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March 9, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Good afternoon, all. We've got quite a group already, so let's rock.

yuccadale (ca)

OK,can someone explain how what RG did was detrimental to racing...ok get that.But Conway and his sponsor stiffing two teams is not.

Ed Hinton
  (2:01 PM)

Any and every sin imaginable is covered under that vast blanket of "conduct detrimental to stock car racing." Illegal fuel, cussing on TV, illegal carb, illegal cylinder heads, pushing or shoving someone, punching someone . . . even having evil thoughts about another driver if they could detect you. It's all there.

Howard (VA)

GREAT article today. A friend of mine and I are going to Bristol - I live outside of DC and the price of gas is making me think long and hard about which races to attend this year. Bristol was in because I have never been. Martinsville I am also going to because of the $25 back stretch tickets. I was hoping to go to the Coke 600 but I think it is out because of the price of gas.

Ed Hinton
  (2:03 PM)

Thanks for the immediate input. I asked, and you're telling. Crossing the state of Virginia twice can't be cheap for you. And I see you're already doubtful about Charlotte. Sorry you have to make such calls, but glad to get the fan input I asked for on the gas crunch.

Rodney Grate (milford indiana)

could i get your take on dale jr so far this year

Ed Hinton
  (2:04 PM)

I think Letarte has his attention and is working the forcefully positive style. I've said all along that the first step for Junior is getting his head straight, and THEN you work on the car and his laps.

The Doc (CT)

Every one complains about oil prices but no one will do anything about it. The US has 3 times what opec has in untapped oil reserves which is enough to last 300 years. Unless we all install one of those things from back to the future that makes our cars run on garbage shouldnt we start tapping them to bring our prices down?

Ed Hinton
  (2:05 PM)

No opinion here. I'd just like to see more hybrids in the parking lots.

Peter McNeely (Medford, MA)

Is Carl Edwards peaking to early?

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

Nossir. He's just fine. He's confident they're going to continue development to stay up with, or ahead of, everybody else. Roush himself feels better than he has in years, decades.

Matt (Boston, Ma)

Was I the only person who was put off by the fact that since Nascars new one series rule, the winner of the first and most prestigous race did not even get championship points? Or was it just largely ignored by the media who kept telling us that multiple series point racing was killing the lesser series? At the very least you have to admit it was somewhat ironic.

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

As I recall, we covered that quite openly -- starting with a story that none of the three winners at Daytona got points.

EZWriter69 (Jacksonville)

How on earth does David Ragan still have one of the elite seats in racing? With Bayne showing genuine speed while Ragan is hopelessly uncompetitive anywhere but restrictor plates and Martinsville, how does Ragan keep one of the elite seats in the sport? Zero speed, zero balls, zero personality, how does he do it? Does he have films of France and Max Mosely partying? How's he keep that ride?????

Ed Hinton
  (2:08 PM)

I disagree on the personality. I think David is a genuinely nice guy. I also think Roush likes him a lot, and his biggest weakness has been on short tracks such as Martinsville. Betcha UPS likes him as a pitch man too.

Les (Charlotte)

Interesting story today Ed, but doesn't the present NASCAR management care way more about televison ratings than ticket sales or the at-the-track fans?

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

considering that NASCAR management reports to the France family which controls a dozen tracks under ISC, I doubt they're indifferent toward ticket sales. But who knows? They might be drifting toward the TV obsession of Bernie Ecclestone, who once said spectators are props.

Tracy (CT)

Good article. It's not only the gas prices but the high ticket prices that are killing us fans.

Ed Hinton
  (2:11 PM)

Well, Ramsey Poston tried to argue that ticket price cuts are helping make up for travel costs. I didn't include that because it was hard to prove. Now, Tracy, you confirm what I feared: that gas prices AND ticket prices are pinching badly. Thanks for continuing the fan feedback on this matter.

Kevin(New York City) [via mobile]

Do you think Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman can continue their early season success? Both teams have looked really good this year

Ed Hinton
  (2:12 PM)

I really do. They're out of the gate very strong, and on the type track that's most common. If they run well at Bristol, which I think they will, that'll tell us some more.

Brian(Miami) [via mobile]

Do you think Ryan Newman can be a sleeper to contend for a championship this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

Similar answer to previous: He sure looks capable of it. But in the Chase, I wonder. Can he abandon that over-the-edge style of his that gets him into jams?

TG (PA)

What the news of the press conferece at Whisky river today?

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

I'm not down there, but the "news" is that they're scrambling to get equal attention to Brian France's teleconference at 3:30. NASCAR stepped in on top of the Whisky River deal. Doubt it matters much. CMS mainly uses these "announcements" to hype the all-star race and try to stimulate ticket sales.

Vinnie (ATL)

How many tracks are like MI with one road in and out of the track? That is a nightmare to deal with. I would rather watch on TV.

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

Michigan has actually gotten somewhat better in recent years. You should have seen it back when MDOT refused to change from two-way traffic on that road. Now at least it's two lanes in, two lanes out. Worst place ever? Silverstone Circuit in England. There's one little road in and out -- an old roman road, at that.

Zack Ransom (Muncie Indiana)

how fast is the fastest lap in nascar

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

fastest so far this year was 206 with the tango drafting in the Bud Shootout. At tracks like Texas and Atlanta you might get a little higher than that on entry to turns, but not for full laps.

Larry (NJ)

How long before Knaus steps in and puts a stop to SHR getting equal equipment to the HMS team cars?

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

Believe it or not, I don't think he has that kind of clout.

Cameron (Indiana )

Do you think Martin Truex Jr. is a sleeper pick to make the Chase this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:18 PM)

I think Truex is a sleeper just about every season, and he's a guy at the brink of a breakout season. It's just a matter of when.

Rick (OH)

do you think robby gordon should just have kicked conway's A$$? I do. This is nascar, sometimes you get your butt kicked, ya know.

Ed Hinton
  (2:18 PM)

don't know the particulars. I do know Robby has always been quick to go nose to nose.

Tracy (CT)

Yeah it is the high ticket prices that hurt. Have you seen kentucky prices? 70 for row one seats? Ummmm $150 for a pre race pit pass where all you can do is walk pit road and not see drivers. Yaaa no thank you.

Ed Hinton
  (2:19 PM)

Yeah, I'm hearing about Kentucky on the ESPN Conversation attached to my column. Bruton may be in for a big surprise.

Anthony (PA)

Ed, do you think the current rise in ratings/attendance is here to stay, or is this some fluke due to the new car, and Dale Sr's. 10 year anniversary. I have noticed since 9/11, Nascar has lost on a consistent basis of fans/sponsors/supporters. Now the little guy has no chance at his cup dream, kind of stinks.I got to about 5 races each year since 1989 btw. Will do for life.

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

We'll have to see, but my intuition is that NASCAR bottomed out the past couple years and is inching its way back up along with the economy. Also, there have been some nice shots in the arm for public interest, such as Bayne/Wood Brothers at Daytona. I'm thinking it just might continue to inch up.

Larry (NJ)

Do you think we will see Austin Dillion in the RCR #31 for a few races this year and full time Sprint CUp next year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

I suspect RC himself will want Austin in a Nationwide car first -- maybe a deal with KHI. I doubt seriously RC would displace Burton from the 31, even if Burton gets into deep points trouble. You just don't treat your anchor driver that way.

Jake (Las Vegas)

Ed, there's a theory out there that says there's no way Danica would ever give up IndyCar to run full-time in the Nationwide series for 2012, do you by that? Because I certainly don't.

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

No way I buy that. It would take some sort of miracle great deal to keep her in Indy cars.

Kevin (Muncie, IN)

Hello, Ed. Do you think a tire company can get a safe, effective tire made for 2012 in IndyCar (never mind the promotional front, which cannot be matched against Firestone's efforts right away)?

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

I think they can, if they get going right now.

Taylor (VA)

Ed, has any hauler ever wrecked transporting a team's primary and back up car en route to a race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

Seem to recall one about 15-20 years ago, but specifics escape me right now.

Aron (Grapevine, Tx)

Thoughts on Tressel.......

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

I'm as interested as you are to see how long a legs that story will have.

Brad (Beverly, Ma)

Nascar fans actually know how to read?

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

Isn't that obvious here, Brad? Stick around. You might learn a lot from these folks. Actually their grammar is waaaay better than I see on other sports.

Ned (Denton, TX)

Statisticallyl, in wins, laps led, Dale hasn't done anything since 2004. Why all the sudden is there urgency? Did Henricks put him on probation?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

I think Junior has put himself on probation.

Vinnie (ATL)

Isn't over-saturation an issue? There are too many cup races.

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

Totally agree, but they won't back off that. Too much greed, on behalf of track operators. And 43 cars (too man) tells you NASCAR hasn't a clue how much is too much.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

One thing that effects fans going to races besides gas is hotel prices. i only go to Talladega every year because i have a free place to stay 15 miles from the track. Is Nascar doing anything to keep hotels from gouging fans?

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

Not so much NASCAR as the track operators. Charlotte and Bristol are two that come to mind who have really been lobbying their area hotels to stop the gouging. Bristol appears to be getting some results.

Mike (Orlando)

Do you see any changes in nascar in the coming years that would remedy the issue of single car teams that have absolutely no chance of a win from week to week? Do you consider "start-n-parkers" to be stealing from nascar/fans?

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

No, I don't think they're stealing from fans. Good grief, you want them to putter around all day and get in the big guns' way? If nascar doesn't like it, let 'em cut the fields to 36 cars like they should. Better racing that way.

Christine (Jasper,In)

We are going to Talladega for the first time in April. What can we expect? I'm really excited. Wanted to get pit road passes also, but only can with tower tickets.

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

Expect to see all you've ever heard about. Place is big as the Ponderosa, the people are rowdy but friendly, and those campgrounds on race morning are as sprawling and packed as the two armies at the battle of Gettysburg. It's a sight to see. But BEWARE all that campfire smoke. From friday night on, it'll burn your eyes and choke you all the way to Anniston, 15 miles away.

Marv (Long Island)

Why was Stewart whining about 2nd place when he blew a pit stop and made a dumb 2 tire call?

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

He wasn't whining. He was just heartsick. You could tell. Maybe he was implying some blame on his crew, but Tony gets distraught on a near miss like that.

Charlie Sheen (via mobile)

Ed Hinton, glad to see your chat is all about #winning

Ed Hinton
  (2:32 PM)

Hi, Charlie. You going to Talladega?

dr (tn)

Do you think there is reason for concern in the JGR camp with their recent engine woes?

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

maybe. see, they work somewhat independently of TRD to get JGR horsepower. When they push the envelope and keep their secrets, not a whole lot TRD can do to help.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Why did NASCAR turn a blind eye sunday yet again to the 99 team when they had a tire exit his pit stall on his next to last stop and not penalize him? Edwards clearly left the pit before the pit member was able to retrieve it.

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

That's a judgment call.

Zach (Hagerstown, MD)

Ed, thank you for posting. I know that Smoke is running an F1 later this year for an exhibition. But did i hear right that he is also running a dragster too sometime, somewhere? What is that about? just for fun?

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

haven't heard about the dragster, but if Kurt Busch is running one, Tony will want to try it. Tony was furiously jealous of Jeff Gordon back in '03 back when Gordon drove Montoya's Williams F1 car. He loves to try other stuff.

Ed (Fort Worth)

You can call it greed, but when people pay the price of admission, even if it's corporate sponsors, what are the track owners going to do? Turn the money away? I hate it as much as the next little guy, I drive an F-150 and I feel the pinch just as bad. But if you love the sport, you do what you can, if you can, to make the races.

Ed Hinton
  (2:35 PM)

Always a matter of supply and demand. But at your home track the last few years, appears to me supply of tickets has been greater than demand -- Eddie Gossage's spin notwithstanding.

Josie (SC)

Jimmie, Martin and Gordon have all had their bad luck. Is it Dale's turn next?

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

Oh, any given Sunday is always his potential turn at bad luck.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

So if was a start and park team and not Edwards the call would have been the same?

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

it was all in the eyes of the nascar beholders -- Hoots, Helton, Darby, Pemberton -- at that particular moment.

NOTRAYGORDONREID (NOT YAZOO CITY, MISSISSIPPI (39194))

Ed, have you heard anything recently about the Austin F1 track? It seems to have faded from conversation -- is it going to end up being another Bernie Ecclestone boondoggle?

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

I've always thought it was going to be another Bernie flyer. They throw stuff out there and see who'll bite.

Larry (MI)

How much longer does Rick allow SHR to continue to outrun the HMS drivers?

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

Well, there's not much he can do about it. If he supplies them, he's honor- and legal-bound to deliver. If they do a better job with his parts and pieces than the HMS guys, well, tough.

Paul (Ohio)

Mark Martin is 52 years old, Does that mean that 25 year old Rowdy Busch will be racing in NASCAR for the next 27 years or even longer?

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

Oh, I doubt it. Mark was a lot longer arriving in the big time.

stump (MO)

Will the 24 make it back into the top 10? Last weekend sure hurt him.

Ed Hinton
  (2:39 PM)

That lower end of the points structure, the 1-2-3 part, sure makes it hard on people who wreck out. I'm thinking they need to tweak that, even if in midseason. At the top, the rewards are about the same, percentage wise. At the bottom, those single-digit points are killers.

Cole Trickle (Eagle Rock)

There seem to be tickets available for the race in Bristol. We all know how popular the night race is, but how much "less popular" is the spring race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

In good times they've sold it out, but it's never been the tough ticket the night race was.

Jason (Orlando)

Would you ever forsee the Home Depot sponsorship leaving JGR and going over to SHR to re-unite with Tony Stewart?

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

Hmmm, interesting idea . . . especially considering Logano's inability to really get off the ground yet.

Scott (Charlotte)

Hey Ed, the amount of money I save in buying beer for a NASCAR race as opposed to an NFL Game, more than pays for my gas

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

Now THERE's an interesting perspective? How much is beer at Panthers games now? About $6 a cup? More?

Wade (AZ)

How much longer until your ESPN-ABC races begin? Not soon enough for us!

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

We always kick off our part of the season with the Brickyard 400 from Indy. Late July.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

So do you think UPS will go with Kahne in 2012 to HMS or will they stick with Rousch if he brings Bayne up to the 6 next season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

i think ups would stick with roush, all other things being equal. And Bayne is more of a Dale Jarrett peronality like they're used to.

dr (tn)

Can't take coolers into KY Speedway though!

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

You can't???? Bruton really is flirting with an uproar at that place.

Tracy (CT)

Do you see Aric staying in the 88. JRM doesn't like guys who don't perform in that car and Aric has started off on the wrong end of the points.

Ed Hinton
  (2:44 PM)

I think Pops will give him every opportunity . . . to a point. I think he'll have this season to work it out.

Nigel (San Diego)

Do you see Danica in the #88 GoDaddy for next season and Dale running for Jr motorsports with Tony Jr and them guys?

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

Not next season. Think Junior's got one more year on his contract, and that story earlier this week indicated he's not planning on a "them guys" approach.

kevin(nyc) [via mobile]

Whose paint scheme do you like the best in nascar this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:46 PM)

I'm red-green colorblind, so hard for me to say. I can see colors but they're not necessarily accurate. The 21 at Daytona was easiest for me to see, because I've got those colors welded into my brain from the Pearson days.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

You can take coolers in Dega! Even more reason to go!

Ed Hinton
  (2:46 PM)

Wild and wonderful Dega! No place like it.

Cory (Geneva, IL)

Last year Harvick came from around 20th in points the year before to contend for the title. Do you see anyone doing that this year? That would be Truex Jr, Dale Jr. Montoya etc.

Ed Hinton
  (2:46 PM)

all three yes, but less likely for Dale Jr.

dr (tn)

Dega increased the allowed cooler size this year!!

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I have never seen a track boss who cares as much, as deeply, about his fans as Grant Lynch. Grant is just about the nicest executive you'll ever find in racing, and he shows it every day.

Mark (Iowa)

Earlier this year there were reports that Hendrick was working on an extension with Dale Jr., after Junior's comments on Sunday, do you think that's still the case?

Ed Hinton
  (2:49 PM)

I think so. But I don't think it as strongly as before Junior made his remarks last Sunday.

Tracy (CT)

Yup, coolers on on the prohibited list of things for Kentucky on their page. Wonder if they will loose a race as fast as they got one?

Ed Hinton
  (2:49 PM)

I'll let you ask that question, Tracy, and we can hope that Bruton and his lieutenants will read it.

Greg (North Carolina)

Is this the first year in a long time where Jimmie Johnson doesn't win the championship?

Ed Hinton
  (2:49 PM)

Could be. Edwards and Stewart are awfully strong and look to stay that way.

Margaret (Conn)

If Deutche Telekom buys Sprint as has been rumored could be have a German company as the NASCAR title sponsor?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

Why not? I think the contract demands that whoever buys what was Nextel must honor its sponsorship commitments to NASCAR. Budweiser is now European owned, so what's the big deal with Sprint?

Ed (Fort Worth)

Now Ed, you and I both know Gossage has taken the place of Humpy. He could sell ice cubes to an eskimo.

Ed Hinton
  (2:52 PM)

Like Humpy, he could sell 'em to everybody but me. I like both guys, but rarely if ever take their bait.

EB (Texas)

Do you think tracks lobbying hotels to cut down on price gouging would maybe be a little better served if they stopped the price gouging at their own facilities? I'm not sure how much of NASCAR's decline is strictly due to a "down economy" versus the entire sport attempting to bleed its fans dry at every single opportunity.

Ed Hinton
  (2:52 PM)

Good point, EB

Marcus (Texas)

Stert usually starts slow and comes on strong. Now he is starting strong so do you predict he will slump mid season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

Na, man, when those tracks get hot and slippery, he loves it while everybody else gets skittish.

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

Folks, we are getting a fantastic response from you. I'm grabbing and answering every question I can, but if I miss you, I apologize. Just know we've got a spectacular turnout today.

Aj (Indy )

Ed - We are heading to Kentucky, Chicago, Indy and the All-Star race. With the price of gas, we may be skipping the Hall of Fame when we head to Charlotte. Which is sad, but it is what it is.

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

More good input from the fans on the gas situation. Thanks, AJ.

kevin(nyc) [via mobile]

Why isn't nascar pushing harder to get the track in Staten Island built? New Yorkers aren't that interested in nascar but its the biggest market in the nation. Those seats would get filled.

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

Well, Kev, there was such resistance -- almost rioting -- by unions, politicians, etc., that the frances backed off and sold the property.I said when they went in that it would be interesting to see what happened when the France Family met the Five Families.

Vinnie (ATL)

Many are predicting $5 a gallon for gas. NASCAR attendance could get worse.

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

Man, if the unrest spreads to Saudi Arabia, we could be seeing more than that. And from what I'm hearing from you folks, NASCAR is already about to get hit even at current prices.

Jason (Orlando)

Could you foresee Logano becoming the franchise driver of JGR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

Frankly I can't. Not in the foreseeable future.

Tracy (CT)

Wait, AJ is skipping the HOF that is what 20 bucks and close to the track because of gas but paying all that money for tickets! Ummm the HOF is well worth the 20 bucks dude

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

a thought for you, aj

Norm (NJ)

With all the young talent waiting to get into NASCAR, isn't it the time for the Indy car drivers like Stewart, Danica, AJ, Mears, Hornish etc. to go back to Indy cars where they belong?

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

man, you're trying to throw out half the pizazz of nascar right now? And there are no rides to speak of in indycar.

Greg (North Carolina)

Who gets a championship first - Bayne or Logano and why?

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

Bayne, because Ford will eventually give him the best stuff, and he clearly can handle the pressure.

Emily (NJ)

Ed, which young driver wins their next cup race first: Bayne or Logano? I am leaning towards Trevor.

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

Talladega maybe, eh?

Ron (OH)

Thank goodness we won't have this silly weekend off in March next year.

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

Don't think the drivers and CCs would necessarily agree with you.

Tim (OH)

Brian France should be fired, put helton in charge NOW!!!!!!!! France is a pansy

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Helton already IS in charge as much as a non-France will ever be.

Ed Hinton
  (3:02 PM)

Well, we're out of time, with about a gazillion questions and comments left in the queue. Thanks to everyone. See you next time.