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

Ed Hinton
  (1:55 PM)

Welcome, everyone. Before we start, a reminder for the new season. Last week there were some complaints on the Comments that "he didn't get my question on," etc. REMINDER: As with our live race chats, there is nothing personal if we miss your questions. There are lots of them and we grab them as fast as we can. There's no time to "discriminate." A lot of you seem to think I know who you are and purposely avoid your questions. Not true at all. I'm just trying to answer as many as I can, as fast as I can.

Ed Hinton
  (2:01 PM)

Also, you may have noticed that our system was slow last week. It's showing symptoms again as we get tuned for this year. Maybe we should have taken it to Daytona for testing. :-)

Buckeyebulletfan ( warren Ohio) [via mobile]

Hey Ed do you see the TBR cars actually benefiting from the SHR deal for Ms. Patrick?

Ed Hinton
  (2:02 PM)

Oh, I think TBR will benefit a great deal. SHR/Hendrick will have to hand Baldwin's guys a lot of technology and parts to make sure Danica's running as well as possible.

Cole Trickle, Gardner, Ke [via mobile]

What can we expect out of Denny Hamlin and Darrien Grubb paring this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:03 PM)

A lot, I think. Check back on a column I did a couple of weeks ago, where Denny says Tony Stewart told him Darian and Denny will be just about a perfect fit.

Don, michigan [via mobile]

Do you think any of the drivers would turn down buying their way into the seasons biggest race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:04 PM)

Probably not. But those who are surer than Danica to make it in time trials or the Duals might prefer to avoid all the criticism for buying in.

Daryl (Iowa)

I know Bobby Labonte is well past his prime, but do you see any chance of him getting to victory lane this season? And is this season his last full time?

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

Sadly, I just don't see a win. Would love to see it not only for Bobby but for my good buddy and colleague Brad Daugherty. No, I don't think this'll be Bobby's last full-time season.

greg (lA)

DO U SEE LOGANO MAKING THE CHASE

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

Just can't see it. He just hasn't lived up to his billing. Maybe the big billing has been his problem all along.

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

BTW, my answers are posting slowly again. Last week our tech guys thought it was a server issue. This week they're not sure. But we'll keep plugging here.

Matthew (Columbia, NJ)

Ed, will all 3 Roush Fenway Cars make the chase this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:10 PM)

Oh, yeah. The Biff is just about as consistent as Edwards and Kenseth at making the playoffs.

Mayra (Chicago)

Great article! How much time do crew chiefs spend during the week and year planning and setting up for their drivers, pit crews, and cars? Is like in college football where the coaches are almost year round trying to scout and plan for the future of the team.

Ed Hinton
  (2:11 PM)

Just like coaches, maybe even more, crew chiefs spend just about every waking moment thinking and preparing. Coach and crew chief are perhaps the best analogies from one sport to another.

Mike (phila) [via mobile]

How many races do you see gordon winning this year and what place do you see him finishing in the standings?

Ed Hinton
  (2:12 PM)

If you go by Hendrick's preseason optimism they all should do better than last year. For Gordon, that would mean going from three wins to, say, five, which I think he can get. I've got Brad K to win the championship, but I can see Jeff in the top three at the end.

Edgar (New York) [via mobile]

Finally a new season!!! As a Denny Hamlin fan, I have been tired of hearing what a disappointment he was, they pictures him as a better contender. Shut up all of you!!! The runner up of every chase always has a abysmal season next time around. This is nothing new, and why I steered clear of choosing Carl to win the Cup.

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

Don't worry, Denny and Darian are going to do quite well together as a tandem.

Mike Honcho (Cali)

Now that AJ has Brad to learn from, how do you think he will do?

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

Really, really well. They've hit it off. Brad is willing to teach and Dinger is willing to learn. I told Roger Penske the other day I think this is his best pairing yet in NASCAR, and that includes the Rusty Wallace-Ryan Newman pairing years ago.

Robert (Indy) [via mobile]

Ed, what are your expectations for Sam Hornish Jr. in Nationwide this season? He seemed to really come on late last year. Now that he isn't being thrown to the wolves like he was when he first made the jump from IndyCar, could he flourish?

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

I think "flourish" is probably too strong a word. I don't think we'll ever see him as strong in NASCAR as he was in open wheel, but I think he's over the hump now as getting the hang of NASCAR and will improve steadily.

Sammy (NC)

How is Rowdy Brad K going to do this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

Check my "archive" for the past few weeks and you'll see that I've got Bad Brad winning it all, going away, and being one of the best things to happen to NASCAR in years if not decades.

Verny (NJ)

Ryan Truex has one race to run so far this year while Kyle and Kurt are running a full NW season. Why does Kyle not hire a guy like Ryan to mentor? Kinda like how Jr mentors Cole and Brad mentors Parker

Ed Hinton
  (2:18 PM)

I'm never quite clear on all that drivers see in other drivers. Other factor is, maybe Truex Jr. is looking for a different type personality than Kyle to mentor Ryan.

Sam (Idaho)

Hi Ed! Do you think guys like Carl, Brad, and Harvick have better shots at the Cup now that they have cut back in the minors unlike other drivers?

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

Oh, yeah. I'm old school and go back to the days when you wouldn't catch Cale or the King in a Saturday race. Bobby and Donnie Allison did it, but to this day I don't think drivers learn enough to translate from Saturday to Sunday to warrant diverting focus and energy to the Saturday race. If nothing else, it severely fragments their practice time.

Phoenix (AZ)

Hi Ed, for the big boys like Kurt, Rowdy, Jimmie, Edwards, Denny, Gordon etc. is the verdict still out on the driver of the #2 as he revealed in his ESPN interview with Marty last year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:21 PM)

The verdict may still be out, but I think we've got rumblings that the jury has reached a decision and will be back in shortly. That guy's good, now. We'll see that a lot this season.

Taylor (VA)

Ed, I feel like there's more buzz going into this season than the past 3 or 4 years. What excites you the most about NASCAR this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

I sense the same thing. As I've mentioned, the best chance of pizzazz comes from the Brad K-Dinger pairing, which has tons of colorful potential.

BBM (MD)

Bathrooms are being remodeled at Martinsville. Is that the only thing they are doing remodeling or there are any other things that are or will be remodeled?

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

Not sure of the details, but fan comfort is a focus at virtually every track now. Tell you a story about Martinsville bathrooms. Back in the day they had out-houses in the infield. Gentlemanly Clay Earles didn't want to offend the ladies in the stands with that sight in the infield, so he had rose vines planted to grow all over the out-houses. Roses attract bees. One Sunday, mid-race, a guy came tumbling out of an out-house with his pants down, being attacked by bees. So anything they do at Martinsville will be waaay better than that.

Todd (Waco)

Ed, we have got to mention Ricky Rudd in this chat.

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

Yep. He's going to be a fabulous addition to broadcasting. He'll be DW with a little less corn pone in his act.

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

Oh, one other mention that David Newton just reminded me of. Our hearts go out to our dear, dear friend Kristi Richardson King, one of NASCAR's best PR folks, on the tragic death of her parents.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Who was the Last Woman to Race in A NASCAR Race on Mother's Day or Mother's Day Weekend since Danica Patrick is Racing in the Southern 500 at Darlington on Saturday May 12?

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

Not sure whether a woman ever has run on Mother's Day. For years they didn't try. One year they ran the All-Star race on Mother's Day at Atlanta -- back in the '80s -- and didn't draw flies, so they didn't even try that weekend for years until Darlington came up with the Saturday night concept. Danica may be the first . . .but as far as I know, she's not even near thinking of becoming a mom.

Murphy (MD)

hey ED...Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman were a horrible pairing......They hated eachother...

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

Don't think they hated each other, but they really didn't get along, that's for sure.

Bill Scott (Lake Summerset, Illinois)

Howdy Ed, When the dust settles, will Kurt Busch finish ahead of A.J. in the final 2012 standings? Penske equipment and crew vs. the James Finch stuff over the long haul? Thanks, Bill

Ed Hinton
  (2:28 PM)

No, don't think so. Kurt could actually win a race or two for Finch, but Dinger on the Penske team with Brad K as mentor will finish higher in the standings.

Todd (Ga.)

Hi Ed, do you think Rowdy is so talented driver that sometimes he's driving around problems in the JGR Toyota'a and maybe his racing skills mask the problems with the cars?

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

I think that's sometimes the case, yes. He's not as prone as his brother to blame the team. Sometimes he does just try to drive his way out, and sometimes that's a problem.

Jeff (Georgia)

Ed, where do you see Kasey Kahne ending up this year in the standings and his number of wins? Thanks

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

My guess would be two or three wins, making the Chase but not winning the championship. Say top 10 in points.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

octotodd with another horrible rowdy question

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

Oh, let's tolerate octo. With RAYGORDONREID missing in action for a year, who are we going to talk about among chatters?

Ron (Smithville)

Since RCR's last cup championship was 1994, 18 years ago, do you see that as Gibbs, Roush and Hms superiority or has Richard picked bad drivers since Dale's passing?

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

Frankly, I think RCR has been a little short of the teams you mention in high-tech engineering. Except for bringing Harvick up, Childress has tended to hire older drivers or take on projects such as Robby Gordon and now Menard.

Cole Trickle, Gardner, Ks [via mobile]

Do you think Cole Whitt can contend for the Nationwide title in '12 for JR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

Cole Whitt has shown flashes of incredible talent in trucks. If those flashes become consistent in NW, then yes, he'll contend.

Jimbo F. (Tallahassee, FL)

Do you think Junior will fall on his face this season like a few in the media have predicted? I can only see the pairing of him and Letarte getting better. Junior seems real confident and happy with his team finally.

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

Mixed emotions here. I'm weary of predicting one way or the other about Junior, but I do believe Letarte will keep bringing him along if anyone can.

Greenman (Minnesota )

Bring back ORP to the Nationwide series!

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

Darn right. Running NW at IMS both dilutes the prestige of the Speedway and robs the fans of a much better show out at the short track.

Cole Trickle, Gardner, Ks [via mobile]

Do you think the Penske organization can rebound in 2012 after losing Kurt Busch?

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

Penske will be much better off with the K and Dinger show going.

Jenny (NJ)

First Snookie as a grand marshal and now a wrestler? Can't we get anyone better?!

Ed Hinton
  (2:39 PM)

I've always thought NASCAR rubbing shoulders with wrestlers was a baaaaad idea. See, back when both sports were starting out after WWII, they were paired together. It has taken NASCAR a long time to separate itself, and it should stay separated. But Charlotte Motor Speedway opened the gates with Flair and the rest has been sickening.

Dan (Charlotte NC)

You got Brad winning all? Not a chance man, 48, 24 and many others have something to say about that!

Ed Hinton
  (2:39 PM)

Hide and watch, Dan.

Kenny F (Mooresville, NC)

Do you think the media is setting the bar way too high for Kahne this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

If we are it's because a quiet but huge fan base is on a groundswell for him. He's known for his lady fans, but I detect a much larger male following than is generally known. I still say he'll win two or three races.

greg (lA)

IF U THINK BOUT LAST YEAR RLY WASNT ALL ON HIM GIBBS WAS BAD PERIOD

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

You mean Denny? He pretty much has said the same thing this winter.

Murphy (MD)

Why in the world would RCR let Clint Bowyer go, and keep Jeff Burton?

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

My understanding was, Bowyer wanted waaaay bigger cut of the sponsorship money than drivers usually get. And more than RCR could afford, let alone wanted to pay.

Murphy (MD)

When is the cut off for a driver to decide whether he is running for the championship in Cup or Nationwide?

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

I suspect most of them have already declared by now.

Bill B (Boston, Mass)

If attendance for the Truck Series is horrible again this season how much longer do you see it lasting?

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

I've thought it was in trouble for some years, but it keeps hanging in, probably because of TV.

Dan (Charlotte NC)

Who wins most races at Hendrick in 2012?

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

I'll guess Gordon with five.

brian (ct)

true or false - kevin harvick will try to fight danica patrick on pit road at some point this season

Ed Hinton
  (2:46 PM)

False. Harvick is in the top five drivers as far as wanting to see Danica succeed for the good of the sport.

Mark ( Illinois)

How reliable will the engines for JGR be this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

They've done a lot of work, and THEY feel like they'll be much better. We'll see.

Dan (Charlotte NC)

Where do you see Jimmie finish this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

Top five with maybe three wins.

Tom C (NY, NY)

Kahne is driving the infamous cursed 25 car at HMS. Many drivers have tried to break the curse but none have. You really think he will be the one to do well in it?

Ed Hinton
  (2:49 PM)

No, Junior in fact is the heir to Richmond's Ghost. Two other heirs, Ricky Craven and Ken Schrader, and I had a long conversation about that last year. We agreed that you can paint an 88 on the 25 and move it into the shop with the 48, but you've still got whatever was weird about the 25 unit.

Dena (Mooresville)

Does the Monster-Rowdy-Kurt combination benefit big time from having Danica in NW while they go out and win all the races?

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

I think they'd win races whether Danica was in NW or not.

Cole (UT)

Have to turn in my fantasy picks and not sure who to go with out of our C Group. Who do you think has a better year: McMurray, Logano, or Montoya? Thanks!

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

McMurray has shown in the past he can have nice seasons if the EGR equipment is up to the task.

Tom C (NY, NY)

Gotta corerect you Ed. Only Junior moved to the 48 shop. The cars crew and equipment all stayed at the other shop. Junior drove repainted 24 cars and had all the 24s equipment and crew. Martin drove the old 25 team last season (did horrible) and now Kahne will drive it this season.

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

Regardless of combo, Schrader and Craven still think of 88 as haunted by the 25 ghost, and they ought to know.

Cole Trickle, Gardner, Ks [via mobile]

Will any manufacturer other than Chevrolet win the title this year for the first time since 2004?

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

Dodge, the longshot.

Octo (Moms Basement)

We all need to take a moment and bask in the awesomeness of Rowdy Busch

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

What I like about Octo is, he admits where he is -- unlike some of you who shoot off your attention-starved mouths with personal insults that make you look pretty sick.

Dom (NJ)

When Dale Sr was alive, wasn't Hms the hated enemy of RCR and do you think that is part of Junior's curse, going to the enemy?

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

Not necessarily. I don't think Sr. ever hated Gordon, just loved to pick at his strongest competitor.

Matt (TX)

How many race does good ole' JB win this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

Can't make up my mind whether recent years' situations of being in position to win will translate into a breakthrough, or whether it'll be a maddening continuation of close but no cigar.

Jeff (Georgia)

Ed, I know it's a long ways off but is Chase Elliott the odds on favorite to replace Gordon when he retires? Thanks

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

I don't know if HMS is thinking that specifically. Chase is 16, I believe. Told me the other day he'd like to be in NW by 18. Couple years there at least, and you've got at least four more years before a slot on the Cup team is an issue. I think we'll see Chase in Cup by age 20 with somebody, though.

Vernie (NJ)

Is JB, Jenson Button?

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

Yeah, that's it.

KB Nation (Global)

Rowdy is at 104 NASCAR wins. Where do you think Rowdy will be at the end of 2012?

Ed Hinton
  (3:03 PM)

I don't count the AA and AAA league wins, so I wouldn't venture a guess on the total. Like Richard Petty once said, that sort of count is sort of like letting an NFL quarterback go play college football on Saturday and even high school football on Friday night.

Ed Hinton
  (3:04 PM)

And with that, the clock says we gotta go. Thanks to everyone -- well, almost everyone -- for participating.