Chat with Ryan McGee
McGee, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine, is the author of "ESPN Ultimate NASCAR: 100 Defining Moments in Stock Car Racing History." For the '09 season, he will be putting together the NASCAR Power Rankings for ESPN.com.
Send in your questions now and stop by Monday at 2 p.m. ET to join the chat!
McGee Archive: Columns
Ryan McGee (2:00 PM)
What's up my crankcase sludge-covered brothers and sisters?! Welcome back to the Internet's rockingest Monday afternoon motorsports block party.
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
How about another round of applause for that Randy Lajoie. Back when I was producer for the late, great RPM2Night Randy was winning Busch championships and hanging out at our office all the time. He told some great stories...but none that I can recall here in a public forum. Ah, the good old days on the New England bullrings...
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
To the questions!
Jeff (East Bay, CA)
It's block party time! Now that SHR is finally in the winner circle, what do you place their over/under for wins this year at? Are you taking the over or the under?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
Woo hoo! Crank up the disco ball and the glow sticks! I think the over/under for Stewart and Newman combined (and I don't count the All-Star Race in this) is four. I'll take the over because I think Tony is going to make hay during his usual summer hot streak (Watkins Glen, Indy, etc.) and I think Newman will win one. I have my eye on New Hampshire. Don't know why, I just have a feeling.
Guy Enfield NH
Big sports fan here, including NASCAR, I still cannot understand why they won't release their banned substance list??? It just leaves too much room for speculation that isn't good for the sport don't you think???
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
I'm with you Guy. I think what we're dealing with here is just a general lack of experience in dealing with all of this, from the league, competitors, even the media. In a way, that's a compliment because it means that the sport has largely managed to avoid the same drug problems that other big league sports have...
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
But sometimes it's okay to follow their lead and see what the best thing to do is. On Friday when Brian France walked into the media center, had he just said "Jeremy has been suspended for so-and-so" then I arggue that this mess would largely be last weekend's news and we'd be talking about Smoke's win, which is what the league wants anyway.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Unfortunately, as someone who has covered other drug stories in other sports, I have seen what keeping things secret can do, they just make it harder on everyone. As for protecting Mayfield's privacy (which is NASCAR's official reason for not revealing the substance) I think he forfeited the right to be protected by pulling that "Oops, I didn't know I couldn't be at the track" move on Saturday night.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
BTW, I was the first one to spot him. I got the track late (coming from my daughter's dance recital) and when I parked my truck I was like, "Damn, that's Jeremy Mayfield!" I figured everyone else already knew and Twittered that I was looking right at him...and a few minutes later here came Marty and Newton and the NASCAR Now camera crew running down the hill! Beware the power of the Twitter!
Jonathan (Birmingham, AL)
Thanks for hosting the party oh ruler of (correct) power rankings. In your opinion, who was the most disappointing "all-star" in the big dance on Sat night (RCR drivers and Brad K. excluded)?
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
You are most welcome, sir. Hot wings and pigs in the blanket are on the way...and thanks for the props on the Power Rankings.
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
Excluding the RCR cars (man they were terrible) I think the biggest flop was Kasey Kahne. He was the defending champ and I forgot he was even there.
I know Kyle B. likes to go racing but the camping world East/West..... Isn't it time NASCAR do something about that?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
I hear you AC. Can you imagine if Ryan Howard decided he wanted to go play for the Philles' single A team? Yeah, it would sell a lot of tickets (which Shrub certainly did for the E/W race) but to me there's no joy in watching a guy hit homer after homer off of a defenseless 19-year old pitcher. But no, NASCAR won't do a thing about it. It brings instant attention to events that otherwise would get none...and that includes the Nationwide and Truck Series.
Yo Ryan, The Roush program is still struggling a bit, but the #17 seems to be making the best of it. Has Matt established himself as the top dog in Roush, in regards to racing, again? Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
He has. That's what I love about Kenseth. He is the modern day Terry Labonte. All of these other guys make all this noise and shoot lots of TV commericials, but when MK finally retires his resume' will be among the best ever posted. His career highlights list is already better than his old buddy Dale Junior. All he lacks is a Daytona 500 win.
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
And as long as Edwards is as lost in the woods as he seems to be and Biffle keeps finding ways not to finish races, Kenseth will always be the man at Roush Fenway.
What was the crowd estimate at the all-star race? Hard to tell from TV. Thanks.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
Corey I never heard and estimate, but it was visibly smaller than years past. I wasn't too surprised by that. In the past fans will come to Charlotte and stay for the whole week, but this year I think fans had to make a decision between buying tickets for the All-Star Race and the 600. The 600 will always win that battle.
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
All that being said, the traffic getting out at 1:00 AM was still brutal, even with the smaller crowd.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Hey, you know what, I had a total brain fade. Kenseth won the 500 this year...which makes it official...his resume' is WAY better than his old buddy Dale Junior.
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
You know, he usually checks in to our chat during the last 15 minutes...everybody do me a favor and don't tell him that I forgot.
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Apparently they need to start randomly drug testing me.
Stephen (Sydney, Australia)
As a fellow Australian, I was wondering what you think of Marcos Ambrose?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Stephen I am a huge fan and have been for a long time. I love the V8 Supercars and I don't think Americans realized what a rough-and-tumble series that is down there. So it hasn't surprised me how well Marcos has run this year. I never had any doubt about his ability to drive, I just didn't know if the Michael Waltrip Racing equipment he's in could get him to the front. Clearly it can.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
If he could ever get some signifcant media coverage behind him I think longtime NASCAR fans would totally fall in love with him...I guess as a writer I should start working on that, huh?
David Fuller (Marion, NY)
Kyle Busch is like a bottle of fine wine without a cork opener. Without consistent patience, he'll never win a Cup championship.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
Agreed David. If you go back and look at my Power Rankings over the year I have made that same very point multiple times.
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
He reminds me a lot of Rusty Wallace back in his amazing stretch through the late '80's and mid-'90's. Rusty would lead the league in wins nearly ever year but he'd lose the Cup to Earnhardt because Dale's bad days were only so-so and Rusty's bad days were catastrophic.
Well for those of us who were at the All-Star, the last 10 laps were awesome. So what happened to Joey? He picked up 10 spots in the first 17 laps and then just kinda fell off.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
No doubt Clay. I was so pumped when the final ten-lap shootout returned to the format. In the end it doesn't matter what they do with the first three or four segments because no one remembers them anyway.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
But the truly great moments always come from the last ten laps. And Saturday night's final stanza was awesome! Even in the media center, which is normally about as fun as the waiting room at the dentist's office, people were ooh-ing and ahh-ing and clapping!
Chris (Fredericton, NB, CAN)
You gave Lake Speed some credit in the Power Rankings. Good move. Loved him in the Cartoon Network 9 as a kid.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
You know it. The World's Fastest Sunday School Teacher. And you gotta love the Spam car, too!
What do the other drivers in NASCAR think about the possibility of Mayfield suing NASCAR? Many have said they want a list but would they stand behind him if he did something like that?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
No. Most of them are like me. They'll believe the lawsuit when they see it. I really truly hope Jeremy is telling the truth, but the whole "the truth will come out, I wish I could tell you guys now but I can't" speech he gave us on Saturday night is one I have heard before in person from athletes in other sports...and it always - ALWAYS - ended up being a load of crap.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
Again, I want him to prove me wrong. I like Jeremy and so do the other drivers. But we've seen this movie before and always ends the same.
Nice 500 crack on ol' Matty. Why do you think he doesn't seem to get the respect then? When Mark left, Roush jumped to Biffle as the Sr driver, and Edwards obviously has the PR stuff locked down, but Matt always has just cared about his performence on the track. You would think more would admire that wouldn't you? he's a bit old school which is what the fans seem to want isn't it? I've never understood it. Thanks Again
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
I think its just because he's quiet. Carl is the outgoing funny guy and Mark was the legend and Kurt Busch (a former Roush teammate) was the controversial one. But honestly, I think Matt prefers is that way. He'd take below the radar over being on magazine covers any day...as long as he still gets to race.
AMEN!!! I completely agree but for the sake of requiring NASCAR to furnish a solid list of substances, I just wasn't sure how everyone else would feel about that. Unfortunately, I figure he is guity as charged. Although I would love to find out different. Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Trust me, you are not alone. Stay tuned...
I saw your comment about Carl being "lost in the woods" Is his team just way off, or did the attention Jack has given him to become his big star get to his head?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
No, they're just lost. I think the attention didn't help, but Roush Fenway in general can't seem to get it together. It'll come back around, it always does. It wasn't so long ago we were wondering what was wrong with Hendrick and now they can't lose. It runs in cycles and Carl knows that. As long as they have their act together by September they still have a shot at the title.
Hey Ryan, are you going to watch Mr. Hendrick on Oprah tomorrow?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Yes, I hope she makes him cry.
Ed Hinton was quoted saying "Pearson is better than Petty." Can you believe this man!
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
Yeah, it's always been cool to say that Pearson was better. But all I have to say is "scoreboard".
Does Gordon's back become more of an issue in a 600 mile race?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Great question and yes, it does. He's on a pretty strict massage/pain medication/fitness regimen that they cycle through the week so that his back is as loose as possible going into the races each weekend. I suspect he'll get some added extra masseuse attention on Sunday afternoon.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
I feel for the guy, I had what the doctor called "light back spasms' a couple of years ago and it knocked me on my butt for a couple of weeks.
Bruton has been pretty quite since Concord gave him the dragstrip. When are you expecting the next millionaire tantrum?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
It's happening right now, Clay. I wasa at a press conference at Lowe's a couple of weeks ago and that's when he decided to start raising hell about his willingness to give up a date at one of his current Cup tracks to have a race at the Kentucky Speedway.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
When Brian France showed up for his imprompty press conference on Friday the first thing he did was blow that rumor up. Bruton was sitting front and center when France said it. I wanted to give them a pair of revolvers and let them have a duel in the garage.
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Bruston's been kind of quiet lately because the source of his income - his massive Sonic Automotive car dealership empire - is really struggling during these hard times for the auto industry.
Stu (Madison, Va.)
What kind of pain medicine is Gordon on? Has it been approved by NASCAR? Would they suspend someone like him (never been in trouble, top 5 in points, one of the best drivers ever) even if i can't stand him?
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
Whatever it is has been approved. That's why the Mayfield story seems to be so unlikely. Every driver that commented on the drug list (or lack thereof) admitted that even though they didn't have a list, they all had the league's drug guy on their speed dial.
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
Gordon - and anyone else - can call and asak if what they are taking is good to go. It's pretty simple.
Don't mix the Claritin with the back meds Jeffy!
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
At least not until he calls Dr. Black first!
Ryan, I've written in to many of these chats asking if the bias displayed by certain announcers calling the races is bad for NASCAR, in respect to being held along the same lines as the NFL, NBA etc... The responses I've received is that the bias is on the person watching the race, and not the announcers. I assume you caught some of the all-star race coverage, and if so, will you be the one to come out and say announcer bias for certain drivers is getting over the top, and that the fans arn't just making it up? On a side note, loved the article about your drive to Darlington.Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Mike, thanks for the props on story about the drive the Darlington. I do love it, have for years.
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Second, in my previous life I was a TV producer for a decade and a half (RPM2Night and Totally NASCAR). I can tell you this for certain...
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
There are no conspiracies to have certain drivers mentioned more than others, unless it comes to in-car cameras. When a sponsor pays to have a camera in their car they are guaranteed X amount of minutes on air, as well they should.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
But even the greatest producers in the world (even ME!) can't do much about who their on-air talent likes or doesn't like. Dick Vitale loves Coach K at Duke, Buddy Baker was in love with Dale Earnhardt, and DW loves, well, he loves who he loves.
Should the All-Star race just be shorter? Both my dad and I fell asleep on the couch for the first 70 laps, but were sitting on the edge for the last 10.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Yes. All races should be shorter.
Hey Ryan, great party> I know your pumped about a Petty car in the Indy 500, but who wins the 600?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
I am pumped for The King's car in the 500. How exciting was John Andretti's last minute drama to make the field?! I love Bump Day.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
But I think Jimmie Johnson will be the man in the 600. He's still the best on his sponsor's track. He may have even been the best in the All-Star Race before he zigged when he should have zagged on the pit stop.
The idea that you have to call the NASCAR doctor to see if it is ok to use is absurd at best!! So Dr. Black basically is the list, with total discretion. Which means the list changes per the driver plain and simple. More of the La Cosa NASCAR rules.
Ryan McGee (3:04 PM)
Love you Rob, but I totally disagree. There is a list and the owners have it. But all you have to do is call a guy and ask and he tells you if you're good to go? What's more simple than that? And it's a policy that is already in place in other sports. I agree that the list should be made public, but I can think of nothing easier to cut through the confusion than to call the expert and say, "Is this cool?"
Ryan McGee (3:06 PM)
Alrigh follks, gotta go...and that sucks because I have at least 50 great questions sitting here that have to go unanswered. Come back next Monday at 2 PM eastern and let's do it again...in the meantime, don't forget to tip you wait staff and enjoy the Thompson Twins.