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 (2:01 PM)
What's up my mountain rain covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the worldwide interweb's biggest, baddest - and this week wettest - one-hour Monday motorsports block party. Before we get started a quick shoutout to my chat lead-in, my childhood idol and grown-up friend, Dr. Jerry Punch. He's one of the guys who showed me that it's okay to cover both racing and college football...and now I'm doing it!
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
You can see Doc tonight on the NASCAR Now Pit Reporter Roundtable, 5 pm/1 am ET on ESPN2. To the queries!
Phil (Richmond, Va.)
McGee! Was that the best injured driving performance you have ever seen? If not, what tops your list?
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
Yes. My previous best was Dale Earnhardt winning the pole and nearly winning the race at Watkins Glen with a broken clavicle in '96. I also thought that Hamlin's post-knee surgery win last year was pretty amazing. But for BK to win at Pocono, where he had to use that left leg for braking and shifting it was pretty amazing. Especially for anyone who saw the photos of it on Wednesday night and then saw Dr. Punch's look at it during Sunday's prerace show.
Mary Ann (St. Louis)
Ryan, as huge fans of all the Wallaces it breaks our heart to see Steven have such bad luck and seeing Rusty suffering is very sad. Do you think Steven will catch a break and win and maybe will Rusty move his team up to Sprint Cup? Thank you.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
I don't think they are ready for Cup, either the team or Steven. He's a rough go and also made some bad mistakes, but this is just the growing pains process. Every young driver hits this plateau, it's just a question of whether they can get out of it and move on or if that's where they're going to be. I'm a big Minor League Baseball fan and this spot where Steven is now reminds of guys at AA ball. They get humbled, then they either starting hitting again or they never progress any further.
We've been quite a while now since Jay Frye talked about trying to find investors to keep what's left of the Red Bull team alive. Anything new on that? Or are things looking bleak for this team?
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
I have been pestering everyone over there for info. Thing is, there isn't any to share. Nothing's changed. Jay is still looking for investors and sponsors to keep it going. Meanwhile, the potentially huge loser in all this is Vickers. His season is getting worse instead of better. It can't possibly sit well with him that all these names have been batted around with all the post-Carl Edwards Silly Season scenarios...but hardly anyone brought Brian's name up.
Joe (Tyrone, PA)
With Brad's 2 wins, say he stumbles on hard luck and falls out of the top 20 by Chicago and the WCs go to Hamlin and Menard for example, do you think NASCAR goes back and changes it to that you would have to be in the top 25 or just most full-time wins period?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Maybe, but I don't think so. It's working so well right now. And even someone has two wins I have a hard time believing they belong in the Chase if they can't stay in the top 20 in points. Then again, I never thought they'd expand the Chase from 10 to 12 and they did.
4xLeft (At The Track)
Isn't it time for those 15th on back to throw caution to the win and take some big gambles to go for wins? With the exception of the 2 who needs to just work on staying in the top 20 (and moving up as much as possible) at this point? Or do they wait until after WG?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong. I'm expecting guys like Allmendinger and Montoya to come to Watkins Glen with bumpers they've stolen from a Monster Truck. The gap between 10th and everyone else got a little larger after this week. So really anyone 11th and back their best chance to make the Chase is via wins. And, as I have said all along, I never thought one win would be enough to get a wild card slot. BK made that official on Sunday.
JT (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
MWR looks to be in big trouble. Do you see JGR making that outfit a satelite team sort of like how SHR is a satelite team of HMS?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
I think Toyota is starting the process of shoring up its teams. They've been in talks with JGR all summer about sharing more information between TRD in California and JGR's engine department, which has always operated independently of TRD. I don't think that Gibbs wants to go full-on with having other teams dependent on him, a la Roush Fenway and all the Ford teams. But I do think he would be willing to open the book a little to get some help in return.
Why such a big deal about Brad racing injured when Rudd, Dale Sr, Ernie Irvan, Denny and lots of others have done the same thing?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
Because it's still bad ass, no matter who does it. And the times you mention were spread out over three decades, so it's not like it happens every week. They drained BLOOD from his knee during the red flag. To me, you can't acknowledge that enough.
Chris (Hudson, NC)
What made the track so different from the first race at Pocono to whereas someone like Jeff Gordon wasn't nearly as good?
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
The rain was the biggest factor. Honestly, it's always been that way. Pocono and Michigan both, even though their two races aren't that far apart. Summer sun + rain racing deals = unpredictability.
Ok, Kevin Harvick has had 3 or 4 bad weeks in a row. As a fan, should i be concerned or not worry about it?
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
I wouldn't worry. Kevin's not. He's been very matter-of-fact about them being safe for the Chase, not to mention starting the Chase at the top of the standings, with three wins. They're trying some things out. Besides, as a fan I'd much rather them be generic right now than six weeks from now when it's go time.
Don Juan (TX)
Was disappointed with the Iowa race. They didn't have SAFER barriers all the way around the track and teams were having tires issues. Could this put Iowa's two dates in jeopardy for next year? It seems it was extremely tough to pass and the track could be dangerous.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
They'll fix those SAFER issues. And no, one so-so race won't alter Iowa's good standing with NASCAR. All that place ever does is sell out every race. At the end of the day - and I say this all the time - a ticket is a vote. And the race fans out there vote unanimously every time they have a chance.
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
Compare it Atlanta or to my beloved Rockingham. They always put on a great show but no one showed up so they lost races.
Dennis (Bloom, Wisconsin)
James Buescher's been turning some heads lately, any chance we see him in Cup soon, maybe after a full year of N-wide?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Yeah I think he still has another rung of the ladder to climb. People love him though, and I'm taling about real racing people in the garage. I am really excited about the amount of good young talent that's coming down the pipeline now. It's a big change over what we'd had the last few years.
The most consistently good team for three months now--really, since Talledega--has been the 24. And the 48 has had all sorts of things go wrong, yet he never seems to finish up the track. Are we all kidding ourselves, and the Chase is going to be a Hendrick intramural competition again?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
I agree. And that's why I have kept the 24 in the top five of my ESPN.com Power Rankings, even when he hasn't been that high in the points. I think there are still issues those two need to work out - particularly on pit road - but they are closer than people may think. As for the Hendrick Intramural League, I'm not buying that. Mr. Edwards, Mr. Harvick, and the Busch Boys might have a little something to say about that.
come on Ryan..on twitter..it's "BRADASS"..lol..
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Do you see Labonte staying with the 47 car next season if the sponsors stay on board. Any word on any changes manufacture wise, since their affiliation with MWR expires after this year.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
My coworker Brad Daugherty, who is the Daughterty in JTG-Daugherty says he doesn't expect giant changes, especially in the cockpit. I had hinted that maybe Vickers would replace Labonte should the Red Bull remnants go away, but he says they are happy with Bobby. And even if Bobby wasn't happy, where's he going to go?
I hope Kahne takes out Montoya on first lap Sunday. That way ESPN writers will drop the silly notion that Montoya might make chase.
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
I didn't say he would make the Chase. He could. And I think he will drive like a crazy man at Watkins Glen, but I pretty much wrote off his Chase chances after Sunday.
Brad is the man. Talking about the lost lives of those seals and them being the heroes! He has a fan in me!
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
I think he won a lot of fans over with his comments. Are you kidding me? To have the kind of day he had, the kind of week he had, and his first comments in Victory Lane are to remind us that we should all be thinking of the Navy Seals "the real heroes"?! That was too cool.
Jr in or out of the chase? Winless in 2011?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
In the Chase, wins a race.
JD (Feeding Hills MA)
what are your most memorable wrecked cars in victory lane, does Iowa take the cake?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
That was awesome wasn't it? It definitely reminded me of Terry Labonte's wrecked Kellogg's ride at Bristol in '95. But the greatest of all time was David Pearson rolling into Daytona 500 VL after his Turn 4 crash and grass slide with Richard Petty.
Do you think Mr Roush would have been Angry at Carl for trying to wreck Ricky with 80 to go? Ricky is going to get the championship and Carl could have ruined that just for an ego boosting NW win!
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
It seemed a tad unwise, yes.
Heath (Ankeny, IA)
Joey came close to his 2nd rain delay win yesterday. Is his development on schedule, or should we be expecting more from Joey?
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
I think he has quietly turned the corner here in the season's second half. Did JGR rush him into Cup? I think so. I always thought so. But there has been real evidence this summer that he's finally inching toward his potential. And the team looks different now, they demeanor and the way they carry themselves in the garage. That says a lot to me.
I know it was just a 9th place run.. and I know there's alot of racing left between now and the checkered at Richmond.. but... Whhheeeeewww.... *whips sweat off of brow*
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
Ha! Yeah, Junior Nation should feel relieved. He has a 23 point gap now between himself and 11th. That's half a race's worth of points. Now you need him to survive The Glen and get on with this stretch of tracks where he should be pretty good.
Mike (Fairfax, Virginia)
Ryan, as a Kurt Busch fan I found the late race battle with the 22 and 48 hugely entertaining. Who do you think was closer to the truth in that little discussion they had?
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
As a person who pulls for no one I also found it to be entertaining! On the replay it definitely looked like Jimmie came down on Kurt in the incident that kind of pushed it all over the top. But it also sounds like it had been going on much longer before that.
It is kind of unfair to compare Iowa to Atlanta because Iowa seats around 30 thousand and Atlanta seats around 100 thousand. If they took about a thousand seats out of Atlanta they might sell them out out more.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Now, yes. But when Atlanta had two races they'd have needed a lot more taken out to create a sellout. It is a much fairer comparison to Rockingham, which only sat about 50,000 and could never sellout. Still, what they've done in Iowa is pretty remarkable.
Not ripping you or any of the other media guys--but Edwards has quite a history of "unwise" behavior. Let's get real--he's acted like a jerk as much or more as Rowdy, Kurt, JPM, Bad Brad, and Robby Gordon, but he gets far more favorable press. Is he cut slack because he's generally a good interview and open with the press?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Probably. But I would argue that when things get really bad for him - the phantom punch with Kenseth, flipping Keselowski, the wreck at Gateway - the media is hard on him too. What he does a better job of than some of those other guys is immediately owning up to it. Not all the time, but more than most.
The threat of rain (and not knowing what lap the race will end on) always seems to bring out the gamblers, and adds some excitement and strategy. I think that NASCAR should stop telling the teams exactly what lap the race will end on. Each race should just have a mystery 25 lap window where the checkered flag may fall. The flagman could pick the lap out of a hat, and it would be a secret until the white flag flew. Imagine the drama!! (Can we try this out at the all-star race?)
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Wow! Why not, right? Back when I covered CART (Champ Car) they had 2-hour TV time limits. If they hadn't gotten to the end of the race yet they might be told all of the sudden "two laps to go" when there were still actually 15 left on the scoreboard.
Octo (Moms basementN)
With Scottys amazing performance the last two weeks, do you think he will take over the 48 next year from whining Jimmie Johnson! Oh and I'm eating M&Ms because Kyle is the bestest in the world!
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
I don't know what any of this really means. I just saw an opportunity to poke fun at Octo.
Why do fans have to pick one series to follow? I love NASCAR for Daytona in Feb, Bristol at night, and the Chase. I love IndyCar for the month of May at Indy, Long Beach, and the Milwaukee Mile. I love F1 for Monaco, Silverstone, Brazil, Ferrari, McClaren, and Renault. I love racing!
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
I'm with you. It's part of why I love my job. In May alone I covered NASCAR, IndyCar, and NHRA. God Bless America (and anywhere else they race)!
If Sadler can't perform any better in NW than he has been doing , why would anyone ever expect him back with the big boys in cup?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
I don't think that's his goal anymore. I don't think that was really his goal when went down there. I think he's loving it in Nationwide. He's not loving his results right now, but he's loving being in that series.
Greg (South Bend, IN.)
Hi Ryan, Are surprised that Jr. didn't get a lifetime contract from HMS? I know he hasn't had no where near the success like Jimmie and Jeff, but it is all about the money he brings in?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Money's great, but Mr.H offers lifetime deals to guys who win championships. Period.
Who has more talent? Ricky Stenhouse Jr. or Trevor Bayne?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
It's a push. I think that Bayne's health issues have weighed him down more people realize. Speaking of which, have you seen the Ricky vs. Trevor stuff on the RFR website. It's awesome. Their last showdown was at Fenway Park.
Seems like at least once a year a Pocono race is threatened by rain, makes me wonder why Nascar doesnt decide to at least try out rain tires/adding wipers, because fans pay for a full race, they deserve to get them
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
On an oval, any oval, it would never work. The race would be run at like 40 mph. A full race run in the rain at 40 mph with 40 caution flags isn't exactly what I'd call a reward to the ticket-buying fan.
Branden (Pittsburgh, PA)
Ryan thanks for doing these awesome chats - My question is what in the world is wrong with the 42 this year? Is it the driver? Or is EGR not putting good equipment under Juan? Looks like Brian Pattie wasn't the issue. I was hoping Juan would take his talents elsewhere instead of coming back to Cheap Ganassi.
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
Thanks Branden. (How about those Pirates? Even if the fall apart, what a season for them.) It's a mess over there. And if Juan doesn't win this weekend I think they offcially shift into "get ready for '12" mode. It seems to be an equipment thing. They just missed on setups all year long. Yes, the Childress engines aren't what they were a year ago, but they aren't off that much. It's internal.
If you had to guess right now who do you think will make the 2 wild card spots?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Keselowski and Hamlin.
Are you excited to see Jimmie back in a nationwide car?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Perhaps he will reenact his most famous Nationwide Series moment and go Evel Knievel off Turn 1 at The Glen.
I disagree it will be brad and menard. hamlin will miss it his team just doesnt have what it did last year
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
That's a good call. To me, it's about who has the best chance to win at least one more race. Denny already has one win and is headed back to Michigan next week, where he just won. Smoke is also capable of winning like 3 of the next 4, so he could blow the whole thing up even further.
Any developments on the 33 for next season? Keep hearing "theyre close"
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
They are. Just as the 42 and 39 are. The hangup at the 33 is some sponsorship stuff and a few little contract tweaks.
Hey Ryan, Any chance that Nationwide/Craftsman come back to the Nashville fairgrounds after Nashville Superspeedway decided to fold the tent? I know the place needs about $20 mil in upgrades, but there's so much history and love for the place.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
You used my answer in your question. They have to upgrade the place. Just putting in the SAFER barrier might do it, but that alone with run them between $500K-$1M. I would love to see it.
JMac (Lubbock Texas)
You know, in short sprints with a lot on the line (The final restart Sunday, the truck race, etc) Pocono actually puts on some pretty dang good racing. I know its been said they'll never shorten the races from 500 miles, but I still think it would be awesome if the ran the Pocono 333's, which would actually total out to 133 laps. They could improve the racing and market 3's and triangles til the cows come home. It would be awesome!
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
I'm with you. I have lobbied forever to shorten those races. The worst thing they ever did to their own 500-mile argument was host that crazy-good Truck Series race last August. I stood on pit road that day and said, "See? Shorter is better!" Someone told me today they should do "Duels" like Daytona or like IndyCar did at Texas this year. That would work too!
Why didn't Kurt throw that wet towel in Johnson's face? Would that have drawn a penalty?
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Probably not. Probation maybe. But the awesomeness would have been worth it. Like the time Rusty and Earnhardt started winging water bottles at Bristol.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Alright, folks, gotta go! I'll see you on the TV live from Watkins Glen this weekend. Until then, hit me up on Twitter (@ryanmcgeeespn) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). As always, tip the wait staff and enjoy the music of Continental Divide.