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March 2, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Hi, all. We've got a pretty good group all lined up waiting for the green flag. But we'll grab 'em and answer 'em fast as we can, so come on in.

Bobby (Tejas)

Ed, I know its only 2 weeks into the season but you have been writing like 5 articles a week and sometimes chatting twice in a week. Can we call you New Ed Hinton?

Ed Hinton
  (2:01 PM)

I'll take it! Beats "old Ed Hinton," which a lot of my detractors call me on the ESPN Convo.

Jeff (Norristown, PA)

Hello Ed, 2 questions. 1) Would they have thrown the black flag atthe 500 for Jr. instead of David Ragan? 2)No one had anything for the #99 on Sunday. His car was better then the last 3 races, whichwere 2 wins & a 2nd. I was shocked by Kyle Busch's apology. But I'm most upset with Bob Osborne. Why pit from the lead at lap 20 for 4 tires when you can't add fuel until the competition caution at lap 40? Then they take 2 more tires

Ed Hinton
  (2:03 PM)

Yes, I think they would have black-flagged Junior in the same situation. As I said last week, Ragan was clearly and completely over into the inside lane when they came across the line. Bout as blatant as it gets. As for Osborne, he might well have been afraid of the tire situation on the green old track and just played it safe. It's hard to question Osborne's calls if you dig into his reasoning.

Andrew (Pennsylvania)

Nice story on Bobby Labonte. What are his chances to stay in chase contention?

Ed Hinton
  (2:04 PM)

Well, I tried to get him and Brad both to tell me exactly that, and they put a few ifs in. I just like this pairing, though, and would rate them 50-50 to make the chase.

PJ (Durham, NC)

Hinton, what does Gus bring to Jeff Gordon that Stevie didn't provide? I've heard that he's more of technical guy than Letarte, but it was also interesting to see how animated he was when Jeff passed Kyle.

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

My best guess is that Stevie let Gordon do more managing from the cockpit than maybe Jeff should have. Knaus once told me he could never work with Gordon because Gordon wants to control the pit calls too much from the car. Maybe Alan is a tweener between Knaus and Stevie.

Maureen (SC)

Hi Ed, in your years covering NASCAR how have the press facilities improved and what tracks had the worst press rooms?

Ed Hinton
  (2:08 PM)

"worst" press rooms??? Listen: When I started, most of 'em had NO press rooms -- in the infields, that is. Dega, Daytona, Atlanta, we'd all work the garage area and then drive through the tunnels back to the upstairs press box, which was all they had. Daytona got a cubbyhole in the garage area in the late '70s. As for worst press boxes, the old Richmond Fairgrounds track comes to mind. Like being in a haunted house or something.

jerame (ca)

Will junior finish top 5 this weekend?

Ed Hinton
  (2:08 PM)

I doubt it, but who knows?

PJ (Durham, NC)

You can have the Hendrick cars or the field this weekend. Who are you taking?

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

the field. mainly because roush fenway should be mighty strong.

Rita (NC)

Since marriage has had such a positive impact on Rowdy has anyone suggested that maybe Dale should give marriage a try?

Ed Hinton
  (2:10 PM)

That question is better directed to Newt, our new marriage analyst.

Rita (NC)

Will you stop answering all junior questions until he wins a cup race, please?

Ed Hinton
  (2:11 PM)

no can do, Rita. We try to serve millions of fans, and at least half of them want something about Junior.

Karl (Hilton Head)

Do you think Delana Harvick is setting new driving standards by hiring only ex-Formula One drivers like Piquet and Scotty Speed to drive KHI Chevy's?

Ed Hinton
  (2:12 PM)

I doubt that. They're probably getting a gazillion requests for rides from outsiders like that, and those F1 guys are pretty good and finding some sponsorship money to bring with them. that may set them apart from the wannabes from oval tracks.

Ernie (Baltimore)

When people run down NW and trucks as "minor leagues" aren't they denigrating and disrespecting NASCAR, sponsors, tracks, teams, drivers and most importantly, the fans, who support those series?

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

No, they're not. I often refer to Nationwide as AAA baseball myself. nascar, sponsors, teams, drivers and fans spend less money on the two lesser series than they do on Cup . . . so why not admit it?

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

But then how many questions would we have left?

Molly (MI)

Ed, I read on the Monday Rundown that Hendrick has 195 sprint cup wins. Will he get to 200 this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

I thought it was a little closer to 200 than that, have to check, but yes, they'll hit 200 this season.

Tracy (CT)

Tell Rita that you will stop answering the Jr and also the Kyle questions. I think it is a fair trade off.

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

woops, answered before posting this one. to repeat the answer: but then what questions would we have left?

Josh (Asheville)

Ed, first off, great coverage as always. Your articles are some of my favorites because you always call it like you see it. My questions is regarding Tom Bowles from SI. What is your opinion of the handling of that matter? Are you allowed to offer your opinion? Thanks!

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

there's a hot topic brewing in here, so i'm going to post a couple of the questions/comments and then give y'all one answer.this is the first one.

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

now the second

Brian (San Jose)

Hello Ed,With the recent dismisal of a NASCAR journalist for cheeering in the media center, I stunned to read other so called "journalists" defend this cheering as no big deal. As a long time respected journalist covering the sport I'm interested to hear your take on cheering by media members. Has professionalism by the media really gone this far down?

Ed Hinton
  (2:19 PM)

I will answer only with my own experience along these lines. In 1976 I was a rookie college football writer covering Florida State at Oklahoma. FSU was the underdog. FSU scored the first touchdown, and I just got all caught up in the challenge to the then-almighty Sooners, and I clapped two or three claps. The OU press box went dead silent around me. I looked around and was getting godawful, pitying stares from the veteran writers. I have not done such a thing since, and I never will. It's always been a taboo with me.

Bert (Deltona, Fl)

How do Jr Motorsports, Tony Eury Jr and Danica put a positive spin on getting lapped 3 times and finishing more than 3 miles behind Kyle Busch on a 1 mile track during the NW race at PIR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

How 'bout that Rowdy lapped 28 cars at least once?

Fiona (San Dimas, CA)

As Kyle Busch fans we remember that Kenseth was strong in the first 2 races on 2009 then fell flat on his face and missed the chase. Is there a risk of that happening to Rowdy and the #18 team?

Ed Hinton
  (2:21 PM)

apples to oranges comparison. rowdy may have his bad moments, but he won't fall flat and stay flat.

Chuck (Melbourne, FL)

Mikey Waltrip on a comedy tour like Richard Pryor? What would Dale Sr have thought of that?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

I think Dale Sr. would have loved it, reserved a front-row table and bought a round for the entire club.

Chuck (Melbourne, FL)

Seems to me that the 2010 RCR-EGR resurgence was a 1 year fluke and that Toyota, Ford and Dodge have caught up and passed them and that RCR had it's traditional off-season complency. Your thoughts?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

No, no. The opposite. That EGR engines had trouble was a sign they're NOT being complacent, but trying new stuff. They're still plenty strong, and when they get the gremlins out, they'll show strong.

Nate (Tyler, TX)

Where did Vickers get the idea that he's the best driver in cup to have never won the Sprint Cup like he said in Maxim and since when does Vodka mix with anti-blood clot drugs?

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

I scanned that article. It was the writer who called him "the best driver never to win . . " wasn't a vickers quote. vodka and meds? don't know, but I've heard some young people mix vodka and Red Bull -- something I wouldn't try. I'd keel over.

Bill (NJ)

Since everyone complains about the long NASCAR season why does NASCAR extend it by taking a week off right after Vegas?

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

They've got you covered. Next year's daytona 500 won't be until Feb. 26, pushing back the season start a week, and eliminating the off weekend you mention.

Maggie (Henderson, NV)

Hello Ed, i'm really impressed with the respect Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards have shown for one another. Is that the way it was between Petty-Pearson back in the day?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

Well, Petty and Pearson didn't particularly compliment each other to the media. they showed respect for each other, and analyzed their duels, but they didn't hang out much together. once, when pearson faked the blown engine to get petty to go around him at Daytona in '74, richard was pretty steamed at the move. but that was the only time i heard them heated at each other.

Rolando (Cary, NC)

Hi Ed, do you buy into the idea that the Rowdy-Gordon 2011 battle is a repeat of the early 90's when Jeff Gordon was knocking off Dale Sr?

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

well, a little bit, yeah. especially with gordon being so proud that "man, we beat kyle busch!" but earnhardt never would have said that about gordon back in the day.

Richie Mikemond (French Island, Wi)

Why doesn't Nascar tell the boys to knock off the " It's to early to be racing the hard junk".After all it is a race and fans hate it not mention it sounds childish. Wish you and Robin M. could do some TV together.

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

If you mean Bowyer's remarks Sunday, I have to agree with him. That was getting too crazy. They were racing like it was the last lap. Had they kept it up, would you have liked to see maybe 10-12 cars finish the race?

Bonnie (Naples, Fl)

Hi Mr. Hinton, Do you think Kyle let Gordon get away with the bump and run because the 1 point difference between 1st and 2nd wasn't enough for Rowdy to return the favor?

Ed Hinton
  (2:28 PM)

No, I think he let Gordon get away with it because it's become a legitimate tactic on short tracks in recent years -- and drivers all now call phoenix a short track.

Robert (Indy)

With Tony Stewart's bone-headed 2 tire call, are you getting the sense that only 1 SHR will might make the chase and that it will be the #39?

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

one call does not a season make. and the 39 drives too far over the edge, too often, to make me think he's got a better chance than 14 at the chase.

Matt (rochester, ny)

"The best driver never to win the cup" is Vickers? HUH?? I think that journalist has been drinking to many Red Bull/Vodka's!! Um, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Dale Jr.....just to name a few! I hate that DB KB but KB, Edwards, etc. Seriously, i think there are 10 that are better than Vickers without a cup title.

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

point well taken.

Turk (Mich)

Hi Ed, in all your years in NASCAR have you ever heard a driver gushing over with praise for his competition, like Gordon was with passing Rowdy at Phoenix? Is that just Gordon getting old knowing that won't happen much more, if ever?

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

That did surprise me quite a bit. A four-time champion, 39, with 83 wins, so proud to beat Kyle, age 25. As I said earlier, Earnhardt would never have said that about Gordon during the '90s.

Ned (Denton, TX)

Hi Ed, last year at Martinsville when Kurt paid back Gordon, Jeff only smiled and talked about Kurt's not having a long fuse. At Phoenix, Gordon talked more about Kyle than his own team. Is that Gordon's way of rating The Busch Brothers over the lesser men at RCR, RFR, SHR and 2 of his teammates?

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

No, I think Jeff was just speaking of what was important at those respective moments.

Jake (Irving, TX)

Hey Ed, with all of Gordon's post race talk about Rowdy and how winning against Rowdy means more than other wins, doesn't that only confirm Rowdy as the undisputed #1, man to beat?

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

whooaaaaa! everybody's reading too much into Jeff's words. i didn't hear him say winning against rowdy means more than others . . . he said, "We beat Kyle Busch where nobody could beat Kyle Busch this weekend," meaning phoenix and Kyle's other two wins of the weekend.

Billy (CT)

Is this the all Kyle chat? You do know 90% of the "rowdy" questions come from octotroll

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

But here's one that came from you, Billy. About Kyle, I mean.

Drew (Bloomington, Ind.)

Ed, Jeff Gordon has stayed in the game as far as points these past few years, but I'm sure the lack of wins kept him from realistically contending for that fifth title. Do you think last Sunday was the beginning of the reversal of that trend with Gustafson?

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

I do think so. But then, I thought his win at Texas in the spring of '09 would start reversing a trend too, so we'll see.

David (Tucson, AZ)

JoLo hasn't dine too well early on in the season, so i want to know, where do you think JoLo will finish in points and how many wins does he get or does he go winless?

Ed Hinton
  (2:35 PM)

I've got my doubts about his making the chase, and about his winning more than maybe one or two races tops. I still just don't think he's fully ready yet.

Shaun (Erie)

Ed, Does Denny contend for a win this weekend?

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

Yes, i expect he'll run up front at least for a while.

jim (Florida)

Ed, after reading your response about Tom Bowles, and quickly reading about it online, why would journalists hold a grudge against him, but not someone like DW, who openly cheers for his brother, among other people? Why the double standard?

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

I can see your confusion here, but the thing is, there is a difference between a direct race telecast, and some entertainment, and the general coverage in the media center.

Steve (CT)

You should have to sign in to participate in these chats. So far half of the questions have been from the same person using different names.

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

I'm just an old sportswriter without much electronic savvy. I can't tell it's the same person. How do i do that?

Jules (NJ)

Ed, I only count 14 or so Kyle Busch mentions? What's wrong with that? The guy is leading in points!

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

let the feud begin

Jeff (Maryland)

What spot do you think Bobby Labonte will need to finish this year to get a contract extension from JTG?

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

I doubt Brad and his partners have a specific number in mind. I think they plan to keep Bobby for a period of years, unless something really gets messed up.

Jack Trae (KCMO)

Does Vettel repeat this year Ed?

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

not so sure. mclaren et al. could be back with a vengeance.

Millie (Naples, Fl)

Isn't Labonte's only real value his "past champions provisional"?

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

I think the team sees him as someone to run consistently week in, week out, as opposed to Marcos's kind of roller coaster.

Jeff Gordon (charlotte)

You guys ever heard of SARCASM????

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

Now, Jeff. Are you still ticked at Vickers for phoning you to impress that Maxim reporter?

Emily (NJ)

Ed, I have a hard time agreeing with those that say Shrub just "lost control". My theory is that he was mad being mid-pack, mad at cars passing him early in the race, mad at Newman for pinching him up off the corner, so he tried to make a hard left to clip Newman and got Carl instead. It was too blatant to be regared as a mistake. Your thoughts?

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

That's what I thought too at first -- that he went for 39 and got 99 -- but then DW and those guys spotted somebody bouncing off the wall in that same spot and it made me wonder if the combination of bad old pavement and location on the track had something to do with it.

Cory (Geneva, IL)

I know it is still early, but when will guys start to really take a look at how the new points work in terms of how far back they could get before they are really in trouble?

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

I think they're already looking at it, and like somebody said in the Daytona press box, "maybe Brian France wrote the law of unintended consequences." While the percentage of reward for winning is about the same as the previous system, the reward for finishing dead last is something like only 5 percent of what it was previously. So I think people are already getting into big trouble, fast, down there in the 1 and 2 and 3 point finish areas.

Jack (Brooklyn, NY)

Ed, There's no cheering in the press box, yet why is it aloud in the broadcast booth? i.e. waltrip cheering for his brother, Ned Jarrett cheering for his son

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

I'm not a TV guy, so I can't give you a good answer. I do know I heard Ned Jarrett say just the other day that after that Daytona 500, he went to Dale Earnhardt and apologized for not being fair to both sides. Earnhardt told him, "Don't forget, I'm a Daddy too," and smiled and moved on.

Steve (CT)

Hi Ed, in all your years in NASCAR have you ever heard a driver gushing over with praise for his competition, like Gordon was with passing Rowdy at Phoenix? Is that just Gordon getting old knowing that won't happen much more, if ever?Hey Ed, with all of Gordon's post race talk about Rowdy and how winning against Rowdy means more than other wins, doesn't that only confirm Rowdy as the undisputed #1, man to beat?2 clear examples, refers to Busch as Rowdy and often says his career is already as good as SR, Petty Pearson etc. Also refers to himself as we. Its not just here. Also in other chats and on other websites.

Ed Hinton
  (2:49 PM)

Man, i don't know if i can figure this out on the fly . . .

Emily (NJ)

Ed, if Carl shows up at Vegas with the fastest car again, does this mean serious trouble for the field for the rest of the year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

not necessarily. they play tech leapfrog all season.

Jackie (NY)

Ed, last year a win was worth 5.5 times more points then 43rd. This year a win is worth 47 times more points then 43rd. That makes it 8 times more difficult to make up lost points. Do you agree that it could have serious implications on making the Chase?

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

I sure do.

Shawn (Toronto)

Ed, how do you see Robby Gordon's outlook for 2011?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

Maybe a little better than usual, but . . .Robby is an enormously talented guy who drives over the edge too much and is often his own worst enemy. He's too much of an individualist to work with anybody who could make him successful in NASCAR -- take Richard Childress. If Childress couldn't corral robby, nobody can.

Ryan (Ohio)

I see how my question about JC France would get looked over, keep protecting that nascar brass hinton.

Ed Hinton
  (2:52 PM)

That's the third or fourth name that has asked this question. My understanding is that the last charges were dropped or reduced, but honestly haven't followed it that closely in recent months.

Casey (Florida)

Any guesses on the top 5 for Vegas?

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

yeah, and i could give you the next five numbers to play on the roulette wheel, too.

Charlie Sheen (Vegas)

Wow this chat got out of hand....

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

c'mon in, charlie. we need somebody who's mild mannered in this chat.

PJ (Durham, NC)

Ed, David Ragan is in a contract year and hasn't exactly started the season well. Is there a chance we could see him out of the 6 before the season ends?

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

I don't think so, because jack likes him and because ups isn't the type company to cut off something in midseason.

taylor ( lugoff ,SC)

i saw dale jr actually pick up postions with 30 to go to enter the top ten would you consider that a good sign for the future

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

can't hurt

Ben (Marco Island)

Do you agree with Mike Joy when he said about the Rowdy haters, "they had better get used to Kyle winning alot of races because Kyle is gonna be around for a long time"?

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

Yeah, pretty much.

Mike (Atlanta)

Would you say that Dale jr's finish was a result of making improvements to the car and slowly working his way through the field and about where he should have finished, or just dumb luck from the last caution?

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

I think a lot of it is because Letarte is keeping Jr's head in the game.

Andrew (Independence)

Any chance Landon Cassill gets a decent cup ride some time soon?

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

Probably be a while. Cup is pretty logjammed right now.

Earl (FL)

Ed, jayski.com reports 2/1/11 that Roush has resigned Ragan for 3 more years through 2014 & is negotiating an extension with UPS. There goes my theory of Trevor Bayne in the #6 Cup car next year. Any info on the Ragan signing?

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

You scooped me, Earl. I'd have to go check that out, after the chat.

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

Mike in Atlanta, please stop bombarding with the same question. I have already answered it. You're taking up everybody's time forcing me to keep deleting.

jc (indiana)

dont u think the only reason why gordon said he beat kyle busch was because no one else could beat him this weekend. Not saying hes a better driver?

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

That's exactly what I think, jc

Dennis (angier nc )

What is Dale Jr contract status with Hendrick? Any word on a lifetime deal or extention?

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

I just can't see a lifetime deal like HMS has with Gordon. But Hendrick surprises me sometimes.

Andrew (Independence)

What kind of odds do you give Jeff Gordon on winning 100 cup races before he calls it quits?

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

Oh, about 50-50, IF the phoenix win was indeed the start of a turnaround.

Carl Edwards (Columbia. MO)

Why are you ignoring the guy's questions who keeps asking if I'm the man to beat in Cup right now?

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

I'm not ignoring any, Cuz. You're the first to ask about yourself.

Matt (rochester, ny)

KB might be the most talented but that does not guarantee championships or being the man to beat. See Lebron James...You have to be a great TEAM. Kyle is not a team player, he is me me me.

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Look at all the different crew chiefs Kyle has won with. Lemme look; a chatter had the breakdown a few minutes ago. I'll see if I can find the comment.

Bert (Deltona, Fl)

Why do the writers all have stories about Dale Jr needing a cc he can communicate with and cheerleading while Kyle Busch goes out and wins races with Alan, Addington, Rogers, Ratcliff, Phillips? Rowdy has been successful with every crew chief.

Ed Hinton
  (3:03 PM)

There it is. Should stifle any charges of not being a team player.

Larry (NJ)

Ed, who was your preseason pick for the Cup, & have the 1st 2 races changed your opinion? Who has the best shot at dethroning the #48?

Ed Hinton
  (3:03 PM)

I was waffling between 99 and 48, and am still waffling.

stump (mo)

Give me a percentage for this weekend for the 24 to repeat.

Ed Hinton
  (3:04 PM)

about 30 percent.

Ed Hinton
  (3:04 PM)

oops, the clock got away from me again, folks. thanks to all for stopping by.