Motorsport.com NASCAR mailbag - What does the future hold?

Read the answers to reader's questions from Motorsport.com's Jim Utter and Lee Spencer

Motorsport.com NASCAR mailbag - What does the future hold?
Carl Edwards
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet new Nationwide livery
Carl Edwards
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports
Camping World Truck Series Champion Johnny Sauter, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, and NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion Daniel Suarez
Mitch Covington, Vice President of Sports Marketing at Monster Beverage Company
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series logo
Steve Phelps, Brian France, Mark Hall and Mitch Covington
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Charlotte road course layout
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Champion Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and team owner Rick Hendrick
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 2017 livery

1. As someone who will only sell products he will use. Did any part of Carl Edwards stepping away from full time racing  have anything to do the with series being sponsored by Monster Energy? Isn't this same reason why Mars wasn't his sponsor at JGR? Because he would not use their products.

From: Charles

Jim Utter: Monster Energy had nothing to do with Edwards' decision to step away from NASCAR - a position he reiterated this week at the Phoenix test, where he was helping rookie Daniel Suarez. He said he understands if people don't want to believe the reasons he gave, but he insisted that was how he reached his decision.

2. Do you think Dale Earnhardt Jr. will win this year in NASCAR and do you think if he has another concussion will he retire?

From: Mike

Jim Utter: I think it is very likely Earnhardt could win this season, particularly if he finds himself as comfortable as usual behind the wheel when the season begins at Daytona. His No. 88 team certainly is capable of winning. Whether Earnhardt would retire if he receives another concussion would probably depend on how serious of a concussion it is. But remember, Earnhardt is likely to be retiring in a few years anyway from what he's said in the past.

3. Do you think the new Monster Energy sponsorship and new race formats will lead to better ratings this year or do you think it will take a while for fans to get used to and like?

From: Tom

Lee Spencer: When NASCAR and Monster Energy announced their partnership in December, the marketing representatives were adamant that there were big plans for sport. I believe it’s everyone’s hope that Monster can electrify the fanbase — and attract a younger audience which has been dwindling over the last decade. As for the formats, fans are generally apprehensive when it comes to change. The fans I’ve personally polled are warming up to the new format but reserve judgment until it actually goes into play. I remain optimistic. Rather than remaining complacent, NASCAR is attempting to up the excitement level and it can’t come soon enough.

4. Given how exciting NASCAR road course races are, I understand NASCAR looking at more venues, but what’s the appeal of CLT’s road course over a “real” road courses? There’s a ton to choose from – and I don’t understand why Xfinity races at Mid-Ohio and Road America and Cup doesn’t. Also, couldn’t the Brickyard 400 be on the IMS road course? That would be fantastic for Cup cars IMO.

From: Adam

Lee Spencer: Adam, the answer is simple. Charlotte Motor Speedway has a preexisting contract with NASCAR. That being  said, the current  venue is stale. The audience for the fall race was the worst it’s been since I’ve been covering races at the track and that’s more than two decades. I applaud Marcus Smith and his crew for thinking outside of the box. Yes, it’s not a perfect solution. There are plenty of traditional road courses to choose from that could benefit the schedule. However, I’ll take a pseudo road course over none at all. 

5. Does Jimmie Johnson have a stake in Hendrick like Jeff Gordon does? If not, what do you think he’ll do when he eventually retires from driving?

From: Larry

Jim Utter: According to Hendrick Motorsports officials, Johnson does not have any ownership stake in HMS but he does hold an ownership stake in Hendrick auto dealerships. It's hard to say what Johnson will do after retirement, my guess is spend a lot of time with his two young girls and I'm sure remain involved in physical fitness.

Do you have a question?

Fans remember to submit your questions each week to NASCARmailbag@motorsport.com. Responses will be reported generally once a week during the NASCAR season (Usually on Thursdays) Please submit your questions to the above email address.

You can also reach Jim Utter, Lee Spencer, Nick DeGroot and Tim Southers on Twitter at @jim_utter,  @candicespencer, @ndegroot89 and @TimSouthers, respectively. Use the hashtags #AskJim, #AskLee, #AskNick or #AskTim when submitting a question through Twitter.

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