Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 17, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Ed Hinton

Ed Hinton
  (1:01 PM)

Good afternoon, all. HUGE breaking news to report. NASCAR has popped Penske team as hard as I've seen in recent years. I'll spend the first few answers giving you the raw details.

Ed Hinton
  (1:02 PM)

Keselowski's team loses Paul Wolfe, plus car chief, plus chief engineer, for six races.Logano's team loses cc, car chief and engineer for six races.Both drivers docked 24 championship points. more coming . . .

Ed Hinton
  (1:02 PM)

crew chiefs fined $100,000 each. Penske docked 25 owner points on both cars.

Ed Hinton
  (1:04 PM)

my rough mental math does this to the two drivers:Kes drops from second to fourth in the standings. Logano drops from 9th to 15th in the standings.

Ed Hinton
  (1:04 PM)

For perspective on these penalties, consider this: in '06 when Chad Knaus was suspended at Daytona from the 48 team, car chief Ron Malec took over and the team motored on just fine.

Ed Hinton
  (1:05 PM)

This current thing is as big a gutting of a team as I can remember: Both the 2 and 22 lose crew chiefs, car chiefs and top engineers. I mean, that's lowering the hammer.

Ed Hinton
  (1:06 PM)

Also, regarding Hornaday for wrecking Darrell Wallace Jr. in Kyle Busch's truck. Hornaday has been docked 25 points, fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until June 12. But NOT suspended.

Ed Hinton
  (1:07 PM)

Many will think Hornaday got off too light, but I think the penalty was fair. He tapped Wallace under caution and expressed remorse, which is a far cry from when Kyle ran down and rammed Hornaday under caution at Texas in 2011.

Ed Hinton
  (1:08 PM)

I think NASCAR got it right on the Hornaday penalty. But man, going three honchos deep for suspensions on the 2 and 22 teams is a big 'un.

ron (md.)

What's your take on this. Why so severe?

Ed Hinton
  (1:09 PM)

Only thing I can figure is like Terry Blount said in Turn 4 yesterday: NASCAR seemed to want to take a hard-line stand on the Gen 6 enforcement. Rememember when they nailed HMS real hard at Sonoma right after the COT came in? Similar to that, I'm guesing.

Ed Hinton
  (1:10 PM)

I'm now going to post a few questions that came in just minutes ago, but show you how breaking news can change this profoundly and rapidly.

Cameron (Palo Alto, CA)

I am now onboard with Denny in believing that NASCAR would have treated his comments differently had he been a different driver. I'm not a big Denny fan, but i'm shocked by the inconsistency NASCAR is showing regarding penalties. Denny offered optimistic words, Brad disparaged the racing product by saying NASCAR is playing favorites and letting others get away with bending the rules. I don't get it, because Brad's comments were far more detrimental to the sport

Ed Hinton
  (1:11 PM)

Would like to hear if you feel the same way after these penalties have come down. Not meaning to single you folks out, just showing you a sort of welcome to our world on breaking news.

Frank (Kingston, Pa)

Ed - A few years ago Jr. gets fined for one word slipping out. This year DH gets it for possibly questioning Gen 6 car. BK lets out a profanity filled tirade questioning the integrity of NASCAR and the officials and... Was this as much about BK's visit to the White House and the PR impact as anything else?

Ed Hinton
  (1:13 PM)

Just to clarify my take on DH vs BK. NASCAR historically hasn't minded drivers criticizing their officiating. It's all part of the game, and likely spices interest. What they nailed Denny for, at least they said, was criticizing the product -- the racing. Do y'all see the difference?

Bill (CT)

Hi Ed, why was HMS allowed to use their parts last year that weren't in the spirit of things for over 6 weeks and win 4 races before they were stopped? HMS tells on Penske for the same thing and their cars are taken apart that day and they are fined that week? That's not favoritism? Middlebrook isn't going to like this.

Ed Hinton
  (1:14 PM)

Bill, that's the best question since the news broke. It'll be interesting to see the followup info on all this. REALLY interesting.

Cameron (Palo Alto, CA)

Thanks for getting to my question so quick and giving me a chance to respond. I can see why no penalty now for Kes, because they were already planning to rip the rug out from under him. Did they give any additional detail about what exactly was illegal? Thanks again Mr. Hinton!

Ed Hinton
  (1:15 PM)

No details beyond what they'd already given, best I can determine.

Sue B. (Seattle, WA)

Hi Ed. I was reading about the Penske fines/suspensioins and i guess I don't understand the inspection process. Don't they do several over the weekend? Did Nascar miss the rear end housing issues in earlier inspections or did the 2/22 change between inspections?

Ed Hinton
  (1:16 PM)

Another great question, Sue. Yes, they do several inspections during the weekend. Whether these housings were on all weekend, or were put on between final practice and the race, I'm not clear on.

Turk (Mich)

Do these Penske penalties bring into question the legitimacy of #2 2012 championship?

Ed Hinton
  (1:16 PM)

Absolutely not. These were new parts and pieces, apparently not just current year, but current week.

Frank (Kingston, Pa)

I understand your take. The problem is that the integrity goes directly to the product. I guess I am too influenced by other sports which provide heavy fines for questioning the officials the way BK did. I did not perceive what DH said as being negative

Ed Hinton
  (1:17 PM)

I didn't either, Frank. I think that, by consensus, the vast majority of fans and journalists considered Denny's penalty way too harsh.

Rick (Chicago)

Hi Ed, how do you think this will effect the 2 and 22 in making the Chase. I think Keselowski will still make it comfortably, although losing such integral members of his team will certainly hurt. This may tank Logano's season, however.

Ed Hinton
  (1:19 PM)

This is gonna hurt the 2 just about as bad as Denny sitting out is hurting the 11. Kes may well make it, but this is as tough a setback as I've seen since the Chase began. Again: three deep in key personnel suspended.

Turk (Mich)

Do you expect driver of #2 to be running his mouth at Kansas?

Ed Hinton
  (1:19 PM)

He's got a lot of guts. I wouldn't call it "running his mouth" but he may well speak candidly.

Keith H (Seattle)

I've been out of the loop the last few days. What happened to cause all this? Thanks again for chatting with us.

Ed Hinton
  (1:20 PM)

Check Terry Blount's archive beginning Saturday night, and you'll see that the 2 and 22 were forced to change parts just minutes before the Texas race started.

Turk (Michigan)

Do you see John Middlebrook upholding all of this? I think it gets severely reduced

Ed Hinton
  (1:21 PM)

Depends on how far Penske wants to take the appeal. We do know, based on Middlebrook's history, that there's a fair "supreme court" justice sitting there.

Tim (El Cajon, CA)

Ed, don't you think whining about HMS getting by for like 6 wks is a non issue. They DID get penalized by NASCAR and then NASCAR (and most of the other teams) figured that the message was sent and if you didn't get it, you will be penalized more until it sinks in.

Ed Hinton
  (1:22 PM)

Yeah, they got penalized. But I don't recall that the head, neck and chest of the team got chopped off with the three-deep suspensions.

Chuck (Cleveland)

Afternoon Ed, hope you're enjoying it. I think NASCAR is WAY too inconsistent! When it comes to intentionally wrecking someone they showed at Texas in November of 2011 that you get parked, and with Gordon as well as Hornaday not getting the same gives others reason to wreck others in retalition.With the Penske penalties, I think is NASCAR way of showing Brad the old mob mentality of 'we just won't just go after you, we'll go after everyone and thing you hold dear by speaking out against!'?

Ed Hinton
  (1:23 PM)

My head's still spinning from the penalties. I need an afternoon to ponder the consistency or inconsistency of it all.

Rick (Chicago)

Can you refresh my memory, does Penske operate business as usual pending the appeal or do they have to start the suspensions right away. If the former, how long do you think the process will take?

Ed Hinton
  (1:24 PM)

I think it's business as usual pending the appeal. Now, had the honchos been escorted from the garage at Texas, as has happened a few times, it might start immediately.

Bill (CT)

HMS got no penalties for the rear end issues last year. NASCAR just told teams to stop doing it. There was no points, no fines, no suspensions. That is the problem.

Ed Hinton
  (1:25 PM)

Thanks, Bill. I'm flying so fast here . . .

Matt (Chicago)

Ed, I have to respectfully disagree on Hornaday. What Busch did, he had the length of the backstretch at Texas to decide on his actions, Hornaday had almost a full lap. 25 points? Big deal, Wallace lost 15 or more getting dumped.

Ed Hinton
  (1:26 PM)

Disagreement noted, Matt. Your point is valid. I just think Kyle's action was more vicious than Ron's.

Bert (Pa.)

How much are The Busch Brothers loving all the season's negative distractions focused on #2, #48, #11, #29, #14 , #22 etc.?

Ed Hinton
  (1:27 PM)

I doubt they're thinking in those terms.

Cameron (Palo Alto, CA)

Who steps in for Wolfe now? Big big blow to all of Penske. I hope NASCAR spells out exactly what was illegal so it can be avoided by all teams in the future. You always seem to start chats with Breaking news, and I like it! Thanks again!

Ed Hinton
  (1:28 PM)

It's sheerly by accident, but I always check my email right up to the start of chat time. Who steps in for Wolfe? In less harsh days it would have been the car chief. But now he's out too. HUGE questions in the pits for Penske.

Cameron (Palo Alto, CA)

Sorry for taking up so much of the chat, last question from me! any word on the 56?

Ed Hinton
  (1:30 PM)

Thanks for reminding me. Yeah, the 56 got docked six points and crew chief Chad Johnston was fined $25,000 and placed on probation until June 5. MWR immediately issued a statement that they won't appeal.

Cory (Geneva, IL)

How do they enforce the three guys not working on the cars all week long? I get they can't be in the garage, but with cell phones and cameras, they can "be there" without "being there".

Ed Hinton
  (1:31 PM)

Usually NASCAR doesn't try to control what goes on outside the tracks. Best guess is, these guys will be able to do their jobs at the shop, talk on the cell phones, etc.

Andrew (W. Kentucky)

How bout answering some of the questions we submitted early before the penalty anouncements?

Ed Hinton
  (1:32 PM)

Will do, very shortly. Jus trying to take care of the immediate situation.

Ed Hinton
  (1:32 PM)

I'l post two similar questions and then answer once. . .

Mike (Ma)

Is it true that Ganassi is selling the race team?

Ed Hinton
  (1:33 PM)

Oops, can't find the other Ganassi question right now, but that one will be plenty for an answer . . .

Ed Hinton
  (1:34 PM)

The talk has cooled off a bit on John Menard possibly buying out Ganassi. Here's my take . . .

Ed Hinton
  (1:35 PM)

First, Chip loves to compete in various series and wouldn't sell cheap. Second, John Menard is a billionare, richer than anyone else associated with NASCAR. Chip knows that. So in this case chip REALLY wouldn't sell cheap.

Ed Hinton
  (1:35 PM)

OK, now to some more standard chat questions . . .

Ben (SC)

I read where Junior Johnson said Cale Yarborough could get a little something extra out of equal cars that made Cale his all-time fastest. Do you think Kyle Busch has that same talent?

Ed Hinton
  (1:37 PM)

Kyle still seems to get rattled when his car is off. Cale was the type guy where you could leave off the right rear wheel on his car on a pit stop, and he'd still get the best possible finish. He just wouldn't quit, or let up one iota, no mater how far off the car was. I don't think Kyle's there yet.

Ron (Smithville)

We haven't seen or heard anything from Mr. Helton this year. Are there some management changes coming at the top of NASCAR?

Ed Hinton
  (1:38 PM)

I seriously doubt that. Brian seems to be more visible on, say, business networks, for a corporate-type audience. And Pemberton is pretty good at speaking for the tech penalties, etc.

Jay (Georgia)

This reminds me of when NASCAR dropped the hammer on the 12 team and Mayfield back in 2000. That penalty at Dega began a huge downward spiral for that team. I think the 2 will bounce back but i can see the 22 struggling for to rebound

Ed Hinton
  (1:39 PM)

The thing about the 12 that year was that Penske himself was REALLY upset with them about the violation. He essentially pulled the plug on his blessing of that team.

Chuck (Cleveland)

Does Sam Hornish's Crew Chief as well as the CC on the #22 get promoted for the time being? It seems like that's the only other options besides hiring Larry Mac or Andy Petrie.

Ed Hinton
  (1:40 PM)

CC on the 22 is gone for six races too. I can't even guess what they'll do at this point. They're in deep.

mahlon (MD)

NASCAR is very much a team sport. With that being said, will someone please point out the fact (like Larry Mac did) that while the 18 team had a awesome pit stop, Kyle Busch beat Truex by a full second in driver time down pit road. Please let Truex know that even if his pit crew delivered like the 18 did, he still would have been beat handily off pit road based on driving time alone. Tell him to stop feeling sorry for himself. He also was right on Kyle's bumper for the first 2-3 laps after that last restart. Truex just didn't get the job done. Please everyone stop feeling sorry for him. He has no excuses. He just got beat whether it be pit road or on the track. thanks

Ed Hinton
  (1:41 PM)

Truex isn't feeling sorry for himself. It's us pundits who are feeling sorry for him.

Jo Beth (SC)

Hi Ed, I'm a long time Jeff Gordon fan and it is sad to see the #24 today. Do you think Mr. H might do a crew chief swap so Kenny Francis can work with Jeff on the #24?

Ed Hinton
  (1:43 PM)

I seriously doubt that. Francis was brought in specifically for Kahne. Don't know whether Francis would be compatible with Gordon. Gordon once told me, for example, that he could never work with Knaus. And Knaus told me the same about Gordon.

Joanne (Ft. Myers)

We're not fans of cup drivers dropping down to NW like Dale Jr. did at Texas but now we have cup crew chiefs doing it too, like Stevie Letarte cc'ing for Dale? How is that fair?

Ed Hinton
  (1:43 PM)

If anything, I think Letarte dropping down was a DISadvantage. Remember the radio conversations they had about how different things were, especially the tire limits?

Vernie (NJ)

When we hear Stewart yappin' like he's the NASCAR cop that is bad enough but now we have Brad running his mouth about "in this garage" and "our sport" too? Shouldn't these two worry about their teams and not everyone else?

Ed Hinton
  (1:45 PM)

Are you kiddin'? That sort of stuff is the spice of NASCAR. BK and Smoke keeping silent would be like grits with no butter, no salt, no red-eye gravy. Bland.

Jay (Georgia)

Do you think Kurt Busch could help Barney Visser Furniture Row transform from a midpack team to a contender, kind of like how Earnhardt helped Childress?

Ed Hinton
  (1:46 PM)

That's a tough comparison in that a one-car team is at a lot more disadvantage now. The 3 was a one-car team among mostly one-car teams. Different world. I doubt Kurt, though he'll have good impact, could change things as much as Earnhardt did.

brandon birdsboro pa [via mobile]

True or false smoke will win at least 1 race this year?

Ed Hinton
  (1:46 PM)

True

txtechjmacattack (lubbock)

hi ed, do you expect addington to be fired before the end of the season and do you think zippy will take over as #14 crew chief?

Ed Hinton
  (1:48 PM)

What's going on internally can't be great right now, but I don't know if they're at firing stage yet, or will be. My biggest question to you would be: Do you think Zippy, after these years of peace and quiet, would want to hear it from Smoke again on the radio and around the shop? Smoke once admitted to me that he literally made Zippy cry.

Clu (Sante Fe)

Who else in Penske are Kes and Joey potentially comfortable with as a crew chief?

Ed Hinton
  (1:49 PM)

That's the question of the spring. They're really going to have to soul-search, and go very deep into the roster.

Josh (Ga.)

Is the Ryan Pemberton who is #88 crew chief on Dale's #88 Nationwide car related to NASCAR VP of Competiton Robin Pemberton? If they are related isn't that a conflict of interest?

Ed Hinton
  (1:50 PM)

They are brothers. A third brother, Randy Pemberton, is a broadcaster.

Tom (CT)

My guess is the 22 NW CC gets moved into the 2 CC role if the suspensions are upheld.

Ed Hinton
  (1:51 PM)

Could be. I can't come up with a better answer than that at this point, Tom.

Andrew (W. Kentucky)

Hi Ed, were you acquainted with Pat Summeral and what do you say to those who call Wrigley Field the worst park in MLB?

Ed Hinton
  (1:52 PM)

Non-NASCAR question I'll take. I did not know Pat Summeral, but I sure wish I had. I admired his broadcasting for many, many years.

Graham Niven (NC)

I know you are one of few writers who bothers to get in the trenches in the garage and have many solid sources. We know the Ford teams are getting outrun weekly. We know Roger doesn't like this kind of publicity. Are you willing to tell us exactly what BK referenced in his quote after TX that the majority of the media "have no f'ing idea is going on" in the garage? Must be pretty blatant. How about a blatant response, please.

Ed Hinton
  (1:54 PM)

I wasn't at Texas, but I think a lot of that was just Brad being so upset. Not even a real pavement pounder can catch on to everything NASCAR is telling teams, or doing, because it's often done in such a hush-hush manner, often out of sight. Lot of engine noise to drown out the whispers.

KB Nation (Global)

Do you see Rowdy winning 8-12 cup races and maybe 12-15 Nationwide races this year with JGR superiority in both cup and NW?

Ed Hinton
  (1:55 PM)

When I put this question in the queue, I thought KB Nation was overly exuberant. Now, with Brad K so shacked, what you say just might be possible.

Roscoerulz (Chino, Ca.)

Are you buying the Hornday excuse that what he did to JR at The Rock was different than what Rowdy did to him because both he and JR are full time truck drivers?

Ed Hinton
  (1:56 PM)

A little bit, yes.

Bob (IL)

Why was BK penelized for pitting outside the box when it was questionable and Smoke was blatent and did not get anything?

Ed Hinton
  (1:57 PM)

I seriously questioned the BK penalty. But if you review the video, even though Tony was sideways in his box, he wasn't touching either the front or back lines.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

How much of Danica's qualifying struggles to you attribute to the quality of cars that SHR is putting on the race track?

Ed Hinton
  (1:58 PM)

I kind of doubt they're related. Qualifying involves a whole lot of tweaking for a short run. The issues 14 has are a lot more on race-length runs.

Lee (Boulder, CO)

How much, if any, do you think that Kez's profanity-laced responses, after the Texas race, contributed to the severity of the punishments that were handed down?

Ed Hinton
  (1:58 PM)

Hmmmmmmmm. Might have. But then Logano was polite about it, and he got nailed just as hard.

Rowdy Busch Fan (NC)

Do you think Rowdy's over the wall #18 pit crew guys deserve a tag like the old #24 Rainbow Warriors or Dale's #3 Junkyard Dogs?

Ed Hinton
  (1:59 PM)

Probably. They're sure getting there. I think Kyle said there hasn't been a single change since '08.

Bart (East Bay)

With Kyle Larson proving he's ready for cup do you expect RCR, Penske or even HMS getting into a bidding war to put him in a 3rd or 4th car?

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Good as he is, I don't think anybody would go so far as to work up sponsorship package for a whole extra unit, just for him.

Ed Hinton
  (2:00 PM)

Well, folks, time to go. This has been a fast and furious one, huh? Thanks to all for stopping by.