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 maple syrup covered brothers and sisters and welcome to the post-New Hampshire edition of the Monday Motorsports Block Party! (Yes, I know the most famous syrup comes from Vermont, but work with me here.) To the queries!
Ryan, do you think Jr's confidence has gotten rattled with these poor finishes lately? I know he often struggles during this summer months but it seems like he's in a free fall right now. Your thoughts??
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
I don't think that his confidence has been rattled. Certainly not based on his post-race comments on Sunday. I think Junior Nation is panciking, and I get that. But I have always said that the stretch of tracks leading into the Chase are custom-made for Junior to make a run. So unless we get through Atlanta on Labor Day weekend and he's still struggling, then it's time freak out.
Brannden (Pittsburgh, PA)
Ryan, at this point it looks like Montoyas only chance to make the chase is with a victory or two. Yesterday was the 3rd time this year they have ran out of gas when Brian Pattie said they were good to make it. My question to you is do you think they will do a crew cheif change on the 42 team? I don't think Brian can give Juan cars he can win with, they always fall behind on adjustments and beat themselves. Maybe swap the 1 and 42 crews?
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
Really? Have you been watching the 1 car this year? I wouldn't want any part of whatever it is that they are doing. I do know that the Monday morning competition meeting today was a bit tense, and Pattie is the guy that lead the charge. I think the solution is do exactly what you say. He has to win races to make the Chase. And I don't think one will get it done.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
The good news is that, like Earnhardt, the tracks remaining are great tracks for him. I would expect him to bring a gigantic bumper to Indy and Watkins Glen in particular. He'll be making his own holes to get to the front.
Alan (Columbus, Ohio)
I'm so sick of hearing people disqualify Kyle's Nationwide wins when he is racing against at least six of the top NSCS drivers every week. Now, trucks, I can understand, but in his defense he does own the truck team now, and the bulk of his wins are Nationwide. Not to mention teams are way more evenly matched today, regardless of series, than they were 20 or even 10 years ago. Are these arguments valid?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
I got blitzed on Twitter about this when I congratulated Kyle on Saturday's win. First, I do not believe wins in Trucks and Nationwide should carry the same weight as a Cup win, no matter what the era. So, his 100 touring series wins aren't in the same universe with Pearson or Petty's Cup wins. BUT...the people who are so quick to just throw away Kyle's lower level wins like they are nothing, like he didn't earn them, are crazy.
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
A couple of drivers over the weekend, including Mark Martin who had just had his Nationwide/Busch careers win record tied, used the phrase "apples and oranges" and said that Kyl deserved his own category. I agree with that.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
Do they count the same as Cup wins? Of course not. But is 100 wins still impressive. Of course it is.
Aj (Hoff )
If Reagan Smith were to somehow get into the top 20 in points and makes the chase in that 12th spot, what would NASCAR say if they then ran our of sponsorship money and couldn't race all 10 races ?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
Well, unfortunately I don't this is going to happen. He's too far out of 20th and one win may not be enough to get you into the Chase anyway. And they would be fine on sponsorship. They are budgeted for a full season anyway, so making the Chase wouldn't change that.
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
BUT...if a team made the Chase and were in danger of running out of sponsorship dollars my bet is that the manufacturer would pony up the difference. Or the bigger team that the smaller team lives off of. In Furniture Row's case that would be Childress.
Clint (Dallas, TX)
Gives us somebody who has not won at the brickyard before, and also not named Montoya. Because we know those previous winners and Montoya will be strong.. I'm saying Kahne!
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
I like Kahne. Edwards has never won the Brickyard. Neither have the Busch brothers. And Mark Martin has come so close so many times. That would be a good one to see, though they look totally lost right now.
Brian (Woodbridge, VA)
Had the chance to have dinner with the great Kenny Wallace last week when he was in D.C. He is one of the greatest guys in the garage, and it was so much fun having the chance to talk racing with him away from the racetrack for a few hours. Im so glad he is having a comeback season in the NNS.
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
It is good to see. He and Mike have both run well at times this year. And I'm glad you enjoyed dinner. Dinner with KW is like watching TV. You don't have to say anything. Just sit there and watch.
Jackie (Spring lake NC)
Any chance Bristol willn ever go back to the old track configuration
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
You don't think 1 win is going to be enough to get a wild card? With only 7 races remaining how do you see this playing out. I have a hard time believing guys who are outside of the top 10 currently are going to all of a sudden start winning to steal wild card spots.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
I'm looking at the standings and I see Dale Junior, Denny Hamlin, Smoke, Bowyer, Ragan, Kahne, Biffle, and Montoya all hovering around between 8th and 17th. And I've got Keselowski, who is just outside of 20th and going to be racing his guts out for wins down the stretch because its his only shot. All of those guys could end up with two wins. Not saying its going to happen, but I think that it could
Was the 17 testing Sunday, or just waaaaay off? Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
A little bit of both. And that's a great point, Tim. I think that's the case for a lot guys. They were pushing the brakes and tires in particular to see where the limits are when they come back inside the Chase.
Cesar (New York)
Not swapping battery when it first screwed up and being wrong on gas is just the latest snafu this year for the 24 team. Gordon could easily have the most wins with a little better direction on race day; he's driving the best I've seen him drive in years. Am I the only one starting to wonder if Gustafson ought to be in charge during the week--and someone else make decisions during the race?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
You're not the only one starting to wonder, but I think they should stick with what they have.
Doug (Alpharetta, GA)
Ryan - Do you still think Jr. will get a win before the end of the season?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Yes. And I think it will come before the Chase.
Was Harvick basically admitting that the only way he can beat Rowdy is by dirty driving?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
No. He was letting his fans know over the radio why he wasn't punting Shrub out of the way.
Steve (New York)
How much of the fuel drama this year--and the results in races hinging on that-- has been due to crews not getting all the gas in?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
A lot. It's been so strange how certain teams - particularly Roush - just haven't been able to solve the new fuel can. Poor Greg Biffle is going to start getting out of the 16 car and fueling the car himself.
Boston Tom (Boston)
Hey McGee. With only the 6 car being in the top 20 and eligible for the wild card chase spot, if that doesn't change would the other wild card go to the 11th place driver? Us Jr fans may need a backup option if we can't stay in the top 10!
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
Yes. Wild cards are wins first, then points. If there is a tie on wins, it goes to points.
Jeremy (Talent Oregon)
Hey Ryan, Did Kurt Busch recieve a push from his teammate yesterday? If he did, isn't it a violation of the rulebook?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
I've gotten a lot of questions about that. The latest info I got from NASCAR was that it was under review, but that initial indication was that it was okay, that the pushing didn't really take place until the cool down lap. He did coast the finish line.
Ryan, you stated that Kahne has really squeezed out good finishes out of poor cars. On the flip side, besides Richmond, his best cars have produced completely opposite results. Here we are, 7 or 8 races before the Chase and Kahne sits 14th in points. Do you think Kahne can make the chase?
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
He can. He'll have to win races, though. He's a full race's worth of points out of the top ten.
Jackie (Spring lake NC)
Why would Edwards leave Roush for Gibbs i see that as a lateral move at best or is it about money
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
Money, plus a change of scenery. I talked to Jeff Burton about that. When he left Roush (and was, coincidentally, replaced by Edwards) for RCR it was viewed by a many as a lateral move at best. But he admits that the change of scenery, altering his routines, breathed some new life into his career. Same for the 99 car. They both benefitted from the change.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
But I still think he stays.
Hi Ryan, as a Jr fan I'm disappointed and have come to the conclusion that Dale just isn't a very good race car driver any more. Do you think that this is it and Dale will be like this for the rest of his career?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
He's 9th in points with eight top tens in the most competitive racing series in the world. And he's doing it when his Hendrick race shop teammate is barely hanging on to the top 20. Is he as great as he was 6 years ago? Maybe not. But "isn't a very good race car driver" is stretching it.
Can you imagine the media and fan firestorm that would occur if Mark Martin won a race with Lance McGrew before Dale Jr. won a race with Steve LeTarte?
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
It would be nuts. But even with a win I would still take the 88's season over the 5's. They've been hard to watch.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
I know some of those guys could win twice, but if Smoke, Jr or Hamlin win twice, they will be for sure in the top 10, then their wildcard spot won't matter. I still don't think guys who will end up in 11th-20th will have two wins.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
We'll see. I just think there are too many good names in that group to write off anyone winning twice. Keep in mind that this time one year ago Greg Biffle was totally out to lunch and then he nearly (perhaps should have) won the Brickyard and then won Pocono the next week.
Ryan...what drivers do you see actually going all out for wins starting right now? or do you think they all will be playing it safe until the last couple of races?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
I think everyone's trying to win, but I think all of the guys we were just talking about - Ragan, Biffle, Kahne, Montoya, Keselowski - will run go-or-blow in the weeks leading into the Chase. They roll the dice more engine-wise and strategy-wise.
Bob (Little Rock)
Ryan, Tony Eury Jr, Pete Rondo, and Lance McGrew haven't done much after being Jr.'s crew chief. Do you think his struggles have been as much about sub-par crew chiefs as it has been about his racing performances?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
I think there have been some serious chemistry issues. It's not that he hasn't gotten along with them all, he has. Just between the lines it's been difficult. That's why I'm cautious about people bashing Letarte. Listening to them on the radio is a pleasure compared to most of those other guys.
Do you believe IndyCar should stick with the double file restarts? What a disaster!
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Yes. I think the problems have been with the drivers and teams and their refusal to buy in. The 500 is the perfect example. The reason those restarts were such a mess is because the teams lobbied at the last minute to let them start on the backstretch. That idea was implemented on Saturday night and by the time the field hit the starting line they were strung out.
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Just suck it up and do it.
motoxxxr [via mobile]
Hey 1st time writer,long time reader,with all speww that bruton smith blamed the state and eveybody but him. didnt he build that place? if so doesnt it come back to him? thanks
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Thanks! And yes. No matter how much he tries to deflect it to the Governor's office of the DoT or whomever, it's on him. And I thought his Friday press conference was an embarrassment of the highest order. Why in the world no one from SMI pulled the plug on that deal once it started wobbling off the rails is totally beyond me.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
It's shame because a lot - most - of the people that work for him, including his son Marcus, are good people and would never act like that. I feel bad for them.
newman(ict,ks) [via mobile]
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
In Cup? Looks like the Impala. And it'll be the Fusion instead of the Mustang. I am totally bummed about that. I get the idea of letting the Nationwide Series keep its unique identity, but man...there was so much buzz about the possibility of Pony cars coming to Cup!
Lets say (hypothetically of coarse) that Carl does leave Roush for Gibbs. 1. How upset upset will Jack, the Fenway investment group and the sponsors be? 2. Burton pretty much got pushed out, Mark left for his own reasons, Kyle defected early on, and we all know what the situation was with Kurt. It doesn't seem like any of the other top teams lose big talent like Roush does. What gives? I've read where Roush doesn't hand out money like the other teams.
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
I think the people you list certainly wouldn't be happy, particularly Ford, who has clearly made Carl the face of their line. But the good news for Roush Fenway is that they have done a very good job of developing young talent. Bayne or Stenhouse would go into the 99 and the hope would be that they effect would be the same as it was when Edwards replaced Burton in that car.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
RFR's rep has long been as a more frugal organization when it comes to payroll. But that being said, I had a long talk with Jack the night they won the All-Star Race and he said to me point-blank, "If Carl leaves it won't be because of finances." That sounded to me like a man ready to pony up.
Jeremy (Port Angeles, wa)
If Danica goes to nascar full time next in the nationwide series how many sprint cup races do you think she will do next year?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
I think she is, but with a contract that allows her to run the Indy 500. If she ran any Cup races, it would be a handful during the season's second half. Maybe five spread out over the final third of the season.
Am I hearing things or did DW say on the pre race show that Dale Jr was looking at other teams to sign with? I read an article that said he was signing an extenstion with HMS and it's in the final stages. Is DW stirring up drama?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
I don't know if DW said that or not, but whoever said it is wrong. Earnhardt is very open about the fact that he has already told his sister Kelley and his boss, Rick Hendrick, to get the next contract done, even though his current deal doesn't end until the end of the '12 season. He said he's been watching the attention that Carl's getting and it reminded him that he doesn't want to go through that Silly Season mess again.
cody (warsaw, IN) [via mobile]
hey Ryan, how is Kahne's outlaw driver Joey doing after his crash?
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Joey Saldana had surgery in Indianapolis on Sunday to have 2 plates and 25 screws put into his right forearm, which he smashed at Eldora. He also cracked some ribs and had a collapsed lung. But doctors say the surgery went well and he could recovering at home by midweek.
Susan Reid (Atlanta)
Your Power Rankings Today are unusually brilliant and funny. Thanks for improving my Monday!
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Thanks Susan. You can never go wrong with Ricky Bobby heading into an off-week.
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. See you back here next week. If I didn't get to your question hit me up via email email@example.com or Twitter, @RyanMcGeeESPN. Until next time, tip your wait staff. And enjoy the music of Palmetto Soul.