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February 24, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

Good afternoon, all. Sorry I'm late, but I had a very important interview -- as you will see in the months to come -- than ran long. Really good and important stuff. BTW, if I pause for a minute or two during this chat, it's because I'm awaiting cell phone calls to set up other interviews.As many troops as we have down here, Daytona is always hectic for all of us.

Janet (Ohio)

I was shocked at the violence of Danica's hit yesterday and wondered if NASCAR will be penalizing Mr. Almirola #43 for his intentional wrecking?

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

If I don't think it was intentional -- and I don't -- then NASCAR won't. It was just the craziness of plate racing. Almirola won't get penalized.

Blake (Belmont)

Since Robby and AJ are a couple of California Indy car drivers in Dodge's, do you think Robby and AJ will be working together in the 500 and 1 of them might be the surprise winner this year?

Ed Hinton
  (3:02 PM)

I doubt it. Robby's a little reckless in plate races. AJ is likelier to try to find his teammate, Brad K, and work with him.

8Tbone8 (Texas)

How much of a boost does Robby Gordon Motorsports get from Robby's amazing run yesterday in his race?

Ed Hinton
  (3:03 PM)

A huge amount. As somebody on Speed pointed out last night, you get $250,000 just to start the Daytona 500. And to a team like Robby's, that means a lot.

Ron (Mt. Eaton)

Hi Ed, with all of the Penske resources will Penske be supporting Robby Gordon the same way Hendrick does with SHR and Phoenix?

Ed Hinton
  (3:04 PM)

Through Dodge itself, they might share some technology. Much as I like Robby for being a free spirit, though, that free spirit has not endeared him to other teams. Too many wrecks and outbursts. No, they won't be as close to Penske as SHO is to Hendrick.

Rowdy Smoke fan (MD)

What's the punishment on 48 team will be like? I'll say $250,000 and Knaus is suspended for 2 races.

Ed Hinton
  (3:06 PM)

I think it should be 0 and 0. What's the matter with NASCAR? Time was, they'd find something like that and say, "Go fix it and bring it back through inspection." Now they have to make a public spectacle of it. Could it be they're always looking to make an example out of the smartest crew chief in the game?

Ron (Marysville)

How many blown engines on Sunday?

Ed Hinton
  (3:07 PM)

I'd say double figures, 10 or 12. During tandem racing we always predicted blowups and it didn't materialize much. Trouble is, with this pack racing stuff back, and the tandems still needing to switch places, will the big packs hinder the switching? If they do, you'll have a lot of engines overheating very fast, and kaboom.

Matthew (Columbia NJq)

Ed: The Biff has looked real good so far, should I expect good things from him on sunday?

Ed Hinton
  (3:08 PM)

You should expect to see him up front from time to time, but the Biff and Co. have a bit of a tendency to outthink themselves at times. I say he shows flashes of strength but can't quite close the deal. I'll be pleasantly surprised if he does.

TIm (AZ)

Hi Ed, does it look like Toyota and Ford have figured out the cooling better than the Chevy teams?

Ed Hinton
  (3:09 PM)

Not necessarily. We'll see who's the most artful at switching places in the long drafting lines. You can get yourself in a jam in a hurry no matter what your team has done to the radiator.

Ryan (Ventura CA)

How do you have for Sunday? My guy Smoke gets it done Saturday and Sunday.

Ed Hinton
  (3:10 PM)

Agree he wins in a Sunday drive on Sunday. He'll be out front of all the craziness all day. Hadn't thought about Saturday, but he usually makes a cakewalk of that one too.

Grant (Ga.)

On the #48 C post infractions, Mr. Hendrick knows it's pointless to fight NASCAR so why is he already talking about appealing the coming suspensions, penalties and fines?

Ed Hinton
  (3:11 PM)

Believe it or not, the Commission actually has overturned or reduced NASCAR rulings from time to time in the past. It's like an NFL appeal -- why not try it?

Ryan (Florence, AZ)

Hey Ed, just looked over the ESPN.com rankings and was wondering, why you were so low on Matt Kenseth?

Ed Hinton
  (3:12 PM)

His history. Last year he stayed in the hunt until Martinsville, but he just has a long record of falling behind in both attitude and points.

Kevin (Nevada)

Who wins on an oval first, Montoya, Ambrose, or neither?

Ed Hinton
  (3:13 PM)

Ambrose has been the one looking better on ovals lately. But Montoya told me the other day he likes ovals better than road courses. I'd say if Chip ganassi lives up to his team improvement goals, Montoya should win an oval first.

Tyler (Greenfield, NY)

Hi Ed, Kurt Busch has Hendrick sponsorship, chassis, engines, pit crews, engineering-tech support and public support from Mr. H himself. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.........just sayin'?

Ed Hinton
  (3:15 PM)

But is it a Mallard or a wood duck? Hendrick runs a Mallard team. Kurt is a wood duck kind of guy, a little rougher than the sleek mallards. Pretty sure Rick would like to keep Kurt at arm's length due to volatile personality.

Bill Scott (Lake Summerset, Illinois)

Hell-o Ed, I'm a fan of Kenseth. Matt was in the hunt last year until Vickers wrecked him at Martinsville. Fenning is as good as there is. Calinoff is a great spotter. Will Kenseth win his second championship in 2012? Please comment more than yes or no. Thank-you, Bill

Ed Hinton
  (3:16 PM)

Have already said I'm concerned about his point of view going into Chases. He seems to prepare for the worst. Yes, he was better last year and got robbed of a shot down to the wire. I'd say he has about a 10 percent chance of winning the title this year. Look at all the competition.

Todd (Georgia)

Hi Ed, Do you expect to see Jr working with either Danica or Cole Whitt in tomorrows NW race or do you think he will be working with one of the many cup regulars that will be in that race on Sat?

Ed Hinton
  (3:17 PM)

I think he'll work with Danica if he can, and certainly Cole Whitt is a talent waiting to explode on the scene. Danica's going to have to get a little more aggressive to warrant getting help from Junior. I'd say Whitt is likeliest to get a push from him here and there.

JrGuard (Florida)

Can teams play it too safe running in the back and staying off the track like #88 seems to be doing again?

Ed Hinton
  (3:19 PM)

Well, Talladega last fall showed you can get too cautious -- JJ and Edwards being the prime examples. But this time, the combination of tandem racing and pack drafting looks so precarious that I think the back-riders might be wise on Sunday.

Marc (Malden, MA)

If Danica is expected to get her butt kicked in the Cup races this year and a lot of the Cup drivers run all the Nationwide races, how can she be expected to win a NW race?

Ed Hinton
  (3:21 PM)

I think she'll find a way to win a NW race, but not until this summer after she's grown more aggressive. I'm guessing the first NW race ever at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where she's familiar enough with the corners to run well. Granted it's different types of cars, but she's comfortable on that track more than others.

Del (Chicago)

Hey Ed, have you ever seen a car do a front flip in a NASCAR race? My friend and I are having a debate as to whether that's happened recently or at all.

Ed Hinton
  (3:22 PM)

Haven't seen it lately, but I recall down in the first turn here in the '70s, both Maynard Troyer and Red Farmer had double-digit flips, front end first.

Todd (Georgia)

Ed your response got me thinking. Which JR motorsports driver finishes higher in the points?

Ed Hinton
  (3:23 PM)

Man, I'm just high on Whitt. That kid showed some flashes of brilliance in Trucks that just amazed me.

Ted (Conway, Ma)

Danica just did the fastest lap in Nationwide Qualifying

Ed Hinton
  (3:23 PM)

No doubt she's fast. She was very fast at Indy her rookie year too. What she needs now is to get tougher in the packs, in the races.

Todd (Florida)

Hey Ed, I was wondering what you think Jeff Gordon's chances of winning his 5th cup are? He seems to be on the upswing again. after 2 down years in '08 and '10

Ed Hinton
  (3:24 PM)

Agree he seems to have his hunger back. He says Gustafson is giving him cars that make it fun to race again. Plus he's got his family settled down and his life in order. I say he'll win five races this year, with about a 30 percent chance of winning the championship.

Turk (Mich.)

Since Fiat owns both Ferrari and Chrysler is there any technical information sharing?

Ed Hinton
  (3:26 PM)

European ownership historically has given Chrysler zilch in tech. Take Mercedes, back when it was DaimlerChrysler. Further, Ferrari has always operated on its own and been very secretive with technology. I doubt they give a flip about Dodge at the Ferrari works.

Joe (Michigan)

Any chance Mike Joy gets a word in with Jaws in the booth and Mikey in the Hollywood hotel Sunday?

Ed Hinton
  (3:27 PM)

They'll defer to Mike at the right times. Believe it or not, broadcast booth jobs are fairly structured. Mike is the play by play guy, so he'll call the core of the race, regardless.

Brett (Alabama)

Mr. Hinton, can Danica hold onto the pole for the NW race tomorrow? I.e., will track conditions change to help her/hurt others?

Ed Hinton
  (3:28 PM)

Danica just never has been very strong on starts and restarts. I'm afraid she'll drop back from wherever she starts as the really aggressive guys rock and roll.

Bryan (PNW)

It looked to me like McMurray in the 1 is what caused Almirola to take evasive actions and bump Danica...just one of those racing deals. I do find it alarming that so few people even note McMurray's involvement.

Ed Hinton
  (3:29 PM)

Oh, I agree. I think Aric got knocked into Danica.

Todd (Georgia)

Just saw The Busch Brothers interviewed on ESPN and wondered how formidable you view the bros working together?

Ed Hinton
  (3:29 PM)

You mean in the 500? Depends on whether Kurt can keep up with the lead pack, where Kyle is likely to be. Kyle won't wait on him, though.

Matt (Rochester, NY)

Danica is better than she gets credit for. With that being said, she is not nearly aggressive enough to hang with the big boys in Sprint Cup. 5 to go in the 500 and all hell is going to break loose and she is going to get steam rolled. As for the NW race, Dale Jr. or smoke in that race for sure.

Ed Hinton
  (3:31 PM)

Agree she's not aggressive enough -- yet. But she won't be ther by Sunday. And the daytona 500 isn't a race where guys who'd like to teach her -- smoke, martin, harvick, et al. -- will have time to do so.

Joe (Michigan)

Is there an end in sight on the Mayfield saga?

Ed Hinton
  (3:32 PM)

I guess not. Seems like one thing after another.

Chris (New Hampshire)

What is the liklihood of another Daytona debacle because of the overheating issue. I think there will be a lot of disappointed fans if a couple of big name drivers have an early day because of blown engines.

Ed Hinton
  (3:33 PM)

Yep. I think there's significant danger of just that. Again, having to switch places all in a big drafting pack is a pretty scary way to do things.

Brandon (Texas)

Could JR finally win a race this year and if so which one you think would be it?

Ed Hinton
  (3:33 PM)

I think Sunday is as good a shot as he'll have all year.

Bill (Concord)

Ed, what i syour opinion on EGR landing uber-prospect Kyle Larson?

Ed Hinton
  (3:34 PM)

If he were that "uber," he'd be with Hendrick, Roush or Gibbs.

Brandon (Texas)

If you were a betting man who would you place your money on to win this Sunday?

Ed Hinton
  (3:35 PM)

I'd just about take Smoke and give you the rest of the field. But then again, I said the same thing about Earnhardt down here for about 10 straight years before he won it.

Mike (South Bend, IN)

Why do you assume there will be so many engines going, there hasn't been one yet? I know the races aren't the same, but I don't see guys just blowing engines for no reason with 100 laps to go?

Ed Hinton
  (3:36 PM)

Because they're seeing water temps of 250 and oil temps pushing 300. Engines won't last 500 miles like that. 150-milers and shootouts are a whole different story.

Bill (Concord)

Well Ed when the "uber" prospect shows up and starts beating the teams you mentioned, don't say I didn't tell you so.

Ed Hinton
  (3:36 PM)

Duly noted.

Todd (Florida)

Which manufacturers do you see having problems with the overheating problems? Is it just the Chevy's and Toyota's?

Ed Hinton
  (3:37 PM)

I'd say everybody is vulnerable. It's all a matter of circumstances -- mainly needing desperately to switch places and they can't do it because they're in a big pack. Worst of both worlds.

Matt (Rochester, NY)

Ed, Dale Jr. is not just a restrictor plate guy. He actually has better avg finishes at the short tracks. I believe there is going to be many less guys that can win this year based on the economy. I think that helps Jr. He is not as bad as you make him out to be. And spare me the "I never said he was bad." Your answers about him are always a bit negative...dont ya think?

Ed Hinton
  (3:38 PM)

Average finishes vs running up front is what I see. He tends to run up front on plate tracks when he keeps his act together.

Mike (South Bend, IN)

There was a race last year when they didn't throw the caution with a car stuck at the start finish line, why did they throw it yesterday with Danica so far off track?

Ed Hinton
  (3:40 PM)

What if she somehow came rolling back onto the track and everybody comes barreling off four? They didn't know for sure at that split second. Racing back to caution is simply deadly. I saw an ARCA driver killed down here about 20 years ago due to just such nonsense.

Marc (Malden, MA)

Don't you get the feeling that there's nothing Danica can do to silence some of her critics? If she wins on Sunday, people will make excuses. Heck, I bet she could win a Sprint Cup Championship and people will still come up with reasons to not give her the credit.

Ed Hinton
  (3:41 PM)

A win Sunday would silence a lot, but not all. They'd call it the luck of plate racing. A championship? Only the nutsos would detract from that.

Ron (Marysville)

Looked like it was harder to come from the back. Will we see less top cars going to the back on purpose?

Ed Hinton
  (3:42 PM)

No, due to the difficult circumstances I think you'll see quite a few back-riders until the last 50 laps or so. 50 is plenty of time to come from the back, almost regardless of rules package.

Vinnie (ATL)

Which will be a bigger tragedy if it happens? Smoke never winning the Daytona 500 in which he has been dominant at every other Daytona race OR Michael never winning Indy which is pure tragedy?

Ed Hinton
  (3:43 PM)

Oh, I think Smoke will win the Daytona 500, if not Sunday then in the next couple of years. Michael's tragedy is permanent, in that his driving career is over. AND because the political split robbed michael of his chances in some of his best years.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Who was the Last Sprint Cup Series Champion in the Past had to go Home because he did not qualify for a Sprint Cup Series Race?

Ed Hinton
  (3:45 PM)

Man, I'd have to think back, but I'm guessing it was Richard Petty in about '89. He went home from a couple of races that year, prompting instution of the champions' provisional. At the time, we called it the "Petty Rule."

Marc (Malden, MA)

What's the most dominant 500 performance you can recall? In my lifetime, the group has included Cale 84, Elliot 85, Allison 88, Dale 90 (even though he didn't win), Allison 92, Dale 98.

Ed Hinton
  (3:47 PM)

Allison '82 was a dominant day. He dropped his rear bumper, took off and nearly lapped the field. Earnhardt in '90 was certainly up there. Gordon '99 looked dicey, but fact was, nobody wanted to draft with him -- i mean, nobody -- and he still won. VERY dominant, even though he had to race for every position with 42 other guys resenting his 13 wins of '98 and his championship.

Todd (Florida)

How about that Michael Waltrip wreck yesterday? I mean wow, I haven't seen a Sprint Cup driver ever lose it on his own coming off of pit road.

Ed Hinton
  (3:48 PM)

Mighty embarrassing. What got me was that he kept talking about miscommunication with his crew. I mean, you hop up on the banking from the apron and lose it, that's driver error, slam dunk.

James (NC)

Rusty didn't win the 500 so what difference will it make if Stewert never wins the 500?

Ed Hinton
  (3:49 PM)

Because Stewart has run so aggressively so often down here. Jeff Gordon agreed with me the other day that Stewart is getting close to the old Earnhardt "When ARE you gonna win it?" category.

Matt (Rochester, NY)

looks like Danica is going to be on the pole. Does she know how to take the green flag?

Ed Hinton
  (3:51 PM)

Interesting question. Like I said, never very aggressive on starts/restarts. But she is the "boss" as she brings 'em to the line, so whoever jumps will get penalized. Just hope she doesn't back up the inside line behind her.

Jim (SC)

What do you see with our society these days where we blow things out of proportion with unproven sports figures? Tebow, Danica, Jeremy Lin, etc... Its like some people want these folks to succeed so much that they dont even give them a chance to develop or have reasonable expectations. Then, the supply and demand rule takes over, and you cant watch a sportscenter that doesnt have a segment on these folks.(breaking news... Danica woke up and ate breakfast this morning. More info as it comes) its kind of disgusting in my opinion. Thanks Ed.

Ed Hinton
  (3:52 PM)

Hey, it's human nature to pull for the upstart or, in Danica's case, the one most criticized. At ESPN, what we strive to do is give the public what it wants to see/read/hear the most.

david (charlotte)

is pack racing harder to win then the two car tandem?

Ed Hinton
  (3:53 PM)

Yeah, it's a bit more crapshoot. But now you've got both kinds of racing intermingled. Could be a mess.

Timmy (SC)

And Mark Martin never won the 500 and it hasn't hurt his cred.

Ed Hinton
  (3:54 PM)

It's not a matter of resume. It's about a driver's own personal satisfaction.

jesse (iowa)

wow how about danica just getting the nationwide pole over trevor bayne

Ed Hinton
  (3:55 PM)

Very cool for everyone except Danica Doubter Nation. We've known all along she can be as fast as any if the equipment is good. She'd have started on the pole at Indy in '05 if a little gust of wind hadn't turned her sideways going into 1 on one of her laps.

Jordan Nilson (South Dakota)

Hey Ed, is this the year Harvick finally takes home the Cup or are his best years slowly fading behind him??

Ed Hinton
  (3:56 PM)

I think he'll contend for the Cup again, right down to the end again.

Marc (Malden, MA)

I thought moving to fuel-injected engines was going to lead to a new technology to slow the cars down without having to use a restrictor plate?

Ed Hinton
  (3:56 PM)

Na, that was just a Ron Dennis selling point when he came over here to sell the McLaren system to NASCAR. They're years away from using EFI in place of plates.

Larry (MI)

If there is a wreck like Danica's on Sunday will Nascar let them race to the line. I thought they threw the yellow a little early and ruined what could have been a good finish.

Ed Hinton
  (3:58 PM)

You know as well as I do that you never know how NASCAR is going to handle a caution near the end of a race. They've done it every which way.

Marc (Malden, MA)

I was watching the 1985 Daytona 500 last night and there were a time where the held Elliot in the pits over his front headlight, then threw a caution a short time later and Ken Squire commented "maybe they're just trying to bunch the field together." I laughed because you'd never hear announcers today criticize Nascar like that.

Ed Hinton
  (4:00 PM)

Ken Squier always spoke his mind no matter what and he always will. He's a dear friend of mine and I visit him and his wife, Elizabeth, in Vermont from time to time, and he calls 'em like he sees 'em to this day.

david (charlotte)

whether Danica is good or bad for the sport she is doing exactly what the sport needs...creating a buzz! i applaud her!

Ed Hinton
  (4:00 PM)

There you go.

Ed Hinton
  (4:00 PM)

Well, the clock on the wall says . . . gotta go. Thanks for stopping by, everyone.