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. Green green green green.
RAY GORDON REID ( LITTLE ROCK ARKANSAS 72201)
question TO ED HINTON AT 2.25 PM HI ED WHO YOU HAVE FOR FORT WORTH SUNDAY
Ed Hinton (2:01 PM)
24 repeats in the Texas spring race -- not just because he won there last year, but because he's stayed close to winning for a while now and is due.
Ed, I have two questions. First, I have been a Junior fan since the Busch series days. Is it time to give up on Junebug, and find another driver? Second, do you think these over the top manipulated finishes will hurt Nascar eventually? Here we are on race number 7 or 8 and the multiple GWC are already getting old quick.
Ed Hinton (2:02 PM)
I'll answer in two parts. No way HMS gives up on Junior, if for no other reason that money and drawing power are the names of the game. They can afford to be patient with him.
Ed Hinton (2:05 PM)
Second, I think all this contrived G-W-C stuff is already hurting NASCAR. It's rasslin' and I think the fans are beginning to realize it. My friend Jay Hart over at Yahoo! Sports ran a poll after Phoenix asking whether fans liked all the scrambled finishes with G-W-C. He reported that 60 percent said they didn't like it. My suspicion is, the discontent will only grow. Fans know the difference between sport and a thrill-show exhibition.
were u surprised to hear Mark stepping out of the 5 car after next season? i thought he would be driving full-time at HMS for another 5 years
do u expect Mark Martin to retire after next year, or do u think he'll go part time? If he goes part-time who do u think he'll drive for? Maybe Tony Stewart can have a car on the side for him to drive any time he wants
Ed Hinton (2:07 PM)
To try to answer both, Marybeth. No, I wasn't surprised Mark is finally thinking of climbing out. Newt thinks Kahne could be in the 5 as early as next year, and I don't really doubt that. As for part-time, those rides aren't as easy to develop as they used to be. Sponsorship is tough. And, I think Mark's family, especially Arlene, might just be ready for him to relax and be safe.
Ed...straight up what is your opinion of Kasey Kahne's move to HMS? Rumor had Roush offering the 6 to Kahne next year.
Ed Hinton (2:08 PM)
If that's so, choosing Hendrick over Roush at this point in history is a no-brainer. Plus, Kahne's personality fits at Hendrick and he'll get stability, rather than musical crew chiefs.
Mike O (Washington)
Jaime McMurray has won the last 2 restrictor plate races. Can he make it 3 in a row?
Ed Hinton (2:09 PM)
I doubt it. Harvick should have won Daytona, and either he or Junior would be my pick for Talladega.
Dennis Brooks Xenia, Ohio [via mobile]
do u think that too much is expected of Dale jr. to be as great as his dad. he has a good team and good equipment he just hasnt been able to compete
Ed Hinton (2:10 PM)
I've always thought too much was expected of Junior. And I think that's been 90 percent of his problem all along.
rob (las vegas)
do you think dale jr. will win a few races this year/
Ed Hinton (2:10 PM)
One or two. He should be good again on plate tracks with spoilers, and a new ability to pass one on one rather than waiting on the freight train to push him.
I think it's funny that Tony Stewart is called a "team owner". It is becoming clearer and clearer that he is Hendrick's yes man.
Ed Hinton (2:11 PM)
Tony is nobody's yes man. Just call him the plant manager of a Hendrick subsidiary.
There has to be something NASCAR can do to close these loopholes that allow Hendrick to have 7-8 teams?
Ed Hinton (2:13 PM)
Well, you'd think they'd force each team to show its books as to who owns how much of what team. For example, my understanding is that Hendrick owns 50 percent of JR Motorsports, so if they move up to Cup he'd have another satellite team for a total of at least eight cars, maybe as many as 12. But they had such a fight on their hands with Roush, taking years to cut him down from five, that they'll probably keep their heads in the sand on Hendrick for some years to come.
I believe Tony would beg to differ on being a yes man!! Haha.
Ed Hinton (2:14 PM)
Just throwing in a little additional support for my thought on Tony.
Now that it looks like Kahne will spend 2011 with SHR, where does that leave Harvick? Do we see four SHR cars in 2011, then three in 2012?
Ed Hinton (2:15 PM)
Ryan McGee currently has a good rundown posted on Harvick's options, which include moving KHI up to Cup. Personally, I think Harvick is going to stay with Childress, because now they've got plenty of speed and are at the brink of winning again.
I just learned by accident tha Casey Mears' unlce has a part in the Penske IRL team - why wouldnt Casey go try his hand there? I believe his ship has sailed in NASCAR cup series - outside of a chance to take over for Kahne next year. I would like to see some Cup "cast-offs" try their hand at open wheel - especially guys with an open wheel background.
Ed Hinton (2:17 PM)
The uncle is Rick Mears, the four-time Indy 500 winner. Casey actually started on a career path toward Indy cars, but when he got the NASCAR opportunity it was Rick himself who told Casey he had to take it. Rick has a lot of clout at Penske, but not enough to get his nephew a handout ride. Roger puts drivers in his Indy cars to win, and Casey at this point would be a project driver to develop.
Justin B (WI)
Why is it that nobody ever calls Dale Jr or his father by their real name (Ralph)? Also, are a lot of people not aware that Dale is actually their middle name?
Ed Hinton (2:19 PM)
I've always thought most people knew that. If Ralph had wanted Dale to be call Ralph he'd have called him Ralph. To be Ralph Jr., Dale would have had to be named Ralph Lee Earnhardt Jr. Then Dale would have been known as Ralph Earnhardt Jr., and Dale Jr. would be Ralph Earnhardt III. But no, I often used to refer to the Intimidator in columns as "Ralph Dale Earnhardt," and guess I just assumed everybody knew by now.
DJ Leslie (Everett, WA)
Kahne to Hendrick. What are your thoughts?
Ed Hinton (2:20 PM)
Exactly what one of Newt's respondents said on the ESPN Conversation and Newt reported later: Good for him, bad for NASCAR.
Will Kahne drive for Jr Next year?
Ed Hinton (2:21 PM)
That's what I've been wondering too. Don't be surprised if that sort of thing surfaces.
Any news on whether Kenny Francis goes with Kahne or stays at RPM?
Ed Hinton (2:23 PM)
If Kasey wants Kenny at Hendrick, he'll get him. Rick always defers to his drivers on their crew chiefs. That's how Rick signed Jeff Gordon. Rick would take Ray Evernham at Gordon's request, and Jack Roush wouldn't.
Frank (Kingston, Pa)
Since the 39 won Saturday we have read quite a bit about winless streaks. Lost in all of the 48's accomplishments is that they have now won at least 3 races 9 years in a row. The next best streak is 6 years. Could it be that their greatest accomplishment is that they may be the most consistent team in the history of the sport?
Ed Hinton (2:24 PM)
They've still got to go some to beat Petty Enterprises of the '50s, '60s and '70s for consistent winning.
Hi Ed, any chance the GWC will be made to only allow gas on pitstops if a team chooses? heard that idea earlier. seems like that would let those who earned through out the race to be in the front stay there without having to do a guesing game. it doesnt seem righ for people in the back to come out front at the end like that. who wins should be based on competion as much as possiblen, not who make the right guess at that point. they have all race to get in position at the end they should get what they earn.
Ed Hinton (2:25 PM)
All I know is, if they mess with that infernal GWC any more than they have, they'll have a fan revolt. As I said earlier, this is rasslin', not racin'. Gimmicks are bad for any sport -- make for too much of an exhibition.
With the wing gone, do you forsee a change to the front splitter? If so how long would it take to be implimented?
Ed Hinton (2:27 PM)
NASCAR has two more things to do to make the COT work adequately: replace the splitter with air dams, and go back to coil springs instead of bump stops. Which will come first, I don't know. But I do believe NASCAR eventually will yield, over a period of time.
Which race would be more affected by new spoiler, Texas or Talladega?
Ed Hinton (2:28 PM)
Talladega. My understanding is that spoilers will make the closing rate eyeblink fast. Drivers may well have to jam on the brakes down the backstretch to keep from -- not bump-drafting but slam-drafting.
I am glad that Kahne is going to a better place, Hendrick. Does this means that Kahne could beat JJ in two years from now if JJ is still winning titles? I hope so.
Ed Hinton (2:28 PM)
I wouldn't go that far. Maybe a 25 percent chance of that. Depends on how hungry JJ and Chad remain.
While Jamie Mac will be driving for DEI (or whatever they call it this week) and JRM, he will not be the first. Truex did it in 08 when he drove the 5 car for Jr at Bristol. People seem to forget that. So I figured I would remind them. Now my question is What was the deal with Bires? There had to be more then what is being told. He was not out the wadding up cars like McFarland did when he drove for JRM.
Ed Hinton (2:30 PM)
Reminder duly noted. As to Bires, I think Kelley Earnhardt -- who knows driving ability because she was a pretty darn good driver herself -- was probably looking for someone to win races. Sponsors are no longer satisfied with decent runs; they want wins.
The timing of McMurray in the 88 and Kahne's signing leads me to believe they are trying to get that team ready for cup.
Ed Hinton (2:31 PM)
That's another thought that's crossed my mind, Joe. We shouldn't be surprised if all that falls together.
if kenny francis goes with kahne, what happens to alan g
Ed Hinton (2:32 PM)
They'll find a spot for Gustafson. Like I said, the Hendrick solar system could include as many as 12 cars eventually -- four at HMS, four at SHR, four at JRM.
Aj (Indy )
Fabricated finish ? What are you talking about ? There is nothing fabricated about it. Who wants to see Kyle Busch win under caution after a start and park team brings out the caution ? Listen...If I spend $500.00 for my family to go to a race and sure the @#$% don't want it to end under caution at 60mph...that to me, is fabricated. Seems like the older you get the more anti-nascar you become.....you should join the IRL. Afterall, they don't have GWC and double file restarts and their fan base and media coverage is second to none !!!! (cough...cough)
Ed Hinton (2:33 PM)
You want circus, you got circus. But don't call it racing. Read my column for my best suggestion beyond GWC: The drivers all gather in Victory Lane at 1 p.m. each Sunday, around a roulette wheel with each car's number on it. Then Mike Helton spins a ball and we see whose number comes up.
If Ragan loses his ride in the 6, what happens to him next year? Is he the next Casey Mears?
Ed Hinton (2:34 PM)
Probably so, unfortunately.
What do you see Sadler doing next year?? Will he stay at RPM as the senior driver, or find a new ride?
Ed Hinton (2:34 PM)
He'll stay if the team stays together. Don't see any better prospects for him.
Hey Ed, Hearing that Denny Hamlin's knee is progressing well, will he be a factor this weekend? It seems his problems at Phoenix were more damage from that early incident than the knee, your thoughts?
Ed Hinton (2:36 PM)
As I say in the column that just posted, I think he's going to be bothered by that knee for some time to come. We haven't seen many drivers play hurt in recent years, so a lot of new fans don't realize that drivers NEVER admit an injury is hampering them.
ed, dont listen to aj, i think you are absolutely right. but, complainers will come out either way.
Ed Hinton (2:36 PM)
Don't recall this particular AJ ever agreeing with me on anything, so, I just let him vent.
Any chance 5th in a row leads Knaus to get tired of it being too easy to win with the 48 and leaves for a new challenge?
Ed Hinton (2:37 PM)
Don't think so at this point. But he could develop Evernham Syndrome eventually.
JTF (Bayonne, NJ)
A followup to your statement about how the spoiler will increase the closing rate at Dega: Which drivers do you think will be able to handle that best to keep from slam-drafting, and which GOOD drivers do you think will have the most trouble with it?
Ed Hinton (2:38 PM)
I think Gordon will handle it best. I think Junior will go ahead and slam draft, and if the nose of his car survives it, he'll break his losing streak at Dega. I think the spoiler at Dega plays right to Junior's skills.
JD (Gainesville, FL)
Hey, Ed. What are your top 3 motorsports events, worldwide?
Ed Hinton (2:40 PM)
In today's world: Daytona 500, Grand Prix of Monaco, 24 Hours of Le Mans.In yesterday's world: Indy 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and third split -- Daytona 500 in U.S., Grand Prix of Monaco everywhere else.
I have to laugh, you men make fun of us women and our soap operas. Well this Kahne/Junior/Martin/Hendrick thing is like a Nascar soap opera. All we need is some corny soap opera music playing in the background!
Ed Hinton (2:41 PM)
Welcome to NASCAR, TG. It's been a soap opera as long as I can remember. Start watching NASCAR Now and give up on General Hospital if you have free time in the afternoons.
Good article today. I hope we do see the slingshot back in full force at Dega!
Ed Hinton (2:42 PM)
Don't we all. The slingshot would be the best thing to happen to the plate tracks since -- well -- they put the plates on.
Do you think one day in the future SHR will have it's own in house engine/chassis program? I know Gibbs used Hendrick equipment before going in house, and I'd like for Smoke to be there too...
Ed Hinton (2:43 PM)
In-house engines especially are an enormous financial burden and headache. I can't imagine Tony would want that. It's the kind of thing that can bust a team if you don't do it right.
Ed Hinton (2:43 PM)
Here, I'm going to post a few Gustafson speculations and let them stand on their own merits.
If Kenny is KK cc for 2012 where does that leave Alan ? I say send him to the 88 team if KK doesn't want him.
If Kahne goes to the 5 next year and Mark goes to SHR to get the 3rd team started, maybe Allen G goes with Mark and Kenny stays with Kasey.
Hey Ed, why does everyone get so ridiculous over moves like this? Terry Blount said Kahne would challenge and beat JJ when he gets to Hendrick, wow. Is he a talent who is now in a much more stable situation with better equipment, absolutely. But who's to say that this won't be the Dale Jr move all over again? Is he gonna leapfrog Gordon, the Busch's, Hamlin, Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, etc.. overnight? Calm down everyone.
Ed Hinton (2:45 PM)
I think Kahne will do better at Hendrick than Junior or Casey Mears, but not as well as Gordon and Johnson.
Guess who??!! Biffle. Yes, it is time for my boy, G. Biffle, to go to the slate and take a checkered flag, for old tymes sake. Do you think he has an Otter Pop's chance in getting it done soon, Ed? Oy vey and good luck!
Ed Hinton (2:46 PM)
The Biff's driving style is probably the best of 'em all for Texas. Depends on whether he's got the car Sunday.
Will Mark step down from the #5 in 2010 and drive for JR or SHR?
Ed Hinton (2:47 PM)
Not in '10, no. But that's a possibility -- though one of several possibilities -- for '11.
Maybe for some of the newer drivers, we can get Ricky Bobby and Cal Jr to teach them to slingshot?
Ed Hinton (2:47 PM)
The slingshot's not hard to learn. You just sit there and go, "Wow! I just passed the 48 all by myself, with no help from the drafting line."
Ed, it always seems like Roush is one or more steps behind Hendrick. Kenseth, Edwards, and Biffle are talented, but they are no JJ and Gordon. Roush tries to develop drivers through the ranks, Hendrick pulls star after star from other teams. Roush tries to get around the rules with the Petty team (who has major issues), Hendrick lures Smoke to start a team. Why is this in your opinion?
Ed Hinton (2:50 PM)
Roush is mired in his business decision to take on BUSINESS partners. Profit obsession isn't good for racing. Hendrick races first, counts his money later. A few years ago, I said to a high-ranking Hendrick official, "As long as Roush Racing exists, you'll always have a farm team." The official busted out laughing on the phone.
What about KHI if they go cup? Sadler already drives a truck part time..
Ed Hinton (2:51 PM)
If KHI goes Cup, the main concern would be for Kevin himself. Then I think he'd go out and try to sign a proven winner as a teammate.
Lee (Atlanta, GA)
Too much is expected out of Junior??? 1 win in 3 years is expecting too much?? When will you stop being his apologist?
Ed Hinton (2:52 PM)
Always try to give Anti-Junior Nation a weekly vent or two. There it is.
Do you ever read the comment boards?
Ed Hinton (2:52 PM)
How are the ticket sales for Texas?
Ed Hinton (2:53 PM)
They must not be very good, what with Gossage pulling that April Fool stunt about the radio guy changing his name to TexasMotorSpeedway.com. The more outrageous Gossage gets, the more you know his box office is hurting.
i have noticed a few times this week some people, like AJ(indy), have mentioned the caution at the end of last weeks race. they have called the 90 car, scott riggs, a start and park car. i thought start and park cars usually aren't running at the end of the race? can you clarify for me
Ed Hinton (2:54 PM)
You're correct. Start and parkers are usually out after a few laps -- precisely to avoid the costly wrecks such as the one Riggs got into late.
If harvick went out on his own would he get engines from Hendrick or childress
Ed Hinton (2:56 PM)
Likeliest candidate would be Childress -- who, right now, is developing very competitive horsepower. Mainly it's been mistakes and luck that have cost the RCR teams. Burton told me the other day they had plenty of speed, now they just need to execute.
Interesting. Have you heard any rumors by HMS to try and lure any of Roush's big three (Edwards, Biffle, Kenseth) in the past?
Ed Hinton (2:57 PM)
Have not, but of that group, I'd say only Edwards fits the Hendrick pattern -- and his little outbursts occasionally might turn Hendrick off.
Armando (Ft Lauderdale)
Hi Mr. Hinton, Do you think Mr. Henricks can add another team for Juan Pablo so he can win race and championships like Kahne?
Ed Hinton (2:57 PM)
Put it this way: If JPM can win a couple of oval-track races, the Hendrick empire probably would be very happy to find a spot for him.
Hey Ed, good article today. Look forward to Texas this weekend to see if what you say about spinning out is true.
Ed Hinton (2:58 PM)
Texas in my mind has always been a wrecking yard waiting to happen -- it's just a squirrely track -- and drivers who have adjusted to it in recent years might find some new problems this time.
Jacob (Livermore, CA)
Do you think Dale would be better at being Danica's crew chief at Henricks in 2012 instead of driving?
Ed Hinton (3:00 PM)
Dale Jr. as a crew chief . .. wow . . .well, he did take some formal training to work in the maintenance departments of dealerships, back in the day . . .
Andy (Dayton,Ohio )
Whats the odds SHR lands both Kahne and Harvick next year, then Hendrick takes his pick of the two for 2012.
Ed Hinton (3:01 PM)
All that would depend on sponsorship. Funding one car should be a problem for Hendrick indirectly to SHR. Two? Hmmm.
Ed Hinton (3:01 PM)
Ah, the clock on the wall, folks. But I'm going to squeeze in a green-white-checkered.
Ben (Mississippi State)
Hey Ed. I just bought the ESPN magazine about Dale. Great Work!I know it's early but who do you have for the egg bowl in November?
Ed Hinton (3:03 PM)
Thanks. I wrote that piece the night he died. Now you don't expect me to pick State in this Egg Bowl do you? Listen: The Rebels learned a lesson last year, and won't be asleep this year. On that football note, we'll see all you NASCAR folks on our next chat. Thanks for stopping by.