Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
What's up my crazy Nashville prerace prayer covered brothers and sisters and welcome to a rare Wednesday edition of the Motorsports Block Party. I'm running a few minutes late, so let's get to it!
Hey Ryan, thanks for chatting with us, give it to me straight, Jr in or out of the chase? And will he win?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
I say in the Chase. And yes, I think he can get a win. He knew he'd struggle through this stretch of tracks. But I like his chances over that Bristol-Atlanta-Richmond stretch leading into the Chase. I think the pre-Chase schedule is custom made for three people - Dale, Smoke, and Montoya.
So any word on my boy Carl? This is dragging out way to long.
Will Carl make his big announcement this week? If so, where do you think he is headed?
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
I think it could come as early as tomorrow, though admittedly it also might still be a few weeks. I really thought he was staying at Roush Fenway, but the longer it gets drawn out I think that's a good sign for Gibbs. This big engine move that JGR is looking at making feels like one big way to get some money freed up to go after Carl. But to what long term price?
~ Theres a g*dd*mn cougar in the car!~ Ryan I hope your happy now. just looks at the threads on most of the articles since your last power pole. hands down the funniest power pole ever. I bow to your brilliant work
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
Hahaha! Yeah, I was on the fence about making that last Power Rankings a Talladega Nights theme, but the people have proven that I made the right call! And I think the preacher at Nashville must have gotten caught up in the spirit as well!
Marcus (Pensacola, FL)
Ryan, some of your colleagues feel that Edwards is going to JGR. Do you agree? If so, what's your gut feeling on the fit there? I personally think that would be too many big heads under one roof. I don't see them all getting along.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Like I said earlier, I think that's a bigger possibility now than I did just a few weeks ago. But I'm with you, it's going to get a little dicey over there with that many titanic names. Then again, a lot of people said the same thing about Hendrick's current lineup. Other than some (justified in my opinion) complaints from Mark Martin, it has stayed pretty peaceful over there. But they also don't have the kind of combustible personalities that they do at JGR.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
And I think it's very fair to question the expansion to four cars. RCR siimply can't make it work. And even Hendrick still has problems keeping the 4th team up to speed.
Anybody have a chance to get ther first career win this weekend if so who?
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
History say that just doesn't happen at Indy. The Brickyard has a history of only allowing the biggest names to visit Victory Lane. Now when we get to Pocono next week that's a different story.
When will Ed Hinton be back and how is he doing?
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
Ed will be back at the track this weekend at Indy. He's hanging in there. I know he'll receive a very warm reception in the media center. For his cantankerous rep, he's a hugely respected person in our business and so was his wife Snow.
Any chance Dale Jr. rethinks re-signing with Hendrick? If Bowyer leaves for Roush (assuming Carl is gone, which I think is imminent), then there's a spot open at RCR. Austin Dillon is still about 2 years away from being Sprint Cup ready. Any chance of this happening?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
Nope. Junior is set for life as far as he's concerned. I think Bowyer will re-up at RCR. Last word I got from there is that things are very close. I think everything is timing out for Austin to replace Jeff Burton when JB hangs it up.
Sam (UT )
Think JJ's lashing of his pit crew at loudon will get them in gear to get a win this sunday?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Maybe. I have mixed feelings about the way they are handling the pit crew deal at the 48. I am a big believer in their pit talent development program, so much so I wrote a big feature about it in ESPN The Magazine last spring. But the constant rotating of guys is starting to wear on the vets within that team. It's a fine line to walk this close to the Chase.
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
All that being said, me questioning Chad Knaus on how he runs his team is pretty ridiculous.
True or False - Lack of tire wear and falloff is the biggest problem with the racing this year.
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
I think it's certainly the reason we've so much fewer cautions and so many races coming down to fuel mileage.
4xLeft (At The Track)
About Austin Dillon...I am almost 100% certain he's the one who will eventually take the MPD torch from Junior. Not sure if it'll be before Junior retires or not. But Austin is going to be HUGE in about 3-5 years. Bank on it. Agree?
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
He's good. There's no question about it. And it's not something that's just happened. The first time I saw him racing Legends cars 5-6 years ago I could tell he was the real deal. So is little brother Ty, but if he keeps ticking people off in ARCA at the rate he's doing it he might get beat up too bad to get to Cup!
Greg (South Bend, IN.)
Wednesday chat with McGee, Priceless!!! McGee you are the man! The rankings is the highlight of my week. And last weeks was about the funniest thing I've ever read! Keep up the great work. Same question as on the Monday round table, Your biggest disapointment of the season? Burton?
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
Thanks as always, bud. And yes, Burton's still my pick. It's one thing not to make the Chase, but not even be a regular threat for the top 20? Sheesh.
Jeremy (Port Angeles, WA)
If Danica comes to nascar full time next year to race in the nationwide series where do you think she will finished in the points standings?
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
She is. And I say lower third of the top 10. She's slowly getting it together.
Mark (Mt. Airy, MD)
Afternoon Ryan, Thanks for the memories. Your article on The Skoal Bandit team was great. I forwarded it on to my NASCAR buddies. Lots of reminiscing about that era in NASCAR.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Thanks Mark. Yeah, for those of you who missed it, I had a sit-down conversation about the Skoal Bandit days with Harry Gant and his old boss, Hal Needham. Needham is the greatest Hollywood stuntman who ever lived and also directed Smokey & The Bandit, The Cannonball Run, and Stroker Ace. It's up on ESPN.com's NASCAR page right now. I honestly could have written 25,000 words. The interview lasted nearly an hour. Those dudes are such bad-a***s.
Do you think if Kasey Kahne doesn't make the chase we might see him and Mark Martin swap rides or are they stuck where they are for the remainder of the season?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
I think that would happen only if Red Bull, or whatever they call it next year, is where Mark is headed next year. If not, I say Hendrick keeps him in the 5 the remainder of the year just out of respect.
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
By the way, no matter what happens with the Chase, you have to tip your cap to Kasey Kahne this year. He is chomping at the bit to get on with his new gig at Hendrick, but he has still given his all Red Bull even with the lame duck status over there.
Man i can't believe i got the pole today, first time ever, who are your top five this weekend ryan?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
How about Gordon, Smoke, Harvick, Johnson, Kenseth, and for darkhorses Montoya and Mark Martin.
The JGR engine move, i thought that was just a rumor. Didn't JD shoot that down and said they would still build the engines in house and only work with TRD to fine tune some things?
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
He kind of shot it down. The guys within the shop are still very much worried about it. At the very least, shipping off some of the responsibilities to the TRD people in California would still had a bottom line/personnel effect on the current JGR engine shop.
If Tony Stewart makes the chase doesn't that automatically knock Jr out of chase contention?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
Not necessarily. Would still depend on what happens with guys like Hamlin, Newman, Gordon, etc. and whether or who has a win or not.
Why doesn't NASCAR quell the issue of Cup drivers in the Nationwide and Truck series by limiting drivers to 50 starts in the top 3 touring series? Seems logical for the Cup guys to be able to make 14 starts outside of Cup, and then they cannot contend for the lower tier championships and stink up the show EVERY week.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
I've been preaching this for a while now. Just limit the # of starts and it would end all of this. And I have always liked Dale Jarrett's idea. Just stagger the starting times of Cup practices and Trucks/N'wide green flags so that the Cup guys can't jet to the other races in time.
Larry (East Bay)
Ryan, if Jr. misses the chase do you think Mr. H fires Stevie and they try Plan D?
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
No. I think the difference between Letarte on the radio with Junior is still night and day vs. his other crew chief combos, especially when the chips are down.
Ryan (Virginia Beach)
What's up McGee??Do you think the Nationwide series can also serve as a "path to redemption" for guys that have lost cup rides in the last few years? For example, Elliot Sadler is a having a good year in NNS - but will he ever make it back to the cup level (with a legit, non-start and park team)? And is it more about talent, or about being able to have a sponsor willing to get behind that driver again?
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
I think guys peak out. I really do. And I think that Elliott had kind of peaked out. I think he has plenty of talent, but for whatever reason it just wasn't happening on the Cup level. Granted, changing crew chiefs twice a year every year didn't help.) But a guy like Elliott seems happier contending for wins in a lower series than running 20th every week in Cup. He's even admitted as much.
Preacher didnt even mention Chevy? God doesnt hate Chevy's does he?
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
Ha! Yeah, he got them in there. He said "Thank you for GM performance technology and RO7 engines." He managed to mention just about everyone in the sport in a very short period of time. I think the people who are ripping him need to lighten up. With all the crap we're all having to hear/read/listen to in the news everyday, it was nice to hear a real race fan give a real racing prayer.
Do you know how the radio communication was for Jr. during the last race? My husband said he did not sound happy at all. But were he and Steve arguing like with some of the other crew chiefs. I sure hope not; he's done too well this year to fall back into what happened the last two years.
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Yes, there was some arguing, but nothing crazy. Just a frustrated driver and a frustrated crew chief. It's just that everything that those guys do is put under such a microscope.
SubmarineMike (jacksonville Fl)
Hey Ryan as far as fans lightening up about the prayer God DOES have a sense of humor.... my proof I present the Platypus LOL
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Exactly. Is it a duck? Is it a beaver? And what's that stuff that it secretes?
Ryan, was the change made in the 42 team because they believe they can still get in the chase or to appease JPM? will one win and top 10s the rest of the way get it done?
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
It was done for both. But I think it will take two wins to get him in.
Greg (South Bend, IN.)
Why did MWR get rid of VP Wells? Was he caddying for someone else? lol
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Hahaha! No, it just didn't feel like it was working over there. They seem to have all the pieces in place, but can't get over the hump. Honestly, with the exception of his amazing off-road days with Toyota, that's kind of the story of Cal's whole career. Close, but not quite ever there.
Once the top few driver start locking themselves into the chase based on points will they start going exclusively for wins? Those guys along with drivers seeking wins as their only way into the chase could make for some fun racing at Bristol, Atlanta, and Richmond.
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Yes. I think that period of time arrives this weekend with Indy. Through the summer I think we've seen those top teams tinkering with tech stuff and with crews. Now they will buckle down, start fine-tuning, and start going after those bonus points for wins. And we'll also see the 'tweeners that are trying to make the Chase do the same thing. It could get a little wild.
Ryan, what did you think of Danica-Dale-Mikey-Sadler-Ragan and Sheppard all making B Report 100 most overrated athletes of all time?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
I haven't seen the list, but I don't have a problem with those folks being on it except for Dale Junior. His resume is as good as all those others added up.
Ryan, since Tryson, Pattie, Irwin and Berrier were all considered top crew chiefs do you think Letarte and Grubb are the next to be fired?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
I've already said that I think Letarte is fine. And I don't understand why people keep telling me that the sharks are circling around Grubb. They just nearly won the last ran we ran. They're in contention for the Chase. And they just fired the competition director. I think he's fine too. If anything, I think he might get promoted into that job.
Ryan, I'm just having a hard time imagining Cousin Carl shilling for Toyota. Just doesn't seem right.
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
I really think that's the big wild card in all of this. Ford made the clear decision to put Carl out front as the race of their NASCAR brand. They might be willing to pony up to help Jack Roush keep him in the family. It would be a gigantic marketing blow for the blue oval.
Phil (Richmond, Va.)
Mcgee, I'm afraid I'm to blame for Jeff Burton's recent struggles. I was a Sadler fan until this year when I had to pick a new Sprint Cup driver. I went with a fellow Virginian (and perhaps a future Senator) in Jeff Burton. I just drag Southsiders into the ground.... My bad.
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
Man, after that admission you might want to bar the doors to your house. Those people down there on the VA/NC border can get a little mad!
I have a platypus as pet. There is nothing funny about platypus. He would rip your nipple off in a instant .
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
Plus, if you've watched Phineas & Ferb on Disney Channel then you know that Perry the Platypus is not someone to be messed with.
Do you look for Scotty Speed to maybe score a surprise Top 10 Sunday at Indy?
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
No. But I like Scotty a lot and would love to see that.
Why are some fans critical of Kyle Busch for running Nationwide, Trucks and late model but they don't say anything when Kasey, Newman, Stewart, Johnson etc. run in lower formula?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
You noticed that, did you? Kind of like people don't have a problem with Mark Martin's near-100 NASCAR wins, but hate mentioning Kyle's 100?
Do you agree with those who say the Nashville preacher only reinforced negative "redneck" NASCAR sterotypes?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
No. I think Pastor Joe Nelms was having a good time at the racetrack and connecting with his fellow race fans. I think anyone who has ever visited a racetrack in their life knows that Mr. Nelms is far from the lowest rung of the redneck stereotype ladder.
4xLeft (At The Track)
If Carl leaves for JGR, how would Aflac feel about having a lame duck driver in their car? A bit of a double entendre, no?
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Different sponsors react differently to lame duck situations...and yes, I love that coincidence.
What do you think benefits a guy looking to get back in a decent Cup ride again --> driving for a young team on the fringe in Cup (Scott Speed, Stremme, Mears) or focusing on being strong in Nationwide (Sadler, Hornish).
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Unfortunately for those guys you mention, I think we have our first genuinely exciting group of young guys on the cusp of Cup in a really long time. Bayne, Stenhouse, Dillons, etc. There won't be enough chairs for everyone when the music stops this time around.
Do you think Kyle Busch will go up into the stands and celebrate with the fans like Carl Edwards does?
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
If he wants to get punched, yes.
Chris (Crestview, FL)
Considering that Junior has been wrecked by other drivers 3 out of the last 5 races, isn't it a bit misleading for everyone to suggest the team is in a downward spiral and Junior needs to concentrate on driving? All 3 wrecks were not his fault. Isn't this just some bad racing luck if anything else?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
I agree. And like I said earlier, they knew this was going to be a tough stretch of the schedule for them. They couldn't have foreseen the wrecks, but they also know that the August/Sept calendar is good for them.
Kyle runs like every Nationwide race. And prob half the truck races. Jimmie hasnt ran a NW race this year. Kasey has ran maybe 3-4. Tony has ran 2. And Im not sure if Newman has ran any Nw races. I dont mind cups guys running in lower series. But it gets old seeing Kyle and Carl run every race.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
I don't disagree with that. When I was at the Nationwide race at Texas back in April and Kyle wrecked I turned my laptop off. From then on, it wasn't a question of whether Carl would win, but when. Thankfully, we've a much bigger variety of winners since then, but it still kind of throws a shadow over the race when they are there.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
As much as I like Mark Martin, it got to be the same way with him in the #60 car. If he was there, it was a race for second.
Ashley M. (Chicago)
Ryan, I am a six year old girl. My daddy loves to watch racing with me. Will I ever get to see Dale Jr win a race in my lifetime?
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Ashley, I have a six-year old daughter and she has asked me the same thing. Yes, I think you'll be okay. It will happen.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. See you back here at our regularly scheduled time next Monday, 2 pm ET. In the meantime, check out my ESPN.com stories on Skoal Bandit Memories and my picks for the Top 5 Brickyard 400's of all-time. If I didn't get to your question, hit me up via email (email@example.com) or Twitter (@yranmcgeeespn).
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Please tip your wait staff. And enjoy the music of Tall Paul.