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February 14, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Good afternoon, all. Please allow me a personal note to start. Today is my first Valentine's Day in 28 years without my wonderful wife, who died last June. Also, yesterday, Feb. 13, was her birthday. So it's been best for me to keep busy these two days.With that, let's get started.

Bart (East Bay)

I read that Hyundia-KIA is introducing a real wheel drive platform and wondered if you are hearing about KIA or any other new manufacturers coming into NASCAR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:03 PM)

Rear-wheel drive you mean? Haven't heard anything specific, but NASCAR is always looking for new manufacturers to come in, and considering the market targeting Hundai would seem a good candidate. But I haven't heard anything in several years, and at that time the hot rumor was Volkswagen.

Taylor (VA)

Ed, as a die hard Kahne fan, my excitement is outrageous. What do you think is realistic expectations post Daytona? I understand the adjustment process will take a while, but are we still thinking top 10s?

Ed Hinton
  (2:05 PM)

Because of the shuffle of the draft at Daytona, it's hard to think in terms of top 10 finishes. You could have KK or JG or JJ or anybody leading one lap and being shuffled back to 20th the next. I do think Kahne could surprise and lead some laps out of the box, considering that he and Kenny Francis are already in sync on setups there.

Vernie (NJ)

When Bobby and Donnie Allison raced in NASCAR were they on the same team like The Busch Brothers?

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

Don't recall their ever being on the same team except for once when they co-drove a car owned by Donnie in the 24 Hours of Daytona. And that was mostly a lark for them.

Quentin (Ames)

Does Dale Junior get a win in the first 15 races of the season, if so where do you see it happening at?

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

Don't know if he will, but if he does, it's likely to happen either in the Daytona 500 or at Talladega in the spring. What he has to get back first is his mojo on plate tracks.

Jose (Mendocino, CA)

I'm a fan of Juan Pablo and wondered why fans bash JP for roughing up drivers like Newman but praise Rowdy Busch for being just as tough on Harvick?

Ed Hinton
  (2:08 PM)

Believe me, not everybody praised Rowdy for that. Far from it. sit where I sit and you see fans all over the map whenever there's a big driver confrontation and/or feud.

kris (wi) [via mobile]

Why doesn't NASCAR just make the new 2013 cars so the bumpers don't line up perfectly. Wouldn't that eliminate tandem racing next year? Also any idea when the other makes will unveil the new cars?

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

I don't think the drivers would ever go for that, considering that with the old cars replaced by the COT, drivers couldn't bump without jacking up the front car clean off the ground. They really, really didn't like that. I don't think NASCAR would force it on them again.

txtechjmacattack (lubbock)

does rowdy busch get these great people like rick ren and mike beam to work at kbm because nascar people see kbm as a future cup team with great $ponsor backing and factory support from toyota?

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

I don't think NASCAR interferes in the business side of teams. I just think the good personnel are an indication Rowdy is a pretty good businessman.

Vader0209 (Cali.)

Why didn't you include Burton in your story today about needing to step it up and perform? Is it because he's on his way out anyway?

Ed Hinton
  (2:11 PM)

Well, as I said in the first sentence, everybody has at least a little something to prove. I limited it to the five most prominent in the fish bowl. I don't think Burton will be watched nearly as intensely as the five I named. I mean, if I'd wanted to, I could easily named "Twenty drivers with something to prove."

David (WPB, FL) [via mobile]

Could this be the year Tony wins the 500, or do we have to wait as long as we did for Dale Sr.?

Ed Hinton
  (2:12 PM)

He's getting very near Dale Sr. Syndrome in that every year he's pumped when we get to Daytona, and we in the media all are convinced that "this could be his year." I think this could be his year, but I've thought that the last five or six years . .. just like I thought for 19 years that this would be Earnhardt's year.

Ron (Dalton)

Since RFR is losing revenue from the 6 car and doesn't have full sponsorship on the 17, won't the cutbacks of spending at RFR to match revenue hurt their performance this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

Good point, Ron, in that RFR is being run more like a business and less like a race team due to the partnership with Fenway, i.e. John W. Henry. Budgets will be watched. BTW, if that's Dalton, Ga, and you ever run into the great short tracker Jody Ridley, please tell him I said hello. We go waaaaaay back.

Tyler (Greenfield,NY)

Unless a race car driver wins or is involved in a confrontation, interviews are basically boring so with Danica unlikely to do either, how will the NASCAR media keep her interesting?

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

Danica is the confrontational type and has been since she raced go-karts and took out fellow kid sam hornish jr. Count on this at some point this season: somebody will hit her on the track, she'll hit back, and here we go . . .

8Tbone8 (Texas)

Ed, I wanna ask you if you think 36 year old Harvick, with 11 years in cup, zero championships and only 18 wins, in 1 of the best cars, is the most overrated driver in NASCAR? Thanks.

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

Oh, I don't think we overrate him. He shows flashes of brilliance from time to time and challenges in points from time to time, and we write about him on those occasions. But we don't turn out a steady assembly line of KH the way we do, say, JJ.

Blake (Belmont)

With so many young, good drivers without rides do you think it is time for NASCAR to institute a max. age limit like 40 so these oldsters like Burton, Martin, Labonte, Gordon, Stewert, Mikey etc. don't keep clogging up the drivers market?

Ed Hinton
  (2:19 PM)

Don't think NASCAR would ever do that. There's too much turnover in well known names as it is, compared to the era of Petty, Pearson et al. Burton said about 12 years ago that the time would come when guys over 30 would be shoved out by the natural talent of young drivers coming up. Well, after all these years, Burton is still there. But I don't think NASCAR would dare force teams into an age limit.

Ryan (real one) (Ventura, Ca.)

Hello Mr. Hinton, did Dale Sr. used to get booed by fans the way Rowdy gets booed at drivers intros today?

Ed Hinton
  (2:21 PM)

Oh, Lord, yes. He used to love it, told me once that they'd better be making some kind of noise or he wouldn't make any money. He was booed consistently early in his career. Then when he wrecked Labonte to win at Bristol in '99, fans in the stands were even taking off their "3" t-shirts, shredding them with pocket knives and burning them.

Tyler (Greenfield,NY)

Hi Ed, looking back at all the incidents in '11 when Rowdy had to straighten out Harvcik, RCR and KHI drivers, do you think that in 100% of the deals it was the other side that started it while Rowdy finished it?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

In 100 percent of the deals it was Rowdy's PERCEPTION that somebody else started it, and he went after them. Plenty of times, e.g. Hornaday, if Rowdy could have viewed the instant replay before he struck, he'd have understood the initiation was unintentional.

Ron (Smallville)

Hey Ed, with Kurt running HMS equipment, sponsored by Hendrick Cars isn't Kurt now the logical successor to Gordon for the #24, especially since that ride deserves a Sprint Cup Champion driver?

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

I think Kurt just might be the last personality that buttoned-down, totally polite HMS would hire.

Jon Indiana [via mobile]

What will it take for aj.dinger to keep the 22 ride considering its a one year deal. And with another open wheel driver chopping at the bit for it? Penske just got to a point of getting two cars running well. Is this only going to hurt them?

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

I think Dinger needs to make the Chase and win a race or two, and I think he will.

Mike (Springfield, Ma)

Hey Mr. Hinton, how do you think JPM is going to do this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

All depends on whether EGR gets its act together. I've said all along JPM is good enough to go to a top tier team and win on ovals.

Vinnie (ATL)

Do you think 3 knee operations for Kahne within the past 18-months shows that Mr. H may have brought damaged goods?

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

If Kasey were a shortstop or a running back, yes. But knee surgeries have never seem to be a problem for NASCAR drivers. I saw both Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt drive with broken legs and they didn't miss a beat.

Knobstock (Wa.)

As a journalist, are you reaching the point where there is nothing more to write about Danica until or if she wins or competes for a win in NASCAR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

Well, we'll write about her regardless, just because there's public demand for reporting on how she's doing. But yes, I think we're waiting for something really substantive to write about, such as the ARCA race performance in 2010.

Dave 15 Fan (Boston)

Real question here- what happens if Junior does not win and/or make the Chase in 2013? How does it shake out at the end of the year for him, Hendrick and the sport?

Ed Hinton
  (2:28 PM)

I think everything stays the same for him, Hendrick, sponsors and the sport, in that they've all already proven they can live with disappointment. Now don't get on me, Junior Nation, I was just answering the question at hand, and not hating on Junior.

Joanne (Ft. Myers)

Hi Ed, on Dale being born on the "hot seat" as you write today, isn't it actually the opposite, meaning he has zero motivation to succeed because Dale knows the worshipers will follow as long as he blames the car etc. and keeps promising a win?

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

I think a lot of observers are beginning to look at it that way. Same thing with Danica. Both of them need to show they want something more than money and fame.

Jesse James (mn) [via mobile]

Bring back the iroc races!!!

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

If you mean the old IROC, agreed. Great racing between NASCAR guys, Indy guys and F1 guys. If you mean the last years of IROC, it was a shell of what it once was, so let that part rest in peace.

Ron (Dalton)

How many blown engines from overheating will we have the next 2 weeks? You know they will try to push the limit.

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

They adjusted for the tandem racing, so they should be OK if tandem racing is over.

Diane (Lancaster, Florida)

How will Kurt react when he realizes he had it good last year and messed it up himself?

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

Oh, I imagine he's already had time to reflect on that. Trouble is, Kurt is always remorseful for his deeds, but then can't seem to control himself when the next tantrum fodder comes up. Sad.

Russ (South Carolina)

Is it possible some day we see the waste of time known as Daytona qualifying day go into the scrap heap of history with racing back to the caution and guys in Wranglers changing tires on pit road?

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

As long as tracks can sell a few tickets to time trials, and get some TV air time, they're going to continue. I've long thought time trials should be eliminated at every track because they're rarely an indication of who's going to do well in the race. But drivers and teams seem OK with status quo.

Ray Drecker (Detroit)

Rowdy Brad is a special case, moment I knew I liked him was when he didn't let Hamlin walk all over him.

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

He's not going to let anybody walk all over him. That's why I think he's the nearest thing to Earnhardt Sr. we have today.

Anti-Octo (Worldwide)

Tyler, Ryan (the real one), Blake (Belmont), 8tbone8, vader0209, txtechjmacattack, Vernie (NJ), Vinnie (ATL).....All the same guy, all the same questions, All answered every week. They talk about five topics: 1) The Busch Brothers, 2) HMS, 3) Harvick, 4) Danica or Jr, 5) Older drivers "on their way out". When are you and the other writers gonna figure it out??

Ed Hinton
  (2:35 PM)

We have all discussed this. We're too busy focusing on answering your questions to worry about that sort of thing. You send us detailed solutions and we'll discuss it again. We're too busy trying to answer to focus on catching trolls.

KB Nations (Global)

When Petty was winning his 200 races on Wednesday nights against 12 car fields at places like Greenville in the Sportsman Division, did he feel this way about AAA wins or did that only happen after people started talking about Rowdy exceeding his 200 NASCAR wins total?

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

None of Petty's wins that count in the 200 were ever in the Sportsman divsion. The whole Kyle total in three divisions started as a NASCAR PR gimmick, and I don't like it, period.

Knobstock (WA)

Jack Roush said the only reason Stewert won the cup was because Carl and Bob stayed with conservative setups they used all season while #14 gambled. Do you think the old points racing days are now history?

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

I sure hope so. I've been writing this preseason that Carl has to have learned his lesson about points racing last year. So maybe that'll be the end of it and we'll see the rejuvenated Carl, going for wins with wild passes again.

Bill (CT)

For, '13 if NASCAR goes with the distinctive body styles like the Fusion, will we got back to multiple templates where Chevy was always crying that Ford had an aero advantage?

Ed Hinton
  (2:39 PM)

Doubt they'll ever go back to multiple templates. That caused too much confusion in its day. But it would be interesting to see the manufacturers' engineers whining to gaggles of media again.

Anti-Octo (Worldwide)

Thanks for the attempted answer, but do you guys not catch on when you see the same questions from the same people on every chat? Everyone else around here has caught on and neither the writers, editors, or even the mods seem to care about doing anything about it and making this place better for the real fans!

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

Like I said, you sit here with me or any of my colleagues some time and see if we have time to analyze screen names, etc.

Saul (Sacramento)

Mr H, THE CURSE OF CAR 25. Some current and former drivers think the 88 is the cursed car 25. What do you think? How can the curse be broken?

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

I sure do, Saul. Many chatters here cite the shuffling of which team and which equipment to which shop and say the 88 is no longer it. All I know is, Kenny Schrader and Ricky Craven, both of whom drove under the 25 Curse, agree with me that the 88 is indeed the descendent of the 25.

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

Oh, and by the way, I'm not sure it will ever be cured.

FatBack (NC)

Were you surprised that JD and Rowdy made the deal for for Rowdy and Kurt to run NW without first clearing it with Coach?

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

I think JD runs the team pretty much thoroughly. Coach just comes out as a public spokesman once in a while.

Boss Hogg (Hazzard County)

Why does NASCAR bother with templates at all, just let teams do what they want and if one teams figures out a better design and package, so be it.

Ed Hinton
  (2:44 PM)

I agree. I wish they'd go back to running the silhouettes of production cars like in the 70s and 80s. But Gary Nelson once laughed at me suggesting that, and that was two or three competition directors ago.

Steve (Orlando, FL)

Roush Fenway seems to have cycles of success. They make a charge and fade for a couple years. Do you see Carl and Matt having the same success they did last year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

I think they're still on the upswing, but as I said in an earlier answer there may be budget questions at Roush. I think Carl is fully funded though, so he should continue to climb.

Chris (Rutgers Grease Trucks, NJ)

Hi Ed! I am very sorry for your loss. It puts things into perspective. How do you think JJ will do this year in his quest to rebound from last year? Thanks!

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

I think JJ and Chad are both refreshed and relaxed and will be looser than ever before. But we've never seen them race in any mindset other than uptight and intense, since they arrived in 2002, so it remains to be seen how they peform. My instinct is, they'll be back strong.

Legend (Lake Norman)

Do the top drivers run their 500 cars in the shootout or do they have "specials" like Gordon and Evernham used back in the day during the allstar race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

They're all "specials," but most of them remain on the haulers as backups in case the Daytona 500 cars get wiped out in practice or whatever.

Wes (San Antonio, TX)

What is your opinion on the chances of the Austin F1 actually taking place in November. Will the track be finished, Bernie pull more shenanigans, etc.

Ed Hinton
  (2:49 PM)

You can count on Bernie for some more shenanigans, whether the Austin group gets its act together or not -- and I still have doubts about that. Bottom line, when you count Austin and New Jersey, I'm still not counting on an American F1 race until I see them practicing on the track.

Bill S. (High Point, NC)

We have the 4 car rule for owners, but the number of satalite teams is unlimited. Will NASCAR ever see fit to put a limit on these teams?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

I wish they would. But they've got a wolf by the ears on this. So few teams want to take on such expensive matters as engine departments that you just can't say, for example, that Tommy Baldwin Racing must do its own equipment and cannot buy from Hendrick. The satellite team issue is as complicated as the U.S. tax code, with as many loopholes.

Ralph (NC)

What's your opinion about Stewart joining forces with AJ Foyt and going back to Indy car racing full time?

Ed Hinton
  (2:52 PM)

I don't see that happening. And, close as Smoke and AJ are, I don't think AJ's Indy car team is nearly strong enough nowadays to put competitive cars under Tony.

Andy (Dayton, Ohio)

I love the "is Harvick overrated" question. He's won all of the three big races and when RCR puts out good equipmnet he always right there with the leaders. And you can't argue that the majority of the races he has won have been some of the most exciting races. If you want to talk overrated, I'll give you 88 guesses of who I'm thinking of.

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

Just giving equal time to the Harvick camp here.

Marc (PA)

Happy V Day Ed! With KHI folding are Rowdy and Samantha the new "power couple" in NASCAR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

Yeah, guess they are, come to think of it. And they're moving up.

Dan (Charlotte)

Who does better this year Jimmie or Jeff at Hendrick?

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

I think Jeff and Gustafson will continue their upward momentum, so I can see their winning about 5 races, better than JJ and Chad.

Steve (Orlando, FL)

Is it just me or does it seem as if Greg Biffle gets the short end of the stick. Hands down one of the best wheel men in the garage. Had great success on his way up. Do you think Roush is fair with his "top" equipment?

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

A lot of us have thought for years that Biff and Kenseth both resented Carl because he gets all the promotional gigs, etc. I think Roush gives Biff equal equipment, but Biff and his team have a pattern of running well early in races and then faltering with the setup, or vice versa -- running poorly and then coming out of the woodwork at the end.

Sandra (DC)

Thanks for spending part of your day trying to answer questions. Just want you to know that the effort is appreciated. Catering to a horde of selfish fans with divergent agendas must be SO difficult. I know I would not have the patience.

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

Thanks, Sandra. You're very kind.

greg (la)

if logano were to win the 500 do u think he stays at gibbs

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

I think it would go a long way to help, yes.

Howie (Pa.)

With Indy car racing getting older F1 drivers like, Barrichello do you think they will go for older NASCAR drivers too?

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

Seriously doubt you'll ever see NASCAR drivers go to Indycar. Not enough money to be made over there, and waaay too much transition from full bodied to open wheel cars.

18fan (Md.)

Hi Ed, how can we get rid of all the Busch Brothers haters who come to these chats? Thanks!

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

The first amendment applies to them too. And they're sort of fun.

Vinnie (ATL)

Even if F1 practices on the track, they may not race. I was at Indy. What a farce.

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

Great point.

Wheels (Washington,DC.)

Hi Ed I know your Love is looking down on you smiling. Dont sweat the small stuff let the posters on here that want to worry about things that dont matter worry about it. You do a great job. Keep up the great work.

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

Thanks for the kind note, Wheels. If you're the Wheels I'm thinking about from our live race chats, you're an all-pro chatter.

Bill S. (High Point, NC)

With Martin/Waltrip/and who ever sharing a car, will it be hard to keer it in the top 35 in points, or win a race?

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Yes, that'll be tough, in that the poor mechanics will be thrashing about setting up the different driver preferences, etc.

Wheels (Washington,DC.)

yes sir I am I will see you on the chats this season and we will have a blast again.

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Those are excellent chats, and we have some very knowledgeable people.

Lyle (TX)

Isn't Dale's grandson, Jeffrey Earnhardt the NASCAR driver who is most deserving to race the #3 instead of Dillon?

Ed Hinton
  (3:03 PM)

Here's the way I look at it: Dale Sr got into the 3 in the first place because it was Richard Childress's own number as a driver. And Childress got it from his biggest benefactor, Junior Johnson. So I think Childress deserves ownership of the 3.

Ed Hinton
  (3:03 PM)

Wow, this has been such a good chat that I let the time get away from me. Gotta go. Thanks to all for stopping by, and for some good questions and comments. See y'all from Daytona.