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March 24, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

OK, everybody, back on our normal Thursday. Let's rock.

Andy (MD)

Which racetrack would you rather watch the race, Auto Club Speedway or Darlington?

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Surely you jest. That's like asking whether I'd rather have tofu or a charcoal grilled steak for dinner. Darlington, of course.

Sam (UT)

hey ed, what do you think about TRG switching Manufactures? will it help em?

Ed Hinton
  (2:01 PM)

They must think it can, or they wouldn't switch. Ford has been getting more aggressive in their factory support lately.

Howard (VA)

I went to Bistol last weekend and came away sad. The track was nice, the place was a breeze to get in and out of - on Sunday after the race we were at the end of the shuttle bus line at 445 and were on 81 heading North at 530. That could not happen at Richmond where I have sat in a parking lot for 2+ hours. The part that is sad is that Bristol ruined what made Bristol great. Bristol is now just a smaller version of Dover. I went to Dover last June and Bristol offered the same racing. I don't have to have a wreck fest for that I would go to a Demolition Derby but the Progressive Banking made the track too wide and gave the drivers too much room. I am going to Martinsville in 2 weeks and look forward to real short track racing. It is not the number of cautions it is the style of racing. I don't know if I will go back to Bristol, I know I will continue to go to Martinsville.

Ed Hinton
  (2:02 PM)

I join the drivers in believing that the racing at Bristol, though different, is still good. But the fans have damn well decided to turn their backs on "the new Bristol," and like Mike Helton himself once said, "Perception is reality." All this tells me is that fans would rather see wrecking than racing.

Ron (OH)

Burton and Logano are 49 points out of 10th place, the last place to get into the Chase based on points. Last year the top 10 had a better than 15.0 ave finish per race. (So far this year it is 14)With 22 races before the Chase cutoff, those drivers will have to make up 2.3 points per race or finishing places based on the new points system to get to 10th. So they will have to have about a 12.7 ave finish or better if it takes an ave finish of better than 15 to make the Chase on points. Any bonus points will raise the average finish required.Only Harvick, Edwards and Johnson were better than 12.7 last year. So the conclusion is that it is almost impossible for them to make the Chase on points unless they have a superhuman turn around in their results from what they have done so far. Only once in the last 10 years has Burton beat 12.7.

Ed Hinton
  (2:05 PM)

Lota numbers crunching there, Ron. You wouldn't be a former baseball writer by any chance, would you? Logano doesn't seem to me to be a serious Chase contender. Burton, on the other hand, has a chance to surge any time he can break that black cloud of luck. Trouble is, it's been riding him for a couple of years now with no signs of letting up.

Saul (San Antonio Airport)

Ed, waiting to board a plane to Sacramento, then on Sunday i will be at the race in Fotana. w/the race being shorter, what kind of racining should we expect?

Ed Hinton
  (2:05 PM)

If you guy by last year's fall race, it should be quite wild at the end. But last fall may have been a fluke.

Phil (Richmond, Va.)

Only 10 days until Martinsville. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

Wonder whether the fan abandonment of Bristol is going to help Martinsville's attendance. It might, as the only really slam-bang track left.

Cale (Boston)

If only Irwindale could hold 60,000...

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

In all seriousness, I think NASCAR should consider helping with the expansion of seating at places like Irwindale and replace some cookie cutter races with short tracks. Dream on, Hinton. They won't.

Gene (Ohio)

Hey Ed, how come when I post something positive about Rowdy on your stories some moderator deletes the comment but trolls with hate in their screen names and other post non-stop hatred for Rowdy and those comments stay up? Doesn't ESPN believe in balanced freedom of expression?

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

I don't have anything to do with the ESPN Convo side of things. Far as I know, the only time they remove a comment is when it's either too vulgar or is a personal attack on somebody -- anybody, including the Kyle haters. If you flame the Kyle haters, that might be the reason. Otherwise, if it's an upstanding, decent comment about Kyle and it gets deleted, it bears checking out. If it happens let me know, forward me the comment, and I'll get the editors to look into it.

kevin (new york city) [via mobile]

I know its early but who do you have for your chase drivers so far this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:10 PM)

This chat runs too fast for me to think about it in depth, but I'll go with what JJ told me last weekend at Bristol. "The drivers who belong in the Chase will be IN the Chase." That is, all the stragglers will catch up.

Heath Hinton (Hattiesburg, Ms)

Greetings from back home Mr Hinton. Do you believe that if Kasey Kahne has an outstanding season with Red Bull Racing, he will stck around and not go to Hendrick? I mean the does have his crew chief there with him. It's not like RBR doesn't have the cash to put the resources behind him. That was something he didnt have at RPM.

Ed Hinton
  (2:12 PM)

All depends on what happens at Hendrick. I could see, for example, if Kasey has the season you describe, and, say, Danica makes a full-time move to Cup, then Jay Frye could make arrangements to keep KK at Red Bull, and Danica could occupy the GoDaddy 5 seat. That's pure speculation, of course.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Who do you think will drive for Team Red Bull in 2012 since Kasey Kahne will be driving the #5 Chevrolet in 2012?

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

Ol' Dietrich in Austria and Jay Frye in NC have their own ways of looking at drivers. If it appears KK really is going to HMS next season, then we should watch for who Red Bull tests this fall.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What race did we see 3 Women in one Sprint Cup Series Race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

You've got me two-thirds stumped. I figure it had to be in the '80s and two of them had to be Patty Moise and Shawna Robinson, but can't recall another from that era. Tell me the third.

Guy (Enfield NH)

I know you have hedged your bets on Dale Jr., but there seems to be some positive vibes this year that I haven't seen a couple of years..What are your thoughts on his season going forward?? Thanks..

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

All I can see is that Stevie is working on his mindset with positive results. Whether the upswing continues will determine whether they win or not later on this seaosn.

Roscoe (Cali)

My question was ignored Monday by Ryan McGee; maybe he is an apologist for nascar and does not want to give an answer to this question. About how full were the stands at Bristol? they seemed about 2/3rds full. Thanks.

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

I was there, and frankly, 2/3 full seems liberal to me. I think it was more like 1/2 full. Maybe 80,000.

Gus (NY)

Will a Cup race ever be added at Iowa? We are in desperate need of more short tracks.

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

I agree totally, and I agree Iowa would be a great place. They couldn't build enough seats to hold all the fans out there. Will NASCAR do it? Sadly, I doubt it, anytime soon.

JIMMER (BYU (via New Orleans))

Will I beat Florida tonight and will you be watching?

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

No and no.

Jake (Irving, TX)

Hi Ed, why do you suppose the Kyle and especially Edwards have been able to carry momentum from 2010 in this year but Jimme, Denny and Harvick have all seemed to falter?

Ed Hinton
  (2:18 PM)

I'm not sure they've failed to carry momentum. Maybe it's because blown engines and wrecks have left them scoring only a handful of points at some races under the new system, so they look worse off than they are.

Sam (UT)

What about Hamlin, think he's got the hangover?

Ed Hinton
  (2:18 PM)

No, I think he'll come around. Say, Martinsville.

Saul (San Antonio, Texas Airport)

Ed, I sure hope last fall race was no fluke and maybe Gillian Zucker can buy irwindale and change the race venue. Maybe Dale will win a race. But Ed, who is your dark horse to win the race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:19 PM)

Kasey Kahne as dark horse, but not very dark considering his team.

Bart (East Bay)

Hey Ed, in 2008 Rowdy won the 4th race of the season and went on to win 7 more. Now that Rowdy has won the 4th race of this season do you expect a similar performance in 2011?

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

That's getting a little numerological for me. But he does have a chance for several wins this season, regardless of where on the schedule it started.

Ryan Timmel (Ventura CA)

Hi Ed, From a fan's stand point they killed Bristol! Does that or the economy have more to do with declining attendance numbers?

Ed Hinton
  (2:21 PM)

Terry Blount and I were talking about it. We came up with two major factors other than the economy: 1) They separated Bristol and Martinsville on the schedule so that a lot of Northern fans who used to "do the double" in one swing south can't do it anymore. 2) The fans really, really refuse to accept the new Bristol.

Mark (Iowa)

Ed, What is your take on the Cobb-Russell situation?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

Only thing clear is that they seem really bitter toward each other. I take both sides with a grain of salt. She's coming up next on the chat, at 3 p.m., so you can ask her.

Emily (NJ)

Ed, do you think that more fans than usual decided NOT to go to Bristol because of the fear of the tire situation? Fans didn't really know whether the race would turn out like indy in 08...

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

Na! I think the tire situation came up waaaay too late to affect ticket sales. They didn't even realize it until Friday, and Goodyear immediately took steps to fix it. Most tickets are bought months in advance.

Jake (Irving, TX)

The fans have said anyone but #48 and now that Kyle and Carl are doing that shouldn't the fans be happy?

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

The fans are never happy. You'll see them flaming "Cousin Carl" aka "Flipper" and "Cryle" just like they flame JJ. The way NASCAR fandom operates nowadays, winning is a villainous thing to do.

Russell (Toronto)

Since so many fans on the internet and even some media people dislike Danica so much, why should she bother racing in NASCAR where she's not really liked or wanted?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

Believe me, a lot more people like her than dislike her, and I mean worldwide, not just in this hemisphere. It's just that the detractors make all the noise. She is certainly wanted in NASCAR, including the drivers, because they know how much extra attention she draws. Besides, racers have to make a living, and Danica knows that -- certainly her dad does. He's wanted her in NASCAR for years.

Corey (Raleigh, NC)

In your article, you mentioned the disaster that was the original Texas layout. Did Gossage really think "dual banking" for stock cars vs. Indy cars would work?

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

I had no idea then, and have no idea now, just what Gossage was thinking. I do know he's already e-mailed me asking for equal time, a "Texas at 15" column. I just might take him up on that, warts and all from when that place opened.

Sam (UT)

whos gonna blow there engine at acs?

Ed Hinton
  (2:28 PM)

Oh, several people, probably. That place is about as hard on engines as anywhere these days. So we'll find out who's experimenting with engine pieces -- Hendrick, RCR, Roush, etc. -- when they start blowing. And some will, for sure.

Jeff (Charleston)

The drivers all say they love the racing at places like las vegas , chicago , now fontana and new bristol because it gives them room to "race". Fans dont want to see cars 20 feet apart barely passing each other. These drivers better realize sooner than later that the fans attract the sponsors. If we dont show up and stop watching then the sponsors will go away to. How can NASCAR be so blind to this?

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

It's like football coaches -- and, once upon a time, race drivers -- used to say: "Of course, I had the worst seat in the house." That's what drivers should realize. They have the worst seats in the house when it comes to the entertainment side of the competition.

Phil (Richmond, Va.)

winning is villainous... unless it is the Earnhardt Jr.

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

Maybe. But you let him run off three or four wins in a row -- unlikely as that may be -- and listen to how he gets booed.

Seth (Denton, TX)

Hey Ed, as a motorsports journalist don't you really like these triple-play weekends where we have F1, NASCAR and Indy car races all in the same weekend?

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

I do, because I've liked -- and in the past, covered -- all the forms. But race fans now are pretty compartmentalized, especially NASCAR fans.

Gus (NY)

In defense of Hamlin: He is in a better spot than he was this time last year and we have races at Martinsville, Texas, Richmond, Darlington and Pocono coming up. He wins 3 times before July.

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

Agree

Lance (Iowa)

Is Trevor Bayne's Daytona 500 victory going to get him thrust into cup full time too soon, kinda like Tony Stewart leaving JGR got Joey Logano thrust into cup full time before he was ready and Brad K's 'Dega win got him thrust into cup full time before he was ready?

Ed Hinton
  (2:32 PM)

Depends on whether there's an opening at Roush next season. Also, Trevor needs to pick it up on the unrestricted tracks. He's made a couple of rookie mistakes, and also got caught up in other people's messes. But he badly needs a big showing on an unrestricted track.

Mark (Mount Airy,MD)

Hello Ed, The Indy car season kicks off this weekend. Who are your favorites for St. Pete????????

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

Dixon and Power, of course. But I tell you what: look out for Sebastien Bourdais. If Dayle Coyne can get a good car under him, Sebastien and be a mighty force in a hurry in IndyCar this season. He arrives as the best road racer, by far, in the series.

Russell (Toronto)

Probably Danica's dad knows that NASCAR is about 100 times safer than Indy car racing but already this year we've had Brad whining that she get's too much attention.

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

Danica's dad knows NASCAR is the place to be, period, if you're a U.S. driver. As for Brad's whining, it was the same with her male IndyCar colleagues at first. Her own teammate, Buddy Rice, was pretty cold. So were the other males.

Sam (UT)

Does JJ get his first win this weekend?

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

Probably.

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

The RCR boys will rise and fall by the ECR engines. If they're clicking, with no experimental parts, they'll have the horsepower edge. If they're experimenting, boom, boom, boom go the ECR engines.

Seth (Denton, TX)

When Mark Martin ran over Harvick at Bristol, Harvick yelled on his radio that the #5 has done that 2 times this year and maybe Mark needs to get his eyes examined. I heard Mark say he can't read the gauges in his car-farsighted. Does NASCAR make the drivers to physicals and eye exams?

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

I wonder if it isn't more a matter of reflexes. Mark has seemed to get into the back of other drivers quite a bit on restarts and cautions in recent years. At Charlotte a couple of years ago, he got into the back of Montoya on a restart and essentially knocked JPM right out of championship contention. JPM was in the Chase.

Jeremy (Des Moines, IA)

Something to think about with Bristol, its not necessarily that all of us fans like to see the wrecking, but its a lot of fun to watch the beating and banging that happens on short tracks and there's less of that at Bristol now. I actually like the new style of racing there, but you have to admit its taken away some of the short track feel it had.

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

Yeah, the rubbing made for a lot of sparks in the night race. Maybe what the fans missed most is the guys getting out of their cars and making various gestures to one another.

Jake (Irving, TX)

Hi Ed, do you see the Kyle Busch-Carl Edwards rivalry shaping up to be another Petty vs. Pearson, DW vs. Cale or Allison, Earnhardt vs. Gordon deal?

Ed Hinton
  (2:39 PM)

The rivalries you mention took a long time to develop. Kyle and Carl would need several seasons up top, together, to compare with those others -- except for Earnhardt-Gordon. Earnhard-Gordon was mainly a verbal rivalry. You can look this up: Every time Earnhardt and Gordon had a direct confrontation, Gordon won it. But those were few indeed.

Howard (VA)

We did have Danica making jestures on Saturday though!!

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

You took the words out of my mouth, Howard. Exactly. More hot tempers like Danica's, and the fans would think it's the old Bristol again.

Cale (Boston)

I know Bourdais and Sato didn't light F1 on fire, but it's gotta improve the reputation of IndyCar to have them racing, right?

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

Bourdais had crummy equipment in F1, always bad situation. He burned up Champ Car, was the consistent man to beat, before he went to F1.

Chris (Pennsylvania)

Ed what do you think of Bill Elliott leaving Phoenix Racing?

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

Not sure whether it was his idea or James Finch's. But I'll tell you this: Bill is getting laser-focused on Chase's career now. They're in the old shop at Dawsonville, and I expect Bill to be spending more and more time with Chase, because a lot of people tell me Chase is the real deal.

Turk (Mich)

Hi Ed, do you think the time Kyle and Dave spent together in the off season working on communication and Kyle's confidence in the #18 team is the reason we have seen improved performance out of Kyle this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

They do seem to be working more smoothly on the radio.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Will we ever see Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?

Ed Hinton
  (2:44 PM)

That'll be tough. Getting good equipment in Cup is almost impossible except for a proven winner at the lower levels. Again, she's up next on the chat, at 3 p.m., and you could ask her about it.

Drew (Bloomington, Ind.)

Terry, who ya got for IndyCar's season-opening GP of St. Pete?

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

I got Power, but again, watch out for Bourdais.

Howard (VA)

The best sight I remember from a Martinsville race was when David Ragan ran the 06 car and hit just about everything and everyone on the track. He got Bill Elliott (I am fairly sure it was Elliott) so mad after being wrecked he picked up his metal bumper bracket and threw it into Ragan's pit stall!

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

I remember at least one, maybe two, Martinsville races where Ragan had a very tough time. I think I counted six times in one race he just flat lost it in 1 and 2.

Gus (NY)

Last year Phoenix Racing was up for sale, is that still the case?

Ed Hinton
  (2:46 PM)

Probably depends on how Finch's construction business is going. Much as he considers selling, I don't know if he could actually bring himself to getting out of racing. He just loves to be around it too much.

Keith H (Seattle)

Forty-five minutes in and no Ray Gordon Reid?! What happened? Did the sun rise in the west today?

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

Ray Gordon has been AWOL for two weeks now.

Larry (IL)

gordon always had a good setup for martinsville with steve and the way jr has been running there lately at martinsville i see him coming out of there with a top 3 or even a win. If he gets out of cali with a top 10 his confidence will be really up knowing he could win martinsville

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

Stevie's setup for Jeff might not be Junior's cup of tea. We'll have to wait and see. No matter how good a crew chief's setup may be, it's all out the window if the driver doesn't like it.

Rudy (Pembroke Pines, Fl)

Is Kurt Busch just a much better NASCAR driver than Newman or Brad or Hornish or Travis or is Penske just unable to put multiple winning race cars on the track?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

I think Kurt's just that much better.

Pete (SC)

Say I win the $304 million in mega-millions lottery. Is that enough to start a big ime race team and compete with Hendricks and JGR. Thats my plan. Scott Speed and Kenny Wallace as my drivers.

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

That'd be enough to buy the equipment to get you started. But you know how to make a small fortune in NASCAR? Start with a big fortune. Those two drivers would have the potential to make you a small fortune fast.

Joanne (Ft. Myers)

Dale jr. has an avg. finish of 21.7 at ACS in something like 19 races. Is there any reason to expect anything different this weekend?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

Depends on whether he and Stevie can agree on a setup. Stevie could do it if Junior would accept it.

Phil (Richmond, Va.)

Is Chase Elliott a better prospect than Jeb Burton?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

I'm hearing nothing but rave reviews about Chase. Everybody who's seen him.

Jake (Irving, TX)

Hi Terry, I've read lots of opinions about the causes of the Bristol attendence and ratings but has anyone considered that this might be the new normal? Just like housing prices will never be where they were in 2005, same with NASCAR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

Must be a leftover from Terry's chat, but yes, I think lower attendance at all tracks could be the new normal. HOWEVER: for the first 20 years I covered NASCAR, attendance like they've been having would have the higher-ups dancing in the streets of Daytona. Lower than recently, but much higher than the old days.

Joanne (Ft. Myers)

What did you think of David lettermans comments about NASCAR last night on his show?

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

didn't see it. what'd he say?

Rob F (Hoboken, NJ)

What's up with the 24 team? They seemed OK before a tire blew at Vegas and were largely an upper mid-pack car at Bristol (where JG has totally lost it in recent years). Any reason for 24 fans to panic early in the season? Also, fans don't want wrecks, they want side-by-side racing and genuine lead changes (plate tracks don't count). Bristol just lost that charm since it was changed. Gimme Martinsville or Darlington any day...

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

Jeff seemed unhappy with his car at Bristol from the moment they brought in the replacement tires on Saturday. I think they just missed on setup this time. No reason to panic at all.

Ali (MI)

I'm not knocking Chase but didn't everyone say how great Joey Logano was too? Still haven't seen much out of him. I hope Chase makes a go of it but it might be too much pressure too soon.

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

Joey Logano was running All Pro Series on a 600k budget. That's one reason he looked so good. Bill and I have known each other waaaaay too long, with all our ups and downs and run-ins, for him to b.s. me. Besides, Bill has never been one to brag. And he really believes, deep inside, that the kid has it. Bill should know: he proved himself out of three brothers who tried it.

john (michigan)

Will Bill elliot race again this year after leaving the 09?

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

I suspect you'll see him get back in a car now and then. He's focused on Chase, but never has been able to stay out of a car for too long.

Brendan (St. Louis)

How do you see the NL Central playing out this year

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

Ask Kenny Wallace. He's the NL Central expert.

Joanne (Ft. Myers)

Letterman was interviewing Dario Franchitti and all he wanted to talk about was "Nascars", the car of yesterday, why it takes so long to get up to speed at Daytona, that kinda stuff. Letterman was sort of mocking NASCAR while Dario defended Jimmie the safety and the power.

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

Hmmm. Letterman used to show some respect for NASCAR. When I was at SI, and we put out our first NASCAR year-end issue, Letterman called over and asked for a dozen copies. We sent them by courier. He wanted to distribute them to his friends. Then later, I needed one blurb comment from him about Jeff Gordon. His assistant said he didn't want to do it because he didn't want to sound ignorant about NASCAR.

Scott (Charlotte)

You got to love Harvick. He gets mad at Martin for running over him even though he did the exact same thing the week before in the Nationwide race. My favorite, he insulted his crew chief (his employee) by calling him "a modified crew chief" and he was running second at the time

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

One thing about Harvick. He always adds some hot sauce to the situation.

Art (Tampa)

A Jen Jo chat follows you Ed? Is that for real?

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Yep, just go to the NASCAR front page and you'll see it. Just click and you're there. Time for me to go. Thanks to all.