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 '110 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 Pocono fog-covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the worldwide Interweb's biggest and baddest one-hour Monday motorsports block party. There's a lot to get to today...and it sounds like we might be getting the 18 car's post-race penalties today instead of tomorrow, so let's get started!
Went to the Pocono race yesterday and thought it was one of the best in a long time. Teams were not getting great fuel milage causing more frequent pit stops, adding to the excitement. While making the race shorter might make it more exciting, would using a smaller fuel cell forcing teams to come in more often help as well?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
That's a thought, though I thought there were plenty of stops yesterday. The gearing helped. I like the shifting, though the drivers seemed to be split on it. I still say 400 or even 300 miles would be better. It's just a fact that when we go to a place like New Hampshire where the distances are shorter everyone seems to turn up the wick quicker.
Lemmy (The Edge Of Sanity aka My Living Room)
So Ryan, now that we're out of deer-infested Pocono, what do you feel is the biggest story to come out of the Triangle of Doom? The continuation of Harvick v Busch, the woes of Carl Edwards, or Jeff Gordon solidifying his Chase contention?
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
Gordon. It's amazing to think about him reaching 84 wins. It's been two decades and more since Bobby and DW got there, so that's a big, big deal. Just as important to Gordon is that the two wins pretty much ices his Chase spot. I've never been sold on one win being enough to get a wild card slot, but two certainly feels like enough.
daniel (washington dc)
Everyone thought denny hamlin was a sure winner and was the best at this track.......what does he do know to try to stay in the chase?What went wrong sunday??
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
Just bum luck. He was the class of the field, as is usually the case at Pocono, but something tore the tire up and it blew apart in the worst possible way, wrapping itself all up under the car. He's still in good shape. With the way that the teams at the bottom fifth of the top ten are floundering around, I still think he can make it in on points, even if he doesn't get a couple of wins. But we do go back to Pocono again and Richmond sitting there as the cutoff race is perfect for Hamlin.
Shortrib (Memphis, TN )
1. How come there are no brake lights on the cars so that on restarts, drivers don't run into each other. 2. In reference to racing on very hot days, how come the cars just don't have an air conditioning system like on regular cars?
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
1. They would really serve no purpose other than a distraction. Drivers would use them for brake-checking, but that's about it. They have been used on road courses, but not ovals. Even with lights, everything's happening so fast they wouldn't matter, even restarts.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
2. The cars spend all day in triple digit temps and are essentually open air, so trying to keep the whole space cool like the inside of your car would be a waste of time and electricity. There are coolers/AC, but they blown directly into the helmet where they can do the most good.
Len (Neb. )
Why do the best drivers like Kurt, Jimmie, Kyle, Jeff, Edwards and those guys only talk about the importance of winning races while media people like you stress the importance of points racing consistency?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
The system is what it is. And history says the guy who is the best the most consistently wins the Cup. That's a fact. But I have always been a supporter of winning meaning more points-wise, that's why I expressed irritation when the new points system was unveiled and there wasn't a much larger gap between the race winner and second place. As for drivers saying winning means more, well...yeah! It pays more and gives a big trophy!
I've been watching races for a while now and understand most of which I see so I can answer whatever questions my friends have about the sport. However, they all ask why the cars swerve under caution and I rotate my explanation between a couple answers: To keep their tires warm, to keep the air pressure up, to clean off their tires. So which if any/all of those serves as the best explanation?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
D. All of the above. But if I am talking to a novice fan who rarely watches racing at all, then I go with cleaning the tires.
Mike (Griswold, Connecticut)
Whats going on with Mark Marin and the 5 team the last year and a half? Ever since his Championship run in 2009, he hasn't made any noise at all.
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
It's a great question Mike. A lot of it has been bad luck, there's no question about it. But the history of Hendrick, really any four-car team, is that one car isn't going to run as well as the other three. Sadly, right now that's Mark.
Mike (Upstate NY)
Why was Kyle Bush not found in violation of probation when he hit Joey Coulter's truck after the race?
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
His explanation to NASCAR was that it was not malicious, that he was congratulating Coulter on a good run and some good racing and accidentally did the damage. NASCAR believed him. Quite honestly, that happens a lot, so it wasn't a tough sell for Kyle.
Whats your Biggest surprise so far this season. For me Its Dale Jr. Im a Jr fan but i didnt really expect this big of a turn around so quick. I still think they need a little more work to be racing for wins week in and week out. But after the last 2 years Im happy with consistent top 10 runs for now.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
I agree. When I was running the numbers last night working on my ESPN.com Power Rankings one stat jumped out at me - he hasn't finished outside the top 20 since the Daytona 500. This time last year he'd already had four. What's more, he already has the exact same number of top fives and top tens as he had all of last year and we still have 22 races to go.
Could failing inspection violate Shrubs probation? I think we could be on to something with that!
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
I don't think so. His probation was based on a personal discplinary problem. Last night was a team technical problem. He didn't set up or build the truck. Unless he had switch in the car that he threw to lower it or something like that, then it's apples and oranges to me.
Brian (Davenport Field Charlottesville, VA)
Who you got winning the 2 games today and what 2 teams do you think will be playing for the title in omaha?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
A college baseball question! I have A&M and UVA winning today. Then I have UVA edging SC in their bracket, probably playing Vandy or Florida. But honestly, this is one of the most stacked eight-team fields in recent memory.
There was no wreck, but how close did Harvick's conduct yesterday come to violating his probation? He didn't race Kyle cleanly, that's for sure.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
I thought it went both ways, honestly. And so did NASCAR. They had to get on the radio and tell both the 29 and the 18 to cool it.
David (Los Angeles)
Is Josh Wise a possibility to get a top notch full-time ride in Nationwide? Seems to me he runs pretty frequently in the top 10 and doesn't tear up too many race cars. I have been impressed. Your thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
I like Josh a lot. He is in that group of guys who I feel like have a ton of talent but because of the log jam of drivers and the current economic model don't get a fair shake. I agree with what Tony Stewart said at Daytona, there don't appear to be a lot of Cup guys on the verge of retiring anytime soon. That trickles down and keeps guys like Josh from moving up the ladder as quickly as he might have six or seven years ago.
Bryan (Hilliard, FL)
Does Gordon's win Sunday really cement him in the Chase? I think he may have to be more consistent to really solidify his spot. Don't get me wrong he went a long way in helping himself make the Chase. What do you think Junior's chances are on Sunday?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
I do. He has two wins and we're now more than halfway to the Chase. If you figure that the guys in the top eight are still going to get their wins, then there are only so many victories to go around with that second group.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Plus, if the last two weeks are any indication, then the 24 might finally be reaching the consistency it needs to get into the top 10 on points. I would certainly take his momentum right now over most of the guys around and ahead of him - Bowyer, Smoke, Newman, Biffle, Martin, etc.
Kyle Moulin (Boise, ID)
Should Kyle Busch be penalized in your opinion why or why not?
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
If the car was too low, then yes. But again, I don't think a tech issue violates a disciplinary probation.
Ryan, why are many people automatically doubting Carl after one engine failure? Jimmie blew up at Charlotte and everyone said no big deal. What gives?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
I'm not doubting him at all. But over the last three weeks there's no question that he's lost a lot of that unreal momentum he had in mid-May. He's still in my top five title contender, without question.
Saul (San Diego)
What impact has going to the original type spoiler, from the wing, have on the racing, team, drivers?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
Not a lot now, but it certainly threw teams a much bigger curveball than I think they had expected when the spoiler returned one year ago. It certainly threw Roush Fenway for a loop and several drivers, particularly Jimmie Johnson, admitted that it took some getting used to when they lost "side-bite" that the wing provided. But everyone seems to have gotten used to it now.
Since the older NASCAR fans don't like Kyle Busch wouldn't it be better if NASCAR banned him from racing or kicked him out for good and his brother Kurt too?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
Matt (Rochester, NY)
The standard points penalty under the old points system for a low car was 25 points. What do you think it will be under this system?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Actually, we now know what it is. Both the team and driver were hit for six points. In addition, crew chief Dave Rogers was hit with a $25,000 fine.
This just in: NASCAR penalized the 18 team 6 points, owners points, and 25k. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!Why does the 33 get 150 points in the chase and kyle gets roughly 20% of that penalty?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
Keep in mind, the 33 penalty came after the team had been warned not to push it. This is a first time offense for the 18.
Don't you find the 6 pts driver/owner penalty for #18 and $25,000 fine for Dave Rogers to be extremely unfair and harsh?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
Nope. Pretty much along the same lines as what we've seen in the past for similar penalties.
Fred (al ) [via mobile]
Why did brain whitesell loose the 24 crew chief job. ? Ii wasn't Watchin NASCAR ad the time
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
He didn't lose it. He was moved over when Ray Evernham left, then moved back to his old position when they hired Robbie Loomis the following year. Brian has repeatedly stated that he didn't want a full-time crew chief gig. Doesn't really fit his personality.
Daniel (Orlando, FL)
More and likely, Gordon will not hit the 100 win mark. But do you think anyone will ever reach his mark, along with Allison, Waltrip and Elliot?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
I think Jimmie will. Past that, it might be a while. Kyle has a chance to get up in that territory, but when you think about the ones who will/have come up short, guys like Rusty and Smoke, it makes you realize how crazy good those win totals are, especially for DW and Gordon, who did all of their winning in the "Modern Era" after the schedules were cut to 30-ish races.
Where will Jr finish the season in your opinion? Place and wins?
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
Top 5. Two wins.
Since Kyle Busch wins 20+ races every 5 years and he's only 26, doesn't it make sense that Kyle will reach 80 cup wins before he turns 40 like Gordon?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Like I said, I think he has a real shot. But there is always both an inevitable slowing down period and a long winless streak or two. It's happened to everyone and you have no idea when they will hit. If he can hold them off into his 30's, then there's no doubt he can get up there. But I think about a guy like Rusty, who was so much like Kyle early in his career (though older) and the way he used to win 6-10 races a year I thought he'd retire with 80 or more and he ended up with 55.
Lots of fans don't like Kyle Busch. So carrying out an extended feud with him would be good for business. I'm talking to you 29. Am I on to something here?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Yep. Every sport needs a Darth Vader. Without one, it's boring. He's the guy and, even better, he doesn't mind being the guy.
Mike (Upstate, NY)
How does Kyle get such a better restart than everyone else just about every time the green flag waves?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
It's a real talent. One of my favorite stats that NASCAR comes up with via this still-new loop data scoring system is speed on restarts. He's 1st, Carl is 2nd, and it's not even close. It's really just a feel + anticipation car control thing. The same skills that allow him to be so good squeezing speed out of the car as he gets on and off pit road.
Did I read something about Ryan Newman getting a double secrect NASCAR fine for something he did but , when asked he would not comment on it...? What is that all about ?
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Yes, it appears he has been hit with a fine for his actions during a closed door meeting with NASCAR and Juan Pablo Montoya during the Darlington race weekend. That weekend there were rumors that there were unconfirmed reports that there had been some physical activity during that meeting. I have several sources who say Newman was fined. He won't confirm it. Neither will NASCAR, saying they don't want to violate the trust of those closed door meetings.
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Krissie Newman, Ryan's wife, finally told her Twitter followers to stop asking her about it and directed them to NASCAR VP Steve O'Donnell.
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
That was pretty much all I needed to hear to figure that there's something to it.
Ryan, who was more dominant at Pocono during their time Bill Elliott, Denny Hamilin or Jeff Gordon? Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
They were all three great, but what Hamlin has done at Pocono from the first time he saw the place is the best I've ever seen there.
McGee hopefully I've not missed ya but what you think of the Twin 275s? I enjoyed the change-up, but I do agree that you have to be fair and invert a certain number positions or them all. And do you see Kurt winning anytime soon in the Cup level?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
I liked the concept a lot. But I think there are better ways to go about it than the blind draw. Invert the field or half the field or something like that. But the fact that a bad draw could end up determining the IndyCar title is just wrong. And it took WAY too long. I bet they lost half of whatever TV audience they had during that draw. Reminded me of the stupid ten-minute break before the final segment of the NASCAR All-Star Race. Total momentum destroyer.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
And yes, Kurt will win soon. Amazing how much better that entire Penske shop has been since he flipped out and The Captain came to NC and told everyone to get their act together.
Whats your take on JPM's pit strategy? from what I read they felt that was not a winning car so they just went for points and not to lose many spots at restarts
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
I liked it at first, I thought it got him near the front. But late in the race I thought they stuck to it too long. It was making my head hurt.
Ryan McGee (3:04 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. Hit me up with more questions on Twitter (@ryanmcgeeespn) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'll see you on the TV from Michigan this weekend. And don't forget, the NASCAR Hall of Fame's third class is announced tomorrow! If DW doesn't get in, something's wrong! In the meantime, tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of Clarence Clemons. The Big Man needs our prayers.