can we maybe move on after this 10 year anniversary is over?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

They're all pretty much past that. I've heard very few questions asked about Senior for the past three or four days.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Do you think we will see more blown engines than normal Sunday or does everyone pretty much got the cooling stuff figured out?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

We'll see some among the backmarkers. But in most cases, either the teams have the cooling figured out or the drivers have the breathing figured out.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Do you think anybody can come from the back of the pack and win the 500 with this 2 car draft thingy that going on? It seemed like some of the guys in the back for the duels just couldn't get up there. Jimmie Johnson was mid-pack his whole duel and never really made a run for the lead.

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

I think they can. I wouldn't go by the Hendrick cars, which, by and large, aren't quite up to snuff this week.

karenc (birmingham,al.)

if this is what we will see sunday,i will not be watching nascar has turn raceing in to the most boring sport i have ever watch.:(:(:(:(

Ed Hinton
  (2:28 PM)

ok, let's let a few grousers in here.

Kevin (Texas)

Do the drivers expect to be paired up all race long or do they plan to be in the big two line pack for the majority of the 500 miles.

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

paired up most of the time.

Doug (Wis)

I know that there is a champions provisional, but someone tried to tell me there is also a owners provisional, of which I disagreed. Tell me is there one or not, thanks.

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

not that i know of.

Ray (CT)

How did Casey Mears get a good sponsor like Geico for 18 races? Harvick isnt even fully sponsored yet.

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

Geico's probably just feeling its way in. And believe me, Harvick just "partly" sponsored is bigger than most people's "full" sponsorships.

Ray (CT)

Hendrick cars not up to snuff? Dale anf Jeff take the front row, Martin loves his car and AJ didnt know how to work with Jimmie and frustated him.

Ed Hinton
  (2:32 PM)

Dale and JJ couldn't find each other in the shootout, either.

Emily (NJ)

Ed, just curious....why don't you see drivers in NASCAR switch teams/organizations mid-season a la the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, etc?

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

Contracts

Ryan (Reynoldsburg,Ohio)

Mr. Hinton 1st off its great to have you back. My question is what is your favoite daytona memory?

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

Oh, gosh, there are so many. Plus, I must admit, some of my favorites were off the track, back in my 20s.

carl raleigh nc [via mobile]

hi ed loyal bobby labonte fan here what s the best i can hope for a top 25 in points and 3-5 top 10

Ed Hinton
  (2:35 PM)

Yeah, frankly I don't think you can expect much more than Marcos did in that car. It's a matter of resources.

Manny (Alaska)

Any word on who is filling up the rest of that sponsorship for Harvick?

Ed Hinton
  (2:35 PM)

Well, Jimmy John's subs in the brunt of it, with a little more still in the works.

jeff (iowa)

Ed,Do you put any stock in the Mark to Roush rumors next year in the 6 car?? Thanks.

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

not unless carl can't get a contract agreement and goes elsewhere.

Aj (Indy )

What's up with Stewart ? He didn't seem to do very well in the Shootout or the Duel race.

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

He looked pretty good yesterday at times, but after he spun his teammate he was pretty much alone.

Don (Eufaula,Alabama)

2 quick questions:1.What is Ernie Irvan doing since he retired from racing?2. What happened to car # 28?

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

last I heard ernie was raising horses. the 28 just got lost in the swirl of number changes and the demise of the yates team.

Pete (NC)

I actually cant remember once where Kurts car was pushing the others and they were in the lead. The earlier comment was right about Jurt. He wont get the same treatment Sunday.

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

ok, all you grousers air it out.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

With Kasey Kahne id driving the #5 Car,who will drive for Team Red Bull in 2012?

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

that'll be an interesting question. some are even hinting carl edwards if he can't work a deal with roush.

Sam (UT)

Hey Ed im going to PHX for the Fresh Fit 500 as an annual tradition with some friends, if your there id love an autograph

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

Won't be at phoenix, but thanks. Terry will be there.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Not NASCAR related but what do you think about that crazy Bama fan killing those 130 year old oak trees at Toomers corner at Auburn University?

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

Viv Bernstein of the NYT, while I was trying to do this chat, was giving grief about what's the big deal with a tree? I told her that unless you know Auburn-Alabama don't say it was just a tree. That was a wretched, despicable thing to do, and it tainted the image of Alabama fans for years to come.

Kevin (Texas)

I'm not a Kurt fan, but if his car wasn't fast he and his partner would be roadkill.

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

Exactly

Carl (Warsaw)

Do you think the first NASCAR drivers would hate where the sports gone as much as the fans do now?

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

I think they'd get a big kick out of the personalities walking around in uniforms.

Ralph (King, TN)

Does RPM make it past this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

I think so. But depends on how solid that financial backing is. The guy seems to be legit.

Cory (Geneva, IL)

How much did teams have to change things with the new rules? Are the cars basically the same, just adjusted, or did some teams lose a lot and others gain based off the changes?

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

It wasn't really a whole lot. Just tape up the grilles some more and add the valves to the cooling systems. The plate changes are a snap. No prob.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Ginn seemed to be legit....he didn't last long in the sport

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

No, Murstein seems to have a clear record of solid financial dealings.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Will drivers ever unionize like athletes in other sports or is NASCAR too much of a mafia to let the drivers do that?

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

Curtis Turner tried to unionize them under the teamsters in '61 but Big Bill fought them out. They had the Professional Drivers Association which boycotted Talladega in '69 but Big Bill rubbed out that one two. No serious attempts. Besides, these drivers are all too selfish to risk their personal fortunes for a bunch of upstarts and/or old timers.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Not complaining but there seem to have been alot of chats the past 2 weeks. Is this just for Daytona or will you guys be with us more this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

A lot of it has to do with Daytona. don't know about the rest of the season but there might be more, since we've had excellent response to these things and the Sunday "cover it live" chats.

Aj (Indy )

Do you think M. Waltrip is using the death of Earnhardt a little to much for his own gain ? I understand they were friends, but he seems to be the one who wants the attention, Jr and Schrader sure don't seem to want it.

Ed Hinton
  (2:49 PM)

If anything, Mike's just trying to work all this out in his own head. He had a much more paradoxical situation than Junior and Schrader did. For them it was all bad. For Mike, the best day of his life was the worst day of his life.

Chris (IL)

Is Bayne running full time this year or just a partial?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

Just partial. 17 races i think so far. could expand to 21. but i doubt they'll raise enough sponsorship for the full schedule. besides, the wood brothers never liked to run a full schedule even in the glory days.

Ralph (King, TN)

Do you dislike all the current drivers as much as it seems in these chats?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

don't dislike any of them.

Alex (Memphis, Tn)

How cool was it seeing a competitive 21 car piloted by 19 year old Trevor Bayne pushing the four-time champ, Jeff Gordon? Revival of the Wood Brothers and a fresh new face in Bayne is exactly what NASCAR needs.

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

It was fun. In fact, before he messed up, I started checking around to find the last time the Wood Brothers were in Victory Lane at Daytona. Think it was '76 with Pearson, unless maybe Bonnett won a qualifying race for them later.

Ray (CT)

Even Keslowski?

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

What's to dislike about K? He's probably the most colorful driver out there right now. Rough driver but a great personality.

Cletus (Apex, NC)

Mr Hinton, there's no doubting Jr is the one of the best active drivers on a restrictor plate track, My question is do you think that Shrub Busch will be able to hold it together mentally for 500 in this new still of twosome racing? Thanks and have a safe weekend

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

Sure he will. He was in here a while ago, and he had the most rational analysis of how to keep going with a questionable cooling system of anybody.

Sam (UT)

How many Races will JJ win this year repeat of 2008?

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

I'd say he'll have won at least 5 by the time the chase starts.

Chris (IL)

Hey Ed, is Bayne running full time for the Wood Brothers? I need to know for my fantasy league

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

no. partial schedule.

YAR8packX2 (Candor)

Any "guesstimates" as to when the first accident will happen on Sunday? I'm voting sometime within the first 5 laps.

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

you're probably right, if the second 150 was an indication.

Robert (Livermore, CA)

I don't know if this has been covered and if it has forgive me for bringing it up again, but where do you see Dale Jr as far as in the Sprint Cup points this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

If he sticks to Letarte's way of thinking -- cool and positive all the time -- he could make the chase. If he melts down on letarte, he'll miss it again.

Rob (Colorado Springs)

Ed, you know I'm one of the more sensible Jr fans, what do you honestly think of his pairing with Letarte? Think a 'cheerleader' can get the results that have been lacking since Pops?

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

Letarte's more than a cheerleader. He's pretty good at what he does. Remember, Gordon made a lot of the setup calls from the cockpit.

Caster and Camber (Bahama, NC)

How's it going Mr. Hinton? Whats up with all these close minded NASCAR fans complaining about the 2 car drafting? I think if people would stop and think about what is going on here they would enjoy it. We have cars going close to 200mph on a 2.5 mile track, bumper to bumper. Yes, its not like anything we have witnessed before but its not a bad thing. Just wait till there are 43 cars on the track, I cant wait till Sunday!

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

fully agree, caster. i think the pairing up is something different, more interesting from the old 40 car packs. and when you think about it, daytona principles remain the same -- as when kurt and his parter slipped out front at the end of the first 150 yesterday, and three more tandems got all spread out behind them and let them get away. same as in one car at a time when the pursuers get to racing each other and let the leader get away.

timmy (mo)

What did you think of BK pushing his brother into the show? I thought it was an awesome gesture.

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Thought it was great. Everybody did. one of the old fashioned feel-good stories out of the qualifiers.

Ed Hinton
  (3:02 PM)

well, time's up, folks. thanks for stopping by.