Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 2009 NASCAR season.
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 your questions now and join McGee Monday at 2:30 p.m. ET!
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
Welcome my Speedy Dry-covered brothers and sisters and welcome to another round of the internet's biggest and baddest Monday afternoon motorsports block party. How about another round of applause for Randy Lajoie and the stars of the NHRA? Alright, bring on the queries! Just please don't shout because I'm still nursing a carbon monoxide headache from Bristol...
Jack (Brooklyn, NY)
Just once, wouldn't it be cool to see Mark Martin lay the bumper to someone?
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
Yes, it would! But he's never done it before and at 50 he's not going to start doing it now. If he doesn't have a clean pass then he isn't going to take it all. I was looking at NASCAR's loop data statistics over the weekend and he leads the league in getting passed on the track. I asked him about it and he said if someone is faster he lets them by...then he quickly added "Don't worry, I pass them back when I need to."
Ryan, why didn't Dave Blaney move to the back of the field before the race started if he wasn't going to run the whole thing. It seems like his run-in with Logano was what eventually caused his tire to blow and ruin his day? Are the start-and-finish drivers starting to get frustrated with the start-and-parks?
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
Great question. I had a friend there covering his first race (he's a baseball writer) and I told him to watch Blaney try to get out of the way. Me trying to explain what the hell that was all about to a non-NASCAR person just made me realize how ludicrous the whole situation is. Blaney is a good guy, but he's finished higher than 39th only this season.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
During the race I joked on Twitter that I was totally impressed he could go from 6th to 43rd like that without getting the parachute tangled up in his rear axle.
Mike (St. Louis)
How does one get into this sport? Is it something you need to experience in person? When I try to watch on TV I feel like I'm watching laundry dry.
Mike (St. Louis)
He's making a left turn!!!
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
I had the same conversation with my baseball writer buddy before he got to Bristol...but by lap 15 of the Nationwide race on Friday night I had him converted. I do think that someone's perspective on NASCAR totally changes once they get to see it person. And you have to have a scanner and listen to the radio chatter. It's like being a very knowledgeable fooball fan. Insead of just following the ball - or in racing's case the leader - you appreciate the strategy and nuances behind it all. Plus, no one can fathom how loud it is until they hear it in person...Obama found that out firsthand last Wednesday!
Hey Ryan, I watched Saturday night and never heard anyone talk about it...what the heck happened to Kasey Kahne in the race? He was good in practice, qualified poorly and seemed to vanish into thin air Saturday!
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
Matt, in Kahne's words they "just flat missed it". They qualified poorly on Friday and at Bristol that means he was getting lapped early. Suddenly he looks like the most likely candidate to get bumped from the Chase by Kyle Busch. But he's been in this boat before, getting to Richmond with a Chase berth on the line, so he still has a chance.
YAR8pack (McGee's Rockingham Restaurant)
McGee, how goes it? I've been a longtime supporter of JR, Jeff Burton, and Bowyer...had to give up my Brad K. fanclub membership after he decided to go to Penske. Anyway. Marcos Ambrose has greatly impressed me. He's an old school type racer. What do you see in his future? I'm thinking he's gonna get a few wins within the next couple years. What say you?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
That BK situation is tough, but I don't blame him. He was very patient all season long waiting on Hendrick to work something out and I think he just couldn't keep turning down Cup rides.
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
As for Ambrose, I have said all along that once people got to know Marcos they would love him. The series he comes from - Australia's V8 Supercars - is not for the faint of heart, so it's no surprise that he loves NASCAR. And I'm with you, I think he's definitely going to win races during his career. And not just road course races.
Adam (Ft. Lauderdale)
How serious is the Fuel Injection talk? I love the idea of it.
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
Very. NASCAR has already had meetings with the engine builders from all the big Cup teams and I know that more than a few are already monkeying around with fuel injectors to be ready when the time comes. I chatted with the Toyota people about it at Bristol over the weekend and they said they could be ready to go by Daytona in February, though I don't expect it to happen that fast. NASCAR has to make its cars more relative to the cars on the street. And unless you're driving my grandpa's old pickup you haven't driven anything with a carburetor in it since the 1980's. Plus, it would be more fuel efficient, which I know Brian France is concerned about moving forward.
I know it's not populer to say this at the moment, but I think Kenseth will still make the chase. Everyone is so blinded by the fact that Busch and Vickers have had a few good runs, they forget the fact that Kenseth has had pressure like this many times throughout his career, and has never succumbed to it. Can he win the cup, probably not because the Roush cars are trash at the moment. But, he did win his championship in runaway fashion in cars with Roush built engines, which had nowhere near the power as their Yates counterparts at the time much less Hendrick. Don't count out Kenseth, he does his work in the media shadows but could probably be considered today's working man's driver, and he's not a pushover by any means.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
I'm with you. His car and his crew has had issues this year, but like I say in this week's Power Rankings, he's like his former favorite NFL player, Brett Favre. He just keeps hanging around...
BREAKING NEWS!!!! Streme did not wreck this week!!!!!!!!!
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Yes, but he did lose his ride for 2010. He doomed his Penske career as soon as he allowed himself to get dragged into that B.S. with Robby Gordon at Pocono.
Ryan,Any idea if RPM is going to Toyota?
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
I talked to the Toyota people at Bristol and they say no. But I talked to some of my RPM people and they say yes. I say it'll happen, but I think that Red Bull's decision to stay with Toyota and not switch to Chevy has RPM taking a pause.
Do you think Matt Kenseth will be the odd man out of the chase? It's starting to feel that way.
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
Not as long as Kahne continues to fall like he has.
Mike (Glastonbury, CT)
Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin look so tiny on tv - 5'5" tops. Are any of the drivers over 6ft tall? Carl Edwards?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
That was one of the biggest shocks of my career when I started covering racing - how short these guys are. The first time I met Mario Andretti I almost cried. If he's 5-6 I'm Shaq. There are a few big 'uns. Mike Waltrip and Elliott Sadler are the tallest guys right now. Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace were among the giants when they were still racing. The funniest thing is seeing the looks on girls' faces when they meet Kasey Kahne in person. They're just crushed.
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
That being said, anytime movie stars come to the track they are just as small. When Sly Stallone was at the racetrack all the time making that god-awful film "Driven" I shook his hand and looked down at him. And I'm 5-10! They must have had him standing on a milk crate next to Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Ryan, nice Twitter picture! Is Goofy your favorite Disney character? Or is it Dick Vitale?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
Thanks, Craig. Never pass up an opportunity to have your photo taken with Tony the Tiger. It was grrrrreat! And yes, I'll take Goofy over Dicky V...though Dicky V did give me a free pair of hoops shoes years ago.
rick kennedy (lima, ohio)
hey ryan do u think this is tonys year to win it all?
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
I don't know Rick...I'm starting to lose a little confidence. They were beyond bad on Saturday night. Pair that with the bad finish at Michigan and...yeeesh. Especially with Johnson running as well as he is (he's a half-gallong of fuel and one lugnut away from back-to-back wins over the last two weeks) and Cousin Carl getting his act together. He's still one of the favorites, but he's not what he was just a few weeks ago.
David (Washington DC)
I see you moved JPM down three spots this week. He ran in the top 10 all night and had a 25th place finish because of a cut tire towards the end of the race. Isn't 3 spots a little drastic??
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
This isn't an essay contest David. A bad finish is a bad finish, esepcially this time of year. Even more than JPM I hated dropping Vickers after finishing 12th, but it's getting so tight at the top that losing a few positions on the track is a lot more costly than it was even just a month ago.
We saw Toyota pretty much take over the truck and nationwide series with it's speed, do you think since Toyota will be the most run manufacturer?
Ryan McGee (3:04 PM)
I think as long as Hendrick and Roush are around you don't need to worry about Chevy and Ford going anywhere. But if I was a new team I'd be in the Toyota line.
Now that Danica's second public flirtation with Nascar is over with, I hope everybody in the media just avoids this topic like the plague for now on.
Ryan McGee (3:04 PM)
You mean Danica Favre?
Rick (Buffalo, NY)
And who will Jr. get to run the nationwide car? Its by far the most competitve team w/o a full time cup driver... do you think he finds another young up-and-comer or goes with a who's-who line up of Chevy cup guys (newman, himself, etc.)?
Ryan McGee (3:06 PM)
I think he'll go with an up-and-comer. Marty Smith talked with Kelley Earnhardt earlier and they've already started the search. If you go back and look at the kind of guys that Junior has hired to drive for him in the past he loves to discover new talent, prep them for Cup, and send them on their way. Just like he did with Martin Treux and now BK.
Do you think Brad K will vastly out perform Stremme? Honest answer please
Ryan McGee (3:09 PM)
Yes! Stremme has one top ten finishes and five DNF's in 24 starts with a top shelf team. BK has three top ten finishes and zero DNFs in only nine starts this year with a part-time team. That's easy math.
Would you say that Kyle Busch has turned a corner this weekend or was his performance on and off the track a one time thing?
Ryan McGee (3:12 PM)
I think he has turned a corner. He'll never admit it, but this whole Vickers mess has been embarrassing. And I think a lot of credit has to go to his spotter/agent Jeff Dickerson. Listening to Jeff on the radio Saturday night was a thing of beauty. It was like listening to Dr. Phil. He pushed Kyle's buttons when they needed to be and he whoa'd him down he needed that too. At one point he said, "We're not going to change the way other people race, so keep focussed on the front." That's what Kyle needs.
rick kennedy (lima, ohio)
hey ryan, i just took my 4 year old son the MIS a couple weeks ago and he loved it.he is a logano fan it was good to see him runn good there.
Ryan McGee (3:14 PM)
Sliced Bread is a good kid and I have to give him mad props for picking the coolest intro song at Bristol. He chose "Eastbound and Down" by Jerry Reed from "Smokey and the Bandit". Amazing considering that flick came out 13 years before he was born! Second place goes to Clint Bowyer who chose "See See Rider" by Elvis.
29 floors above sea level (Planet Earth)
I've noticed that you don't see Jr. interviewed much during pre-race ceremonies. Is this because he's out back cutting another commercial for his sponsors. The guys face is plastered all over TV, the Internet. How does he find time to work on improving his driving...
Ryan McGee (3:16 PM)
Apparently he's found some time to work on that lately. He's posted back-to-back top ten finishes for the first time since last September. And like I say in the Power Rankings, as good as he is at Atlanta and Richmond he could make it four straight. Won't be enough to save a horrible season, but it's a nice head start on 2010.
Is it me, or is Kurt Busch a sleeper to win the chase this year. He has had a good run so far, seems almost likely to make the chase, and the team has not given up even when bad things happen in races (Sonoma, Bristol). Last year they would have packed it in
Ryan McGee (3:17 PM)
It's not just you. He pulled a rabbit out of his hat to come back from 22nd to 7th in less than 50 laps at Bristol on Saturday night. Hey, he's the poster child for getting hot at the right time. He was horrible in the summer of 2004, then got hot in the fall and won the inaugural Chase for the Cup.
Not a Nascar question, The anouncers laugh about the blind corners, They are pretty wild and exciting, until you have a crash like Phillpe
Ryan McGee (3:20 PM)
Yep. Or like the Gordon-Burton-Hornish crash at The Glen. Speaking of Massa (he's an F1 racer you NASCAR-only types) he's in the USA as we speak getting checked out by Dr. Steve Olvey, who was CART's medical guru for years.
Marc (Malden, MA)
That's a pretty good litmus test for any sport. Explain a situation to a non-fan, if it sounds stupid, then it should go away.
Ryan McGee (3:21 PM)
Exactly. I have always used that test with my wife, who could care less about any of this racing stuff. If she thinks its stupid then it probably is.
Jack (Brooklyn, NY)
I was watching some of the IndyCar parade yesterday at Sonoma and I heard a familiar voice on the Versus broadcast, Bob Jenkins. No disrespect to Doc but how cool would it be to hear Bob calling Cup races again?
Ryan McGee (3:22 PM)
It is great to hear Bob on the air, one of the all-time class acts, as is Dr,. Jerry. I felt bad for Bob on Sunday because that race was BRUTAL.
Kyle Busch (Brainwashed)
No more tantrums, I'm a nice boy now!
Ryan McGee (3:23 PM)
Good to know. You might want to call Brian Vickers and see how he feels about that news. Speaking of which, did y'all see those two have to ride around Bristol for a lap during the pre-race ceremonies? I've seen more warmth at divorce hearings.
COT versus old Car. If they were racing the yesterday old car, do you think the chase field would look different now?
Ryan McGee (3:26 PM)
Great question. I think if we still had the old car Dale Junior would be in the mix, RCR would have its cars competing for the Chase, and Jeff Gordon would probably already have 90 career wins. But new or old car, the guys like Smoke and Johnson and company would still be near the top. I have no problem with the CoT. If nothing else, I don't miss the weekly cries of "We need a quarter inch here!" and "Why did they get an eighth of an inch of spoiler and we didn't?!" I hated that crap.
Does NASCAR need to revise the double file restart rule and simply let everyone choose which line to start in? Its almost a disadvantage to be in the low line with this new car so if you back up a spot to get an even numbered position you can in theory gain 2 back on the restart
Ryan McGee (3:29 PM)
That's a thought Mike, but I think it will stay the way that it is for a while. There's alreay too much stuff for everyone to keep up with. If you want some good mid-race entertainment tune in to the NASCAR Race Control radio frequency as teams are lining up for restarts. I keep waiting on a big "West Side Story" throwdown atop the press box between NASCAR officials and the spotters. I say let everyone get more used to the current rules and then, maybe, go with your suggestion.
James (Houston, TX)
Told you last week Rowdy was going to win Bristol. Don't believe me, look it up. Oh, he finally shut you up too.
Ryan McGee (3:30 PM)
I knew I'd hear from you James...and yes, I give credit where credit is due. But he isn't in the Chase yet...
Ryan McGee (3:32 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. Thanks for adjusting to the later time this week. When John Force calls and says he wants to chat at 2 PM, I'll always move over and give the 14-time NHRA champ the right of way! See you next Monday at 2 PM and keep an eye out for my ESPN.com Insider blog tomorrow. I spent the day yesterday sneaking around the old North Wilkesboro Speedway! Old school, baby. Be sure to tip your wait staff and enjoy the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.