Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 2012 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." McGee puts 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 KC Masterpiece covered brothers and sisters and welcome to wind-burned edition of the Monday Motorsports Block Party. We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there, so let's get on with it.
Anything new on who the Dodge Boys might be next season ?
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
None. And two of the biggest rumors (though I never bought into either one) were semi-squashed over the weekend. Richard Petty said that RPM is looking to re-up with Ford and Roush Fenway, while Joe Gibbs Racing said they are nearing a new Toyota deal. I'm not ready to jump on the "Dodge is getting out" bandwagon. But it is picking up some serious steam.
When Petty went on a streak of 8 years with out a win after winning his 200th, was the media still expecting him to win?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
Yes. And he came close early-on, but was just awful at the end. Even he admits that he hung on too long.
On jimmies rank what does the whole "are we entirely sure his Kansas car was actually green?" just curious.
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
On TV I thought it looked like about 20 different colors, but not really green. And from what the folks who were actually there have told me, it wasn't much better in person. I thought it was cool looking, just didn't look all that green and that's how it was promoted.
I may be in the minority but I have LOVED the last two Cup races. The fact that they had late passes for the win without a caution being necessary to bunch the field is great. And by not throwing a caution for "debris" it will make the next time they *have* to throw one and make a Martinsville situation THAT MUCH better.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
Sunday's finish was awesome. But I can see where folks might not have been super thrilled with the three hours beforehand. I still say we could shorten all these races and no one would notice.
greg (lynchburg va)
ill be in richmond this weekend. garage passes friday and tickets up in the commonwealth tower. who do i put my money on for friday and saturday?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Good for you! Great grandstand for sightlines. Hard to bet against your homeboy Denny Hamlin at his home track, in both races. But the numbers say that Kyle Busch is the best bet. His stats there are insane. I think the last time a Nationwide Series regular won at Richmond was Johnny Sauter in '03.
Rob F (Hoboken, NJ)
Mr. McGee-- I'm no fan of Hamlin's, but I'd love to see Grubb celebrate the way he was supposed to last year after Homestead. Question: what in the world is happening with the 24? Two engine failures + an awful lot of bad luck is pretty incredible for a team with so much speed.
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
I said it in the Power Rankings. Grubb and Stewart have now both won two races. Don't believe for a second that Grubb isn't keeping score.
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
As for 24, I think they're the biggest head scratcher of the year so far. Even more than the 5 car. I guess the good news is that they aren't further back in points than they probably should be. That's because when they don't break or get wrecked they are really good. I suppose getting the mechanical issues out of the way now is better than having them in the late summer or fall.
Man! As a 56 fan, that race was awesome, yet heartbreaking! It reminded this Utah State alum of the Aggies opening game last fall against Auburn. Dominate the whole thing, and lose it at the end. Frustrating, but it sounds like Napa and Truex will be back at MWR next year. That what you are hearing as well?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
I love someone who will pull out a Utah State reference in a NASCAR chat! It just tells you what a razor line these cars are living on. One set of slightly-off tires and Truex lost the edge.
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
And yes, I believe they will both be back next year.
I wonder if my tv is screwed up. The 48 car sure looked green on my screen. If we only have a couple of cautions at Richmond and Darlington do we officially have a trend?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Maybe mine was screwed up. Or it might be my old eyes. But judging from Twitter I wasn't entirely alone.
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
Yes, if we can get through Richmond and Darlington with only a few cautions we'll officially have a trend. Last year we had 8 and 15 cautions in the two Richmond races. We had 11 at Darlington. Two years ago I seem to remember not having many cautions at either one of the Richmond races, like maybe 3 each. But Darlington almost always features double-digit yellows.
How long before Nelson Piquet jr wins? Dude has been on it lately.
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
Pretty soon. He was so crazy fast at Rockingham.
Stephen Berry (Los Angeles )
Kevin Harvick seems to be qualifying better this year, which is one of thing I always felt held this team back. They seemed to always play catch up during the race. What changes have they made to accomplish this?
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
Just a bigger emphasis on short-term speed. I think RCR has always kind of lagged in qualifying because for years they didn't have to qualify well. Earnhardt was the defending champion so often, and back then the champ got the #1 pit stall all season. Even he admitted to me several times that he didn't work too hard at qualifying.
How about the F1 season so far? seems like every time someone looks like the class of the field it changes up on us- great on track action though!
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
It has been very racy, hasn't it? And pit strategy has been a bigger factor this year. But I still think racing in Bahrain this weekend was a stupid idea.
McGee, been watching the ongoing ceremonies honoring Chipper throughout the season? Doesn't that seem like the way to go out?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Yes. And speaking of Richard Petty, he kind of invented that whole retirement tour thing. Actually, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar invented it. But The King perfected it.
What does the 88 team need to do to turn those 5th - 10th place finishes into 1 - 5 place finishes?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Well, the good news is that they are in a position to even be thinking about that. It's a long way from where they were two years ago. But I think they still make one mental error per race that costs them, whether it's in the pits or on the track. Eliminate a few of those here and there and it'd be huge.
Jordan (Lubbock, Texas)
Howdy Ryan. What is the deal with Pattie Petty and the VJG Camp? That has to be the weirdest story of the weekend.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
It is. It just sounds like Pattie, who founded the whole thing, is one plan and the board in Kansas City is on another. Honestly, there is so much to do at the original camp in North Carolina, it might do her some good to focus on that and let those guys focus on Kansas City. But I am admittedly talking way out of my league here. I don't know much more about it all than we saw in that excellent story in The KC Star.
Gracie (Hixson, TN)
Do you think NASCAR will ever get away from Mile and a Half tracks? I mean nascar.com's weekend top 5 included the 15 blowing a motor and a loose QUALIFYING run from Johnson! Its a joke
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
Not sure how they can do that. Too many of them. And most are super nice facilities, even if the racing isn't great at all of them.
Ryan (Frisco, TX)
As a long time Kurt fan. How does sponsorship problems effect the rest of his season. Will he be a start and parker (hope not) Where do you see him next year?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
I don't see any scenario that would make Kurt agree to be a start and parker. He'd bail before he'd do that. But the good news for those guys is that they stopped wrecking cars at the torrid pace they were to start the year. This is exactly the time of the season when I expected this to start wearing on Kurt. But if you look into the crystal ball, I'm still not sure where he goes in 2013.
Who keeps the 'books' that teams make regarding setup and performance for specific tracks? Is that team property or the intellectual property of the Crew Chief?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Both. The actual data is team property, but so much of that is coming from the crew chief, it's his too. When you see a crew chief or competetion exec go to a different team, there's no doubt he takes info with him. What he can't take is specific manufacturer or engine supplier data. But again, a lot of that is walking out in the guy's brain.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
I was talking to a crew chief about this recently and he said that there's a big short term benefit to it, but that everything in the sport changes so fast that actual hard data has a fairly quick expiration date to it.
What if nascar broke up the races into heat segments. That was fast cars wouldnt have to fight all those lapped down cars. Be real good on the 1.5 and 2.0 or even some of the short tracks
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
I like the idea, but that's too complicated. For a hardcore race fan it might work. But for that coveted channel-flipping sports fan, it would confuse them and run them off. Trust me, I deal with this every year during Dayton 500 qualifying, Indy 500 qualifying, and the All-Star Race. If it takes more than 20 seconds to explain something to a person, their eyes glaze over and they change the subject to football.
If not for his engine failure, Mark Martin would be 16th in points after Kansas. That's pretty cool. The old man is running really strong.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
Crazy, right? And even with that issue, he's ranked ahead of 13 guys who have started either 1 or 2 more races than he has.
Nick Rolando (Orlando)
Ryan, you know who's rear end might be on the hot seat maybe? Steve Newmark, prez of Roush Fenway, he HAS to find sponsorship for 2013 considering how well the organization is running.
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
But you know, they've always had sponsor issues. They were the team that basically invented the partial-season primary sponsorship quilts because they had to. And that was when Geoff Smith was still in charge.
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
I really believed that when the Fenway Sports Group merger was done the biggest beneift was going to be having the Red Sox sales force to work with. They believed that too, so much so I wrote a whole big ESPN The Magazine feature on it. But it just hasn't happened that way.
Mark (Mount Airy,MD)
Hey Ryan, Is Ganassi the last hope for Dodge at this point????? Who builds the engines is still an issue too.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Pretty much. But I still think that it is going to be a dogfight to get Teresa Earnhardt to move to a non-Chevy. And they are in pretty deep on the engine partnership with Childress. Their issues aren't engine-related. They have problems in how they go about developing cars.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
On the bright side, they did put both their cars in the top 15 this week.
Ryan, just attended my first NASCAR race yesterday, and could not have had a better time. Awesome seats and some good racing towards the front.
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Great to hear it. Believe it or not, Kansas is the last NASCAR racetrack left that I haven't covered. That will be fixed this fall.
Oh, the 48 car looked green from where I was sitting in the stands. Actually looked pretty sharp.
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
Good to hear. It wasn't so long ago that having a green car was one of the most taboo superstitions in the garage. I think Bobby Labonte kind of turned the tide on that when he won the Cup.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
If the object was maximum ratings and buzz, who would be NASCAR's ultimate dream pairing to duel for the title at Homestead? Jr. vs Kyle? Jr. vs. Smoke? Jr. vs. JJ? JJ vs Gordon?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Junior vs. Gordon. That would rekindle all kinds of Dale Sr. vs. Wonder Boy chatter. But honestly, they'd take Junior vs. Insert Name Here.
Stephen Berry (Los Angeles )
Cations have been fewer this year, but the hits do seem to be getting harder. Is there a point where Nascar needs to make sure the safety measures are keeping up with the speeds?
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
They already are. I was up at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, NC just before the season started and had a long talk with a couple of engineers on this very topic. Literally every crash is analyzed via the black box data recorders, video, and in most cases the car is brought in and investigated.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
The biggest concern among veteran drivers right now is making sure the young guys appreciate these advances and don't take them for granted. I've heard a couple of guys use the term "too safe". Not that the cars can be too safe, but that young guys feel too safe, get to feeling too bulletproof and make stupid moves because of it.
Saul (San Diego)
What would you rather watch, IRL race or an F-1 Race and why?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
I've always been a big IndyCar fan. A little too much street racing on the schedule for my taste right now, but I love the that series. I will say, though, that nothing compares to seeing F1 cars in person. They literally take your breath away.
Very little has been mentioned of Kyle Busch in Cup this year. He's having quite a mediocre year, 13th in points and only 1 top 5.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
True, but he's quietly improving. That's three finishes of 11th or better in the past four races. Over that time he's goine from 16th to 13th in points. And his Richmond stats are crazy. He has 3 wins and 12 top-10s in 14 starts.
I was hoping for a darker green like in the movie "Bullit"
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
Greatest car chase ever.
"Their issues aren't engine-related. They have problems in how they go about developing cars."Funny, isn't Brian Pattie really good at that. Too bad they let him go...
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
That's part of my befuddlement concerning EGR. They fired essentially the entire management team and it hasn't made a huge difference. As we've seen with other teams - Stewart-Haas and MWR - big front office changes usually have a more dramatic effect.
Hey Ryan, enjoy reading your stuff every week. Just wondering how you feel about progressive banking. I kind of think it's a bad idea...for Kansas at least. Anyone running well in the top groove was pretty much impossible to pass yesterday. Won't progressive banking just make that even worse?
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Thanks Luke. We'll see. Over the years I feel like progressive banking has been a bit overrated. It's also been unpredictable, so not even what we saw yesterday will likely have any bearing on what we see in the fall. And new paving jobs typically keep the real character of progresive banking from being revealed for a little while. So I guess I said all of that to say this: Stay tuned...
Stephen Berry (Los Angeles )
Isn't green supposed to be bad luck in racing?
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
Big time. Cotton Owens (or maybe it was Glen Wood) told me a story about towing David Pearson's car to a track. They stopped to eat and someone in the restaurant parking lot accidentally scraped against Pearson's car and got a tiny streak of green on it. They had to paint the whole car over because it freaked Pearson out so bad.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
For years a green car might win races, but it always lost the championship - Harry Gant in particular. But Bobby Labonte's Cup title kind of wiped that away.
Are Stewart-Haas racing's issues the past two races a bad sign for things to come or do you think that there just bumps in the road? They confuse me because they both ran so well at Las Vegas and on these other 1.5 mile tracks they've been terrible
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
Just keep in mind he's always run so-so in spring and then taken off in the summer. His win this year were the earliest of his career.
Saul (San Diego)
What do you think is the ideal distance/lenght of a track.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
The one we're seeing this weekend. If I had the money to build a track I'd build a 3/4-miler like Richmond or a one-miler like Rockingham. They have just enough speedway in them with just enough short track.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. See you at Richmond. In the meantime, tip the wait staff. And enjoy the music of Tall Paul.