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 (2:02 PM)
What's up everybody. I just flew in from Texas and boy are my arms tired...but not too tired to type out some semi-conscious answers to your questions. To the queries!
Nino (Central Michigan Univrsity)
I am flabbergasted at all the complaining on how Keselowski is racing. Is he suppose to let Jimmie go with 5 to go? And Smoke with his comments? He raced that way last year!! They are racing for a championship, not driving to the corner store. It is such a great battle, enjoy the racing, and stop complaining if the 2 car jumped the start by 14 millimeters.
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
I'm with you. Whereas the first couple of hours weren't exactly scintilating, anyone who didn't dig the racing during those last few laps needs help. I will say this about Smoke's comments. I was standing there when he said them to Marty Smith. He was semi-serious, but he was also just trying to stir some stuff up. It worked!
Steven (Astoria, IL )
With only two races left what are the chances that BK will be able to drive that Blue Deuce into the top spot and win this championship? And even if he doesnt win it what will finishing 2nd do for him next season?
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
People keep telling me that his inexperience and his career stats at these tracks mean he can't win the Cup. I don't buy that. I have a piece in ESPN The Magazine this week about how unflappable BK has been. That's just his personality. Finishing 2nd will be a huge letdown, but it is for everyone. As we've see with the 99 team, I think the long term danger is an emotional hangover with the crew more than the driver.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
I have a piece running on NASCAR Now tonight at 11:30 PM ET. Brad gave me a great line. When I brought up his shaky stats at Phoenix vs. Jimmie's stellar numbers he laughed and said, "Yeah, you told me that coming to Texas, too. And guess what? I just finished second!"
Craig (San Jose, CA)
Who said race teams aren't superstitious? Mr H has Junior Johnson on the 48s pitbox, and Brad has Mrs Penske on theirs. Think Mr H can convince Junior to fly to PHX and Miami?
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
He said after the race he was going to make Junior keep coming to the track. It was great to see Junior there. He was a having a blast. He's actually just moved to Charlotte from Wilkes Count, NC and is living right by Hendrick. They've been hanging out a lot.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
And I was having a conversation with some of my IndyCar friends at Texas yesterday. None of us could remember having ever seen Mrs. Penske at the track. Like ever.
Kyle Busch hasn't won a race after Aug 31st since 2005.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
But he did just get his first oval top ten finish of the year, so there's that.
What was your take on Denny's post NW race interview with ESPN's Jamie Little where he said Dillon only got his ride because of his last name?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
I think that it was great entertainment. But I also think that the Dillon boys have been hearing that their whole lives and that kind of talk doesn't bother them in the slightest. I remember talking to Ty after he won the ARCA championship, a year when he'd pissed off everyone in that garage. I asked him about the "Your grandpa gave you your ride" criticism and he said, without hesitating, "Pop-Pop has given me cars and equipment that most people don't get. But I still have to drive them." That's the truth. And drive them both of those boys do...very well.
So instead of calling Jimmie OL-5 Time if he wins his 6th he should be referred to as Mr.Johnson
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Why didn't NASCAR penalize #2 for jumping the start on the last 2 rastarts? If was obvious he cheated Jimmie and Rowdy.
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
Gamesmanship on restarts is one of the great traditions of racing. If he'd really jumped out too early, or if Jimmie had really jumped out too early on the final restart, like a full car length or more, then I could see it. Maybe. But this sport is already on the cusp of overregulation. It's a balls and strikes call and I thought they did the right thing.
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Did we really want a black flag there? Did we really want a call from Race Control to determine the race...and the championship? No way.
Hi Ryan, do most people in the garage agree with Denny's nepotism charge that Dilllon only got his ride because of his last name?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
How demoralizing is it for Jr to have identical equipment as #48 and knowing that he doesn't have the talent to compete at the level if Jimmie Johnson?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
Not at all. Look at where he is now and then compare it to how he was running two, three years ago. He's perfectly happy with how things are going. And not keeping up with the 48 isn't exactly an 88-exclusive problem.
Ryan, on the rankings why didn't you rate Rowdy Busch 3rd since he's tied with #48 in Top 10's during the chase?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Because I don't think you can possibly rank him ahead of Bowyer and Kahne right now. Honestly, I don't think I've ever had a non-Chaser ranked this high in the PR's this late in the year.
Afternoon, Mr. Benson. Aren't there too many companion races? I miss seeing trucks/nationwide at pikes peak, myrtle beach, disney, etc
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
I do think that Nationwide and Trucks would be better served by doing more stand-alones. Back in the day, once summer hit the Busch Series would kind go off on it's own for a while, then rejoin Cup in the fall. I liked that. The success of the Trucks at Rockingham and the Nationwide weekends at placed like Road America and Iowa certainly would seem to say there is an audience for it.
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
I know that Myrtle Beach is being seriously looked at. I haven't been to Pikes Peak in a while, but I think it would take some upfitting. But you can rule out Disney. I was there just last week. The good news is that the track looks great. The bad news is they'd have to haul in grandstands and all the infrastructure that was removed years ago.
Claudia (Western NY)
What were Smoke's comments?
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
He said that Keselowski had a "death wish" to keep racing people like he's racing them. His point was that he nearly took out the 48 and himself. It's the same reason Jimmie pulled alongside and pointed to his helmet to say, "Dude, use your head." But at this point asking Brad to back it down is like shouting into the wind.
With how well Danica has run these last three Nationwide races, gotta wonder if she wishes what could've happened if JRM made the organizational switch from the Eury's to Ryan Pemberton at Charlotte back in May to give them more time together, because whatever he's done, it's worked. At one point she was 4th on Saturday night and only 3 Cup guys (Harvick, Kyle and Joey) in front of her. Wowzers.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
There has been significant improvement throughout JRM since the changes. The Hendrick engineering guys were telling me that they've had a huge shift in the amount of questions and communication coming from JRM since Ryan Pemberton grabbed the wheel. No offense to the Eurys, but sometimes you just have to shake things up. So far it appears to be working.
Dusty (Macon, GA)
How many points back can be BK be going into Homestead and have a legitimate chance at the crown?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
I think he needs to keep within 10. We start getting into a dozen or more positions on the track, I just can't see that happening.
what is the latest driver line up for next year in cup?
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
I think we're pretty much set. There seems to still be chatter about the 43 car, but I think they should stick with Almirola. His improvement throughout the year has been pretty nice, particularly over the last month.
It would be nice to see BK win the Championship. It would make a great story. It's time for some new blood.
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
Based on notes I receive from fans and what I hear on the radio, you are not alone in your thinking.
James (Chicago, IL)
Who do you think will do better at Phoenix the 39 or the 88? Newman's numbers are better but JR has been better overall this year. Jr also wants to finish strong. What is your opinion?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
I'd go with the 88. There's good energy there. Junior feels much better. And, at least on the old track, he's always run well at Phoenix. Listening the 39 car on the radio, Newman and new/old crew chief Matt Borland need to put in some time to get back to their once-very comfortable levels of communication.
What will it take for Nascar to be recognized as a sport? I know driving a car is not athletic in any way but I think the danger involved should give it some credibility.
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
Recognized as a sport? Well, the Worldwide Leader in Sports paid hundreds of millions to televise it, so I don't think it lacks for identity as a sport. Now, if you're talking about the whole "Are drivers athletes?" debate, then my advice is to save your brain cells and use them to worry about something else. There will always be a group of people out there who argue that racers aren't "real" athletes. But all it usually takes is a few laps inside a racecar to change the minds of those dummies.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Remember Joey Galloway, the Ohio State and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver? He's a huge race fan. Loves Matt Kenseth. That man is a finely tuned human performance machine. And when I ask him that question he thinks it's so not even worth debating that he laughs out loud. They are.
I have been to the Daytona 500, Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix, and a Bristol night race among many other races. What race would you recommend attending for the entire weekend experience that I have not attended? I enjoy all forms of racing.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
I have never been to Monaco, but the other three are all great. I am a big fan of coming to Daytona for the 150's on Thursday and staying through the 500. But I have to say, it's hard to beat the Indy 500. All other race day experiences and traditions started with how they did it at Indy. Seeing it in person, even after all these years, still gives me goosebumps.
I'm impressed with the way Kyle has handled himself since he didn't make the chase. Instead of giving up he has raced hard and clean and has been getting great finishes. Also raced jimmie and brad clean the past two weeks
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
His numbers over the last couple of months have really been lights-out. It was interesting last night having him in the media center at the same time as Brad. He patiently waited for the questions to him to finally begin and he was very respectful of Brad's position as a title contender, though there was a little tension there because of the restart stuff at the end of the race.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
I've been saying it for a couple of weeks now in the Power Rankings and I still believe this - I think he wins Phoenix this weekend.
Saul (San Diego)
I keep thinking at the CC for the 24, 88 and 5 keep scratching their heads and wonder how CK and 48 generate speed and run consistently up front fighting for wins.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
They're the best. Plain and simple. It's been that way for a decade now. It's not any different than when I first started covering the sport and the 25 and 5 teams couldn't figure out how the 24 car was doing what it did every weekend.
Jimmie's historic run to h is 6th is great for the sport and I wondered if you think Jimmie will go down in history as #1 ahead of Petty, Pearson, Kale, Dale and those guys?
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
If he wins this 6th title, I think he's definitely in the conversation. I already think he's on the NASCAR Mount Rushmore...though I have five faces on that mountain. Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Johnson. Those guys didn't just have good years or good runs, they had their own eras. And they also have had a tremendous impact off the track.
Peabo (Bryson NC)
I still think Danica should be running every truck and Nationwide race next year and a select Cup schedule. She's going to get eaten alive.
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
100% agree with this.
Hyde (Houston, TX)
I was just in Lowe's yesterday with my wife. I asked her if she thought it was weird that there was not even a picture/poster of Jimmie Johnson hanging anywhere. Her answer was, "who cares" but I thought it was strange that for a guy who has repaid Lowe's investment ten fold that he is not a bigger part of thier marketing campaign. Maybe it is different in NC as opposed to TX ?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
That stuff comes and goes in waves, depending on what Lowe's is doing marketing-wise. When I was working at NASCAR Media Group I wrote script for a championship season DVD that they gave out all winter to anyone who spent a certain amount of $ in a Lowe's and had life-size cardboard cutouts of him all the stores holding boxes of the DVDs. So, it's just a cyclical thing.
Paul Wolfe looked like he was in shock there of Knaus and Jimmies power on the track.
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
I chatted with him on pit road after the race last night. He said specifcally that he wasn't so much blown away by the 48 as he was frustrated by the pit stop that put them in a hole - they lost about 9 spots - and then the way the cautions fell at the end.
Brian (Rochester ny)
Jimmie and Chad are the best thats a given. But they are getting very lucky. 24 was best at the end of the race yesterday and i believe wins if not for a blown tire. Also at Martinsville Jimmie spins Montoya when gordon was about to pass him. Then after they pit two stay out so gordon gets stuck 4th on the outside lane. Lets say 88 pits as he said after the race he should have 24 wins cause jimmie would have been outside. Just as easily could be back to back for 24 as it is for the 48.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Sure, and with a little luck Brad could have won last night. And the 14 car last November at Homestead got the luckiest break of all-time when the rain arrived when it did and not just a few minutes different one way or the other. Luck will always be a part of the sport. But the trick is to be in a position where that luck means winning or losing, not finishing 14th or 23rd.
Regarding Almirola and the #43. There aren't a lot of better options out there. What are people clamoring for? Moving Michael Annett up to Cup?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
That's just it. I keep hearing from fans who know that I grew up a Richard Petty loyalist, saying that he needs to go. But no one has a better option. I think Annett is going to be great, but he's not there yet.
The season is too long, I have a plan. Each track gets one race. Take out the Road Courses for the Chase and give the Chase to each track once every other year. 32 week schedule and I think it will improve attendance. You only get one to choose from, and when you have two, one is a Chase race. Thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
I like the idea. But the problem with swapping out Chase races is just the logistics of it. A LOT of people, from track owners to safety crews to sponsors to fans who have their annual vacation routines, have to have a lot of warning before you mess with the calendar.
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
That being said, I have always been a supporter of shortening the season. It's too long. We have a supply and demand problem in that it never goes away - at least not for more than a handful of weeks - and thus there's no hunger for it.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
The NFL Draft is a big deal because people are starving for football. The Super Bowl is first weekend of February...and then there aren't real games until the week after Labor Day.
it was great seeing a piece about johanna long on countdown. think she will ever get a ride with a solid team?
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Hope so. I think she will. She's paying her dues and has done a great job in not great cars. That hasn't gone unnoticed in the Cup garage. Now she needs a sponsor that's willing to take a chance on her.
ryan has nascar influenced the media not to speak out on the mysterious spin out of mark martin not once did has anyone shown what happened to him--i know it couldnt be to the lack og coverage--think this is the only caution of the year that was not shown how it started
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Yes. You've busted us. Mike Helton ran into the TV booth and pulled all the camera cables out of the wall. Then he pointed a shotgun at Dale Jarrett and told him not to say anything.
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
I didn't actually see the TV coverage. I was out on pit road. But I think that was probably a case of there was too much else going on. They can only cover so many things at once. Right then, the cause of the caution wasn't as important as the chaos that caution caused in the race and championship hunt.
you only get your chat articles because of your last name
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Totally right. My Dad was Dave Marcis's gas can man for some races in the 1970's and clearly that influence is why I am here today.
Steve (Da Big Island)
Will nascar be around to race Jetson type car in the future?
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Funny you say that. I was as Epcot last week and was reading all the stuff about the future of cars with my daughter. Flying cars, cars that drive themselvesm etc. She said, "How will this work for NASCAR?"
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
I told her that maybe it would end up like pod racing in Star Wars. That'd be cool with me.
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. Thanks for stopping by. Sorry I couldn't get to everyone. It got kind of crowded over the last 15 minutes, which is awesome. So hit me up on Twitter (@ESPNMcGee) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Until next week, tip the wait staff, enjoy the music of Eddie Miles, and, above all...VOTE!