Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 18, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with David Newton

David Newton
  (2:00 PM)

Welcome to whacky Wednesday. Still looking for the offseason. Daytona testing last week, Hall of Fame induction Friday night and Acceleration Weekend Saturday. By the way, if you want to see your favorite driver Saturday's event at the Charlotte Convention Center is the place to go. Enough with plugs. Lets get to the questions.

Jimmy (Candor, NY)

Will crews/engineers be able to tune motors during the race with the EFI?

David Newton
  (2:02 PM)

Good question. Was talking to ESPN technical expert Tim Brewer last night about all the things that can and can't be doen to the new engine. That didn't come up but I plan to sit down with him before Daytona and learn all I can about fuel injection. My guess is there wouldn't be much of a chance to tune the engine anymore than there was with the carburetor. Most of the fine tuning is done before the teams leave the shop.

austin (hartford,ct)

do you think Kasey Kahne can win the sprint cup this year?

David Newton
  (2:03 PM)

It will be his best opportunity. He and Kenny Francis finally have a stable organization with a ton of resources to draw on. Kasey winning in the Red Bull car near the end of last season is yet another example that he has the talent. I'd say anything less than the Chase will be a disappointment for him.

BBM (MD)

Who are your top 5 for Daytona 500? In points after Homestead this year?

David Newton
  (2:06 PM)

Top 5 at Daytona is tough because it's such a crapshoot. I'll go with Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhart Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. As for the season, I'm going with Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon.

BBM (MD)

Is Martinsville the best track to watch and to attend in NASCAR right now? I hope they lay their hands off this beautiful track. I know they are renovating the bathrooms there.

David Newton
  (2:07 PM)

If you like old school NASCAR, short track racing and red hotdogs it's definitely the place. I admit it's one of my favorites. I'd love to see a night race there one day.

BBM (MD)

What is the best thing about going to Richmond Speedway? It is hard to find parking there? Hard to find Tickets? Hotel? I am planning to go there in Sept. Thanks for answering my questions.

David Newton
  (2:08 PM)

The racing is awesome, the downtown area has some cool restaurants and pubs and it's an easy place to get in and out of. As for as the parking, there's plenty in the fairgrounds around the track. Tickets were one of the toughest to get, but with the economy not so much anymore. As for hotels, I like the downtown area so I can walk to restaurants. Plenty of good ones down there, plus some cool historical buildings.

Samantha Busch (NC)

I could have known that there is an obnoxious fan of my hubby named Octo. I feel a little embarrassed.

David Newton
  (2:09 PM)

More than one.

Ann Alingus (Butte)

So with the announcement that John Wes Townley is back in the Truck Series full time and RWI w/ Steven may not run the full schedule in NW, can we assume that the number of cautions rises in the Truck Series and decreases in NW?

David Newton
  (2:09 PM)

C'mon. Give him a chance before you start cutting him down.

Ann Alingus (Butte)

NASCAR knows it needs to connect with it's younger demographic. How about more Rap/Hip-Hop concerts before races instead of country music? Imagine Rick Ross, Drake, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj before the Daytona 500!

David Newton
  (2:11 PM)

I'd be all for that if the fan base can stand it.

Don Juan (TX)

What sponsor will Michael Waltrip be promoting the most when he's inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend?

David Newton
  (2:12 PM)

That would be Darrell, not Michael.

Ann Alingus (Butte)

Is 15th place in a NW race going to be on the lead lap? Or will there only be about 12 competitive cars every week?

David Newton
  (2:13 PM)

Good question. Let's hope some of the young drivers we don't know much about surprises us.

Hugh G. Rection (Johnson City)

What organization is going to come out the strongest in 2012?

David Newton
  (2:13 PM)

Hard to say it won't be Hendrick with its lineup, but one that I expect to make a significant jump is Michael Waltrip Racing. They've upgraded in drivers and management. Like what they've done.

Quentin (Iowa)

Always enjoy reading your articles, David. I feel like this is the first season in awhile that Dale Jr. really has everything going for him. He is coming off of a good season and knows what it's like working with Stevie and the rest of his team. I think this could finally be that breakout season we have been anticipating from him since his arrival at Hendrick Motorsports. I forsee him getting at least one win this season, and how cool would it be for Junior to give Rick his 200th win??!! Your thoughts on this and his 2012 season?

David Newton
  (2:15 PM)

Thanks. Can't say I disagree with all that you say. I've been saying for a while he and Letarte started something good last season and it's good that Hendrick left them together to continue building. As for the 200th win, I assume you mean the Daytona 500. That would indeed cause a stir.

Don Juan (TX)

If tandem drafting was caused by repaving, why didn't Daytona just put cones down on the portion of the track they didn't want drivers to race on? That's what they do for the entrance of pit road. Then they could've left the pavement alone.

David Newton
  (2:17 PM)

Lats time they had no-bump zones the drivers responded by driving single file around Talladega until we all were asleep. And the repaving wasn't the only thing that caused tandem drafting. It just made it easier. The dancing began three years ago when Keselowski and Edwards hooked up at Talladega. Since then drivers have realized the cars line up perfectly to push each other and they can go faster doing it. Had drivers realized the aerodynamic advantages 20 years ago they probably would have done it then.

Alex (Staten Island)

Do you think that Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson will play nice this year since Kurt using Hendrick equipment or will their dislike for each other override that.

David Newton
  (2:19 PM)

I don't think Kurt being in Hendrick equipment will change things. If their relationship changes it will come from Kurt trying to prove he's changed. I still expect them to have a run-in or two.

Don Juan (TX)

Since Carl Edwards isn't going to run in the Busch Series how about Jack Roush puts Geoff Bodine in the 60?

David Newton
  (2:20 PM)

Roush plans to run only two cars in NW this year. One will go to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the other likely split between Trevor Bayne, Kenseth and Biffle.

Jordan (Lubbock, Texas)

Howdy Mr. Newton. It was cool seeing cars on the race track again.What did the drivers think about the short time they spent pack racing? Also, what are the realistic chances that packs are more predominant than tandems this coming Speedweeks?

David Newton
  (2:22 PM)

Most thought it was pretty wild because of the speeds they were running. Jeff Gordon was a bit nervous when they topped 205 mph. None of them are against racing in packs. But if they go 1 mph or 2 faster in tandems they're not going to stick with it.

Buckshot Jones (Monticello Georgia )

Tell Kyle and Kurt that if this year feelings get hurt I still have a strong partnership with Georgia Pacific and can get them any amount of tissues it takes to wipe away their tears.

David Newton
  (2:22 PM)

Always a comedian in the group.

Jordan (Lubbock, Texas)

AJ Allmendinger already seemed like a trendy darkhorse pick to make the Chase before the move to Penske. Now that he's in the 22, in pretty darn good equipment, and with a very talented teammate, should we be expecting big things out of him in 2012?

David Newton
  (2:23 PM)

Making the Chase would be big for AJ, but I don't see it happening. I see him being in striking range, but there are too many drivers and teams better that will keep him out of the top 12.

Rob (Colorado Springs)

David, with the King saying that sponsors were wary of Kurt Busch and Busch saying that was news to him, isn't this the first example that Busch hasn't learned a thing about taking responsibility for his actions? Do you honestly think he runs the full season for Finch?

David Newton
  (2:25 PM)

First, I believe he makes it the full season for Finch unless one of the so-called big teams makes a late-season change and Kurt is the replacement. As for what The King said, one thing I like about him is he says what he means and doesn't make things up.

Lake Speed (Jackson Mississippi )

Do you think Scott and I should get together sometime and change our last names from Speed to Slow?

David Newton
  (2:25 PM)

OK, two comedians.

Steve Wallace (Crashville U.S.A)

Dang it Rusty! I only needed one more year to figure out how to keep it between the walls!

David Newton
  (2:25 PM)

Three.

Joe (Floor sweeper at Hendrick) (North Carolina )

Phew! I was worried Kurt was going to take my job.

David Newton
  (2:26 PM)

C'mon guys and gals, give me some questions here.

Jimmy Spencer (Pennsylvania )

Tell Klee that I am backing out of our deal to buy some shares in Krispy Kreme.

David Newton
  (2:26 PM)

I'll replace you. Love Krisby Kreme.

Jordan (Lubbock, Texas)

Probably the best thing about this upcoming season is that there doesn't seem to be a clear cut favorite, and that there are several drivers who you could make a case for being title contenders. Just for some pre season fun, who would be on your Mount Rushmore of 2012 cup contenders.

David Newton
  (2:27 PM)

Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

Matt (Sunbury, Ohio)

I think they should stick with 2 car teams.

David Newton
  (2:28 PM)

Are you talking about the tandem racing at Daytona or cap rule?

Todd (Ga.)

On day 2 in the garage, there was a huge JGR brain trust meeting around Rowdy and I was wondering if that showed how JGR has surrounded the wagons and JGR supports Rowdy?

David Newton
  (2:29 PM)

I didn't see what you say happened but I wouldn't read anything into it if it happened. JGR isn't putting more effort into one driver over the other.

Blake (Belmont)

Newt, during testing Kurt repeated how his HMS equipment is the best he's had in 11 years coming to Daytona. Do you think Kurt is a serious favorite to finally win the 500?

David Newton
  (2:30 PM)

First, I think that was part of the old Kurt Busch -- if he ever went away -- taking a shot at Penske and maybe even Roush. But I do believe he is a threat to win the 500. He and Regan Smith were one of the best tandems last year and they posted the top speed at this last test.

Phoenix (Az.)

Do you think Mark Martin will be announced as Rowdy's NW driver tomorrow?

David Newton
  (2:31 PM)

Would be interesting if Kyle gives the driver closest to him in NW wins a chance to surpass him.

DepotSmoke14 (Key West)

With all that Tony has going on why is his racing in minor leagues like the Chilli Bowl?

David Newton
  (2:32 PM)

Because he likes it. That simple.

Rita Jean (NorCal)

David Ragan is a good kid and all, but he got passed up a couple of times there. Sad, but that's how the Nascar-stats-cookie crumbles. What kind of future does Front Row have?

David Newton
  (2:33 PM)

Agreed, he did get passed over for some good rides. The good news is Front Row got a driver upgrade by getting Ragan. As we've seen with Stewart Haas Racing, a driver upgrade is huge.

Ted (Conway, MA)

Daytona is a unique place and Kurt Busch was impressive in testing...do you think he will be competitive at the regular tracks too?

David Newton
  (2:34 PM)

I do. Phoenix Racing always has had good equipment coming from Hendrick Motorsports. Having a great wheelman makes the organization a threat to make the Chase.

Andrew (Kettering, Ohio)

Good blog post today. Since Mark Martin hates plate racing and Mikey loves it, why doesn't Mikey run the 500 instead of Mark?

David Newton
  (2:35 PM)

Because Martin wanted to drive Daytona. As much as he hates plate racing, he still wants to win the 500.

Hank Hill (Strickland Propane)

What do you expect from RCR this year since they are back to 3 teams? Will Burton rebound?

8Tbone8 (TX)

Darien said he and Dave speak the same language being mechanical engineers and I was wondering if JGR is building up a technical powerhouse like McLaren in F1?

David Newton
  (2:36 PM)

You're right, Grubb and Dave Rogers are a lot alike and that, in my opinion, will make Hamlin and Kyle stronger in 2012.

Hank Hill (Strickland Propane)

I might be missing something here, but reducing the radiators as much as they did seems like it will cause a lot of blown engines with the speeds and temperatures of Daytona. What are your thoughts?

David Newton
  (2:37 PM)

That is the risk. That also is how desperate NASCAR is to elminate the tandem racing. Hopefully the governing body finds a happy medium.

Steven (Kingsport)

Brad K runs out last year in Kansas with a fuel injected engine, correct?

David Newton
  (2:38 PM)

No driver competed with a fuel injection engine last year.

txtechjmacattack (lubbock)

kurt said he's been trying to win the 500 for 11 years and i was wondering if you think he has a good chance now that he's running for hms?

David Newton
  (2:39 PM)

Well, he has HMS engines and chassis, but he doesn't have the crew chiefs and engineers. Hard to say he has a better chance now than he had the past three or four years when his Penske Dodge was pretty strong at Daytona.

Mayra (Chicago)

With all the changes and testing done at Daytona last week, is it enough to lessen the tandem racing? What else does Nascar need to do to break up the pairs? Redesign the COT maybe?

David Newton
  (2:40 PM)

The changes have helped, primarily because of the overheating, but I still believe -- as do most drivers -- that when it gets to the final laps the tandem racing will rule. I've been saying all along everybody just needs to sit back and wait for the 2013 car that hopefully will have a design where the bumpers don't match up to allow this.

waveasipassu (nc)

why was Jr driving the 48 car on saturday's test? was it really because he wanted to feel the difference in a larger steering wheel/column or was there more to it, since JJ's speeds were down?

David Newton
  (2:41 PM)

First, he wrecked his own car. Second, JJ's car had some things on it that his didn't and he wanted to compare the feel to see if there was anything that would benefit him.

Daryl (Iowa)

Gone are the days of one sponsor and one paint scheme per driver. While it stinks for fans trying to find their driver on the track, team merchandisers have to love it right?

David Newton
  (2:42 PM)

Those days have been gone for a good while, actually. And it should be good for sales. It's the same reason NFL and NBA teams come up with throwback jerseys and such. Fans will want whatever the latest is.

Brian (PA)

Any chance Vickers will run cup for say, RGM?

David Newton
  (2:43 PM)

Hard to say. His run-ins with Kenseth last year really hurt his stock.

18fan2hater (md.)

with kurt gone do you expect a major technical decline at penske?

David Newton
  (2:43 PM)

Hardly.

Ron (OH)

I was surprised to see triple wide and blocking in testing. The drivers can't help themselves!

David Newton
  (2:44 PM)

NASCAR wanted them to get in packs. That means triple wide and blocking to some extent.

Vernie (NJ)

Why did Dale Jr. quit and leave the Daytona test at the first sign of trouble when Burton wrecked him?

David Newton
  (2:44 PM)

He didn't. He jumped in Johnson's car for a run.

Scott (Charlotte)

Will NASCAR try to do the same configuration for the Nationwide as the Sprint Cup for the 500?

David Newton
  (2:45 PM)

Not nearly the sense of urgency to eliminate tandem racing in NW, but I would expect some of those changes to reach that series if the governing body believes it will help. The focus, though, is on Cup.

Ron (OH)

Mark Martin gets the prize for causing the first wreck of the year. He really needs to quit racing at Daytona & Dega. He has been horrible lately at those tracks.

David Newton
  (2:46 PM)

Yeah, but he still wants to win the 500 so he'll keep trying. Bottom line, Mark doesn't like plate racing and all that it represents. Maybe his driving record at those tracks is a reason why. But remember how close he came a few years ago when Harvick won.

Bart (East Bay)

Will you be at Kyle Busch Motorsports tomorrow for Rowdy's big NW driver-sponsor announcement and predictions?

David Newton
  (2:46 PM)

I plan to.

Junebug (Tenn.)

How come DW calls the driver of the #88 Junebug?

David Newton
  (2:47 PM)

A lot of people called Dale jr. that years ago. DW just doesn't realize that isn't the case anymore.

Mayra (Chilly Chicago)

What will it take for companies and businesses to come back to NASCAR? The economy is starting to climb back. What does NASCAR need to do to woo them back.

David Newton
  (2:51 PM)

The simple answer is more profit. Companies have cut back in all sports when it comes to marketing. We are starting to see things turn around, but the day of one sponsor committing $20 million or more on a race team is gone for the most part. Organizations will continue to rely on two and three sponsors to field a car. I will say that as TV ratings go up that will help convince sponsors to make more of a commitment.

Roscoe (Chino, Ca.)

Do you think Denny-Darien win before Stewert-Adington?

David Newton
  (2:51 PM)

Haven't given it much thought, but I do.

joe (NY)

Do you think that Dale Jr. has a good chance this year?

David Newton
  (2:52 PM)

Good chance to win races? Championship? I do think he will make the Chase and win a race, but I thought that last year as well. I got it half right.

Eric Kelley (Mooresville) [via mobile]

When do you think will go so low as to bring the number 3 car back and who would drive it?

David Newton
  (2:53 PM)

I don't think it would be low to bring it back. I actually believe the time is right to do it. Perhaps Austin Dillon is the right person. Remember, it was Richard Childress' number before it was Earnhardt's, and who better than Childress' grandson to bring the number back.

Brian (PA)

Any chance Casey Mears gets a solid run again?

David Newton
  (2:54 PM)

I doubt it. I believe his best chance has come and gone.

Ron (OH)

Bowyer will be the disappointment of the year. With him having a new owner, new CC and new brand of car for a team that almost never won, it will take a long time before he settles in.

David Newton
  (2:55 PM)

I disagree. I expect good things out of Clint this year. He has a lot to prove and solid equipment under him.

Steven (Kingsport)

Tandem racing was caused by Kevin Harvick coming from the back in a half a lap to win the 500, drivers saw it was fast, then everyone did it at the next stop at Talledega. We will have tandem racing until the drivers discover something faster.

David Newton
  (2:55 PM)

Agreed, it is here to stay until the cars are designed so it isn't possible.

AnyoneButKyle (FL)

Why the big show tomorrow at KBM? We all know Kyle will drive the NW car because he needs to colelct his minors wins.

David Newton
  (2:57 PM)

NASCAR is all about a big show. And Kyle will be in the car parttime because the sponsors want him in it. It's a good chance for him to show off his operation as well.

18hater (here)

First temper tantrum of the year....Kurt, Kyle, or Danica?

David Newton
  (2:58 PM)

Seriously, it might be Danica. She is the Honey Badger now, remember.

Mike (Nijmegen, Netherlands)

RPM is affiliated with RFR and the bond between the two is tight. Why didn't Jack Roush step up (or why couldn't he) and made sure that Stenhouse Jr. got the #43 ride? Was the driver decision (for Almirola) solely made because of his driving talent (I can't imagine that) or wanted Smithfield Foods Almirola as driver per se or brought Aric this sponsor to the raceteam?

David Newton
  (2:59 PM)

Jack believes Stenhouse is the future of RFR and probably wanted to keep him available for his organization.

aroznowski (USA)

Who are some under the radar drivers to watch in 2012 throughout all three national touring series?

David Newton
  (3:00 PM)

Don't have time to go through all series, but I'd say Joey Logano is one to watch out for in Cup.

18fan2hater (Md.)

Will drivers now get parked for retaliation for the way Rowdy took care of business on Hornaday at Texas?

David Newton
  (3:00 PM)

NASCAR has sort of set the standard now.

David Newton
  (3:01 PM)

That's it for me. Thanks for all the questions. Hope everyone is getting pumped for the season like I am.