Chat with Ed Hinton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com NASCAR writer Ed Hinton will stop by to talk about all the latest news and notes from around the track.
Hinton began his career covering NASCAR in the 1970's working for the Orlando Sentinel. He has also worked for Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, where he worked until leaving in January 2008.
Send your questions now and join Hinton Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ed Hinton (2:00 PM)
Good afternoon, all. Thanks for stopping by. Here we go. Guess you gotta love that photo up on ESPN.com of Jeff Gordon in a hard hat and scruffy beard, as a construction worker. What do you guys think? Should he have promoted that sort of image all along, and would it have expanded his popularity?
ray gordon reid ( prescott az 86303)
question to ed hinton at 2.25 pm hi ed who you have FOR PHOENIX SUNDAY
Ed Hinton (2:01 PM)
Gordon has been good there in the past. Martin won a year ago. But this may well be JJ time again.
I just bought tickets to the june 13th michigan race. Should i get pit passes. What Kind of acess do you get.
Ed Hinton (2:05 PM)
This is just an educated guess, because our media hard cards are for "hot" pits and garage. Would suspect pit passes would be "cold." That is, you can't stay when there's actual activity on the track. They did that some years ago due to safety concerns. With "cold," you'd probably get to walk along the pit road and look at the grid, but not get too close to the cars or touch them. I'd also check to see if the passes are for pits only, or garage as well. With "cold" garage, you can see the cars being worked on in their stalls -- but from a distance.
Jack (Phx, AZ)
By driving in NWS and in the Sprint series, wouldn't you say that driver has a competive advantage over a driver in the Sprint series only because he has more seat time (i.e. getting a better feel for the track, car set-up etc.) in the car at that particular track? Thanks for your thoughts.
Ed Hinton (2:06 PM)
Different drivers give you different answers. Some say the cars are so different that the Saturday seat time doesn't matter. I think the prevailing wisdom now, though, is that ANY Saturday seat time is good. Sort of like jockeys who'll ride in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday to "find the good ground" for the Derby on Saturday.
B. Hasting (Coconut Creek, FL)
when does qualifying start for talladega race on 4/25/10
Ed Hinton (2:07 PM)
They usually have a really hot practice on Friday and then qualify on Saturday. That's a holdover from when NASCAR was trying to push for impound qualifying, and the France-controlled tracks were trying to set good examples.
Ed, what does Jimmie Johnson have to do to win at Talladega (THE GREATEST SPEEDWAY IN THE WORLD!!!)
Ed Hinton (2:08 PM)
Well, the 48 number just has to hit on the roulette wheel of Casino de Alabama. In other words, he needs to be strong at the finish, and then in the right place at the right time.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Will Danica Patrick race in the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix in November?
Ed Hinton (2:10 PM)
If I had to bet, I'd say yes, although her camp has been somewhat demure about her Cup debut. But by November she'll be free of her IndyCar season obligations, and this would be a great place for her to start Cup.
Jacob (Manhattan, KS)
When we think of the NASCAR Hall of fame, we think of Sprint Cup/Winston Cup drivers, but will we see people like Ralph Earnhardt, who won 350 Nascar sanctioned events ever make the Hall?
Ed Hinton (2:11 PM)
Probably so, but it may well be several years. All depends on how many per year they settle on inducting. Once they take care of all the big Cup names, I suspect Ralph would be at the top of the list -- if only because Dale promoted his late father so much in so many interviews.
Nicholas Rolando (Orlando)
Hope you and your family had a great Easter! I was just going to say that Jeff Gordon might be messing with the wrong guy in Matt the Brat. Matt isn't afraid to push back when being pushed.
Ed Hinton (2:13 PM)
Well, those two have had beatin' and bangin' issues for some years now, going back to Chicagoland when Jeff punted Matt out of the way to win. From the way Matt sounded the other day, though, I don't think he's harboring any payback notions for the moment.
Ed (Fort Worth)
Sorry Ed, but Gordon will always be Wonderboy in my eyes. Marty put together a great article about him though. I have always been impressed with how giving of their time and resources most drivers are.
Ed Hinton (2:14 PM)
Great answer, and the one I suspected. Gordon brought in a whole new, clean-cut, polite, non-grammar-fracturing crowd to NASCAR. Wouldn't have it any other way. But the hard-hat photo was sort of cool, I thought.
Frank (Kingston, Pa)
Ed, last year Sniffles made a big deal about JJ testing at Dover, even though he tested at Indy at the 48 team did not. Now he is saying that he does not think about the 48. Is he trying to convince us or himself?
Ed Hinton (2:15 PM)
Nobody can convince themselves or us that they don't think about the 48. They do. We do. That's the way it is nowadays.
Why is every racing fan and team worried about their form of motorsport looking too "WWF"? It's not like the stick-and-ball legion is ever going to accept motorsport for what it is, so why not add some gimmicks and make it more fun for the casual crowd? I follow monster trucks, the most gimmicked-up motorsport of them all, and while Sportscenter won't be showing highlights of them anytime soon, the attendance numbers sure aren't lacking.
Ed Hinton (2:18 PM)
Now you've hit my hot button. I loathe gimmicks. I am totally against the green-white-checkered, and I hate, to the third power, multiple green-white-checkered. They're messing with the real outcome there. Bigtime. They were lucky at Martinsville that Hamlin at least deserved to win due to his full-race performance. Otherwise, Gordon would have been robbed with a capital R. Races should finish under caution if that's how they fall. It's totally traditional. Fans whining about not getting to see a green flag finish is sort of like baseball fans complaining because they don't get to see the home team bat in the bottom of the ninth when the home team is ahead and the game is over.
Ironhead Forever (New York)
Does the former Gibbs development driver Marc Davis have a ride? Or is NASCAR's diversity development now "See Danica Patrick race a few Nationwide races"?
Ed Hinton (2:19 PM)
Marc's father passed away a couple of months ago, and Harry was Marc's real manager. I'm afraid Marc is in a bit of limbo right now, and I'd love to see somebody step up.
Dee (Las Vegas)
Will we ever see a 1-car only team win in Cup again or has that shipped sailed due to the competitiveness of the sport nowadays?
Ed Hinton (2:20 PM)
Afraid the ship has sailed. The technology gathering and sharing is just too vital nowadays.
Randy (Ellsworth, Me)
Lets see. JJ has been building houses for Habitat for Humanity over the last several years. Jeff now decides to help build a house. JJ has a scruffy beard, Jeff decides to have a scruffy beard. Is the teacher now imitating the student?
Ed Hinton (2:21 PM)
Oh, I don't know. My son has worked for Habitat while in college, and has a scruffy beard, and he doesn't like the 24 OR the 48. He's a Hamlin fan.
Thank you NASCAR for the 1:00 start times! When will Saturday's race start? I am hoping about 8:00 or so.
Ed Hinton (2:22 PM)
Think they plan on 7:30, but you can always count on the green flag to fall about 21 minutes after DW & Co. start talking from the booth.
Ed (Fort Worth)
More info for Ryan about pit passes - hot passes are reserved for media, team members and special guests, i.e. family. They're next to impossible to get, although I used to do radio work here and had a hot pass for the spring race, which was a great experience. Cold passes, pretty much the same thing, reserved for VIP company people. Best bet is to either become a season ticket holder at a track, or go to ticket sites and bid on pit passes. Hope that helps.
Ed Hinton (2:24 PM)
Thanks, Ed. Ryan, I'd pay attention to this, since Ed is more knowledgeable about the kind of pass you want than I am.
Good afternoon Ed! In your opinion, if the NW COT brings some good racing at the 4 tracks they'll race this year, do you think NASCAR would change the Cup cars to match the NW?
Ed Hinton (2:25 PM)
That would depend on costs to owners, and how radical the changes would be. I suspect they'll borrow some things from NW. For example, I expect them eventually to give Cup back their coil springs and get them off those infernal bump-stop shocks.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
Pit stops are down to the 12-14 second range from 16-17 just a few years ago. How low can they go? Will we see a sub 10 4 tire stop ever?
Ed Hinton (2:26 PM)
Well, you wonder what's physically possible. But before Ray Evernham began to revolutionize pit stops in the 1990s, I never thought we'd see a four-tire stop under 20 seconds. So, yes, I suspect we'll see under 10 someday -- after they start measuring tire changers' sprint speeds, say in the 10-yard dash as opposed to football's 40-yard dash.
Do you think adding 100 more miles will make the team to change strategy or just the same? Will this impact on fuel mileage?
Ed Hinton (2:27 PM)
An extra 100 miles always affects strategy, and usually increases the chances of a fuel-mileage finish.
So then how did you feel about the NHRA 4 Wide? I thought it was cool but apparently the drivers and teams disagree with me.
Ed Hinton (2:28 PM)
I agree with the drivers. I watched some of it, and it looked pretty goofy and artificial to me. Just as I suspected when Bruton came up with the concept to promote his strip as the best in the country. I don't think the NHRA will go for it over the long haul. And I don't think their fans will, either.
what is the strangest thing you have ever seen at a track
Ed Hinton (2:31 PM)
Well, let's see. What comes to mind immediately is that years ago at Talladega, just before the parade lap started, the pace car driver jumped out for a minute and left the motor running. Some spectator saw his chance, jumped into the pace car and took off, I mean WFO. It took the cops and officials a couple of laps to catch him, I recall. He was taken to jail.Another one I remember is when, at Darlington, Joe Frasson T-boned Skip Manning, I mean a really hard hit, under CAUTION. That brought out a red flag to cut Manning out of his car.
Rob F (Hoboken, NJ)
Hey Ed, where would Big E be in his career if he were alive? Also, what do you think he'd love most about the sport today, and hate? I'm betting he'd hate the chase...
Ed Hinton (2:32 PM)
I think he'd be retired for sure, and running DEI, which of course would have fared much better than it has. I think he'd have complained about the Chase at first, but adjusted to it like everybody else. And I think he would absolutely LOVE this year's "have at it, boys" self-policing.
Is the charity race Tony Stewart has at Eldora Speedway a good race to go too?
Ed Hinton (2:33 PM)
Unfortunately I haven't been able to go yet. Was going, what, last year, with Tony, but his plans got changed by a Goodyear test, and the race got rained out. Eldora is a classic dirt track, and all the Cup drivers seem to take to it, so I can't imagine it wouldn't be a great event to see live -- IF you like dirt. Which I do.
You think Gordon will end his winless streak soon?? He should have 2 wins by now..
Ed Hinton (2:34 PM)
Yeah, I think he's getting close. Say, Phoenix this week or Talladega the end of the month.
Dee (Las Vegas)
What are your thoughts on the sponsorship situation for the 24 car next year? Any updates?
Ed Hinton (2:35 PM)
My understanding is that Dupont's budget is coming back somewhat. They were hit hard by the recession. Jayski says negotiations are ongoing, and I suspect Dupont would like to continue the longevity if they can afford it. Otherwise, he's always had Pepsi in his hip pocket.
Any words on Chad Knaus contract talks?
Ed Hinton (2:40 PM)
Tell you this: Rick Hendrick will do what it takes, unless Chad gets some real off the wall offer like Evernham did from Dodge 11 years ago. At that time, Rick had boosted Ray's salary to seven figures, but Ray bolted anyway due to the ownership thing. I doubt seriously Chad will go anywhere.
Got another "if Big E were still here" question for you, Ed. If Big E were still around, I'm pretty confident that Dale Jr. would still be at DEI. But do you think Dale Jr. would have won a championship by now with his father's guidance?
Ed Hinton (2:41 PM)
First, I'm not so sure Little E would still be there. If you looked closely while Big E was alive, being "under his wing" was as much a burden as a blessing to Junior. And I'm not sure Big E's advice would translate to Little E. Rarely does an old driver's advice work for a younger one.
Ed, to follow up on your previous answer, do you feel like the Chase (or playoffs in general) are a gimmick?
Ed Hinton (2:43 PM)
Not any more than any other league's playoffs are a gimmick. They are all a gimmick. I can remember when the World Series pitted the team that won the most games in the AL regular season vs. the NL champions. No playoffs. NASCAR has as much right to juice up interest in the fall with playoffs as any other league. I don't like any of them, but if they're gonna have 'em anyway, NASCAR is justified.
Toni Stert (IN)
Do you think that with Henrick giving all the good equipement to the 48, that Stert should shut down the 39, retire, and give the 14 to Hrvicks?
Ed Hinton (2:44 PM)
I don't think any of that's true -- it's all in the way Knaus works on the equipment he's given. And no, I don't think Tony should retire anytime soon.
How do you feel about the Cup guys in lower series? I've never really cared, but I've always thought it was neat when they were in their own equipment, or how Kyle drove for Ballew free.
Ed Hinton (2:45 PM)
I don't like it. I think Nationwide and Trucks should be TOTALLY developmental, like AAA and AA baseball. Remember when we had that great class of '99? Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, et al., coming out of Busch? Great "on the horizon" stories. But track promoters can't see past their wallets, and want the Cup guys in the Saturday races to sell tickets.
The prelude to the Dream is awesome at Eldora Speedway Mike! Tickets are only $23. One of the best events of the year.
Ed Hinton (2:46 PM)
There ya go -- from one who's experienced it. Thanks, Gene.
Frank (Kingston, Pa)
Ed - I agree about the gimmicks, detracts from racing. This is not the only period though. Big E took advantage of the fact that the defending champ got to pick first on pit selection. What is the worst "gimmick" like rule you have ever seen?
Ed Hinton (2:47 PM)
We're living with it right now -- green-white-checkered. Disgusting. Especially the multiples.
Do you think we could see a first time winner here this weekend? I'd like to see Logano pull it off...if Stewart can't that is...
Ed Hinton (2:47 PM)
Eh, well, the Phoenix mile has a lot of quirks that favor experience.
Ironhead Forever (New York)
Which happens first: Junior wins a race or Teresa shows up for one?
Ed Hinton (2:49 PM)
Now THAT is the funniest question I've heard on this chat this year!!! Good one, IF. But, the odds say Junior wins one . . . Teresa may not show before 2020, if then.
Ed, you are a NASCAR journalistic King. When will you be inducted into the Hall of Fame?
Ed Hinton (2:50 PM)
hahahahahahahahaha! Thanks, John, but I suspect Teresa will show up at a race, and Junior will win 50 more, long, long, long before NASCAR lets me in their hall of fame. Listen: They won't even let me vote on the selection committee! Ruffle enough feathers over the years, and you don't get to play.
RedLegsDale88 (Mom's basemant)
Will Kyle Busch ever win the championship???!!!!! I have a HUGE Crush on him!!!!!!!!!!
Ed Hinton (2:51 PM)
I'm posting this one solely because of the candor of the sender's location.
Busch World (Universe)
How great are the Busch Brothers?
Ed Hinton (2:52 PM)
Real good, but not great, although Kyle sometimes shows flashes of greatness.
I think the Phoenix race is 600 Km, not miles.
Ed Hinton (2:52 PM)
You're right, Gene. Brain fade on my part. I thought maybe they'd added 100 miles while I wasn't looking. But Phoenix has always measured in Km.
Busch Fans (Universe)
Do you think K.Busch is the greatest thing ever?
Ed Hinton (2:53 PM)
they both start with a K, but, no.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
Would NASCAR be dramatically different if Jr was having the career of JJ? Would it be more mainstream or would just the Jr fans be a lot happier?
Ed Hinton (2:54 PM)
It would be considerably different, but I guarantee you, plenty of people would be moaning about Junior winning too much . . . and the economy would still be holding down attendance.
Charles (Columbus, Oh)
The way this season is going is another title for Jimmy coming?
Ed Hinton (2:55 PM)
Sure looks that way. Maybe Gordon'll loan him the old "Drive for Five" slogan, since Jeff hasn't needed it for the last nine years.
Steve (Flatbush, NYC)
Afternoon, Ed! Think we'll ever see a race in the NYC metro area?
Ed Hinton (2:58 PM)
Well, I think the France family met its match in the Five Families in the Staten Island debacle. I doubt they want to try NYC again after that, although I'd love to see it. I think the best place for a Tri-Cities track would be Western New Jersey, out from the City, but easy access. But NASCAR won't do that because for whatever reasons they don't want to cut off Pocono. Sad.
Octo (Hell(Mom's Basement))
Look Ed, we expect Dave Rogers to be fired if Kyle does not get better cars.
Ed Hinton (2:58 PM)
I expected that one sooner or later. First trickle of what may become a flood.
How are the Goodyear doing so far this year? Are they having problems with those tires?
Ed Hinton (2:59 PM)
They were doing fine till they got to Atlanta, which is an awfully tough place to build tires for. I think Goodyear is much more alert and on the ball than in the past several years.
If you hate what Nascar is doing, retire. Do us all a favor and take a hike or join the IRL media since you don't have anything good to say about the sport.
Ed Hinton (3:01 PM)
You must not be paying much attention, Mike. Considered anger management?
John (Lima, Ohio)
Heard Scotty Speed say he would be disappointed if he did not win 3 races? We think he can do it!
Ed Hinton (3:02 PM)
You gotta like his ambition, and I think he'll win eventually . . . maybe Watkins Glen?
Ed Hinton (3:02 PM)
Well, folks, the clock on the wall . . .thanks for stopping by. See you next time.