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March 27, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Hi, all. Thanks for stopping by. Let's get started.

PJ (Boston, MA)

Hey Ed, with Hamlin expected to miss 6 weeks, Elliott Sadler has been rumored to drive the #11 in Denny's absence. Have you heard any other potential names floating around to fill in?

Ed Hinton
  (2:01 PM)

The speculation gets stronger and stronger about Sadler. Haven't heard anybody else.

demon reading pa [via mobile]

How long does it take for a compressin fracture to heal?

Ed Hinton
  (2:02 PM)

Dr. Jerry Petty has him out for six weeks, so I assume that's the time it takes to heal enough to race safely.

tammy bliss douglassville pa [via mobile]

I wish denny hamlin a full recovery.

Ed Hinton
  (2:02 PM)

You speak for all of us, Tammy.

Matt_32FL (Tampa,FL) [via mobile]

Greeting, Ed! After that incredible race this past Sunday, I find myself wishing there was action taking place this weekend. Now I understand we'll never see Cup cars racing on Easter weekend, but how about one of the support series? I, for one, would like to see the Trucks at Rockingham the saturday before Easter. Is this likely, in your opinion?

Ed Hinton
  (2:04 PM)

They might eventually on the Saturday before. But Easter is pretty much a stay-home weekend.

Zach Cross (Church Hill)

Do you think Ryan Newman will return to SHR in 2014 or go to another team.

Ed Hinton
  (2:05 PM)

Depends on whether Tony can find both sponsorship and enough personnel to run a four-car team. My guess is, Newman goes somewhere else. But pickings are slim for top rides, barring some unforeseen conflict on another team.

Drew (Indy)

Hey Ed, we all know the dire state of affairs in which IndyCar finds itself from the standpoint of awareness, marketing, place in the sports world, etc. But as someone who has covered all forms of racing for decades, how would you assess the series today purely in terms of the on-track product? When I watched Sunday's race at St. Pete, I saw a lot of exciting restarts, big passes, and a pretty deep field of drivers.

Ed Hinton
  (2:08 PM)

The product is good, the personalities (e.g. Hinch) are delightful. Sadly, though, I think they're still suffering from the schism of '96, and the public may never embrace them -- certainly not like the CART/Great Indy 500 years of '95 and before. I just don't see the public buying in to them as a truly major league series. I hate it. I don't want this to be a monolithic (NASCAR) racing nation.

Mark (OH)

It looks like Hamlin sent himself into the inside wall when he turned left to hook Logano.

Ed Hinton
  (2:09 PM)

You didn't see Logano crowding, crowding, crowding, before they touched? That said, I absolutely do not think Logano meant to hurt him.

Mark (OH)

Brian France admitted it was his call to fine Hamlin and yet he still stands by that. Why can't he just admit he was wrong? Or is he that much a dictator?

Ed Hinton
  (2:10 PM)

His grandfather never admitted being wrong. Neither did his father. Brian listens to a lot more opinions, but in the end he makes the final call, just like the first two.

John (NC)

Just curious, why is Dale Jr. never really involved in these dustups on or off the track? It is starting to seem like everyone has an issue with someone.

Ed Hinton
  (2:12 PM)

Largely because Junior goes out of his way to be a clean driver. But there are times when he's riled even his teammates on the track (e.g. Jeff Gordon). Guess they don't make postrace issues of it because they know how important he is to the sport.

Fred (IA)

Good to see the 51 be 9th in owners points. Much better than when Kurt was there.

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

James Finch's team is always a sentimental favorite, as he's one of the most delightful characters ever to walk the garages of NASCAR.

ryan (WA)

Hi Ed. why not Vickers when he isnt in the 55? He is a better driver than Sadler

Ed Hinton
  (2:13 PM)

That's a matter of opinion.

Jim (IA)

Will the rich track owners give up some of their wad of money to put SAFER barriers on all spots it is needed?

Ed Hinton
  (2:14 PM)

Fontana is an ISC (France controlled) track. They'll yield to public opinion.

Russ (South Carolina)

With the early success of the 51 and 55 teams with multiple drivers and now the Hamlin injury, is it time for NASCAR to look at the Chase being team-based rather than driver-based?

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

I've thought for about 20 years that the championship should be team based. I pushed Pemberton about it last year. He says the owner title is enough.

Steven (Il)

Hey Ed, with Denny out for 6 weeks, who is the top pick for the 11 car? Will Denny do anything and everything to cost Joey any shot of winning races or making it to the chase when he comes back? Do you see Logano having some trouble with Tony now or has it been talked about?

Ed Hinton
  (2:15 PM)

So far it looks like Sadler.

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

I said in Turn 4 that for one afternoon, the Gen 6 made Fontana look like the best track in NASCAR. This was the best race of the season. It vindicated the Gen 6. Fontana is SO wide, the racing hasn't appeared close in recent years, but lately the drivers have learned to take advantage of all that room.

John (CA)

I was at the race in Fontana and I thought it was the beset race I had ever seen there in a long time. What are your thoughts on the excitement of the race at Fontana and how the Gen 6 car performed?

Ed Hinton
  (2:17 PM)

Oops, I think I posted an answer before a question. Sorry.

Matt (Dallas)

With SHR struggling do you think Harvick is somewhat worried about his decision to leave RCR for SHR. Do u see Harvick ever winning a championship?

Ed Hinton
  (2:18 PM)

I don't think so. Such down cycles always pass, especially for a solid team like SHR.

Ryan D. (Winston-Salem, NC)

Until a team with multiple drivers can sustain real top-ten success, the owner's championship is still just a hollow mirror to the driver's title.

Ed Hinton
  (2:18 PM)

I agree.

Jeremy (South Hill, VA)

In non-Slugfest news: Even though I agree that the current tire composition is partly responsible for longer green flag runs, I would like to know if you think that that's somewhat overblown as well. It might be a coincidence but I've noticed that we have seen alot of re-paves on the NASCAR Circuit recently--Charlotte, Bristol, Daytona, Talladega, Las Vegas, Michigan, Phoenix, to name a few--and the pavement might be an issue. I can't help but notice that some of the best races over the last few years have been on the "older" paved tracks. I think particularly of Atlanta in 2011 with Jeff vs. Jimmie; California (even last year's was good); and Texas. That's my argument anyway, would love to know your thoughts on that.

Ed Hinton
  (2:19 PM)

By and large, the drivers much prefer the older surfaces, especially at Atlanta. Time was when they lobbied for tracks to be repaved. The last six or eight years, they've lobbied against repaving.

ryan (WA)

Hi Ed, If the owners title is sucha minor thing, why does Gibbs concentrate on getting the NW owners title each year? Seems he spends more time on that than the cup cars

Ed Hinton
  (2:20 PM)

Oh, I don't know about that. I think J.D. just tries to cover all his bases, and all his revenue possibilities.

Keith H (Seattle)

So why not have every inch of wall on the inside and outside covered with SAFER barriers? The old "nobody hits the wall there" declaration might as well be called the Denny Hamlin award. Won't they ever learn?

Ed Hinton
  (2:21 PM)

They will eventually. Strange they haven't already, considering the Gordon incident at Vegas a few years ago, etc.

Dave (WI)

It seems like every motorsport wants to talk about the whole team, and not just the driver that win races and championships. Even NASCAR makes up rules for the all star race, etc. to let the pit crews be part of it. But, when F1 teams make calls based on what is best for the team, people get all up in arms about it. Double standard isn't it?

Ed Hinton
  (2:23 PM)

It's just two entirely different cultures. F1 has always had team orders. NASCAR has always been all about the show, and even if there have been team orders they would never admit it. F1 teams don't look at the show, they look at success. Only Bernie worries about the show.

Frank (Kingston, Pa)

Ed - I am no brain surgeon (or street car conductor for that matter) but it seems that tires are the key to good racing. The faster the tire wear, and the slicker the track, the better action we have. It seems that Goodyear will be pressured to come up with a tire that wears without replicating the Indy experience. Can they adjust quickly enough?

Ed Hinton
  (2:25 PM)

You don't want them trying to adjust too quickly. The Goodyear-Hoosier tire wars of the late 80s and early 90s produced some dangerous racing with quick compound changes.

Sam (CA)

If Logano truelly was worried about Hamlin and did not know what he was doing (even though he said Denny deserved it and drive by the ambulance once), why did Denny say all drivers except Logano have made contact with him?

Ed Hinton
  (2:26 PM)

Good question. I wondered myself. Maybe Logano is shaken enough by the whole thing that he doesn't quite know what to do yet.

Ryan (Alabama)

Quick racing related question if you dont mind Mr. Hinton.For the 1st 5 races, who is the biggest surprise and disappointment of the season so far? Anything you didn't see coming?

Ed Hinton
  (2:27 PM)

Not really any big surprises to me, one way or the other.

Ed Hinton
  (2:28 PM)

A reminder to all: if you post multiple versions of the same question, it clutters up the queues so much that I have to delete them. Just send once, and rest assured that it gets here.

Howard (VA)

So Denny misses through Darlington, he has to win how many races in order to qualify as a Wild Card?

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

History says one or two, but considering how far behind he'll fall in points, I'd say he needs to win three-plus. Which is entirely possible for him.

Kristin (NYC)

I think Newman's options are scarce after this year. He burned his bridges with other top teams, so he won't get a ride with them. So he either gets demoted to a 2nd tier team, or he might throw in the towel and retire.

Ed Hinton
  (2:29 PM)

That's pretty much what I'm thinking too, Kristin.

Rico (Madrid, Spain)

Multiple reports out over the weekend had Miles/Brown of IndyCar and Helton/France of NASCAR meeting. Would this be a sign of a thawing of the relationship between open wheel and NASCAR and could this thawing save open wheel racing in America?

Ed Hinton
  (2:31 PM)

There's never been much if any ice in that relationship. NASCAR has sat by and watched Indy car racing (back to the CART years) damage itself beyond repair. The only thing NASCAR would be interested in at this point is perhaps IndyCar as some sort of support series, maybe to run on Saturdays at some NASCAR tracks. (Not the high banked ones).

Tek (Madison)

What keeps sponsors from jumping on board with this #51 team? They seem to be one of the most well-liked teams, and their performance is exceeding expectations.

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

Probably several factors: Finch doesn't have anything like the marketing machine that, say, a Gibbs or Hendrick does. One car means deficiencies in the massive data it takes to run up front and win regularly. And, Finch is such a laid back guy, he still races for the fun of it, believe it or not.

J.K. (Georgia)

Do you think Menard is a true Chase threat? I think he's the Martin TRuex of 2013 and will sneak in the Chase.

Ed Hinton
  (2:34 PM)

I think he might sneak into the Chase, but I don't think he's on the same level with Truex.

Matt (Charlotte)

Hey Ed, if Denny starts each race, runs one lap, then gets out of the car, does he get the points for the whole race? If so, he may have a chance to stay in the hunt.

Ed Hinton
  (2:36 PM)

That's the way drivers used to do it, with some pretty bad injuries -- Earnhardt, Davey Allison, Bill Elliot for examples. Now, I assume the actual rule is still in place that would allow it, but I wonder whether NASCAR with its modern image consciousness would allow such a severely injured driver to race for even a lap or two.

Dan (VA)

Isn't NASCAR being shortsighted in allowing cup drivers in NW/trucks? By allowing cup drivers to steal the spotlight in the minors it prevents young drivers from becoming noticed sooner, which prevents them from getting sponsors, so then the cup is stuck with the Burtons and Labontes, which very few fans care about.

Ed Hinton
  (2:38 PM)

I've always been against Cup driver cherry picking. But it's never going to change, because the money people want some big names in on Saturdays.

Scott (Indy)

The reports of IndyCar and NASCAR came from many outlets here Saturday. And correct me if I am wrong but I thought that Tony George and the France's dislike for each other was at all time high just a few years ago? Anyways my question is that if the relationship is thawing and Zak Brown really gets his way with trying to mix the two sports, could we finally see more intermixing of the two series, especially if they are in the same place? Would be my idea of a racing heaven.

Ed Hinton
  (2:39 PM)

I think all of that is a reach on IndyCar's part. NASCAR's not going to cozy up to a league that has fallen so far, unless it is of huge benefit to NASCAR.

Claudia (Western NY)

Brad K. always seems to have a lot to say, but I haven't heard him make any comments on Joey vs Denny & Tony. Have you?

Ed Hinton
  (2:40 PM)

Brad K has a lot more common sense than you might realize. With Denny injured and Logano being K's teammate, K knows where to draw the line on one-liners.

Roger (Slinger, Wisconsin)

A writer for the Milwaukee Paper said (Kallmann) that the only thing standing in the way of a cup road course race at Road America is a sponsor and bigger garage. With Harley showing interest and Road America's plan to build a bigger garage, do you see Road America moving up the ladder? The racing there is much more exciting then California or New York road courses.

Ed Hinton
  (2:41 PM)

Only thing is, the Cup schedule is waaaay overcrowded already. I agree Elkhart would be a nice, and fun, venue. But who are they going to kick out to make room?

Sam (CA)

Ed, the funny thing is most people argue Cup drivers put fans in the seats on Saturdays. The oposite is actually true. I havent been to a NW race in years because I dont need to see Kyle or Joey dominate the field.

Ed Hinton
  (2:42 PM)

Are you listening, NASCAR, and track promoters?

Saul (San Diego)

Do you think Tony Stewart will do something to Logano in the near future?

Ed Hinton
  (2:44 PM)

Tony doesn't let go of these things as quickly as some others. And Martinsville on April 7 is payback central. If I were Logano, I'd be careful around the 14 that day.

Brooks (Richmond)

If and it's a big if...Hamlin can get a Wild Card, where would that rank in the biggest comebacks in NASCAR? I think Elliott coming back at Talladega two laps down under green is number one.

Ed Hinton
  (2:45 PM)

I was there for Elliott's comeback from two laps down. It was amazing. Hamlin's deal would be very different -- a months-long comeback vs. one race.

Dan (VA)

How about this rule? If a driver finishes top 20 in cup and declares to be running for cup championship the current year, they can only run in 5 NW/truck races combined. All other cup drivers can run as many NW/truck races as they want.

Ed Hinton
  (2:47 PM)

The teams would howl, especially the likes of Gibbs, due to sponsorship agreements. They like to market as many races as they can, for as much money as they can.

Ryan D. (Winston-Salem, NC)

Are drivers required to have medical clearance to get back in a car? Could Denny ignore Dr. Petty's advice and do a 1-lap start and driver change, or would Dr. Petty's medical opinion prevent Hamlin from the option to get in the car?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

That would probably have to be tested, but I don't think they'd let Denny into the car against Dr. Petty's advice.

Saul (San Diego)

Do you think the COT is primarily responsible for Fontana losing the fall race?

Ed Hinton
  (2:48 PM)

No, apathy in SoCal is the reason. The races with the COT were pretty decent in its final appearances there.

Joanne (Ft. Myers)

Hi Ed, Why do you suppose Dale Jr. finally woke up this season? What was going on with him over the last 6 plus years?

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

For one thing, he's in better physical shape. But the main thing is, he and Letarte are really in sync now.

Vernie (NJ)

Since Bowyer has apparently put the Gordon Phoenix deal behind him shouldn't Stewart and Denny do the same with Joey?

Ed Hinton
  (2:50 PM)

Denny probably already has. Smoke doesn't let go as easily, and after all, Martinsville is coming up.

Jeff (Georgia)

Ed, where does Kahne rank in the pecking order at Hendrick?

Ed Hinton
  (2:51 PM)

Well, he's got three big sponsorship draws and a lot of seniority and record ahead of him. But the way he's running, he's moving up.

James (Bayala)

Why do people whine when Joey or Kyle win NW races but they don't say anything about Stewart winning Daytona and the NW racing done by Brad, Harvick, Dale, Kenseth, Menard and even Jimmie Johnson?

Ed Hinton
  (2:52 PM)

Oh, I think the anti-Cup cherrypicking contingent views all the Cup drivers the same way. It's just that Kyle's situation is the most blatant.

Bobby (nj )

Hey Ed does Toni take out Joey at Martinsville?

Ed Hinton
  (2:53 PM)

All I can say is, it's going to be awfully tempting. Maybe not a takeout per se, but some roughing up.

Teri (CA)

Hi Ed. Where do you see Matt Kenseth getting his next win?

Ed Hinton
  (2:54 PM)

How about Texas? He's had some good runs there.

Ryan (Gaston NC)

Ed did seeing jr go from 18th to 2nd in 10 laps or earlier in the race when he went from 21st to 10th in 2 1/2 laps remind u a lil of old earnhartd sr at talledega in 2000?

Ed Hinton
  (2:55 PM)

No, the old man's run at Talladega was one of a kind and spectacular. Junior's deal was more methodical, and took advantage of the Hamlin-Logano wreck -- or he'd have finished fourth.

Jeff (Georgia)

It was pretty funny what Roger Penske said about Stewart doing some blocking in the past. Voice of reason.

Ed Hinton
  (2:56 PM)

Penske was just saying what a host of other people have been saying, referring to Talladega. Only thing is, in plate racing, blocking is much more necessary and a lot less predictable. So I'm not totally on board with the Fontana-Talladega comparison.

Ryan D. (Winston-Salem, NC)

Do you think Bristol ever goes back to being 36* of banking from bottom to top like it used to be?

Ed Hinton
  (2:57 PM)

Can't imagine why. Don't see how it would improve the racing. The width of the track, and the room to pass and race side by side, is the factor now.

Axle (TX)

Fontana used to be 1 of Kenseth's best tracks. Do you think when he saw how fast Rowdy and Dave were with that #18 he became sorta demoralized?

Ed Hinton
  (2:58 PM)

Not in the least. I'm sure it was a car issue.

Henk (PA)

You think Richard has put Burton on notice......get faster or get out?

Ed Hinton
  (2:59 PM)

Nope. RC knows his team isn't what it used to be.

J.K. (Georgia)

Pattern with Joey, doesn't seem to respect the veterans. He's had issues with Biffle, Harvick, Newman, Truex, Bowyer, R. Gordon, Hamlin, and Stewart, all proven winners in Cup except RG. He doesnt seem as innocent as many try to make out.

Ed Hinton
  (3:00 PM)

I don't think it's lack of respect for veterans so much as that he's locked into a mode -- right or wrong -- that he's not going to be pushed around anymore.

Ed Hinton
  (3:01 PM)

Well, folks, my Ridgeway grandfather clock (I paid full price many years ago, didn't win it for winning a Martinsville race) just chimed 3 p.m. Eastern. Gotta go. Thanks to all for stopping by.