Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 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 Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
Hey everybody and welcome back to the every-once-in-a-while Motorsports Block Party Chat. I have steaks marinating for tonight and a rare hour to spare, so...to the queries!
Any insight on how Tony Stewart is doing? I tire of reading articles from "blaming" reporters...some times a bunch of unfortunate actions all meet at once and a tragedy happens, sadly that's nobody's fault, it's just life.
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
First, about Tony. He's really taken this hard. When his people say "he's grieving" they aren't just spouting a term. He is genuinely crushed. But that's all any of us know.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
As for the reporting and the social media aspect of all this, it's been rough. But I do think that this not something unique to this story. Whenever a sports story becomes a crossover news story and media outlets come pouring in that aren't typically in that world, then there is a lot of confusion, speculation, etc. I'm not saying that's right or even fair. I'm just saying that's how it is.
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
I've tried to be very careful not to speculate. In the end, there are only two people who know exactly what happened and one of them is dead. The police who are investigating have a table full of evidence that they are sifting through. Those of us outside those four walls don't have any of that evidence, save for a grainy video.
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
As hard as it is to be patient, that's what we all have to be.
I think the new chase format is going to work but imagine if the 24 and 88 battled for the rest of the season under the old format all the way to the last laps in homestead.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
Yeah, that's a good point. But as Gordon said on Sunday after his win, we have no idea how all of this will go down.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
Unfortunately, Gordon fans know all about looking back and seeing what would have happened under the old points system. And their man would have more than four Cups. I know. They remind me all the time.
Cameron (Palo Alto, CA)
While I was looking forward to watching a Wednesday night race, I did enjoy waking up early to watch the race this morning.... even if I did get to work 20 minutes late. I know it's brought up all the time, but NASCAR really does need more mid-week, mid-summer Truck night races. Just my 2 cents
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
You are exactly right. And I think they could run Cup races midweek in the summertime. Not a lot. But maybe one a month in June, July and August. Why not?
Chad from Dayton [via mobile]
I agree that slowing the cars down would help with more passing but man the racing has been great this year and hard to mess with that. What's your take on any changes to the car aka motor
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
I think they should try leaving everything alone for a year. There's too much tinkering with everything all the time, especially when the racing is good. When I talk to team executives they mention that when they discuss the formation of the RTA. Random rules changes that don't cost NASCAR a dime but cost the teams millions, particularly when it comes to engines. When it's something that the garage buys into, that's one thing. But when I think back on the parade of complaining that took place in the media center at Richmond, just after that engine story broke, there's not a ton of buy-in. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that's changed.
Mike P (Greater Kc Metro)
Thank the lucky stars the NASCAR Gods have heard my prayer... Darlington is going back to Labor Day weekend... Should have never left in the first place. See Mcgee NASCAR does own up to its mistakes... it only takes 10 years for them to do it... (FYI the last true southern 500 on Labor day weekend was 2004) So based on this logic Indy and the brickyard will have its last race in 2018... which is 10 years after the goodyear tire fiasco
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Man, I hope so.
Guy (Enfield NH)
Stewart going to race the rest of the year?? I say I am leaning towards the no side and also when do you think he will have an interview with one of you reporters regarding everything that has transpired??
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
I think everything hinges on what the police tell us at the end of their investigation. I think that will determine when Tony comes back (this is just my educated guess, no one's told me this) and I think it will determine when he can finally talk. The two will no doubt be linked.
Chris (Hudson, NC)
With Jeff Gordon winning at tracks this year that he used to dominate(we can also include Martinsville at the end of last year), is Bristol next? I can't remember anyone but Rusty Wallace being as good at Bristol as Jeff for a period of time.
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
Maybe. He's definitely back into an old school groove. When I got to sit with him for a while prior to Indy he talked about how great it feels to know he's sliding into a great car every weekend, no matter where they are.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
That being said, Bristol's a funny place when it comes to streaks. Jeff's 5 wins came in a relatively short period of time. Same with streaks from Kurt and Kyle Busch both.
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
Looking at it now, Jeff finished 3rd and 7th in the last two Bristol night races. So maybe now he can break through.
Harvey (Ed's back porch)
Grief is a funny animal. For some it lingers and lingers and lingers. It is a very personal emotion and can be very private. NO matter when Tony Stewart decides to come back, he will be questioned in what I consider to be mostly inappropriate fashion by the mainstream sensationalist media. Obviously there are questions that need to be asked and answers will be forthcoming. How do you think NASCAR and the tracks and Stewart-Haas Racing will be able to contain the circus? Tony unfortunately has a history of dealing with the media in a very adversarial fashion.. Do you think that will have an impact? DO you think it has had an impact? A very tragic accident. My sincerest condolences to the Ward family and friends. My heartfelt support to Tony Stewart. Good men need good support
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
These are great points, Harvey. No matter when Tony comes back, it's going to be a zoo. I would expect his people to try and head some of that off at the pass with one big sit-down interview to answer the hardest questions early and in an environment away from the racetrack. But even then, his return - whenever that happens - will be met with a lot of media outlets that aren't normally covering racing.
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
It's going to tough no matter what the circumstances.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
But I will say here what I have said many times over the last couple of weeks. This the price of being big time. A lot of the same people who complain that NASCAR isn't treated like other major league sports are now complaining about the media coverage of the Stewart/Ward incident. But, guess what? This is what it is like to be in the big room with baseball, football, basketball, the Olympics, etc. Sometimes it's no fun.
If Nascar decides to shorten the schedule, would Michigan be one of the tracks that gets cut or do we have the benefit of location and being a key spot for the Canadian market?
I do not disagree about the rule change with drivers staying in their cars after a accident. However, cars come closer and faster to Jimmy Johnson when he rides his bike out on the streets of Charlotte than on the race track.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
I like the rule, too. A lot. Though I would like to see a one-race suspension tied to it so that it has some teeth. As for your other comparison, I have stood in the middle of a city street in Charlotte and I have stood on a racetrack with racecars going by. That's like saying that driving my wife's Jeep Liberty is like driving Jimmie Johnson's Chevy SS. Not really a fair comparison.
Matt_33FL Tampa, FL [via mobile]
Do you know if anyone has ever asked Carl Edwards about his perspective on Jack Roush's involvement with the day-to-day operations of his team today compared to 10 years ago when Carl joined RFRs Cup operation?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
I haven't talked to Carl about it, but I have talked to others. It's not what it used to be in that he's not personally checking all the spark plugs as they come off the cars after practice. But he's still more involved than most owners, especially when it comes to tech stuff.
Ryan D. (Winston-Salem, NC)
With Carl confirmed out at RFR, would you consider their future bleak? I can't remember Roush's team ever looking so weak, on paper.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
Not yet. There are certainly some sponsorship things they have to get sorted out. But it's still too early to decide what the futures of Stenhouse and Bayne will be. They are still kids. Now if we're still having this conversation two years from now, it'll be time to start worrying. Big time.
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
With the exception really of Hendrick, all of these teams experience ebbs and flows of performance. Right now RFR is ebbing.
Saul (San Diego)
Bieng TBT, what four drivers (past and or present) would you like to see in the final four at homestead?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Past and or present?! Give me The King, Pearson, Earnhardt, and Gordon and let's go.
Any answer to my question? Posted it with no reply lol
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
Oops. This donut shop WiFi is a bit spotty. Your question was: If Nascar decides to shorten the schedule, would Michigan be one of the tracks that gets cut or do we have the benefit of location and being a key spot for the Canadian market?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
First, I don't they are going to shorten the schedule. Now, if you know anything about me, then you know that I think that's a mistake. I think the season, races, and race weekends are too long.
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Second, if they did, I believe Michigan is safe. As you know, Detroit certainly isn't what it once was, but I can tell you that every race weekend there is still a big showcase for the auto makers. I was in Dearborn the Thursday prior to the June race and it was crawling with Ford drivers making appearances.
Arturo Guardiola (München)
Why are supercars not used in the NASCAR... too expensive? For example, why don't we see Jeff Gordon driving a Lamborghini Veneno? Instead, they drive common cars like Fords and Chevys.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
That goes back to the original mantra of Bill France Senior, founder of NASCAR, who believed that the success of the sport would be rooted in the people seeing the cars they drive on the street out competing on the racetrack. Even as stock cars have involved into anything but stock, that spirit is still there.
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
But Bill France also loved him some sports cars. He raced them. And his son, Jim, is the biggest power player in sports car racing in the United States, just not many people know that because he is allergic to media attention.
Brandon (Loudon, NH)
In the discussion between JJ and Ryan Newman, I noticed something very interesting. JJ said, "You had all the ___ that I had and then you make bad decisions to put yourself in this position." So did Newman and Stewart amicably part ways or did Ryan Newman lose his ride?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
That was a sharp jab. It goes much deeper than SHR. People forget this now, but those two came in together as rookies and all of the hype was around Newman. No one knew anything about Johnson. In fact, it was Newman who won Rookie of the Year.
How big of a deal would it be if Gordon won 100? I mean that's just crazy to even comprehend.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
Huge. We were asked about this in our Turn 4 roundtable this week. Just a few years I didn't think he could do it. Even when he was winning in bunches every season I looked at that number and it just appeared to far out there to catch. Now I think he's going to do it. To accomplish that in the Modern Era is just crazy.
Gary (Syracuse N.Y.)
As a member of the 406 when is your next pod cast? Also why do they keep putting a "rusty" Jeff Burton in the 14 when a guy like Regan Smith is available?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
Thanks. We're having a hard time with our schedules right now. Marty is on an airplane all the time and I'm doing my late summer racing/college football double duty. But we've already scheduled the studio for next Wednesday, so fingers crossed!
Ryan D. (Winston-Salem, NC)
Why doesn't NASCAR go back to using REAL street cars? Let the teams do anything they want for safety, but forbid them from modifying the engine and transmission. Who wouldn't want to see Ford, Chevy, and Dodge roll out their 600-700 hp factory-tuned Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
I like the idea, just as I like your name. But this will never happen.
Saul (San Diego)
Throwback Thursday.,.. the best driver's nickname?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Wow. This is tough. I loved Handsome Harry (Gant) and the Ice Man (Terry Labonte). I always loved the name Cannonball Baker. But you can never beat Fireball Roberts.
Harvey (Ed's Back Porch)
Got an opinion on the pay to play attitude of the NFL for the Super Bowl halftime act?I just about choked I was laughing so hard. The HUBRIS of the NFL is really getting out of hand.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
It reminded me of a conversation I had with Dale Junior about fame. He was talking about how people in the sports world start believing they are much more important, especially to the outside world, than they actually are. He said, "You get to thinking you are really famous. Then you spend a little time with someone like Jay-Z or Sheryl Crow and then you're like, Oh...wait...THAT's famous."
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will win the Food City 300 & the Irwin Tools Night Race?
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Kyle Busch on Friday night. And how about another Kyle on Saturday night. Larson.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. Until next time I'll see on the Marty & McGee podcast next Wednesday. Don't forget to tip the wait staff and enjoy the music of The Robert Cray Band.