Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

October 20, 1:30 PM ET
Chat with David Newton

David Newton
  (1:31 PM)

Welcome from the Hall of Fame where I'll shoot a little NASCARNow at 3. But first let's get to your questions. Fire away.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Did you knew Dan Wheldon who was Killed at Las Vegas in the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship at the age of 33 on Sunday October 16?

David Newton
  (1:32 PM)

I didn't know him sorry to say. Met him once, but knowing is a completely different thing. It was a dad day for motorsports.

Tony (Hampton Ga)

Who are your top five for this weekend? and a darkhorse?

David Newton
  (1:33 PM)

Hard to give a top 5 for Dega where anything can happen. How about this Earnhardt-Johnson, KuBusch-Smith, Jeff Gordon-Mark Martin, KyleBusch-Whoeverwillpush him, The Field.

Jay (Richmond, Va)

David, are there any tributes planned for Dan Wheldon at Talladega this weekend?

David Newton
  (1:34 PM)

There are. Drivers in the Truck and Cup series will have a decal with the Lionheart Knight emblem Wheldon wore on his helmet. There also will be a moment of silence before the invocations of the Truck and Cup races.

Dave (Boston MA)

Why doesn't a sponsor-needy team take the 57 car and get right on the phone with Heinz? They do other sports related sponsorship, and the market seems right.

David Newton
  (1:36 PM)

It if were that simple teams would do it. The economy hasn't fully rebounded and most owners don't expect a full recovery until next year. They're all trying harder than ever, but companies are tight with the dollars.

Dave (Boston MA)

Will Clint get out of the 33 and in the 15 before the end of the year?

David Newton
  (1:36 PM)

Nothing planned at the moment.

Zach Cross (Church Hill TN)

Hi DavidIs Bobby LaBonte going to drive for JTG Racing in 2012?

David Newton
  (1:36 PM)

He will. They like Bobby and believes with an improvement in equipment they can be competitive.

jon (jersey )

im a little worried about kevin harvick and his ecr engine that seems vulnerable to blowing up. will the cooler temps and larger hole in the restrictor plate help? or does the increase in h.p. cancel them out?

David Newton
  (1:38 PM)

Trust me, they'll adjust wherever necessary to make sure he makes it till the end. Many times when you see blown engines it's because crew chiefs and engineers have pushed setups etc to the point it puts more strain on the engine to get more horsepower. The Chase teams, at least the ones in contention, will go more on the conservative side. And we still don't know what to expect at Dega as far as the two-car draft. My guess is it'll still be viable.

Andrew (Kettering Ohio)

Does JJ not realize that he is making millions racing on tracks where other drivers have died? Maybe he should take a stand and refuse to race at Daytona, Talladega, Glen, Atlanta and anywhere else a driver has died. He won't though because it is all about the money! $$$

David Newton
  (1:40 PM)

Jimmmie's point that has been way overblown is that IndyCar shouldn't be on the high banked ovals where speeds are extremely high and the cars are more prone to be in packs. He says others in the sport agree with him. There also are many who disagree, namely Andretti. Bottom line, racing is dangerous no matter how safe they make the cars.

Dave (Boston MA)

Does the 15 have enough owners points to automatically qualify in 2012, or does he need to race to get in?

David Newton
  (1:40 PM)

Not now, but I'm sure they will find a way to purchase the points of a number that does.

Cole Trickle (Eagle Rock, CA)

How do you see Hamlin's season ending and picking up next year? Does he snag a win at Martinsville to boost his confidence going into next year?

David Newton
  (1:43 PM)

That team is too good to stay quiet for two straight years. It doesn't take much to get the program back on track and I suspect that is one that will make those adjustments. I wouldn't make him my favorite at Martinsville, though. JJ is awfully strong there and he may be on a mission to make a last run.

Jeremy (Port Angeles, WA)

Do you think that Las Vegas Motor Speedway was Danica last indycar series race?

David Newton
  (1:44 PM)

I do no. She'll be back in at least the Indy 500 sometime in the future if I were to guess.

Kenneth (NC)

I hear there may be some internal problems going on in the 24 camp and that we should expect some changes beginning in 2012. Any truth to that? Also hear Gordon is not and has not been in a good mood for weeks due to the way his car has been performing.

David Newton
  (1:46 PM)

Anytime a driver has high expectations going into a season or the Chase in this instance and things don't work out he's not happy and changes usually occur. I'm sure you'll see something happen there, but at the moment I can't tell you exactly what. I still believe Alan Gustafson is a top crew chief. That team was headed in the right direction before the Chase, but had a few little things go wrong and it's nust snowballed.

Todd (GA)

Are all the drivers testing today at Dega and will they be drafting or just doing single car runs?

David Newton
  (1:47 PM)

They may do a little bit of drafting to see how the fuel injection engines respond as to power, fuel mileage, etc. But mostly they're using this as a test on the new system just as they did at Charlotte.

Scott (Charlotte)

I am big JJ fan, but someone should have told him the two things that may have saved his life Saturday (Safer Wall and Hans Device) came from Indycar before he passed judgment.

David Newton
  (1:48 PM)

Again, I'm not making excuses for JJ. Star Jones also came out on the Today Show with her two cents worth. It's just a person's opinion. He simply was answering questions, not passing an edict that IndyCar shouldn't run ovals. And as he has explained since, he didn't mean just ovals. Just high banked ovals. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion.

RJ (NorCal)

Is it THAT important for the media to quote what Jimmie Johnson says? The media flurry over his recent comments is just nuts. I'm not referring to what was said, I am saying the weight that was put on it by every media agency. I was quite surprised by that.

David Newton
  (1:50 PM)

I agree too much weight was put on his words. I was there when he said it and got what he meant, but didn't take it as strongly as some wrote it. he's never driven one of those cars on an oval so he really can't be an expert on it anymore than others making observations for safety concerns. But as he said, others in the sport agree with him.

Nicholas Rolando (Orlando)

David, any idea who JGR beat out for the Dollar General sponsorship dollars? Not sure why they want to sponsor Logano/B. Scott rather than someone like Kenseth/Stenhouse.

David Newton
  (1:52 PM)

They talked to Roush and several others organizations. But JGR offered the opportunity with Kyle Busch's truck team to cross promote through three series. A lot more star power compared to others who were interested as well. It makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Teri (Burbank)

If the 17 can survive Dega relatively unscathed, do you think he can compete with the 99 and 29 for the championship?

David Newton
  (1:52 PM)

You could say the same thing about any of the eight teams sitll in contention about escaping Dega. I believe the 17 is in it for the longhaul regardless.

Aaron (NC)

What is the lastest on who/Where Mark Martin will drive in 2012?

David Newton
  (1:56 PM)

Nothing to be honest. It still all depends on sponsorship, although Martin did say last week he feels better about the possibilities than he did a month ago. I'm still betting Stewart-Haas opposite Danica.

Sandy (NY)

Will we see any crew chief movement at the end of the season? Seems to be lots of rumors right now.P.S. Big Shout Out to Graham Rahal - he's doing an amazing thing!

David Newton
  (1:57 PM)

Oh, there always is movement. Still not sure Mike Ford will be with Hamlin. There's still the Zipadelli rumor to Stewart-Haas even though the Gibbs say no. Lots of possibilities out there. Ditto on the shoutout.

Jane (California)

David, you wrote that you think the decider of the Chase is Phoenix. In truth, it has to be Talladega. Phoenix will be a new track, but it will probably be boring and easy race for these professionals. The real decider is on Sunday my friend.

David Newton
  (1:59 PM)

I disagree. Anytime you go to a new surface problems arise that have a huge impact. I'm actually getting tired of people talking about Wild Card races. Every weeek we go to the track and someobdy finds a reason for a track to be the Wild Card. Dega, Martinsville, Phoenix.... next thing you know they'll say Charlotte was because it was the only Chase race run at night.

Turk (Michigan)

Who do you think will be Kurt's new Cc next year? Thanks.

David Newton
  (2:00 PM)

Have heard a few names, but nothing concrete yet. Addington still insists he's looking to stay, but knowing Kurt and the way he is he probably will want a change regardless.

Bart (East Bay)

Will Kyle do what he can to get his buddy scooty speed into the Dega field since no body seems to want to pair up with Kyle?

David Newton
  (2:00 PM)

I doubt Kyle wants to put his championship hopes in the hands of Scott Speed. No offense to Speed, but Kyle will find somebody to trust.

Mike (Nashville)

Juan Pablo Montoya has never won the Daytona 500.

David Newton
  (2:01 PM)

I know. My bad. Was in NASCAR mode that day. Should have said Indy 500.

Connie (Yahoo Mi)

Kyle does not have sponsorship for his truck this weekend. Is he going the way of KHI?

David Newton
  (2:01 PM)

Nope. He's commited to next season. Did you miss the Dollar General announcement last week?

Tyler (Minnesota )

Hey, David! Do you agree or disagree with Jimmie Johnson's idea that the IndyCar Series should stop racing on high-banking ovals?

David Newton
  (2:02 PM)

I disagree as a blanket statement. There are some ovals where it is perfectly fine. The emphasis should be on finding ways to keep the cars on the ground, not finding road courses for them to run.

Scott (Charlotte)

The thing that scares me is the belief in some drivers that they can't get hurt in NASCAR. What would happen if in a "Boys Have at It" moment someone gets killed? Could the driver be held libel?

David Newton
  (2:03 PM)

As Jeff Burton and others have said, safety issues never are all solved. We've been very fortunate not to have a fatality in a stock car the past 10 years. The improvements NASCAR and teams have made plays a big role in that. And no, there's no liability anymore than there is when a football player injures another with a hard hit. It's part of the game.

Teri (Burbank)

Any news on sponsorship for 17. I suppose winning the championship would help!

David Newton
  (2:04 PM)

None yet. There are a few irons in the fire but nobody has stepped forward. Kenseth is trying, though. He even offered Crown Royal a chance to reconsider after the Charlotte win. Really a shame he's in this fix.

Chris (Buffalo) [via mobile]

Can we expect to see Andy Lally with a full-time ride for next year? I realize winning ROTY isn't the most difficult of tasks but I think he has a lot of potential. Is he back at TGR?

David Newton
  (2:06 PM)

I doubt he'll have a full Cup ride, but you should see him on the track for some racss even if it's just road courses.

Kyle Busch (Dega)

I will win the race this weekend !!

David Newton
  (2:06 PM)

You very well may.

Tyler (Minnesota )

In your opinion, should the IndyCar Series enclose the cockpit? I think that might make the biggest difference in improving the safety of the IndyCars.

David Newton
  (2:07 PM)

Yes. Had Wheldon been in a covered cockpit he may be alive today. I know Andretti and others disagree, saying the open pit is the purest form of racing. But if it saves lives to close the cockpit, do it.

Tyler (Minnesota )

Could you please give us a preview of what is coming up on NASCAR Now?

David Newton
  (2:08 PM)

Not sure about the entire show. Sure there will be update from Dega test. I'll talk about plans to honor wheldon, what experts say about safety issues and what Kyle Busch's chances are in the Chase.

Greg (Rutgers University)

In last week's chat you mentioned how much Nascar likes Grand Am. Is there a realistic chance that the Rolex Sports Series replaces the Truck Series if attendance doesnt improve???

David Newton
  (2:09 PM)

Grand Am has been floated as a possible replacement for the Trucks, but NASCAR seems behind the Truck series for next season. Beyond that, we'll see.

Nick Rolando (Orlando)

David, if the 17 is unsponsored for next year, are they the most coveted car in the sport for sponsors in 2012? If I was MWR I would be worried about losing NAPA to a team like the 17 who's proven.

David Newton
  (2:11 PM)

First, NAPA has a contract with MWR for next season. Secondly, the 17 will be on the track regardless of sponsor. But if the 17 is unsponsored it's unlikely you'll see a fourth Roush Fenway car on the track.

Tyler (Minnesota )

Do you expect the IndyCar Series to offer the $5,000,000 promotion again next year? If so, do you see any NASCAR drivers (Kasey Kahne, Danica Patrick, Travis Pastrana, etc.) taking that offer after seeing what happened on Sunday?

David Newton
  (2:11 PM)

Oooh. I doubt it. would be in poor taste, don't you think?

RJ (NorCal)

There is no way to avoid calling it 'the big one' for Talladega. I think the media booth will try to be ultra sensitive about that because of Wheldon, but, this is stock car racing....there is always 'a big one' in the draft.

David Newton
  (2:12 PM)

Agreed, as tragic as Wheldon's death was this is a different style of racing and big wrecks are always going to happen at Dega.

Boss Hogg (Hazzard County)

In addition to all his wins, AJ Foyt's outspokenness is what made him such a fan favorite. How disappointing was it to see JJ take a stand against oval racing for Indy, only to see him almost flip-flop on the issue, like every Presidential candidate at a debate, when he received a little criticism on it from others, including AJ, who backs down from no one?

David Newton
  (2:12 PM)

I didn't see JJ flip-flop. He just explained that he meant high banked ovals. He's standing by that.

Tim (Dallas)

Someone made the comment yesterday about IndyCar not totally doing away with ovals, but limit them to ovals such as Iowa, Richmond, and tracks like that. Yes, they lose their bigger markets, but alot of those bigger ovals have banking that allows those higher speeds, where the smaller tracks don't. What is your opinion?

David Newton
  (2:14 PM)

I don't think you can make a blanket statement that IndyCar doesn't belong on big ovals. I also have never been in one of those cars so I defer to the drivers who participate to make that judgment. They have raced on other 1.5-mile ovals with bankings and not had catastrophe. Again, the biggest problem is keeping those cars on the ground.

mike (ct)

nationwide schedule out.why doesn't nascar go to the short tracks more instead of the same lame cookie cutter track that is the most boring racing there is.

David Newton
  (2:15 PM)

I'm with you on that one, but they don't tend to listen to me on the schedule. If they did Darlington and Bristol might be in the Chase.

RJ (NorCal)

Did you read ESPN the Mag? The most recent Driver X article was about drivers who are too safe...taking it for granted...etc. Interesting how the perspective of getting your clock dinged once in a while would help you be a better driver.

David Newton
  (2:17 PM)

There's been an argument for years that the danger aspect fans anticipated in the early years of NASCAR was one of the attractions to the sport. Some argue that the cars are so safe that those fans don't watch as much. As for the drivers, yes they do probably take more chances because they are so confident they are protected. But shouldn't that make the sport more exciting, too?

Jeremy (Port Angeles, WA)

Who do you think will be Danica Sprint Cup crew chief next year for her part time Sprint Cup schedule?

David Newton
  (2:17 PM)

How about from within Stewart-Haas, a former crew chief who now works in competition? Care to guess?

Greg (Rutgers University)

Could the Rolex Series replace the Truck Series on the Nascar touring circuit in the foreseeable future?

David Newton
  (2:18 PM)

Lots of rumors out there, but not next year.

Tyler (Minnesota )

Are there any full-time Nationwide Series drivers that you know of that will drive full-time in the Sprint Cup Series next season?

David Newton
  (2:19 PM)

The current Cup teams are having trouble finding sponsors to run drivers for next year, so I don't see any Nationwide drivers getting that chance. Points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hasn't even attracted a sponsor for either series next year. So no, I don't. If anything you may see a Cup driver or two drop down to fulltime NW like Sadler did.

Greg (Rutgers University)

How nice is the Nascar HOF?? Is it worth the trip from NYC?

David Newton
  (2:19 PM)

Definitely. You can spend a day in here and not see and do everything.

Bob (Maine )

Is this going to be the most boring Talladega race yet with everyone just riding around?

David Newton
  (2:20 PM)

Hard to imagine it'll be like it was a few years ago when drivers protested the no-bump rule and drove around in single file. I suspect it'll still be wild, if only for the final 20 laps or so.

Scott (Charlotte)

Being a Danica fan I was yelling at the TV when she went high on Sunday. They were driving crazy! Her decision to get back down below may have saved her life. I don't think she gets enough credit for being a smart driver

David Newton
  (2:21 PM)

Good point, and she has driven smarter in the NW series from what I've seen. I don't think anybody ever has called her stupid.

Boss Hogg (Hazzard County)

With sponsors seeking more value for their NASCAR investment, might they demand more Chase races at night? The race on Saturday was the highest rated within the Chase to date and had over a million more fans watching. Those numbers historically drop when we return to the Sunday day races.

David Newton
  (2:22 PM)

Not srue about sponsors, but I'd like to see a few more at night. Maybe a few on a Thursday night would be cool.

Nick Rolando (Orlando)

My bad David, was referring to NAPA as a sponsor for the 17 in 2013 is the 17 would be the most coveted for sponsors for 2013?Also, if Red Bull stays afloat, would they change manufacturers with new owners?

David Newton
  (2:23 PM)

No problem. NAPA has ben pretty dedicated to Waltrip. If Truex can get back in the Chase in '12 that'll strengthen that relationship.And Red Bull will take whatever manufacturer is necessary if it gets a buyer.

Todd (Ga)

I know Jimmie still wants this championship but, do you think it will almost be a relief to him if he get knocked off this year so he doesnt have to keep answering the question on can he win it all again this year?

David Newton
  (2:24 PM)

Not sure it will be a relief. If's never a relief to lose. He really has no pressure on him. He's won five straight so nobody questions his abilities. I get what you're saying, but I doubt he would look at it that way.

Rohan (Mumbai, India)

Why does JPM live in Miami rather than NC like most Nascar drivers traditionally do?

David Newton
  (2:25 PM)

It's where he was living before he got into Cup. Carl Edwards lives in Columbia, Mo., Mark Martin lives in Daytona Beach area, Regan Smith has a place in Denver now. Differnet strokes for different folks.

stump (MO)

Why don't the Nationwide cars race at Martinsville?

David Newton
  (2:25 PM)

I've asked that question and the answer is they like having the trucks and modifieds race and believe their fans like that best.

Tyler (Minnesota )

Can you all please stop ripping Jimmie Johnson? He is the five-time champion, and his comments were just a bit unclear. He has since clarified himself. Please move on!

David Newton
  (2:26 PM)

Yep.

Tom (Aurora, IL)

David, in loking at a previous post you mentioned that there was some infighting in the 24 camp.. If so why doesn't Mr. H. step in or at least work with the team to correct Jeff's problems or does he just let it ride out until 2012?

David Newton
  (2:26 PM)

I didn't mention there was infighting. A person asking the quesiton did. I'm not sure there is infighting, but when a team fails to achieve its goals then typically there are changes.

Dumindu (Vista,CA)

Now that the this weeks IN RACE REPORTER is Dale JR for this week at Talladega, What kind a question should i ask him to get mine on TV?

David Newton
  (2:27 PM)

Ask him to explain the draft and how it has changed with the tandmen racing.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

If Charlotte was part of Danica Patrick's Sprint Cup Series Schedule, What Sprint Cup Race will she Race in 2012?

David Newton
  (2:28 PM)

Tony Eury Jr. wants to see her run tracks she hasn't been on, like Darlington, Charlotte, Sonoma, etc.

tony black (Rich,VA)

Kyle does have a draft partner in Joey Logano. In case people didn't notice he and Joey have won together in NNS at Daytona and Talledega. They were on their way to a win at Daytona in July until Jeff Gordon took away their chances. Then Kyle on the final restart led Gordon from 26th to 5th in the final 4 or 5 laps. Somebody will push him if they know what's good for them. Look up Gordon's comments after that Daytona race, that will tell you all you need to know...

David Newton
  (2:28 PM)

Right you are. Drivers forget who they're pushing or being pushed by if the combination works.

RJ (NorCal)

I hope they get Clint in some goofy commercials next season. That guy is pretty funny. Jeff Burton was a good sport in that Holiday Inn commercial some years back (and it's hard to make Jeff Burton funny). "Does your helmet ever get stuck n your head?"

David Newton
  (2:29 PM)

Clint is a big prankster. I suspect they'll miss the way he lightens things up at RCR.

Jimmy (STL)

Who ya got in the WS, 'Birds or Rangers? On a NASCAR note, is there any way to shake up the Chase tracks without upsetting the promoters, tracks etc? I was thinking rotate 3 or so every year, that way you dont have to change the whole thing. Thanks Newt

David Newton
  (2:30 PM)

I'll stick with Cardinals. As for the Chase, I don't think you worry about who you upset. You do what's best for the sport.

David Newton
  (2:30 PM)

Gotta run now. Time to get ready for NASCARNow. Have a great rest of the week.