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October 17, 12:30 PM ET
Chat with Ricky Craven

Ricky Craven
  (12:32 PM)

Hello everyone. I'm very saddened by the news of yesterdays loss of Dan Wheldon. My sympathies and condolonces to his family.

James (Rochester, NY)

What was your reaction when you heard about the death of Dan Wheldon?

Ricky Craven
  (12:34 PM)

It's the same anytime you get that news or you are present when someone in your fraternity is lost. It is very uncomfortable. You immediately think of family and that he is a dad and husband. A couple times in my career I've had injury and as difficult as it might have been for me, it is always more difficult for my family. I just can't imagine how hard it is for them. That's what I thought of. Their loss.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Did you ever knew Dan Wheldon who was Killed in the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship at Las Vegas at the age of 33?

Ricky Craven
  (12:35 PM)

I did not get to know Dan. But I do believe we are all a member of the same fraternity. We all understand one another because we have a passion to drive cars and feel the speed of the car. I always respect everyone in the business and the sport. Even though I didn't know him, I certainly feel a connection to him.

brian (MA)

obviously a super tragic weekend with the passing of wheldon, thoughts go out to his family. id have to believe that race car drivers everywhere are shaken up, being reminded of the dangers of their profession. whats your take on how these sort of events toll on a driver's psyche???

Ricky Craven
  (12:36 PM)

It absolutely changes how you think. The question is how long does that last? I think it is different for everyone. It's an aspect of the sport you don't give consideration to until it happens and when it does it forces you to realize the risk and the potential loss. It is very uncomfortable.

Jason (Austin)

How much do you think something like a death on the track hurts racing's perception from the general public?

Ricky Craven
  (12:38 PM)

I really can't answer that. I'm not sure what the perception is. What I said previously about how it affects me personally is all I really know. I've been at the track competing when we've lost drivers in the past. Every time it had the same impact. Whether it was Clifford Allison or Dale Sr. it had a profound impact on how I looked at life.

Mike Harvey (GA)

Do you think drivers tense up in the homestretch of the chase?

Ricky Craven
  (12:39 PM)

I think the circumstances are different for everyone and it depends on where you are in the standings. Some drivers handle it better than others. I would think it is more difficult for drivers who haven't won it before. Guys who have won a championship before are naturally probably a little looser. That is the benefit of experience.

kevin h (florida)

How many drivers do you think have a logical chance at the sprint cup championship at this point my guess is 6-8 drivers.

Ricky Craven
  (12:40 PM)

Kevin, it goes all the way back to Jimmie right now. He is the cutoff. Jimmie is still within striking distance. If you look behind him, Dale Jr. is 60 points out and from him on back I think they are out of it. Jimmie needs a Top 5 this weekend for sure.

Ricky Craven
  (12:41 PM)

There is precedent from Jimmie in terms of coming back from this deficit. In 2006 he was in a similar situation and finished first and then second three times in the homestretch. That expereince is surely going to help him try and do it again.

Tommy Carlson (Mobile, AL)

SHould Jimme Johnson be worried about the Sports Illustrated cover jinx? Good to see NASCAR getting the exposure though.

Ricky Craven
  (12:42 PM)

Don't know! That's like asking me if LSU should be worried about Alabama! We're having fun with it for sure. I don't think you let it enter the equation. It makes for fun conversation. If he had won last week we sure wouldn't be talking about it would we?

Zach S. (Pocono, PA)

With Talladega coming up this week after such a tragic accident in Vegas for Indy, do you think there will be any extra safety precautions taken knowing the chance of a "big one?"

Ricky Craven
  (12:44 PM)

I think that is something that exists already, that interest in always making things safer. I think more than anything it is discussion and conversation about overall safety. I expect this situation will only add to that.

Larry (Il)

At the last 4 races what track do you see Jeff Gordon(maybe not a win) doing his best?Picks for Dega?

Ricky Craven
  (12:46 PM)

I'm going to say Jeff stands out at Martinsville. He will be a conteder this week. But Martinsville is probably a real strength for him. He has won at Texas but Texas has also been a thorn in his side in the past. Phoenix is an absolute lottery. No reference as to who will set the mark there. The new surface is very tricky. As for Talladega .. tune into NASCAR Now this week for my pick. I'm still working on it.

Wade (FL)

I will be driving a Pure Stock at a banked asphalt short track this weekend. It's my first one. Any tips?

Ricky Craven
  (12:47 PM)

Find the most successful driver at the track and wear him out! Ask him every question you can think of. Every track is completely different. Even though I drove for 25 years, my advice wouldn't be as specific as someone who really knows that track.

Sandy (NY)

What's the key to the fuel injection system, who do you think will figure it out first?

Ricky Craven
  (12:49 PM)

The key is that they can improve the efficiency of the engine with the fuel injection. I always think of Jack Rousch as being such a motorhead. I think he challenges himself as a car owner to be ahead of these types of changes. But how could you possibly bet against the other guys? I think they will all put on a full court press.

brian (boston)

true or false - harvick takes talladega and ends up winning the cup

Ricky Craven
  (12:51 PM)

I think that is a very real possibility and I think he does need to win to seperate himself from the drivers who are breathing down his neck. He didn't win a Chase race last year or so far this year so he really needs a No. 1 finish.

Ricky Craven
  (12:53 PM)

As always I appreciate everyone joining me today. I'm having a great time, really enjoying what I do for ESPN and working with this great crew. I'm just really saddened by the events in Las Vegas. Again, my condolences to the family and we'll talk again next week.