Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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 Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
What's up Alabama rain and duct tape-covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the Monday Motorsports Block Party. I'm pretty sure the last of the racecars is done crashing, so let's get to the queries.
Teri (At Work)
Hi Ryan! What are the chances Kenseth gets his points penalty reduced post-hearing?
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
I think a reduction is possible, but not likely. In the end, the golden rule still stands. You don't mess with fuel, tires, or engines. Even if it was a simple mistake.
Andrew (W. Kentucky)
Hi Ryan, how impressed are you that Kurt Busch has the #78 20th in points ahead of powerhouse SHR #14?
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
Very. And it's even more amazing that Kurt is ahead of Tony when you consider that Kurt hasn't even been able to take advantage of some of his best cars...like Sunday. I fully expect the 78 to be able to compete at places like the plate tracks or even the short tracks because those places tend to either neutralize cash advantages or put the races in the hands of the drivers over the crews and resources (short tracks). I have waited for that team to fade all spring, but they haven't done it.
Jake (Irving, TX)
Hey Ryan, what did you think about #2 driver post-race tweets whining about NASCAR lining him up on the inside on the final restart costing him the win?
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
He was pretty mad. But Marty Smith went to NASCAR and this is what they told him: The No. 2 car was not in the proper lane for the final restart. So NASCAR had the No. 2 car move into the proper lane - the No. 34 car was lined up properly all along.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
So, there you go.
Sitting back there 22nd in points do you have Stewart missing the Chase?
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Not yet. It's kind of like Kasey Kahne one year ago. Like Kasey, we all know that Tony is the kind of guy who can get on a summer run of like 3 wins in 4 weeks.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Then again, the difference between the 5 last year and the 14 this year is that you could see that Kahne was fast, he just had bad luck. Stewart hasn't had bad luck. He's just been bad.
If Smith won Saturday, Mark Martin won the Daytona 500 that year him and Harvick raced to the line.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Yeah...balls and strikes, I guess.
i have a feeling we'll have some new faces in the chase this year. Menard and Almirola don't seem to be going away, and I can see Ambrose sweeping the road course races. A chase with 27, 43, and 9 and without 24, 14, 11, 39?
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
I just said I've been waiting on the 78 to fade and it hasn't happened. Well, how about the 43? He keeps moving on up in the standings. He reminds me of Truex last year. Got off to a good start and held on. How big would it be for a team like RPM to get a car into the Chase, let alone two?!
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
What we're seeing now is that while the top handful of teams are still just better than everyone else (which has been the case since NASCAR first started), that second tier is crazy-tight. And that parity makes making the Chase WAY harder than it was even just 6-7 years ago.
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
I say this all the time. During the "good old days" of the 1990's, it's hard not to say that the top half-dozen guys were as good as we've ever seen. Dale, Davey, Kulwicki, Rusty, Elliott, etc. But today's fields are so much better top-to-bottom, 1-to-43. And that means making the Chase is getting harder and harder.
What are the chances we see Vickers in the 55 full time with Aarons sponsoring next season?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
Still good. But man, he really has not put up the kind of numbers you would have expected in the 11 car.
That Nationwide race was incredible, seems like the 2 car tandem is still the way to go, but all the moves at the end were solo, seems like a much better package than the cup package, your thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
I never disliked the two-car tandem. Those cars have always been able to bump and they don't overheat as easily as the Cup cars do running nose-to-bumper. But what I like about these plate weekends now is that we're getting both styles of racing. When the Trucks are there, it's really three different styles of racing. And all have provided some dang good finishes.
There were zero start and parks yesterday, does that speak to the price of making new cars?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
A little, certainly vs. Daytona when even the top-shelf teams were struggling to get cars built or to get body panels from the car makers. But those smaller teams have always known that plate racing lessens the emphasis on pit stops, which helps them. And if they can survive the Big Ones, then they have a shot to finish inside the top ten or even win. That's why at every single plate race - particularly Talladega - we see so many typical also-ran teams in the top 15.
Was there any discussion about Denny staying in the car on Sunday?
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
No. I think he knew it was the right thing to do, as difficult as it was to get out. His plan is to stick it out at Darlington, though I guarantee they'll be ready to make a switch if need be.
Dale Junebug Fan (SC)
Dale Junebug said he wasn't comfortable with his car yesterday especially the side draft and I wonder what happened? Wasn't this Gen 6 supposed to suit Dale's driving style?
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Well, he did have the whole left rear quarter panel nearly knocked off shortly after the race started. And he barely got through every single big wreck. I wouldn't overreact to his finish on Sunday. We've run two plate races and he damn near won the first one. Even with the so-so Talladega finish he moved up a spot to 3rd in points. And he loves Darlington. So he's fine.
I know people are going to say another jr fan but im not. do you think that if dale jr started his career at hms he would have won a title by now.
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Perhaps. He still came pretty close while he was DEI.
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
OK...here come the Newman comments...
Hey Ryan, on behalf of myself and my friends here, we would like to offer our heartfelt condolences that Ryan Newman had to spend a Sunday in Alabama driving a race car around a track and earning $124,000. We can't believe NASCAR started the race back, they probably didn't even consult him first, terrible. We feel very bad that he has to suffer like this week in and week out. We are considering gathering a petition to raise money for a substitute driver for him in the fall race so he doesn't have suffer anymore. Us common folk can't even imagine how tough his life must be, but we are going to do everything we can to help him out.
Was Newman justified in his rant after catching the 78 with the hood/windshield of his car? I know dude has had some of the worst luck at 'Dega, but his lashing out at NASCAR didn't really work for me. They have made solid strides in keeping cars on the track with the removal of the wing/back to the spoiler and the roof flaps. Does more need to be done on that front? Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
First, that was pretty funny, Matt.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
Second, I do think Newman was justified to rant. Any driver who has repeatedly ended up either on his roof, in the wall, in the mud, or with another car on top of him should be able to rant all he wants.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
I joked in the Power Rankings that when he retires they should put up a statue of him at that designated media Q&A spot outside the infield care center because he has some great TV moments right there.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
Listen, unless they flatten the banking there's nothing that can be done about plate racing. And that's not happening, is it?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
Kevin Harvick, who was also wrecked out on Sunday, gave a great speech about plate racing when he met with the media on Friday. He said he never loses sleep over it and tries not to raise hell about it because it is what it is and you should know that going in.
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
But I'm glad guys like Newman do raise hell about it...because as a writer (and a fan) it's great stuff!
Tim (San Francisco)
Hey Ryan - I like your point regarding the 78 and short tracks. We need more short tracks to put it back in the hands of the drivers! (and out of the engineers). Will NASCAR ever get back to that? If so, how far out are we from major schedule changes??
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
The problem is that there aren't any new short tracks to put them on! I still think Iowa should get a Cup date. All they ever do is sell everything out.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
When there was talk about ISC building new tracks in New York and out west - Denver, Seattle, etc. - they were looking at building a Richmond-style short track. But those deals were shot down by local governments, activists, and the '07-08 economic crash.
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
As for a big schedule shake-up, I thin that window will come when the new TV deals are negotiated over the next year and a half. I think the networks would like to mix it up and also shorten some events, perhaps even shorten the schedule. But we'll see. The current Cup schedule is built around decades of habits. And habits are hard to break.
KB Nation (Global)
Replay showed that #5 moved up in front of Rowdy while Kyle was passing in the high lane. Did Kahne apologize to Rowdy, Dave and the #18 guys for ruining their day?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
All of that might work if Kyle hadn't immediately said it was his fault and keeps apologizing for it.
Caleb (Worcester, Ma)
Tony Stewart is not gonna make the chase Ryan. I'll make the admission for you. This has nothing to do with bad luck. He just has no speed....period. With David Ragan winning, Hamlin will have to win a minimum of 2 races now to even think of a spot in the chase.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
I said this on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last Friday and I still feel this way: Hamlin and Stewart's Chase chances are totally connected. They are the two guys back there fighting to get back up to the top 20 who are capable of winning a pile of races. I'm with you, I think their chances are slim and getting slimmer, but not dead.
Nick (Stl) [via mobile]
Glad to see my favorite driver David Ragan back in victory lane! How big of an impact could the win and prize money have on FRM
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Not just the win, but a 1-2 finish! I'm not sure the impact can be measured. Even if that team shuttered tomorrow, I love it that a guy like Bob Jenkins, who has poured his own money into the team and taken a lot of start-and-park flak, now has a trophy at the house.
Re Caleb, even with Ragan winning, he is 26th in points. He has no effect on Smoke or Denny making the chase.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
I think Caleb's point was that every driver that takes a win away from Smoke and Denny hurts their chances.
Joe (Troy, NY)
Ryan, I am wondering if Jimmie Johnson comes into each drivers' meeting and asks which one of them is coming in second (A la Larry Bird)? Seems like he's top five every race now, doesn't it?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
I was chatting with Marty Smith about this on the phone this morning. Right now the 48 and the 20 kind of seem to be on another level, Jimmie all year long and Kenseth over the last month. I know it's early still and that the Chase reset erases big points leads, but a 40+ point lead right now, which is what Jimmie's had the last of couple of weeks, is a mighty big statement.
When will RCR announce the 2014 driver lineup and do you expect Burton to be fired before the end of the season?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
They need to sort out this Menard deal first. Is he staying? Is he doing this buyout deal with Ganassi? But I think Burton runs one more year. It's been obvious for a while that this has been setting up the arrival of the Dillon brothers. That's still one and two steps away.
Frank (Kingston, Pa)
With the big lead the 48 team has and two wins under their belt should we assume they are in full testing mode at all the upcoming chase tracks?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Pretty much. Especially at the tracks where we know we'll be coming back during the Chase. I remember last year at the first Loudon race in July I felt like the top five Chase teams were in total R&D mode.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
That's not to say they aren't trying to win races. They are. But they might also try something a little out there setup-wise to see if it works. Not for a full race, but for one in-race run or practice session.
Saul (San Diego)
Did the Titan dry the track faster than the old Jet Dryer?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Ryan, do you expect to see Kurt Busch signed by RCR to drive the #29 or #33 in 2014?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
I don't know. Richard has had moments where he clearly wasn't impressed with Kurt's attitude. But Kurt seems to be turning a corner. We'll see. But I would expect Newman there before Busch.
Quick shoutout to whoever was driving the 98 I believe. Black car with blue lettering. All this chatter about Danica making it thru "the Big One." Whoever(Wise,McDowell, someone) it was DROVE thru the carnage. It was incredible.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
Michael McDowell. Yeah, he also had the wreck that setup that great final restart, so we all owe him a thanks. Everyone but Carl Edwards!
I realize there probably isn't going to be anything done about this anytime soon, but the points standings need to be tweaked. If this was the fall Talladega race, Kahne's 42nd place finish would basically kill his title shot. There needs to be less of a penalty for finishing bad and more reward for finishing well.
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
I hear you, but this simpler math is WAY better than the old 10-5-whatever points increment math we had before. And this also kind of falls under the "same for everyone" rule.
David (Los Angeles)
I know Nascar has tried to put a muzzle on Hamlin, but if yesterday proved anything....it's just how missed Denny is for both his driving and his opinions. He was incredible in the booth, and the sport is much better with him in it. Your thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
I agree. I thought he was great, too. And for all the griping about Keselowski and Newman speaking their minds - right or wrong - I would always much rather let them say what they want.
BK keeps making a fool of himself, does someone like the Captain sit him down and tell him to just shut up and drive? "We don't use the grey area" "the Hendrick bunch cheats" "Ragan didn't line up properly" and on and on. He has turned into quite the cry-baby.
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
To my last point, I'll take someone that speaks his mind over a clone. Before I got paid to do this, as a fan, Rusty Wallace and DW drove me nuts because I thought they ran their mouths all the time. Looking back, the sport was so much better for it. Two of my all-time faves are Harry Gant and Terry Labonte. But if everyone in the garage took their "speak softly" approach, we would be bored.
How about the rebirth of Matt Kenseth. Ryan, Is matt in a better place mentally, in better equipment, or both?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Mentally. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Driver and team.
What were your thoughts about the F1 ace Scotty Speed scoring a top 10 for Leavine Family Racing?
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
Awesome. He's a good guy. A little odd, yes. But to see someone who has to scrape together a team every week pick up a top ten is great.
KB Nation (nowhere)
Do you think Kyle actually means the apology as we all deep down know that the 5 caused the tragedy and devastation yesterday
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
Let. It. Go.
Does someone need to die before NASCAR gets rid of pack racing? How sad is it that short of a fatality NASCAR doesn't care how much damage is done or who gets hurt "in the big one."
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
But what's the answer? Tearing the track down and never going back. People complained about pack racing and begged for the return of the slingshot, which led to the two-car tandem package. People complained about that and said they wanted packs back - Talladega even did a whole "the pack is back" ad campaign" - and people now say they don't want that. I'm not sure what NASCAR is supposed to do other than just leave Daytona and Talladega. And that's not happening.
What's your top five for Darlington?
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Give me the 48, 18, 16, 24, and 11 if Hamlin comes back fully (which is his plan). Darkhorses: 56, 1, 43.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
OK folks, gotta go. Thanks for stopping by. If I missed you (and I missed a lot) hit me up on Twitter (@ESPNMcGee) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you're at Darlington, give me a shout. Until next time, tip the wait staff and enjoy the music of The Mavericks.