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March 22, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (1:59 PM)

Good afternoon, all. We're gonna have a busy one today for obvious reasons -- the 48 situation is still the buzz.

Bob (Wyoming)

Looks like rain on Sunday in Fontana. Do you think with the high ratings of the Monday Night Daytona race, that Nascar will consider running another night race, even if weather permits it can be run during the day on Monday?

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Those decisions will be made when schedule time rolls around. But remember, they used to telecast from Fontana at night on Labor Day weekend . . . ehhhhh.

Next in Line (Undisclosed)

Hey Hinton. Nice article on the Hendrick penalty uplifting. Question on a lot of people's minds? Why the $100,000 dollar fine still? If Hendrick is accurate that other cars were sent back to fix their c-posts, or as you said this kind of thing has happened 100's if not 1000's of times in NASCAR. Why would the fine be upheld? From my point of view - NASCAR dropped the ball big time on this one. If anything I think the $100,000 fine should go TO NASCAR.

Ed Hinton
  (2:02 PM)

Well, it's like I said in the column about the Scopes Monkey Trial. The judge fined Scopes $100, a nominal amount, to at least get something on the record. Maybe Middlebrook stopped short at wiping the ENTIRE slate clean, which would have really been a reprimand to the enforcers.

Shane (PA)

Any reason as to why Kasey Kahne and AJ Allmendinger have struggled so far this season?

Ed Hinton
  (2:03 PM)

Kahne appears to have the Great Expectations jitters afte arriving at Hendrick. Dinger's issue lately is plain bad luck, witness the loose lug nut at Bristol that knocked him out of running up front.

wesley rockingham nc [via mobile]

Hello Ed, what are your thoughts on Trucks back in Rockingham? Any nationwide or cup racers gonna give it a go here?

Ed Hinton
  (2:04 PM)

Nice to have something back at the Rock, but don't think the big boys will be there any more or less than for any Truck race. Frankly I think the Rock is a bit overrated since Cup left. I saw lots of runaways there. Snoozers. Don't get me wrong, though, I do love the restaurants of Southern Pines.

Rick (Philadelphia)

Ed - Thanks for a great article. My first thought when reading your article was the movie "Hang Em High". David Newton suggested it was Darby who "spotted" the issue. While I believe NASCAR should be given great lattitude there is a concept called consistency. What it sounds like in this case was NASCAR being vindictive for the what Knaus said at Talladega. BTW loved your Scope's trial analogy

Ed Hinton
  (2:06 PM)

Actually I thought of Gus and Woodrow in Lonesome Dove telling Jake Spoon they sure were sorry to have to hang their ol' buddy out there in the middle of nowhere with no judge or jury. In Lonesome Dove, I mean.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Hi Ed, do you see Danica becoming the first woman NASCAR team owner and bringing more women into NASCAR as drivers, crew members and fans?

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

No, I don't see her being a crusader. And she's a long, long way from even thinking about owning a team.

Jim (NY)

Is it time for Brian France to leave NASCAR and let some new blood take over?

Ed Hinton
  (2:07 PM)

Not gonna happen. Besides, I think Brian gets far too little credit and far too much of the blame. It's Brian's regime that allowed such a decision as in Hendrick v. NASCAR.

Glenn (Louisiana)

I enjoyed your column on the appeal of the #48 penalties. Most of your colleagues didn't think HMS had a snowball's chance in Hades of overturning the penalties. What were your feelings before the hearing, and did you consult your son, Tyler, on the legal terminology while composing the column?

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

I thought Hendrick had a good chance because he was so bound and determined and stated a good case verbally before he went in with the documents. Didn't consult my son on the legal terminology. He's very big on law school ethics and will do absolutely no consulting with me before he graduates.

Justin (Northern Virginia)

Hey Ed, I have heard that there is a little bit of controversy surrounding the decision in that Middlebrook did not give a statement saying as to why he overturned the penalty. Did he say why he chose to overturn all the other penalties except the fine?

Ed Hinton
  (2:10 PM)

Haven't seen any statement. But I don't recall ever seeing a statement and/or explanation from any appellate ruling on any NASCAR penalties.

Mayra (Chicago)

Read the article, really good. What is your opinion on Middlebrook? Will his decision on overturning this decision affect his career with NASCAR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:11 PM)

I don't think so. Like I said, I think Brian France has come too far into the light to turn back. We'll certainly watch the situation but if i had to bet right now I'd say Middlebrook stays for some time.

Jeb (Texas)

Seeing a big cup team like RCR taking minor league wins in NW from small teams like KBM and Turner makes me think NASCAR needs to do something to keep RCR from ruining the NW series. What can NASCAR do?

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

There's nothing they can do unless they find -- and now, prove -- violations. Nothing new at all here, and besides, RCR is helping the long-suffering Elliott Sadler. Hard to see anyone who wants to stop him.

Ryan (real one) (Ventura, Ca.)

Hi Ed, I remember a story of your's about how Big Bill and Bill Jr. wouldn't let anybody "stink up the show" so when do you expect Brian to start taking the same approach to Hendrick?

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

First, Hendrick hasn't exactly been stink up the show -- i.e., dominating. Second, the day is past when the John Darby of yore, a guy named Bill Gazaway, would say openly to the media about the 3 car: "Yeah, we need to slow him down some."

Fred (NC)

Will NASCAR allow the media or fans to see the JJ c-posts and compare them to legal c-posts?

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

Are you kiddin'? they never even let the public see Earnhardt's broken seat belt?

Joanne (Ft. Myers)

Hi Ed, since Knaus-HMS obviously found a loop hole in the NASCAR rule book, doesn't NASCAR need to change the template and other aero rules to level the playing field?

Ed Hinton
  (2:16 PM)

Knaus-HMS were working within the template, so changing it would mean they'd only find another way to work within that template. Finding loopholes is 99 percent of the job of a crew chief.

Tyler (Greenfield,NY)

Hey Ed, I read that Ferrari and RedBull might be taking an ownership in the management of F1 and wondered why Hendrick and Gibbs don't do the same in NASCAR so they can control rules, races, media, contracts,rights etc.?

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

NASCAR is owned by four people: Brian, Lesa, Betty Jane and Jim, and they're not selling shares to anybody. F1 is a whole different financial structure.

Vader0209 (Cali)

Hi Ed, loved the story today, "Get outta Town" but it made me think that the ruling will force the Toyota and Ford engineers to take the same risks as HMS to remain competitive. What do you think?

Ed Hinton
  (2:18 PM)

They're all pushing the rules to the limit and they're all taking chances. Some stretches work, some don't. Some teams get nailed, some don't. But everybody's working just as hard in the "gray areas."

Todd (Ga.)

Hi Ed, are you hearing that RCR was the "snitch" team that ratted out Hendrick and Knaus to NASCAR at Daytona?

Ed Hinton
  (2:19 PM)

Hadn't heard that, but NASCAR inspectors admit they rely on info from snitch teams most of the time. Trouble is, the snitches have their own agendas. Not that RCR was the one this time, but RCR is a team that has long had the ear of NASCAR. Who whispered this time, I don't know.

Frank (the Q) [via mobile]

Ed...huge Kyle fan is it too early to hit the panic button for the #18 team?..something doesn't seem right to me...

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

Don't think anything is wrong other than wrecks and luck. Way too early for his fans to panic.

Tina (Georgia)

Hi Mr. Hinton, as a die hard Rowdy Busch fan, I was broken hearted when Rowdy got wrecked out at Bristol, then seeing Rowdy slam the roof with his fist made me wonder if Rowdy can come back from this devastation?

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

Of course he can. No problem. Every race is a new race for him.

Steven (Orlando)

Do you expect Mr. France and Mr. Helton to defend their inspectors and now go all out to teach HMS and Knaus a lesson to show them who runs NASCAR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:21 PM)

I doubt they'll react like that. If they did, now you talk about a public uprising . . .Like I said in the column, Brian has come too far to turn back now on openness.

Jake (Irving, TX)

Hi Ed, F1 questions: at 43 years old do you think Schumacher will ever win another race and be back in 2013 and what do you expect from Kimi-Lotus?

Ed Hinton
  (2:22 PM)

I think Schumacher made a mistake coming back. He won't win again. He should have left his legend intact and stayed retired. Kimi-Lotus just aren't in the league with the big teams.

A Jones (Durham)

ED! Thanks for chatting! So what is the NASCAR equivalent of Lehigh over Duke? Maybe Ron Bouchard beating DW and Terry at Talladega?

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

Oh, NASCAR has had lots of those. The one you mentioned, and Derrike Cope winning the Daytona 500, etc.

Christine (Jasper,In)

First I don't expect you to answer this, but I just wanted to comment on the video that Jimmy Spencer put on Race Hub on Speed of Dale Jr. and his nose issues(not sure if you even know what I am talking about). But I think Jimmy was so disrespectful in posting that video. I am NOT one of Jr.'s crazed fans to go crazy over everything involving him, but I think Jimmy was way out of line in doing that.

Ed Hinton
  (2:24 PM)

I'll post it for whoever understands it, but I can't/won't comment on other companies' broadcast content.

OpenWheelFan (The Brickyard)

NASCAR ran exhibition races in Australia and Japan, but why did they never try anything in Europe? I think stock cars around Monza would be a blast to watch!

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

Because they never could get a deal in Europe as they did in Japan. NASCAR didn't really sanction the Australia venture. That was a promoter down there, along with Goodyear. Never was a sanctioned event. By race time Goodyear was so nervous about offending NASCAR that they asked us to pull their name from the race title.

CJ (Erie PA)

Why is Bruton bothering to solicit fan feedback about Bristol? Surely he knows/knew that the majority of the fans, or at least most vocal ones, would be screaming for a return to old Bristol. Is this just a ploy to buy some more decisionmaking time?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

Oh, he just wants to show openness to fan opinion for good PR. His mind is probably all made up, but that's still in response to the fans' initial uproars.

Jenson B. (Sepang)

What say you, Ed? Will the path to my second world championship go through Texas?

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

No and no. Does your publicist know you're on here, fake Button? Remember how the first time I asked you a question at Indy, you turned to her and asked, "Is it all right if I awnsuh that question?"

Scott Carpenter (Roanoke)

Here's a name from the past: Elmo Langley. Have any interesting stories about the former pace car driver?

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

Oh, yes, a couple. Once a reporter -- not me but a friend of mine -- was getting Dave Marcis to autograph some picture post cards. This was in the days when we didn't get kicked out of the garage for that. The reporter admitted to Marcis that he meant to trade them to girls for favors and had no interest in keeping them for himself. Elmo was leaning on his car nearby."In that case," said Elmo, "I'd sign it:'F--- you,Dave Marcis

CJ (Erie PA)

Do you think McGee's idea for Dodge to rally around the smaller teams could work?

Ed Hinton
  (2:30 PM)

It would take a lot of money to have any significant impact on those teams, and I just wonder if Dodge has that much left. Nice idea, but can't see that it's practical.

CJ (Erie PA)

What about the Neil Bonnett vs. DW feud? Was it just a product of Darrell in his "Jaws" years?

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

More than that. DW wrecked Bonnett more than once. One time, DW won a race at Richmond and Bonnett came up behind him and rear-ended him on the pit road. I mean, WHAM! DW's neck was stiff for a month.

Bob T. (Winston-Salem, NC)

What's Bruton's best move to make with Bristol? And can he achieve it with just $1M?

Ed Hinton
  (2:32 PM)

I hope they've kept computerized blueprints of the old configuration, because that's the only way they could go back and recreate it. I can't see him getting it done with a mere $1 million. More like $5 million.

Andrew (DE)

During Daytona coverage, they mentioned Janet Guthrie finished something like 11th and 12th in her 2 Daytona starts. If NASCAR was more open to female drivers like they are now, how good would she have been? Rivals with Waltrip, Earnhardt, etc...?

Ed Hinton
  (2:33 PM)

No, she wouldn't have been up there with those guys. No way. But she was pretty good, and never got the equipment or the track time to prove it. Those Daytona finishes are a bit deceiving because there was so much attrition among the big guns -- blown engines, etc. -- in those days.

Alan (Columbus, OH)

Hi Ed! Are there any tracks being built or in the works currently that could house a Sprint Cup race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

Not that I know of being built. But I'm still on the bandwagon for a Cup race at Iowa.

Andrew (Kentucky`)

With all of Burton's yappin' and running his mouth, if the #31 misses the chase this year, do you expect a new driver in that car for next year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

Don't think so. Childress is a patient man and Burton is a sort of player/manager.

Teri (Burbank)

Hi Ed! Gas prices her in So. Cal. are averaging about $4.49/gallon. I'm a little concerned that this will effect attendance this weekend. Do you happen to know how ticket sales are going?

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

All tracks ever tell us is the vague, "Sales are ahead of this time last year," or whatever. Obviously, Fontana's ticket issues are deeper than just fuel prices.

Zane (Osan AB Korea)

Mr. Hinton, peronally I think Bruton Smith should put Bristol back the way it once was however, is that really the answer? I think high gas prices are really starting to affect NASCAR. NASCAR fans usually travel great distances to watch a race now with gas prices double what it used to be, folks are just staying home. Your thought?

Ed Hinton
  (2:37 PM)

I'm afraid that once Bristol has lost its mystique it may never get it back, regardless of configuration. And yes, gas prices affect Bristol, because many fans traditionally drive there from Ohio, Pa., etc.

Jimmy (STL)

Strong showing by MWR on Sunday... can they keep the momentum rolling? Thanks

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

They just might. MW has shown he's a good motivator by settling Vickers down -- for now.

Vernie (NJ)

Was it "new Kyle" or "old Kyle" getting so mad after a racing incident last weekend?

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

There is no new kyle or old kyle. That's just something the public picked up from some media people saying at various times that Kyle is changing. I'd have been mad too in that situation. Who could blame him?

Mack (from the chats) (Wilmington, DE)

Hi Ed! Bit of an oddball question, but who would you say is the best driver ever to come out of Mississippi? Lake Speed, or Ricky Stenhouse Jr.?

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

If you're talking NASCAR it has to be Stenhouse. Being from Mississippi, though, I can tell you two great ones who never got opportunities in Cup: Ellis Palasini and Ival Cooper. Both were better than any Mississippians who ever hit NASCAR?

Alan (Columbus, OH)

Hi Ed! Can you please explain why the trucks run Daytona and then don't run a race again until over a month later? What effect does this have on the drivers?

Ed Hinton
  (2:43 PM)

it has to be economics. Truck teams can't afford those long hauls to the west coast that the Cup teams have been making for the past month. And elsewhere there might have been cold weather considerations -- not that this winter has been cold, but they didn't know that when they made the schedule.

Alan (Columbus, OH)

Hi Ed! We see lots of officiating controversy in major sports like basketball and football. Do you recall any major officiating controversies in NASCAR?

Ed Hinton
  (2:44 PM)

Not crew chief to crew chief, but Ray Evernham vs. owner Jack Roush was quite a feud. Roush squealed to Gary Nelson that Evernham might be soaking Gordon's tires, and Evernham vowed that from then on, "I'll be that man's (Roush's) worst nightmare."

Vince (ATL)

Should Ferrari fans be concerned after one race? Testing has not gone well for them. Do you think McLaren can keep up with the Renault's at Red Bull this year?

Ed Hinton
  (2:46 PM)

Ferrari has a way of big-spending recovery from aero mistakes like they've made so far. McLaren looks pretty darn good to me so far. I think they'll give Red Bull a run.

Lois (WVA)

Hello Mr. Hinton, if fan unhappiness with the Bristol racing is leading to changes in the track, then how about making Dega and Daytona the old, rough bumpy places the fans preferred too?

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

Ha! Those are ISC tracks. SMI is the one that responds -- or claims to -- to fans.

Loraine (Tenn.)

Hi Ed, big fan and I respect your work and opinions so I'm hoping you can help us understand the #48 deal. We hate it so much for those NASCAR inspectors that Hendrick and a Chevy exec ganged up on those hard working people so after that humiliation how can they continue to effectively do their jobs?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

I've heard that opinion several times since my column posted, but it is the minority. For the record, I think Darby and Pemberton will continue doing their jobs -- they're just subject to appeal now. They've been served notice they need to get a warrant and a writ of habeas corpos before lowering the boom.

JrGuard (Florida)

Hi Ed, in your mind are Knaus and that 48 bunch forever tainted and suspect?

Ed Hinton
  (2:49 PM)

Are you kiddin'? If anything they look better now than they have in years. They're no more 'tainted and suspect' than fans have accused them to being for the past five or six years.

Bob T. (Winston-Salem, NC)

Another Hall of Fame question: Is Ricky Rudd worthy of the Hall? And in that regard, are all of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers from 1998 locks to make it in?

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

Rudd, by record, is some years away from the Hall. No, the top 50 aren't all locks, because they induct so few each year and new people will be coming onto the eligibility list.

Nolan C. (Plano, TX)

We're about to head to Fontana, which is another track that's pondering a repave. What format would work best there... a high-banked plate track, progressive banking, or just a smoother version of what's already there?

Ed Hinton
  (2:52 PM)

It's not a matter of what would work best but what ISC will spend on a track that has been underperforming in attendance for some time. Think best you can hope for is a smoother version of what's there. Banking with plates would stir up a show, but new banking costs more than ISC would be willing to spend.

Alan (Columbus, OH)

Do you think a more contributing factor to poor attendance than anything is the availability and affordability of HDTV's and DVR's? I know this definitely holds true with local sports teams but I wasn't sure if the same could be said for NASCAR. I, personally, DVR every race and start them about an hour and a half after the actual green flag to avoid commercials, but that would never stop me from going to a race.

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

Yep, bingo. I think more fans are staying home and watching TV. Here's an example from another sport: I attended two SEC football games in two different venues last season. Both were such a hassle that I vowed to stay home and watch on TV.

Vince (ATL)

I was watching Wind Tunnel this weekend, and Dave brought up a good point regarding sports car racing. With all the different series of sports car racing, fans like myself have a hard time keeping track of drivers, manufacturers, points, etc. Will this ever change?

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

I'm afraid not. The France family (Rolex series) and Panoz (ALMS) are too far apart on philosophies and rules. I'd love to see it return to where the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring are the two opening races of the season, in the same league. But I just don't see that happening within the next 10 years, minimum.

Mack (from the chats) (Wilmington, DE)

"Smokey Purser", MAN what a name...

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

Yeah, Smokey wasn't a bootlegger, but he was a local bar owner in Daytona Beach.

Fred (NC)

Or you can DVR the Bristol race and fast forward through all of the boring parts!

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

Yeah, but on a short track like that, wouldn't it make you dizzy?

Alan (Columbus, OH)

When I DVR Pocono, the commercials are actually the part I watch ;-) J/K

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

Line of the day.

Teri (Burbank)

What do you think it would take to get more fans interested in going to the Fontana race? Track reconfiguration?

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

How about I-10 reconfiguration? No, seriously, I think Southern Californians had a brief attention span on NASCAR. The racing isn't really so bad when you consider that thetrack is so wide that cars can be racing side by side and LOOK far apart. Not much rubbin' necessary.

Jay (ga)

Do you think Vickers run on Sunday was a fluke or is this what he's capable of? And if so, do you think other teams like RCR or JGR would make a fourth part time car available for him. Also, lighten up on Newman, he's just a hard nose racer who chooses to race hard.

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

I think Vickers is capable but we'll have to see if Sunday was an aberration. I think he's a loooooong way from RCR or JGR. And I haven't been on Newman since last season.

lljGOHAWKS (Iowa)

Hinton - I'm not sure if it's been stated but what other cars as mentioned in your articule were sent back to make changes? Can you name the cars?

Ed Hinton
  (3:03 PM)

I'm sure the Hendrick documentation showed it, but I don't have access to that. Besides, the very point I was making was that this has happened many times in NASCAR and the public never knows about it because it doesn't need to. The issue is fixed, and the car races legally. This has happened for decades and there have been at least hundreds of cars sent back through. The point I was making is that it isn't, and shouldn't be, a big deal -- certainly not enough for six-races suspensions.

Ed Hinton
  (3:03 PM)

Well, we've finished under green white checkered overtime. Gotta go. Thanks to all for stopping by.