Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 2011 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 '10 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 (1:59 PM)
What's up my sunshine covered brothers and sisters? I would say champagne covered, but our new Daytona 500 champ, my chat lead-in today, isn't yet old enough to even open a bottle of bubbly. I'm coming to you live from Phillies spring training. Drove over after the 500. Found out today the Phillies pitching staff loves them some NASCAR. Who knew? To the queries!
Steven (Wingate, N.C.)
What does Bayne's win mean financially for the Wood Brothers organization? Also, who do you think will be strong this weekend?
Ryan McGee (2:01 PM)
Go Bulldogs! I don't know if I can overstate how much that check means to the Woods. For a decade now I have had numerous chats with Eddie Wood, Glen's son, about the team's struggles to stay relevant and 90% of that was economic. It's why they moved from Stuart, VA to the Charlotte area. It's why they did a deal with Jack Roush that essentially saved them from going under. And it's why they chose to cut back to a reduced schedule three years ago. This certainly won't put them up among the Hendricks and Joe Gibbs Racings of the world, but it will allow them to breathe again.
Mike B (Selinsgrove, PA)
Considering the small fan base and even smaller amount of Cup experience of Trevor Bayne, what would have been better right now...a young driver winning, who potentially can bring new, younger fans to NASCAR, or someone like Tony Stewart winning with a larger, already cemented group of core fans?
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
I've been doing radio interviews all day Mike and this has been the #1 question. I personally think it's tremendous. I think that with the exception of maybe Dale Junior there's not another story that would have dominated the sports news landscape today like the Bayne story has. And teh overnight TV ratings are up nearly 20% over last year. At some point fans have to start looking for younger drivers to pull for, I get the complaints all the time that there aren't any. Now there's at least one isn't there?
with Harvick finishing 42nd doesn't that almost guarantee that he won't make the chase?
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
Nope. Not even close. We have 25 races to go. We've had plenty of guys who finished last or close to last in the 500 come back to make the Chase and/or win the title.
2x2 racing...Should we expect this at Dega and the July Daytona race or will NASCAR make some changes to group the cars back together?
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
We'll have some changes. And at Talladega in particular we'll always have bigger packs just form the nature of the track. But I've never been a plate racing hater and I prefered the two-car stuff over the long lines of 20 cars that didn't do anything until there was 10 laps to go. This forces guys to have to be more aggressive, though I think we can all agree that they got a little ridiculous at times in the early stages of the race.
Henry (St. Louis)
Hi Ryan, do Woods Brothers and Petty lease chassis and motors from Roush-Fenway and Roush-Yates?
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Yes. Roush has some owernship stake in the Wood Brothers team and RPM's shop it literally surrounded by the Roush Fenway headquarters. These days if you're going to run Fords you are going to be associated in some way shape or form with RFR. They are essentially the Ford factory team.
Dan (Denton, TX)
Hey Ryan, why does NASCAR Now even bother interviewing David Pearson when he answers every question with a "I don't remember or I don't know" ?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Because he might the be the greatest stock car racer that ever lived. Get used to it, he doesn't go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame until May.
Kevin (Boston, MA)
While I was psyched about Bayne's win, is it really indicative of how ready Trevor is to run a full Cup sked? As Jr. says, "My grandmother could drive here, just go hammer down and never lift".
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
Junior's overcooking that a little. But no I do not think that Bayne is ready for a full Cup schedule. And neither does he. He saif this morning that he is still planning to run for the Nationwide Series title. I think that's smart. But in order for Trevor to run the entire Nationwide schedule Roush needs to find some sponsorship money in a hurry.
Barb (Ft. Myers)
Do you think NASCAR made a bad call by black flagging David Ragan on that restart?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Nope, though I hated it for David. The rule is what it is. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a lot of experience running up front. It really wasn't even close. He cut down well before they hit the start-finish line.
Truex56fan (South Jersey)
What is your position on journalists/reporters cheering in the Press Room at the conclusion of a race?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
I have no problem with a reaction to the action - think "Whoa!" on a touchdown pass or a big homer or a great finish to a race. But actually cheering, "Yeah, my guy won!" is a longtime press box no-no.
Sean (San Diego)
Hey Ryan, after the season has started can a driver change his declaration of series for the championship?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
Yes they can, but they forfeit whatever points they have already earned. NASCAR told us last night that Bayne can swap series, but he would not get his points from the 500. So he'd end up essentially running 35 races instead of 36, which makes the chances of making the Chase pretty slim. Even if his win got him in with the new "wild card" rule, it'd be a stretch to think he'd be in the top 20 in points, which is the other half of the Chasde wild card requirement.
Is Bill Elliott officially out as driver for the Woods Bros?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
Yes. That was decided end of last year. By the way, awesome run for Awesome Bill yesterday.
Do you expect Henricks to sign Trevor Bayne to take over the 24 or 88?
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
Ha! Maybe one day, but not anytime soon. Roush Fenway has him signed.
DEI and MWR have got to be shaking their heads. They let a future champ go.
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
Yep. In the DEI/JR Motorsports case I get it. That place was in total financial chaos and had nowhere to put him. But yes, the MWR folks are probably a little bummed. The good news is that both of those teams did let him go in time to try and find another ride. There are a lot of guys in career limbo right now because they inked development deals with big teams and then those big teams didn't have enough cash or cars to actually develop them. Tony Stewart was really raising cain about that during his post-Nationwide race win on Saturday.
That win had to have the Ford execs smiling, especially in the midst of Hendrick getting his hands on Chase Elliot.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
HUGE for Ford. Their 600th win, it came with their longtime flagship teams - the Woods and Roush - and Edsel Ford was in attendance. Big deal for them to have the Wood Brothers and Richard Petty hugging and lauging on pit road with all their Ford gear on.
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
And you have to figure they are already working on a big ironclad contract for Bayne so that he can't wriggle away like Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and yes, Chase Elliott.
Robin (Lakeland, FL)
Do you think yesterdays latest #88 disappointment will destroy what little confidence Dale seemed to gaining lately?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Nope. He wrecked three cars and none of it was really his fault. He was bummed, but listening to Dale and Steve Letarte on the radio should have been a very encouraging experience for Junior Nation. By the way, he's not bad at Phoenix...
Jessica Acker (LaX)
What is a black flag?
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
NASCAR waves the black flag at a particular car to tell it to get off of the track to serve a violation penalty.
Ken (Richmond, VA)
Ryan how is it that the 20 year old rookie was able to drive so smartly while all of the veterans were so overly aggressive and making so many mistakes?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Ken, I have no idea. Trevor had a plan, the same plan he learned in the Duel 150s. Find a partner, push, and do whatever the veteran in front of him did - usually Jeff Gordon. I have no idea what some of those other guys were thinking racing like that before we'd even reached the one-quarter mark of the race.
Karen (Santa Barbara, CA.)
As Dale, Jr. said, it's time to move on from all the media hype about his Dad's death. Can't imagine how it must be for him and entire Earnhardt family to have to relive Sr's. death in such a high profile and public way 10 years later. Can we please respect their privacy.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
It has been brutal for Junior, you could tell he was already bracing for it last fall. But I thought he handled it all as well as he could have. Standing on the grid yesterday morning I really felt like we were finally moving out of the Earnahrdt grieving period and into the tribute period. I certainly hope so.
Wes (Las Vegas)
Overnight ratings went up 19% from last year and 3% over 2009, so the racing didn't run that many people off.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
No it did not. And yesterday was my 16th 500 and I have never seen a crowd like that.
Have the haulers already left for Phoenix and do they run short track cars there?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
Not yet. The haulers should have all arrived back in NC during the night last night. They'll be back on the road on Tuesday morning. And yes, short track set-ups for the "roval" of Phoenix.
Austin McGee (Pine Island, MN)
Ryan McGee!! How's it going? Did you know who Bayne was before Sunday?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
Hey cuz! Yes I did, but I think only those of us that follow the sport every single day did. I first met him four years ago when he was running Legends cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Dale Jr's people had alterted me to him as a real talent. We hit it off because he's from Knoxville and I'm a Tennessee grad. I can tell you this - the aw shucks act is not an act at all. That's exactly how he is.
What kind of sponsorship do the Wood Brothers have for the rest of the season? Any chance Bayne runs the full schedule?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Their original plan was to run 17 races, maybe a few more. Last night Eddie Wood was very confident they'd be able to add more, but wanted to see if any real sponsorshop offers came their way. He said - and I agree - that this will be the ultimate test of whether or not NASCAR is indeed on the way back like we think it is. If his phone rings, it is. If it doesn't, well, that's not a great sign.
Heard ratings were up from 2010 and 2009, true?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Yes, nearly 20%.
You mentioned Junior & Letarte's radio conversations, were they better, more calm and constructive than Junior has had in the past with other crew chiefs? Do you think that will last once they get into the season more?
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
The big thing was that Junior was feeding off Letarte's enthusiasm, which Steve is never lacking for. When Junior wrecked in practice and lost the pole he hadn't even stopped spinning yet and Steve jumped on the radio "whatever man, this is nothing! The next car we have is just as good as this one!" You could tell that Dale reacted well to that. And I don't think the 24/7 scrutiny of being Dale's crew chief will affect Steve at all. He's already lived that with Gordon.
Jeremy (Port Angeles, WA)
What did you think of Danica performance in the nationwide series race?
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
Totally impressed. And I'm not alone. She finsihed 15 (thereabouts, don't have the box score in front of me) but rain in the top 10 nearly the entire race. All the vets in the race said that she was legitimately fast and they'd actually wanted her to be more aggressive in the draft. She said her goal this year was to score top 15's. One down.
Geri (Edmonton, AB)
Mistakes made by some veterans is why other veterans did not have a good finish. The first big one caused by a veteran was uncalled for, the spotter &/or crew chief should have intercepted, why race so aggressive, it's a long race. This is why I disagree with your power ratings. I agree with Ken (VA).
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
I hear you. And I agree. As for Power Rankings, this is the hardest one for me to do all season long. Perfect example is Trevor Bayne. I wanted to put him #1, but can I really say that a guy who won't be running the entire Cup schedule is the most powerful driver in the series? Nope. And do I stick Jimmie Johnson at the bottom because he was wrecked? Nope. After Phoenix it'll go back to more normal logic.
I noticed in the Truck race I didn't see Johny Benson's name, is he still without a ride? If so, how can someone so productive go rideless for so long?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
He is without a ride. But the good news is that we've inked him to be a Monday roundtable analyst on NASCAR Now! When I do the show with him will people be able to tell us apart?
Ryland (KY) [via mobile]
Ryan! How's it going? Who was your winner for the daytona 500
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Harvick. I even fought to get him on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. I'm never going to get a driver to agree to that again!
Whats the bigger headline of the weekend...Trevor Bayne winning the 500 or Blake Griffin winning the dunk contest & Kobe as All star MVP
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Bayne. Not even close. On SportsCenter last night and today he's the lead story and Kobe is like story #4. I think that's the right call. I'd rank all the college basketball upsets over the NBA All-Star stuff.
Eric (Harrisonburg, VA)
How many of those NASCAR baby's we saw during the National Anthem will be starting the 2036 Daytona 500?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
I know, right? At the rate these guys are going we're going to have to hire Super Nanny to be a crew chief.
Ryland (KY) [via mobile]
Is jr a hall of famer?
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
Good question. If Mark Martin is then Junior probably is. Busch Series champ, Daytona 500 champ, All-Star race champ. He won't go in on the first ballot, but he'll get in eventually. Maybe.
Is ECR Engines looking into the engine problems they seemed to have Yesterday?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Yes. In fact they've been in post-race competition meetings all morning. The good news is that the Ganassi cars, Bowyer, and Regan Smith were all still running up front late and they all run ECR engines.
Is Ford really back or was that just a product of Daytona?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
They're back. If you go back and look at what they were doing at the end of last season they've really hit on something with the FR9 engine. Carl Edwards could easily have three Cup wins in a row.
Ppl will for sure be able to tell you guys apart Ryan. Well, if you can remember, tell Benson he's still got fans out here and would love to see him back in the seat. Glad to see he's landed a J-O-B though haha. Thanks Ryan
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
You got it. Back in the day, when he was The Man in the Busch Series you'd be stunned how many JB autographs I signed.
Ryan, the driver on ESPN cover jinx is like the Madden jinx. Carl was on the cover in 2006 and finished last in the 500. Really creepy stuff!
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
Yeah, and after we put Junior on the cover his career tanked. This is not helping me, the senior motorsports writer!
Who's gonna be on NASCAR Now today?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
The big guns! Bestwick hosts, joined by Rusty Wallace, Marty Smith, and (drum roll please)...your Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne! Be sure to check it out over on ESPN2.
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Hate to cut it short folks, but I haven't seen my family in more than a week and I have a plane to catch. See you back here next Monday, 2 pm ET, as always, for the worldwide interweb's biggest and baddest one-hour (or this week 50-miunte) motorsports block party. Thanks for showing up, please tip your wait staff, and enjoy the music of Brad Paisley. I sure did yesterday!