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 (2:01 PM)
What's up my Lowe's Motor Speedway rain-covered brothers and sisters? Welcome to the worldwide Interweb's only one-hour Monday afternoon motorsports block party. I've finally gotten my fingers thawed out enough from the weekend to type, so let's get to the queries!
Your thoughts on the #2 team after the whole crew chief deal? They get top 5's and top 10's ever weekend, ever since the ordeal started. I think they might steal it if chasers continue to have issues, and you never know, JJ could crash at Dega. Thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
Wade, I have said all along that I expected the 2 to get off to a nice start, then fade as the Chase moves on. That erosion is due to the fact that lame duck crew chief Pat Tryson is still only allowed to visit the shop one day a week. So far Kurt has hung in there, but the fact that he has lost triple-digit points to Jimmie Johnson despite a bunch of top 10 finishes in the Chase is a testament to just how ridculous this Chase pace is right now.
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
I have said all along that as long as Talladega is out there, anyone within a race's worth of points - 155 - is still in it. But if Jimmie has a 100-plus point lead on the field, Talladega won't matter.
Thanks for all your input. Any word on McMurray? To the 07?
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
I talked to Jamie about all of this on Friday and he said he is "all set" for 2010 but wouldn't say where. Earnhardt Ganassi is supposed to announce the new driver of the 1 car soon and my people there say it is not Jamie Mac, so the 07 looks like the best shot. Problem is, Richard Childress strongly hinted on Saturday that the 07 might be shuttered, but did promise "big announcements" in the coming two weeks. Wherever he goes, Jamie needs to step it up. If I was Childress, I don't know that Mac is a big enough upgrade to ditch Mears. Have you see Mears's stats over the last five races?
terrylee vaughn (ware shoals,sc)
hey ryan who u got in your top 5 at martinsville this week start with the winner, how u think jimmies performance at lowes will do him the rest ofd the way and kasey,s i know hes out but he still could win some
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
I know people don't want to hear this, but Jimmie is the man at Martinsville. He's won six of the last seven we've run there! Next I would go Gordon (Jeff not Robby), Hamlin, Smoke, Bowyer, and Montoya, who has really surprised there over the last two years. Sleepers: Dale Junior, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton. As for Kasey, this is not his favorite track. He has just 2 top tens in 11 tries with no wins.
Jason (Willow grove pa)
How is the relationship between B. Keselowski-D. Hamlin as of late?
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
Jake (Las Vegas)
As for RCR's "big announcements", given Richard's comments about Kevin this past weekend, is there a chance RCR just dumps Kevin for 2010 rather than go in with a lame duck driver?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
No, because Shell loves Harvick. I think they'll run him up until the 2010 Chase. If he's in he'll finish the year. If he's out, he'll be gone as quickly as we can pack up the cars at Richmond.
Wow. The 9 looked impressive but there seems to be ZERO consistency. Is this due to the back and forth of the engine packages or the lack of Dodge support?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
Yeah, it's a mess up there. Biggest issue is all the front office stuff. Manufacturer support these days is overrated. The amazing thing is that if you could go back and put a better camshaft in the car at the start of the Chase he'd be right on the cusp of the top five.
Brady (Rock Island(IL))
Any word on where Bobby Labonte is going to end up? I think Bobby could turn it around if he was in a decent car.
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
I agree with you. Bobby is one of the guys on the short list in the running for the 1 car at EGR. Hall of Fame Racing is also going back solo next year after their slightly disastrous attempt at a partnership with Yates/Roush. They have talked about bringing him back to the 96 if they can get sponsorship $ secured.
McGee, what's up. What's your estimate of the attendance at this past Saturday's event? Rather lowly.
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
Yo Yar. Attendance for the fall Charlotte race always lags behind the Coca-Cola 600, but the problem was the weather. It was in the mid-40's all day Friday and Saturday and it rained all week. A lot of the campers who were there on Friday had packed up and left by Saturday morning. (By the way, Tom Sorenson of the Charlotte Observer wrote a great column about the empty seats this morning.)
What is going on with Vickers? From being red hot going into the chase it seems as if his cars have nothing now.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
I could kind of see that coming. I even hinted at it in the Power Rankings after Richmond. You felt like they killed themselves just to get into the Chase, which on its own is a huge accomplishment for a team that didn't even exist four years ago. You see that in the NCAA hooops tourney a lot. A team expends all their energy just to get to the Big Dance and then run out of steam. Happened to the Minnesota Twins and Colorado Rockies in this year's baseball playoffs too.
Emily (New Jersey)
Ryan, how in the world can Carl go from dominating last year to being an also-ran? That display Saturday night was downright despicable. He was being outrun by start and parks...any ideas as to what is going on?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Yeah, I loved his line after the engine blew. "That was a mercy killing." Hey, Roush just flat missed it this year across the board. We didn't realize how bad it was early on because Kenseth won the first two races of the year...but they haven't won since! It's a real compliment to Carl and Bob Osborne that they have run as well as they have considering the hand they've been dealt all year. As soon as they blew up on Saturday night they officially became an R&D car for 2010.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Alright...here come the Dale Junior questions...
Ted (Tenn. )
Do you think Dale jr is forever finished at being a consistent, week after week threat to win races?
Troy (Richmond, VA)
Listening to Junior's comments to Nicole Manske in his interview on Nascar Now Friday and Saturday, he needs somebody to sit his butt down, slap him around a bit and say, "look, you've got a great opportunity here and you're blowing it. Work a bit harder at your craft: analyze data, driving styles, be in better shape and come to work with a better attitude"
What was you take on Dale's bizzare ESPN interview with Nicole Manske?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
I was in the media center when Junior took general questions right before Nicole did that interview and I talked to her for a long time after her interview was done. We both agreed that dude needs a hug.
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
He also needs to get the hell away from racing as soon as the season is over. Like go to an island somewhere and sleep for a month.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
He is so down and dissapointed and confused right now that he can't see which way is up. He needs to stop worrying about who his crew chief is going to be next year or who is engineering his cars, all of that stuff. Let Rick Hendrick worry about that.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
As for never being a consistent front runner again, I don't believe that. Neither does anyone else in the garage. Richard Childress made they pretty clear when I talked to him on Saturday. He hasn't forgotten how to race. He has won 18 races, after all. He's just been eaten up by all the pressure. Thus the need to get away.
What is more likely - Jeff winning the championship, or Joey Logano winning a remaining race? I'd like to see both, but I don't think that will happen.
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
Probably neither. I think the last best chance for a non-Chaser to win a race will be either Talladega or Homestead. As for Jeff, I think he's the only guy with a chance to catch Jimmie. Not saying he will...just that he has the best chance. That was some awesome stuff between the two of them on that last restart wasn't it?
Does the 48 let up after they win their 4th? Or do they steal Gordon's "Drive for 5" motto and take it again next year?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
As long as there is a breath in Chad Knaus's lungs and he is on top of the pit box, there will be no let-up for the 48 team. They are all about making history right now.
Bonnie (Naples, Florida)
To focus on 2010, do you think Mr Henrick should park Dale for the rest of the year and put another driver like Skinner in the #88 so Mr H can figure out if Dale's problems are physical or mental?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
No. But like I said earlier, he needs to not even look at a racecar during the month of December.
Ryan, Jeff gordon's comments, as of late, on Jimmie Johnson have been pretty interesting. It almost seems like he's a little frusterated. Is that because he doesn't like to finish second, or see his teammate beat him? Does Mr. Hendrick have this under control?
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
Yeah, it's under control. And his frustration stems from the fact that he keeps cranking out top fives, but the one car he needs to beat is the only one he can't. That has to get old. Reminds me of how the 24 used to be for everyone else. Dale Jarrett would finish 2nd, 4th, 6th and somehow lose ground every week. How? Because Gordon would finish 1st, 3rd, 5th.
OK Ryan, tell Nicole to go give Junior a hug. See, I thought he needed a hug all along.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
As down as he was in his press conference over the weekend I almost walked up there and gave him one.
Mark (Mount Airy,MD)
Hey Ryan, I sure hope Junior does as you suggest after the season. I am not a member of Junior Nation but the expectations on him are almost unrealistic.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Exactly, Mark. It's like Michael Jordan's son, who quit the basketball team at U of Illinois, then rejoined the team just this weekend. Nothing he does will ever fulfill expectations because his father set the bar beyond anything anyone else has ever done. Ask Kyle Petty how much fun that was growing up. And the attention wasn't even in the same universe as what Junior deals with today.
Is JJ really this good? Or is he just better at the Chase tracks than everyone else?
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
I get this all the time. Here's the thing, he's the only driver that has made every Chase and not only that, he's the only driver that's never had to even race his way into the Chase, not even close. So it's not like he's been cruising around for 26 races and then suddenly he runs well because of the Chase tracks. He's won on seven non-Chase tracks too.
Rob F (Hoboken, NJ)
Will NASCAR ever return to the old points format? It has failed to transform the sport in a positive way.
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
It'll never happen.
Sean (Los Angeles)
Any chance of Robby Gordon Motorsports merging with Childress?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Considering that their previous relationship ended worse than Jon and Kate Gosselin, I'll say no.
where do you see mark martin finishing in the points standings
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
What are some good places to eat in Martinsville? Which place are you most looking forward to eating at?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
I have a local family I've been mooching taligate food off of since '97 and I am man enough to admit that I eat way too many Martinsville hot dogs, so most of my eating happens at the track. There is a killer Mexican place downtown, but I honestly don't know the name of it. It looks like it's in what used to be a Hardee's.
dz (phx, az)
don't all major sport superstars go through the same stress and demands that jr is going through? so what makes him any different?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Nothing. To me it is no different than A-Rod pressing too hard during his first postseasons with the Yankees. This year he's learned to relax, how to live with the expectations, and he's become a postseason clutch machine. One day the light will hopefully come on like that for Junior. But maybe not.
jason8844nc (chalfont pa)
Who has better TV coverage of races, ESPN or FOX?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
I've worked for both and have friends on both side, so I'm not even going there. Here's something you may not know - the tech crew (engineers, cameramen, etc.) - is nearly identical all season long.
So do you really think a guy who is better for 10 races is better then one who had a huge lead after 26 i like the idea of the chase but it doesnt crown the best driver for the year
and the Mexican restaurant is El Parral
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
See, there you go! Where else can you get this kind of culinary information than at the Monday Motorsports Block Party!
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
I think that we have a playoff system now, just like other sports. And in other sports the team with the best record during the regular season doesn't always win the championship. (Dallas Mavericks, where you at?) Now, do I think the points leader from the first 26 should be given an advantage, a defacto first seed? Absolutely. But what you do in the playoffs is on you. NASCAR has long wanted to be viewed as a big league sport. Well, this is how they do it in the big leagues.
We appreciated Coach Gibbs prayer Sat. night. What was the general response in the garage?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Reaction was the same as for everything else the Coach does. He's the man.
Are you going to play the new Gran Turismo when it comes out.? Hopefully I can play as Cousin Carl and get him a few wins. I wonder if he backflips in the game...
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Pretty cool they slipped the NASCAR stuff in there. GT has always been the best, now its even better. Denny Hamlin is already salivating over it.
Jimmie Johnson 24/7, you watching?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
Yep. Some of my old co-workers at NASCAR Media Group have been working on it and they say it's going to surprise some people.
How come Landon Cassill isn't running in the Nationwide Series this year or next? You would think after winning ROY, he should be running in the series.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
One of the great mysteries in the garage.
Bill S. (High Point, NC)
With all this talk about Jr, how much would it help if he ran more Nationwide races where there isn't so much pressure to win? Maybe win a few here and there and build up his confidence.
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
Good call, Bill. And I think he's considered it, but he's very sensitive to the cries of "He has too much going outside of the 88 car!" That's why he really cut his promotional schedule way back this year vs. last year. Couldn't hurt, though, could it?
One of my biggest gripes with fans of this sport is when they say "so and so would have won under the old points system." What they're missing is that you race differently when you know the points will be reset. Not that the 48 team coasts or anything, but if it were different, they'd race different...so would everybody else. Agree?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Yeah, and the drivers are so sick of hearing about the old system. I thought Smoke was going to attack someone when they brought it up two weeks ago. And you are right. There is no doubt that the 48, 14, 24, 5, and even the 2 all raced different between Indy and Loudon knowing they were in. After years of practice, the 48 knows how to get back to the gas once the Chase starts. The 14 has had a harder time with that.
ok so does the leader after the first 26 get home field advantage and maybe get to pick 5 of the 10 races the leader gets screwed basically
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
Ha! So are you saying that Smoke isn't any good at the ten chase tracks? He's won on all but one of them! I say give the regular season points leader the points lead going in with reasonable bonus between himself and second place.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
He'll finish around 10th at Martinsville and he'll finish around 6th in points.
Do you think that Kyle Busch has a chance at breaking Petty's 200 wins record?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
No. Even if he wins 200 races across the three major series it won't count the same as The King's 200 Cup wins. Not even close.
Also, before you go, I look forward to reading the power rankings every week. You're hilarious dude...like in Marty Smith's league.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Thank you sir. Marty and I have often dreamed of having our own show, or at least a podcast. Though we might need to bring in an interpreter so people can understand our Hillbilly-ese.
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Alright folks, hate to do it, but they're giving me the 3 PM hook. Thank for stopping by and so sorry I couldn't get to to more. See you next week, same time, same site. See you on TV this Wednesday on NASCAR Now and please check out my new daily Insider blog so I can keep my job! As always, tip the wait staff and enjoy the music of G. Love and Special Sauce.