CHAT WRAP: Steve Byrnes' answers fan questions

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Steve Byrnes

Steve Byrnes is a host and reporter for NASCAR on FOX. A broadcast veteran, he has covered racing for more than 20 years. Follow him on Twitter.

Events_Moderator: Hi Steve. Welcome to Lycos Live Events! How's it going ? steve__byrnes: It's going great! I got into Daytona, flew in this afternoon, and went by the racetrack. Teams were practicing. I hung out and watched practice. And now I'm looking at the Atlantic Ocean, back at the motel. textrey: What is the secret to Jeff Burton's success? steve__byrnes: Jeff Burton is one of the smartest drivers on the circuit. He knows when to be aggressive, and he knows when to save his race car. And he's also the kind of driver that typically makes his car faster as the race goes on. jerseyguy5: Which driver/crew chief/owner gives the best answers on live television? steve__byrnes: Well, my favorite is Sterling Marlin, but I would have to say Jeff Gordon for the driver, crew chief, let's see ... I would say Michael "Fatback" McSwain. Live for an owner would be Jack Roush. ebro_hep_cat: Steve, thanks for stopping by! This is my question: Why does NASCAR always have to change the rules all the time? steve__byrnes: The short answer to that is NASCAR has always felt a responsibility to keep the races exciting for the fans. Before TV ever came along, Bill France Sr., the founder of NASCAR, laid out a formula which was to have cars run side by side and nose to tail. And he thought that would provide competition and of course, excitement for the fans. So they feel a responsibility not to have one make of car, a Chevy or a Ford or a Dodge get too much of an advantage. In other words, they want the driver to make the difference, not the technology. kimberly661: I saw that you are expecting your first child in July. How do racers balance family and being on the road all the time? steve__byrnes: Oh, that's the magic question! Yeah, I mean first of all we are very excited to expect our first child, which is going to be a little boy - and I feel bad enough as it is not leaving my dog at home! But for the teams, in my mind the toughest part of the job is not being at home. Because they miss T-Ball games and PTA meetings and special moments at home. I'm lucky because my wife works at NASCAR, and though she doesn't travel every weekend, she understand the demands. But it's also something that NASCAR has to take a hard look at, when you look at the health of the sport, you have to look at the health of the participants. And we've had some crew chiefs in particular admit to burnout. Some teams - Joe Gibbs Racing, for example, they work extremely hard to give their crew members a day off during the week, but it's not easy. Events_Moderator: This is a question from the FOXSports VIP Club: ericmarsh0 asks... Who was the last driver to win the Daytona 500,and go on to win the Winston Cup championship? Was it Richard Petty? In 1979? steve__byrnes: Wow! That's a great question, and I honestly don't know the answer to that, I'm stumped! The Daytona 500 isn't usually an indicator of who's going to run well the rest of the season, because teams spend so much money and time on testing for the Daytona 500 that somebody who runs good here may not run nearly as well at Rockingham. Mark Martin said years ago, "As desperately as I want to win the 500 - the points count the same at Rockingham." And I honestly don't know the answer to that question - I'm stumped! Editor's note: Jeff Gordon was the last driver to win the Daytona 500 and the Winston Cup championship in the same season when he did the double in 1994. ebro_hep_cat: Who do you like at Talladega this year? steve__byrnes: Talladega, well, Jeff Gordon is an obvious - but the Dale Earnhardt Teams have run so well there. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Waltrip, and Kenny Wallace in the one car would be a favorite as well as they have run the last few years. But it's still a wide open race. For example, Bobby Hamilton won there last year in April, and that was a complete surprise. Not a shock, but a surprise. jerseyguy5: Who do you hang out with on the NASCAR on FOX crew when you're on the road? steve__byrnes: On the road, actually all the guys. And I say that because I feel very, very fortunate, this may sound corny, but I work with a group of guys we all get along as friends. There's no egos, no backstabbing, everybody has a lot of pride and everybody wants to do a great job. We'll get together and have dinner a lot of nights to talk about the race, we'll play basketball together at the motels. When I say the guys, I mean the directors, too. Artie Kempner, who has a great left-handed jump shot. Neil Goldberg is our producer, he's scrappy on the boards. And our full court basketball games will resemble football before it's over - typically, somebody gets hurt! But I can honestly say we have a great time, and you have to as much as we're on the road, but we can hang out togther and have a great meal, it's a lot of fun. Sometimes we go to baseball games, just a lot of different things! sassy_100: Your wife is gold! Do you think drivers and crews being away from their families makes the sport a family, everyone in NASCAR seems really close and very proud to belong to the sport steve__byrnes: Yes, and again, that's the kind of thing that sounds corny, but I know the people in the Winston Cup garage and Busch garage better than I know my neighbors. We see each other four days a week for long periods of time, and we talk about each other's kids. I'll talk to Dale Jarrett about his daughter's basketball games and he'll ask about my nephew's baseball games. You'll hear about drivers lending their airplanes to someone who has a sick family member. People in the garage area know that this is a tough lifestyle, and it makes it easier knowing that others are going through the same thing. It's our own neighborhood, our own little town, we have church services, drivers bring their kids so we literally see then grow up. And you know who is going through hard times and who is going through good times. textrey: Why won't NASCAR give the Texas Motor Speedway a second race? It's one of their most successful tracks! steve__byrnes: Because there are so many new tracks. Last year, we went to Chicago and Kansas City for the first time. And it's hard - as badly as Bruton Smith, the owner of Texas, as badly as he wants a second date, there are other tracks that want a second date. And there's still people like Kentucky that want a first date. There aren't enough dates to go around! kathi_7: So rumor is Rusty Wallace is going to win the championship this year???? :) steve__byrnes: My answer is: Why not? He won it in 1989, and he still has the same desire that he had then. But he's got a new crew cheif, Billy Wilburn, and we'll have to see if they have good chemistry. But it's entirely possible! kimberly661: Please explain the Speed Channel and what we can expect for programming. steve__byrnes: Great question! SPEED Channel used to be Speedvision. And they moved their entire operations from Connecticutt to Charlotte, NC. And the FOX Network is a partner, so you'll see a heavy concentration of NASCAR programming. Including Totally NASCAR, my favorite show. And they will continue to air Formula One Racing, motorcycle racing. Inside Winston Cup Racing is a popular show, and its coming back as well, with Johnny Benson, Kenny Schrader and Michael Waltrip. tb_la: Which of the races that FOX has this season are you most looking forward to? steve__byrnes: Let me look at the schedule ... I think it's hard to beat Bristol! But I also like Atlanta, because its so fast, and Martinsville, because it's old school racing. jerseyguy5: Is Kirsten Gum as nice as she seems on the show? steve__byrnes: Kirsten Gum is a riot! She has more enthusiasm than anyone I have ever worked with! She was brand new to this sport last year, but by the end of the season she had earned everyone's respect. And she's a lot of fun to hang around with! schwartzra: C'mon -- is Dr. Jerry Punch really a doctor? What is his degree in? steve__byrnes: Dr. Jerry Punch is a medical doctor. And he used to be an Emergency Room director in Daytona Beach. But now he works strictly in TV. But I'm sure he gives advice to his friends... ;) ebro_hep_cat: If you weren't in NASCAR, what racing league would you be involved in -- irl, cart, f1 ...? steve__byrnes: I worked in the ASA series - American Speed Association, I did that for the entire 2000 season and loved every minute of it! They don't have the huge crowds, or the big paydays, but people in that series do it strictly for the love of the sport, and that was fun to be around. It reminded me of NASCAR 15 years ago. schwartzra: What's the strangest thing that ever happened to you during your tenure as a pit reporter? steve__byrnes: I guess it would be two years ago at Rockingham, I was right next to a pit where Matt Kenseth's gas can exploded and caught fire and caused a huge fire in the pits. And the gasman actually got burnt - his name is Rich Machinski. And he was burnt pretty badly, but he's ok now. That may not be the strangest thing, but that was the scariest thing! jerseyguy5: Between the races and Totally NASCAR, do you have any days off the first half of the NASCAR season? And what do you do with them? steve__byrnes: {laughs} Last year I had one day off and went to my nephew's baseball game, and it was Mother's Day weekend. And my mom and dad were in town from Florida, and we had a big cookout at my house! Events_Moderator: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us this evening, Steve! It's been a great deal of fun! We'll have to do this again sometime! steve__byrnes: Thanks, and I want to thank everybody for supporting FOXSports and Totally NASCAR, and we'll see you Monday at 6 p.m. your local time for the first edition of 2002!

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