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 p.m. ET!
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
What's up my Dover white chalk dust-covered brothers and sisters, and welcome back to the Internet's biggest and baddest one-hour Monday afternoon motorsports block party. How about another round of applause for Randy Lajoie. He's known Joey Logano the whole kid's life, so I know his heart was in his throat as he watched the crash on Sunday.
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
To the queries!
The champ is here (great video clip). Biffle sounded like sour grapes this weekend, after all JJ did not do as well as in the spring. It seems that Jack Rousch seems to get a bit too involved with changing things and there seems to be a lack of team consistency. Is there any noise in the garage about this, especially from Kenseth?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
Thanks Rick (for those of you that don't know what he's talking about, go my just-posted ESPN.com NASCAR Power Rankings). There is a lot of noise about it. I think everyone was expecting at least Biff or Carl to get it going once the Chase started and all the disgruntlement would fade away. But it hasn't.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
And I agree on your point about Biffle coming off as a bit of a whiner. I see what he was saying, but why don't we hear those complaints when other teams (ahem, Roush) are asked to participate in tire tests. As for Jimmmie, he sounded more than a little like Ali last night, admitting that he loves to hear other teams talking about that stuff because he knows that he's in their heads.
Do you agree that there were 60,000 empty seats yesterday at Dover?
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
Not that many, but there were a lot. Sadly, that's been the story all year. And Dover NEVER has empty seats. It didn't help that the Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Jets all had home games going on.
Gee, what a surprise. Kenseth gets a halfway decent car and has a top 5 run. Who would have thought that was possible Ryan? I gotta tell you, towards the end when they would show Martin getting the positions back that he would lose on the restarts, he was sooooo much faster in the corner it was ridiculous. Was it just me, or did it look like the Hendrick cars were getting back to the gas 100 feet earlier than everyone else.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Yeah, and he could turn fast laps at Dover if he was driving a grocery cart (and not just the one from Brstol with the Hemi in it). I remember his first Cup start, filling in Bill Elliott at Dover, and he was near the front all day.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
And no, it was not just you. The Hendrick cars have been like that nearly all year. Well, three of them anyway.
I admit to being biased against Johnson, but I can't be the only one who's going to shut NASCAR off for the year if he starts running away with the Chase again. How come nobody cites the foregone conclusion of Johnson winning the Cup annually as a primary reason the ratings slide in the fall?
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
Count most of the garage with you on that one, Cale (awesome name by the way, just saw him down at the Darlington Historic Racing Festival). As guys got out of their cars after the race and realized that Jimmie was the guy who'd won, they were just crushed. I've never been a big believer in the "dynasties build fan bases" theory. Jordan winning the NBA title every year got a little dull didn't it?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Wait...of course you don't want Jimmie to win four in a row! Your namesake doesn't want him to win four in a row, either.
Bill S. (High Point.NC)
Johnson won't win 4 in a row, they told us a hundred times no one that has won Dover went on to win the chase,Kenseth moved ahead of Kyle into 13th in points, and Jr went backwards, so besides "The Kid" what were the other big stories we might have missed?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
Allmendinger's top ten was his fourth, which is just one fewer than Kevin Harvick and Dale Junior. That's crazy. By the way, look for the Dinger to be behind the wheel of an RPM Ford (not Dodge) before season's end to help the team get a jumpstart on 2010.
Mark (Lex Vegas, KY)
Has Montoya really been this good all year and he's just been holding back? or have they figured something out?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
No, he's been good all year. They weren't holding back during the first half of the season, but there was no question that in more than a few races leading into the Chase that he was flipping the cruise control switch late in races and getting his points. I felt like he was really doing that at Atlanta, where he was comfortably in 3rd with plenty of space in front and behind him during the cloing laps. Can't say I blame him.
Before I ask this question, let me say that my two favorite drivers are Kasey Kahne and A.J. Allmendinger. That said, why on earth did A.J. pass Kasey in the last 10 laps? Those 4 points are much more valuable to the 9 than the 44 that won't even exist next season!
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Because team orders, especially in the closing laps, are for F1 and wusses. The Dinger is fighting to stay in the top 25 in points to get that Sprint prize money that cuts off after 25th. Right now he's 24th. There are a lot more points races going on than just the Chase. I wrote about it in ESPN The Magazine this week, here: http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/news/story?id=4503692
Jack (Brooklyn, NY)
Ryan, do you think there is more emphasis for drivers on winning points championships than there was 20-30 years ago? Pearson was one of the greatest this sport has ever seen and he mostly drove partial schedules during his career. Was it more about winning races and being "champ" for that week back then?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Yes. Back in the 1960's (when Pearson did run the whole schedule and won all three of his championships), very few teams ran a full schedule. They'd cherry-pick the ones that paid the most. When David was winning all his races with the Wood Brothers in the '70's they only ran speedways because they paid more (and Martinsville because it was just down the road from the shop). But in the second half of the '70's NASCAR worked very hard to make winning the Cup a much bigger deal. They succeeded. But the idea that everyone is now out there racing for points all the time is a myth. We have certain cases (see what we just said about Montoya), but at the end of the day these guys like trophies more than points.
What's with this talk of Michael Andretti restricting how much Danica can run in Nascar and Bruce Martin suggesting she'd run fewer than 10 races? If that's the case, why bother running in Nascar?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
$$$$! Yes, AGR will restrict her, but only so much. But these reports you might have read about "she just signed a 3-year IRL deal, so NASCAR is out" are totally off-base. The IndyCar schedule is short and spread out. 10-12 Truck/ARCA/Nationwide races is exactly what she should be doing. I still say she'll be here with us in NASCAR full-time in 2013. Or sooner.
Is Tony Stewart intentionally trying to wreck Joe Gibbs cars like he did to Kyle at Daytona and to Joey yesterday?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
is the rpm yates deal going to happen people made it sound iffy this weekend .
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
There are a lot of details to be worked out...like all of them. Right now everyone I talk to on both sides says they have basically agreed to merge "in principle". Every day they take to sort this out is probably one day closer to losing their single greatest asset - Kasey Kahne.
Did you see where they asked Kenseth this question, "If you were in 1st at homestead (and out of the chase of coarse), and carl was in 2nd and needed to get first from you to win the Cup, would you pull over? Kenseth's reply, "I'd rather be fired then pull over." Still some bad feelings between Matt and Carl, or is Matt just a hard core racer that doesn't suger coat his answers? Thanks Ryan.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
This is just proof of what I was trying to explain earlier and another myth of the Chase. Team orders is a bunch of crap. It's one thing for the 48 team to discuss letting the 24 lead a lap and get five bonus points, which I listened to Jimmie and Knaus do yesterday. It's something else altogether for a guy to pull give up a race win to help a teammate. The only place I've ever seen that happen is in F1 - and those times turned out to be PR disasters - and in that god-awful Stallone movie "Driven".
Rob F (Hoboken, NJ)
While I recognize his talent, I'm no fan of Jimmie Johnson. The Chase has distorted the reality that he wasn't the best car last year and certainly not in '07. Anyway, if he wins 4 or 5 in a row do you think that'd be enough to go back an older version (chase-less) of the point system? Stewart was the class of the field this year and it looks like he's been robbed (the same way Gordon has been twice and Edwards was last year). It's still early, but Stewart's title chances aren't looking good...
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
I've been hearing this a lot today and, with all respect, I couldn't disagree more. What people tend to forget is that the 48 is the only team that has never had to fight their way into the Chase, they have cruised in all six years. And they've never started the Chase lower than 5th in points. So it's not like they just show up with ten to go. This weekend several reporters pressed Smoke on this same topic and he told them that he likes the rules the way they are, even if it costs him the Cup. And heaven knows that if he didn't really feel that way he wouldn't have said it.
Rob F. just said the chase robs ppl deserving of titles and i agree.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Most people, at least the ones who have gotten in touch with me over the last 24 hours, agree with you guys. I guess I'm in the minority.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
But I sat through so many excrutiatingly boring points romps in the 1990's that I would have taken anything else.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
That's why I love this chat! Smartest, yet most opinionated bunch on the Net, baby!
do you expect 2010 to be kahnes last at rpm?where would he go?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
RCR, Stewart-Haas, Roush Fenway, anywhere with an open seat and a stable management structure.
Concerned Mayan (South America)
How will Danica be in NASCAR in 2013 when the world is going to end in 2012?
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
Bill S. (High Point.NC)
Ryan, you said earlier that empty seats could be at Dover could be related to pro games going on, with thr second race at California this year later and pro and college football in full swing will NASCAR finally see that one race is enough there? And what is this junk let the fans out there decide what time the race wil start?
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Yes, I think Cali and Atlanta will both end up contracting to one race eventually. And I like the idea that Cali has thrown out there about letting fans decided the start time, but at the end of the day the TV suits and folks in Daytona will determine that.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
In a related note, over the weekend NASCAR admitted that start times are a problem and they are already talking with ESPN, FOX, and TNT about setting rigid NFL-like start times. Back in the day, race fans couldn't keep up with which channel the race was on. Now they can't figure out what time it starts.
Do you agree with Denny that Brad K is just the latest Stremme or Wimmer at Penske and will be out of Sprint cup in a few years?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
That's not what he said, at least not to me. What he said to me was that he thought Brad was going to be a solid Cup driver that will win races, but that he's still young and makes young person mistakes.
Seems like Brad K has made enemies of Carl, Roush, Gibbs, Denny, Kyle and lots of others. Is Brad already getting off on the wrong foot in Sprint Cup?
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
Not really. He's just young and rough around the edges. Winning always makes people forget the stuff you did when you first arrived.
What is with all this Brian Vickers talk. Yesterday they made him sound like he is some kind of force to deal with, or he will be the upset of the year. Can you tell me what he has really done in his career besides win 1 race on luck and win the other 2 yrs ago by wrecking the leaders with a rookie mistake....
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
Well, he won a Nationwide Series championship and made the Chase this year in an underfunded team that didn't even exist three years ago. And he leads the league in poles this year (tied with Martin). And he's what, 25 years old? Love you Jim, but you're hard to please, dude.
Bill S. (High Point.NC)
Don't forget Vickers was the last non Cup driver to win the Busch series.
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
I knew we'd hear from High Point Bill on that one.
Peter (Morgantown, WV)
Who is the 'next big thing', the next young driver in line to receive all the hype? Logano doesn't seem to be that great.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Again, what do you people want? He's 19! We can't keep holding these rookies to the Tony Stewart/Jimmie Johnson standard of freshman seasons. He's won a race and solidly in the top 20 in points. And did I mention he's 19?!
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Next hyped guy will be Austin Dillon, grandson of Richard Childress. He raced his black #3 Chevy in some undercard races at Loudon last week and the fans went crazy. Oh, and Jeffrey Earnhardt - as in grandson of Dale Senior - is about to arrive.
Other than another crew chief change what can Henrick do to make the #88 run better? Is Dale the problem?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
Vilma, I accidentally deleted an earlier question of yours - about the crew chief on the 18 - so I'll give you a two-for-one.
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
First, I went on NASCAR Now last Wednesday with Marty Smith (had a great time, watch it here: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4498380) and I've been getting killed for saying that Kyle Busch's crew chief, Steve Addington, is on the hot seat. He is. I don't agree that he should be, but they missed the Chase because of one pit stop at Richmond and, unfair as it may be, that falls on the crew chief.
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
Second, I am totally waffling on the 88. One week I think Lance McGrew will stay put, the next I think they might replace him. I'm going to the premiere of the new documentary film about Hendrick Motorsports tomorrow night here in Charlotte ("Together"). If I see him I'll just ask him!
Jeff P. (Maryland)
McGee,Any news on the 07? Sponsorship? Driver? etc..
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
None. Very quiet up there. But I do know that RC is "in meetings" all week trying to recruit a replacement. Truthfully, he's known that JD was leaving for a while now, so he's been on the case for a while.
Of the non HMS teams - who do you think has the best chance of winning the chase this year?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
The one running Hendrick cars and equipment - Stewart-Haas Racing. Speaking of which, have you noticed that the 39 team seems to peaking at the right time? Newman has outrun the boss two race in a row now. He finished one spot behind Stewart at Dover, but led a bunch of laps.
Mark (Lex Vegas, KY)
I don't think JPM gets nearly enough love for what he's done in the three biggest racing series in the world. Could any Cup driver go to F1 and compete in three years?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Gordon and Stewart could. And Kyle. But I think all the gushing over JPM over the last month has more than made up for any lack of coverage he received earlier in the year.
Sean (Lower Alabama)
Kurt said yesterday that he "is at Penske forever". Do you think he will stay at Penske for the rest of his driving days?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
If I was him - and clearly I'm not - I would.
Did Truex win his 2 Chanmpionships after Vickers?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
Yes, good call.
Why was Jeff Gordon so down after his run yesterday? At 38 he can't expect to run with the young guns anymore.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Yes he can, and he did. He was down because he had a car that could have won, at least finished second, and was done-in by an air gun issue on pit road. Imagine if you'd worked on the most killer sales presentation of all time for an entire day, then right before the meeting the copy machine shredded it into confetti. You'd be down too.
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Alright folks, that'll do it for this week's edition of the Internet's biggest and baddest Monday afternoon motorsports block party. See you on NASCAR Now this Wednesday. In the meantime, don't forget to tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of The Mavericks.
Sean (Lower Alabama)
Ryan, we saw the "crossfire" with Marty and salute you for standing up to Marty's grandstanding and know-it-all attitude!
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
And I salute you right back, sir. Marty and I met out behind the building afterward and reinacted the best parts of "Fight Club".