Welcome to the 2012 NASCAR season. Hope you enjoyed your time with Trevor Bayne. Not sure what he's done to deserve the first 15 minutes of the Monday chat, but it appears a few of you were interested. Lots to talk about, so let's get to it. Fire away.
Who is Kurt's sponsor in the 51?
They still are working on a few things. The Thank a Teacher theme is still a possibility for some races. I believe HendrickCars.com will be there for the Daytona 500. Still a work in progress.
I know Kurt took a step back in the offseason, but did Finch Motorsports take a huge leap forward with him? This driver is in his prime and could be exactly what they need for continous success.
First, it's Phoenix Racing and the owner is James Finch. But yes, they did take a huge leap forward with Kurt. You go from Landon Cassill to a driver with more than 20 Cup wins and a title. They finally have a major league player capable of winning in the major leagues.
Any word on what Steve Wallace racing plans are this year? Is MWR running the 99 in the Nationwide Series full time?
No word on Wallace. Unless something has changed MWR isn't running a full NW schedule.
Any news on where Reed Sorenson will race?
Nothing for Reed now, at least in the Cup series. He's among several drivers whose future is cloudy. Brian Vickers has nothing, either.
Since Gibbs seems to be the rumored team each year to expand to a 4-car operation, but hasn't yet done so usually b/c of sponsor issues, do you think there's a good possibility of Kurt becoming the 4th driver next year if Kurt/Kyle/Monster run well together in the Nationwide?
They'll be in the running, but again sponsorship will be needed. And don't forget if Joey Logano has a bad year, which I don't think he will, the 20 could be open.
Newt, with HMS sponsoring Kurt in his NW ride does that show Mr. H's commitment to getting Kurt into victory lane?
It shows he likes that Phoenix Racing will have a great driver using some R&D equipment from Hendrick that could make the rest of the organization stronger.
Hey Newt, was that #54 Claw car Rowdy had on the track at the San Diego Supercross an actual NW race car or a show car?
Sorry, I missed it. But I would suspect it was the Nationwide car he and Kurt will share.
Newt, what can you tell us about Robby Gordon Racing? Will Robby run the full season or be putting Reed in the #7 for the races the conflict with Robby's schedule?
No firm word on Robby past trying to make the Daytona 500.
Since we have been hearing the same pre-season talk out of Jr. for years and the 0-129 streak is still running, why should anyone believe '12 will be any different?
Because last year was a huge step forward and the next step is Victor Lane. Could have said because I said so, but I said last year he would win a race and didn't. Bottom line people are hopeful, and where there is hope there usually are predictions.
Do you think NASCAR will be warning Harvick not to try to provoke Rowdy with dirty driving like he did at Pocono after Rowdy took care of business at Darlington?
Not unless Harvick does something to warrant it. They're starting with a clean slate.
Does Rowdy build his own motors at Kyle Busch Motorsports or get them from TRD and what does Triad do?
TRD supplies the engines. All Toyota teams have joined forces to improve.
Remember me? I made a typo. Let me make it clear: Kurt Busch will not win his 2nd title and Kyle Busch will not win a Sprint Cup title ever. FACTLY FACT. You have a GOODLY GOOD day!
Funny. Thanks. And I remember.
What are the chances a new track will be added to Sprint Cup anytime in the next 3 years?
I'm betting Iowa makes it during that time frame.
Mr. H and Knaus always say the HMS teams share all technical info and I was wondering if this will help Kurt raise the bar at Phoenix the way Tony did at Haas?
They share it with SHR, but have been told the sharing with Phoenix Racing won't be quite as detailed. The relationship isn't quite the same.
Newt, will Reutmann and Blaney both be Danica's drivers coaches at Baldwin Racing and will they benefit from having Zippy as crew chief?
She'll lean more on Stewart and Zippy than anybody. Reutimann and Blaney are teammates in name only. But Reutimann and Blaney should benefit from the technical support TBR gets from SHR. And Zippy will be helping out with the 10 when Reut is in the car. He wants to keep it in the top 35 in points for selfish reasons.
Newt, do you think Rowdy's improvement from only 3 wins in '10 to 4 in '11 shows that Rowdy and Dave have improved their communication and are on the path to their 1st Sprint Cup Championship?
It's their consistency that improved. Kyle went from 10 top-5s in 2010 to 14 last year. He led more laps and improved his average finish, even if slightly. Those are things needed to win a title.
Why are people so mean to Rowdy? Don't they realize that what's good for Rowdy and the #18 team is good for the overall growth of NASCAR?
They're just not as smart as you and I.
Daytona's coming. Past and/or present, list your top-5 best restrictor plate drivers in NASCAR history.
Petty, Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr., Gordon and ... was going to say Michael Waltrip, but believe I should reserve it for one of the greats like Cale Yarborough or David Pearson.
Is Martinsville are in danger of losing a date? People who don't like Martinsville shouldn't be a fan of NASCAR!
Not that I'm aware. NASCAR realizes the importance of having short tracks, and there are only two half-miile circuits out there.
By manufacturer, would you say the team leaders are Toyota-Rowdy, Ford-Edwards, GM-Johnson and Chrysler-Kezalowsky?
Do you consider the duels and the shootout sort of like 3 pre-season games in the NFL, that don't really tell us much about the real season?
Not quite. While they don't count in the standings, at least the drivers go all out to win those events. Can't say the same about NFL preseason. Plus you don't have the starters in the NFL preseason games the way you'll have the star drivers start to finish.
Do you see the JGR positives of TRD merger, Darien and Jason for #20 cc as the moves that will put all 3 JGR Camry's into the chase?
I definitely see it as a positive and totally believe all three will make the Chase.
Both Johnson and Gordon have expressed disappointment that HMS customer cars were able to win 5 or 10 chase races and I was wondering what Chad and Alan will be doing internally to make sure that doesn't happen again?
Not sure I would call what they said disappointment, but they would like to know why Tony's cars were so fast in the Chase. Guess it proves Hendrick doesn't sell inferior equipment to other teams and hold back information. I'm sure there has been a lot more information swapping during the offseason to figure out what happened.
how logano wins the shootout this weekend wat do u think
I definitely can see it happening. He's my darkhorse for the year.
Are there any drivers in the garage that just do not get along besides JJ & Kurt B or Kyle B and anyone?
Kyle and Harvick rank right up there. Kurt and JJ seem to have put their differences aside. That they are both in HMS equipment might speed up that process. Others have issues as well. They just don't show it as much as those you mentioned.
Fact or Fiction: Ryan Newman will drive for someone else other than SHR in 2013.
Tough one. I"m going with fact.
Will Junebug be the last of the Earnhardt's in Sprint cup for the foreseeable future or do you see Jeffrey getting a chance at RCR or DEI
I'll go with the last for a long time.
Do you see Brad K having a break out year after his 3 wins in 2011 the way Jamie was set for his break out year after his 3 wins in 2010?
Last year was a breakout year for him. The goal for him now is to show improvement and contend for the title till the end. I believe he can.
It's weird to me that HendrickCars.com is going to be sponsoring Kurt Busch's Cup car in the 500 (and the NW 300), Kasey Kahne for potentially 1/3 of the season, Cole Whitt's Nationwide car at Bristol, and also be an associate sponsor on Elliott Sadler's Cup car in the 500. Isn't it weird that Hendrick would want to sponsor a rival team in RCR?
I thought it was weird myself, but they're both Chevy teams and if it helps sell more cars then I"m sure the manufacturer appreciates it. But it is very weird.
With the rumor of Frank Stoddard giving the 32's points to MWR for the 55 car, and then using Terry Labonte in the 500 to be locked in, and then the 32 getting the 6's points after Daytona, I think we've officially gotten to the point where the points swaps are insane. Do you agree?
That would be insane, but not much more than what we saw with SHR nad TBR for Danica. As I wrote last season, NASCAR is going to take a hard look at the swapping before next season.
NEWTON, AS AN OLD E FAN I WANT TO KNOW IF ROWDY BUSCH HAS TAKEN OVER THE INTIMIDATOR JOB OF DALE?
Not until he's won a few titles. Right now he's just a very talented driver who is very aggressive.
There are fewer than 30 confirmed full-time Nationwide teams. Do you see that series having short fields this year, or will we see Rick Ware Racing and Curtis Key form second race teams so they can field even more start and park cars?
I definitely can see short fields in Nationwide. The money for start and parkers isn't quite as rewarding as it is in the Cup series.
I'm confused about this. Vickers was supposedly offered the second car for the new owners of Red Bull, but turned it down. Does he not feel like that team will be worth driving for, was it a money thing, or what?
A little bit of both I'm hearing. Not wanting to put the money into a car in which he will struggle to compete. That he hasn't found a ride shows how tough it is out there.
Over/under....4wins for Hamlin in 2012
I'll go under, but not with a lot of conviction.
Has Jeff Gordon ever forgiven Burton for hooking him under caution here at Texas in 2010 and do you think that incident contributed to Burton's downfall?
Yes, all is forgiven. And no, that didn't lead to Burton's downfall as you call it. He had a bad year, period.
What are your expectations for Aric Almirola and the 43 car? top-20 in points?
In the 20 range would be a great year in my opinion. I like Almirola as a driver, but he's still in the developmental stage. I can't see him making a run at the top 15.
I say Matt Kenseth gets his 2nd title this year. Agree or disagree?
I have him in my top five drivers, and anybody worthy of that has a chance. It would be a great story, how a driver with partial sponsorship wins it all.
Predict the number of wins for each Hendrick driver in 2012.
Johnson 6, Gordon 3, Kahne 3, Junior 2.
Why on earth would HMS sponsor the competition. Phoenix and RCR?
Money and exposure for the company. Simple. It's a business.
Hey David, I pumped for the NASCAR season this week. Is the Bud Shootout will be a preview on what we going to see at the Daytona 500?
Probably not. I suspect because it is a shorter race and winning is all that matters you'll see more two-car dancing.
How does Rowdy Busch have big sponsors lined up for KBM while KHI, RCR and RFR are closing and scaling back?
Well, KHI closed because Kevin and DeLana wanted to start a family. RCR picked up that program. Getting a sponsor for a NW series season is much easier, because it's cheaper, than a Cup team like RFR. RFR will be back to four in a year or two.
Hey, David, do u see possibly Kurt Busch's past champion being a huge factor to get him in the door if Gibbs were to decide to expand to four Cup teams next year?
His talent and how he shows the anger issues no longer are a problem will be the main issue.
I completely disagree that there is ANY comparison between driving style of track demeanor of Kyle Busch and Dale Senior. Big E would fight with you, but he was always respectful of the other drivers.
The comparison is based on both being aggressive. And when you get into being respectful, ask Terry Labonte about the respect factor at Bristol a few times. There are other examples, too. But I agree you really can't compare the two even though we often do.
So you predict Henrick wins 14 of 36 or 40% of the races? Isn't that horrible for NASCAR?
It's not Hendrick's job to not win for the better of NASCAR. Do I believe it would be better for the sport if more teams won? Probably. On the other hand, all sports have teams that dominate over the years and fans seem to like that.
In honor of Whitney Houston, what's the best National Anthem you've seen performed before a race?
Gosh, nothing close to Whitney's performance in the Super Bowl in San Diego. I get chills every time I hear it. Honestly, I don't have one that stands out in NASCAR like that one did.
Why does Austin Dillion run Dale's #3 when he has nothing to do with the Earnhardt family?
Because his grandfather Richard Childress drove the No. 3 long before Earnhardt did and it belongs to the Childress family, not Earnhardt. I'd like to see it in the Cup series soon.
With RFR scaling back to three teams do you believe this will help or hurt the other teams chances throughout the year?
Has to help. They took the best talent out of four teams and put it on three.
Has there ever been any athlete you were around and in awe of?
Tiger Woods. Not talking about his behavior off the course, but what he did from 1997 until a few years ago was amazing. There are others, but he stands out the most.
How much money does it take to run a fully sponsored car througout the entire year?
It's dropped significantly. Most owners will say now $12-15 million range. It was $20-25 five or so years ago.
Foxsports made some bold predictions today, one of which was the fact that Kasey Kahne will be the best team in the Hendrick stable in 2012: most wins, highest position in points, etc. Do you believe that?
That's why you should read ESPN.com instead of Fox. Jimmie Johnson will have the best season of any driver, period.
Brad's winning the title this year Newt. You agree?
Would be fun, but I disagree. Still needs some seasoning.
Who do we have to petition to get ESPN to put up Nationwide and Truck results on the website? ESPN carries Nationwide races, but yet they don't have a link for results, only the schedule.
I'll pass that along, but once the season gets underway I believe ther results are posted somewhere on the NASCAR site. I will check into it
Afternoon David, My driver line up prediction for The Chase in 2012 are Kahne and Biffle in, Kurt and Newman out. the rest are the same. Are there any other drivers you feel have a chance???
Agree with Kahne in and Newman out. But I believe Kurt will make it and the Biff won't. And I like Logano in my in column.
I do read ESPN, lol...if I didn't, I wouldn't be here enjoying your chat. And Jimmie Johnson is also my pick to win the 2012 title, as much as I hate to admit it.
Thanks, Was kidding about not reading Fox. OK, maybe not totally.
Is the drive for 5 for Jeff Gordon still alive? Can he and KK work out well?
Definitely alive, but he window is shrinking fast. Having Kahne and Kenny Francis even more will be a huge benefit.
You like Logano in the chase last year too....just sayin'
I like him more this year.
How will be boy Carl do this year? Will he be able to keep the momentum or will he have a hangover year like the 11 did last year?
If you look at past history of drivers who finished second Carl is in for a long year.
We always ask drivers this question but Dave what is your schedule like leading up to the Daytona 500? Do you have a lot of down time?
Not much down time. I am working and washing clothes today, leaving for Daytona on Wednesday and won't be back until the 27th. There may be a little down time next Monday and possibly Tuesday when there is no activity on the track, but we'll still be plugging away at stories. Not that I mind. The more work the merrier.
With all the crew chief changes will new chief will have the most success and also the least?
Jason Ratcliff with Logano. I've been consistent on that one.
Who is a dark horse from one of the secondary teams that could strike gold at Daytona? Not including K Busch and T Bayne
Brian Vickers had a chance with Hendrick and didn't capitalize. He had flashes at Red Bull but really diminished any success with the on track issues at the end of the year. I don't think he is deserving of anything. Thoughts?
I don't fault him for trying to get out of the shadow of Johnson and Gordon at Hendrick to make a name for himself at Red Bull. It seemed like a great marriage in the beginning. I agree he had a great chance at Hendrick, but he left before he let it play out. Plus there are underlying things such as the 2004 plane crash in which BV lost his good friend Ricky Hendrick, and BV's blood clots. I don't believe he's washed up.
Can you share what stories you are working on? What to look for?
From a news side, Michael Waltrip getting things in line to drive in the 500. From a column side, Brian Vickers is on my list if I can get something set up with him. What has happened to him still intrigues me. I'm sure there are are a few Patrick stories on the horizon. She will be a big deal at Daytona whether you like it or not.
That's all I have time for. Thanks for stopping by. You can always check me out on Twitter at DNewtonESPN. I also stop in from time to time on the comment sections of my columns.