Saturday, August 30, 2008

ESPN Rookie Joins "NASCAR Now"


NASCAR Now got a nice present on Thursday when ESPN.com's rookie NASCAR writer made his first ESPN network television appearance.

You may have heard of him. His name is Ed Hinton. That is Hinton above back in 2006 talking with Junior. Pictures of Hinton alone are hard to find. He seems to almost always be seen talking to someone.

It was host Ryan Burr who introduced the former Orlando Sentinel writer to the NASCAR Now audience. Unlike Hinton's sometimes raucous appearances on SPEED's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, this time he had to play it straight. After all, this was ESPN.

Dressed in a nice suit and tie, Hinton tried with all his might to tow the ESPN company line for Mr. Burr and the viewers. That lasted about two questions.

In the blink of an eye, Hinton was at full-speed and enjoying the freedom of TV. This time, no editor was going to come along and take out a paragraph or two. Hinton was off to the races and Burr let him run. What he said may still be bouncing around the Bristol, CT studios of NASCAR Now.

Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards facing-off down the stretch was the first topic. Hinton started with a plea to NASCAR's Mike Helton and team owners Joe Gibbs and Jack Roush.

"Leave these guys alone...let them rip!" said Hinton. "Don't try to cool off their jets. If you cool their jets you are going to cool the hottest thing that has come to NASCAR in a long, long time."

Next on the agenda was the topic of the COT and recent NASCAR rules enforcement. There was little doubt this one was going to be interesting.

"They are legislating themselves into blandness!" said Hinton of the NASCAR rule makers. "Everything is considered cheating now. They are taking the outlaw spirit and the innovative spirit out of NASCAR." Hinton used as an example the talented Chad Knaus and his current inability to push the rules and keep things interesting. "It's very fitting that the car is boxy because it is a box that the teams can't get out of," concluded Hinton.

Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske were up next. Both of these veteran race team owners were not having success in NASCAR. Burr simply asked why and then stood back.

"You've got to spill 100% of your guts and your effort and (put) everything into NASCAR," stated Hinton. "Look at Roger Penske, he has been trying to apply Indy Car methods to NASCAR for thirty years. He has...one Daytona 500 win and that was a bit of luck."

"Newman is leaving him (Penske) for what he feels like is a stronger team," said Hinton without a moment of hesitation.

"Chip (Ganassi) is going to have to realize that you don't see Joe Gibbs or Rick Hendrick off running Indy cars and sports cars," added Hinton. That is an opinion the likes of which may have never before been heard on NASCAR Now.

"To win in NASCAR its got to be 100%...it has got to be a total effort," said Hinton. He concluded by saying that anyone trying to bring an IRL or other cross-over method to NASCAR is destined to fail. "It just doesn't work," he said.

Hinton was only on the program during two segments where he responded to Burr's questions. Fans who had not seen Wind Tunnel may have been left asking one thing. Who is that guy and when can he come back?

The broader perspective on the sport that a veteran journalist like Hinton brings is just what NASCAR Now needed to add another solid piece to the puzzle that ESPN has been working hard to put together this season. Last year at this time, fans were livid at the inexperienced host and the forced storylines on this TV series as The Chase approached.

Now, Burr has established himself as a solid host and his patience and treatment of Hinton once again backed that up. Allowing Hinton to speak completely and expand on the issues that Burr raised really worked well on this Thursday night program.

Hopefully, this is an opportunity for Hinton to participate in other NASCAR on ESPN programs including the Monday roundtable and the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. While Brad Daugherty has been holding his own, it is unvarnished perspectives on issues in the sport that have been missing from this coverage. Hinton does not seem to have an agenda and his experience certainly allows him to speak to almost any NASCAR topic.

This first toe-in-the-water moment for Hinton on ESPN2 went well and gave fans a lot to talk about. If ESPN can find a place for him on additional NASCAR TV shows, it should add a nice touch to coverage of The Chase as the season hits full stride.

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25 comments:

haus20 said...

It was great to see the candidness of Ed Hinton. It was Tim Cowlishaw with common sense and real NASCAR knwoledge. I must say it was certainly different seeing him in a tie. It also would have been nice if Ryan Burr would have introduced Ed to the audience since this was his first appearance on the show.

Daly Planet Editor said...

haus,

If you get a moment, drop me an email.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

I don't always agree with him, but Ed Hinton is almost always informative and thought provoking. I would really love to see Ed H. and David Poole on together discussing "cheating" in NASCAR.

JD, why do you think ESPN does not have Ryan McGee on N-NOW? He is exceptional. I would love to see him on Monday night.

It does amaze me how much better Cowlishaw is this year.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Richard,

That is a great question and the answer is that McGee is also doing ESPN assignments on other sports.

I hope we get him back during The Chase, as his writing and storytelling is outstanding.

JD

Alex said...

Honesty is hard to come by in this climate of NASCAR, and I'm glad Ed Hinton still carries that quality.

darbar said...

This was, without a doubt, one of the best Nascar Now shows of the season. Ed Hinton is fantastic and it's great to see someone who's not afraid of the powers-that-be in Nascar, and not afraid to say what fans have been yelling about for two years. No pablum, just plain and simple opinions that don't jive with the official Nascar mantra. I sure hope to see more Ed---Uncensored, on future N Now shows.

Sophia said...

I don't know how this happened but I turned my tv on at 5 for a bit and came across ESPN ONLY to have to stay there when i saw ED HINTON! WOW. LOVE this guy and I had plum forgot he is now at ESPN.


whew boy...if I could know AHEAD of time when he is on, I would watch ESPN show for him. He was ON the money with his comments imo. I did not see the entire show but the two Hinton segments.

Shall miss him on Wind Tunnel though. :(

T.C. said...

JD,
I know you like Burr, but I actually caught NASCAR Now tonight, and him calling Steve Lauletta "Loo-letta" was embarassing. His name is pronounced Law-letta. The guy is the President of Chip Ganassi Racing, can we at least get his name right? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought ESPN was big on making sure the sportscasters knew name pronunciations...

snowfaller said...

I posted this in the college football post, but just to make sure people realize what a long fall it's going to be - the west coast showing of NASCAR Now should be on ESPN2 right now and at 12AM Eastern time there were still 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter of the college fooball game being shown.

Enjoy being the red-headed stepchild on ESPN all of you NASCAR fans!

Gymmie said...
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Gymmie said...

I love Mr. Hinton! Yes I remember his WT appearances...he definitely was a breath of fresh air :)! I hope he comes back soon!

@sophia--I had forgotten as well. I had seen a link to an article on Twitter and it was one of his and that's when I remembered :p. I'll miss him on WT as well :(

@t.c.--I don't recall ever seeing/hearing about Lauletta before tonight...interesting that we seem to know the others but he hasn't been out there...

Karen said...

12:50 a.m. for NN after the football game.

Kenn Fong said...

J.D.,

Ed Hinton is a breath of fresh air. Is there a chance he could be added to the rotation and perhaps appear on a Monday roundtable or three?

By the way, D.J. Copp did another outstanding report tonight. Whomever found him deserves a raise.

Pacific Time Zone Kenny, Alameda, California

Gymmie said...

@kenn--agreed! DJC rocks! I love his segments and always informative :)

Anonymous said...

This is a real coup for ESPN to get Ed Hinton. When I see his columns on Jayski I always read them and they are excellent.As far as ESPN being surprised by what he had to say, I'm sure they were not as they knew what they were getting with Ed Hinton. I hope they use him more. What about DJ Kopp, that piece on the earpiece was excellent, use him more also.

Steve 2838 said...

I remember the first time I saw Ed Hinton in person. It was during a media availability at Talladega. We were all shooting questions at Jeff Gordon, but Mr. Hinton definitely asked the most (and the best). Always insightful and a great co-host with Dave on WT. I wish ESPN would let Ed be himself, though, so he could lose the coat and tie. He looked VERY uncomfortable. Same goes for Marty Smith.

majorshouse said...

Ed Hinton is a breath of fresh air in the days of politically correct and horribly mis-informed analysts. I ahve seen him many times on Windtunnel and lve what he has said there and love the fact that he held nothing back on WSPN as well and would definitely love to see him more often on NASCAR now than either David Newton or Marty Smith.

majorshouse said...

Ed Hinton is a breath of fresh air in the days of politically correct and horribly mis-informed analysts. I have seen him many times on Windtunnel and liked what he has said there and love the fact that he held nothing back on ESPN as well and would definitely love to see him more often on NASCAR now than either David Newton or Marty Smith.
I too like the piece with DJ Copp and always enjoy his contributions to the show because he is really well informed and does a great job.

Anonymous said...
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Dmo said...
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Donb said...

Finally someone saying it like it is, and not toting the NASCAR line.
The fans need someone slapping NASCAR in the face telling them they are ruining our great sport.
Turn the crews loose let them fix this d@mn COT, let the drivers be them self.

Sophia said...

I agree Hinton needs to be on more than the others.

Shame about the suit and tie....let the guy be real. Just like his comments. Heck if he is going to be a regular, I may have to take back my no longer watching NN.

And that's saying something. Wish they would let him GUEST on Windtunnel, still. He and Robin miller one night with Dave were a hoot and a half!!

Newracefan said...

Loved Hinton and agreed with him (this time) hopefully we'll see a lot more of him, maybe at the round table, could prove interesting. DJC as usual very informative, I alway wondered about those plugs

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I can envision the perfect, occasional roundtable on NN - Ed Hinton, Buddy Baker, and Junior Johnson. However, I bet the demographic people at ESPN would have a stroke.

Anonymous said...

Go Hinton Go!!!

I love it when you finally see someone on television articulate the unspoken truth, especially in such a concise, devastatingly accurate, and biting way. It was 100% pure refreshment.