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 (2:00 PM)
What's up my midwestern rain covered brothers and sisters and welcome to the intermittent Monday Motorsports Block Party Chat. Heavens fall down if there isn't more than enough to talk about today! So...the queries!
How more wins you think Matt will get in the chase and who you think will be driving the 78 car next year?
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
I think he gets at least two more. That team seems to rediscovered its early season mojo in a big way. This already feels like a four-horse race to me - Kenseth, Kyle, Jimmie, and Harvick. I think the guy who wins the most Chase races out of that group will win the Cup. That's how it should be.
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
I really thought that Juan Pablo Montoya was going to take the 78 ride. He'd made a trip out to Denver to check out the shop. But he's just announced he's going IndyCar racing with Penske. So...Jeff Burton?
Earnhardt pitted on lap 42. His crew member placed bear bond over the grill and he blew in one lap. (Review the tape) What was up with that?
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
I saw it. But the front end of the car was also knocked off. Not sure what else they could have done there. I'm not an engine builder, but I think if an engine is going to blow up that big, it was already doomed before anyone threw any big swatches of tape over it.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
The goal was to get the 88 back onto the track and not have to go behind the wall. But again, not sure that anything could have prevented an engine failure at the point, tape or not.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
The funniest thing was all the Tweets I got over the next 15 minutes wondering if that had been done to help Jeff Gordon. Yes, it helped Gordon. But no way in hades that was the plan.
Nigel Standish (UNC Charlotte)
What chances do you give Kevin Harvick to put together 9 more races like Chicago? Also what do you think about Charlotte 49ers football; off topic I know?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
I think Happy is the under-the-radar title contender. I think he's going to need two things. 1. He needs punch out top tens and get a little help from the big three - Kenseth, Johnson, Kyle - as far as them having bad days and letting him close the gap.
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
2. He needs to keep it close. I think they have this lame duck in check, have all season. But the instant the margin becomes too wide I think he and his crew will see their minds start drifting to 2014.
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
I think those two points apply to all the "lame duck" guys, Harvick plus Newman and Kurt Busch.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
As for UNC Charlotte football...they are doing it the right way. The facility is gorgeous and they put together an early schedule that all but guaranteed a couple of wins before they hit some tough opponents coming up.
I'm curious...with the heightened sensitivity to team orders, what happens if a team mate of the eventual champion takes out said champion's competition? Happened to Ty Dillon in the truck finale last year and not a mention of it anywhere...what would be said now?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
All hell will break loose, whether it was intentional or not. That heightened sensitivity you're talking about was already prevalent on Sunday night among fans and media alike. Fair or unfair, everything for the remainder of this year will be highly scrutinized.
Jeff Gordon drove the wheels off that car last night, if not for a flat tire maybe had a shot at the win. Do you see him as a serious factor the next 9 races?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
I do. I wanted to include him in my Big 4 earlier, but I need to see some proof that they have the ability to get around this ridiculous streak of bad luck they've endured all year. Sunday night was a good sign. They bounced back from a lap down, got a top ten, and were flying. Earlier in the year, they rarely recovered that well. Something always seemed to pile on.
Clint (Irving, TX)
I know it is just one race, but are Jr and Lagono's chase hopes done? 53 Points back is Huge for Jr.
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
It's not over, but it's close. They can't do it on their own now. They're going to need help, as the guys ahead of them having an equally bad day at some point over the next nine weeks. With eleven guys ahead of them, that's a lot to hope for.
Hey Ryan roll tide! Who are you hearing as Kevin harvick other sponsors for next year and what do you think of Rodney Childers and Kevin harvick combo for next year?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Nothing yet, but I'm told "there is a lot of activity with that account", which is a good thing. As for the combo, I like it a lot. Both of those guys seemed to have always been in the middle of a lot of upheaval within their teams over the years. I'm anxious to see what both can do in a more stable situation.
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
By the way, Childers has to feel like the guy who was late and missed his seat on the Titanic. He left Michael Waltrip Racing just before SpinGate.
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
And yes, Roll Tide indeed. All McCarron does is win.
Mike P (Lenexa, KS)
I know NASCAR likes to get races in one day and not have them carry over into Monday.. but whats the difference between restarting a race at 8pm with little to no fans and starting it at 11am with the same percentage of fans?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Three things. 1. It was a longtime mantra of Bill France Sr. to make sure he took care of the fans who showed up that day, and especially the ones who stuck it out. 2. TV-wise, Monday morning is a black hole, especially when you are in prime time. 3. Keeping teams there one more day and cutting into their Chicago-to-North Carolina-to-New Hampshire turnaround is a logistical nightmare.
kb (San Fran)
Any chance we see changes to the 2014 schedule? Additional road course maybe? Sure seems like they're dragging their feet on getting it out there..
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
I expect no major changes. I think there should be, but I don't see that happening in 2014. Perhaps NBC's entry the following year will spur some creativity. I am with you on a third road course. I want one in the Chase and there seems to be a growing sentiment about that.
Phil (Richmond, VA)
How much of this word association do you agree with:1. Manziel - Awesome2. Gordon - Re-focused3. Truex - Bummer4. Pac12 Refs - No Bueno5. Jim Grobe - Hot Seat
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
I agree with all that.
KB Nation (Global)
You stated you needed to see "proof" that Rowdy Busch could get it done during the Chase. Still need to see more?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Sure looks good so far. But give me three good races and I'm in.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
That being said, I did earlier have him in my Big Four contenders and I also have him 2nd in my Power Rankings this week,
Listening to all the analysts yesterday, majority of them agree if only Clint Bpyer was penalized 100 pts. , that would have dropped him out of the Chase, and Martin Truex, Jr. would be in. Wonder how much Martin if anything Martin knew (nothing?) and if he wishes Clint, Ty & others had just trusted him to drive his way into the Chase.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
I really believe that Truex had no idea. I base that on the fact that I feel like I have a pretty good handle on his personality and also on what Marty Smith has told me about when he was the first to broach the "people are saying you were helped" topic with Martin during the Richmond post-race. Truex actually started laughing because he thought Marty was nuts.
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
Granted, Marty IS nuts...but you know what I mean.
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
And I have said since before the MWR penalties were handed down that I thought they should hit Bowyer with a 50-point penalty - INSIDE the Chase - so that it would all but guarantee he had not shot at the Cup.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
You think people were raising cain last week? Imagine if he were to win the championship?
Crazy conspiracy theorist Junior fans will be saying that Rick Hendrick had a self-destruct button for the 88's engine in case the 48 or 24 needed help. And in case you're wondering, I'm a Junior fan myself. Just not a crazy conspiracy theorist Junior fan.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
Dale Junebug will turn 39 next month and after last night we're starting to think he's into the Burton-Labonte phase of his career. What do you think?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
I just wrote a column about this topic last week, not about Earnhardt, but about the inevitable generational shift changes that happen in the garage. We're about to hit one. But I don't have Dale in that group. Not yet. He's still making Chases. But I might put him in that next group, with Gordon.
Hi Ryan, I always enjoy your chats. What do you think NASCAR looks like 10 years from now? Reduced schedule? Pay-per-view TV? Dropping one of the 2 "minor league" series and combining them? I have concerns my favorite sport is going the way of hockey (regional based, little TV coverage, very little National coverage). When people find out I am a big NASCAR fan (in corporate America) they are shocked.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
Thanks Kane. I don't think we'll ever see the sport go pay-per-view, but I can totally see one of the two lower series dropped unless they evolve into something else. I think that if they went back to what they were supposed to be, development series that race a lot in non-Cup markets, they can thrive again. The Trucks are going back to their roots and I think that's paid off.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
As for the schedule, I have long continued to hold out hope that massive changes will come. I think race weekends, races themselves, and the season are all too long. There seems to be some sentiment within the sanctioning body to address all of those, but with the new TV deal and NBC looking for as much programming as possible, the odds of seeing a shortening of the season probably aren't great.
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
I am with you. As a media member, but really just as a race fan, I really worry about where this is all headed. And I'm not alone.
Saul (San Diego)
Who is the next up and coming "Johnny NASCAR?"
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Kyle Larson is legit. But if you're looking for someone who is as cocky as he is talented - in a good way - Corey LaJoie has a lot of his Dad in him. That's a good thing.
Which Chase drivers do you think will have trouble at New Hampshire?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
If there's a week for the competition to hope Matt Kenseth will have trouble, this might be it. Loudon has always been a handful for him...but that was with Roush Fenway, which has never gotten a handle on their somewhat home track. With that in mind, I think Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are going to really wish they'd gotten more out of Chicago than 11th and 16th, because NHMS is not that team's place to shine.
First off I'd like to thanks to the NASCAR crew at espn...that was a long day and the race cast chat never stopped. I'm sure last week had all of you running around like crazy and you are are spent. Second, as a Kenseth fan from the beginning I have to say this has been a great year. The guy has always been an underrated driver, but now that he has better equipment its showing just how good he is. I'm curious what the thoughts are back at roush right now. I read jack gives him then cold shoulder and his old buddy Robby Reiser won't even talk to him these days, but the guy raced there for years with obviously not the greatest equipment and saw roush and ford put all their eggs in the Edwards basket. It just seems like sour grapes to me. Go 20
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
I have heard that, too. I don't know that it's as bad as the whispers say that it is, but I do know that Mark Martin said a lot of the same things after he left. And now Martin will tell you that he and Jack are back to being friends again. I don't think it's personal, it's business.
Jeremy (South Hill, VA)
Just a mini-rant: If all of you NASCAR "fans" who complain about Mr. France or everything else wrong with the sport actually bought a ticket to the race and watched races on TV, NASCAR would be fine. I'm tired of listening. If Brian France has a Twitter he should pay attention to exactly zero of the tweets sent to him about how to make NASCAR better. Any questions?
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
There's some truth here. I say this all the time about tracks losing race dates or NASCAR TV shows being moved around the schedule or canceled. A ticket and/or a turned-on TV is a vote. Fans need to cast their votes early and often.
Sorry, but Clint Boyer's being in the Chase, especially starting in the 8th rather than last position with at least a -50 pts. doesn't sit well with me and leaves more than an * on this Chase. I think fans/competitors alike might think better of him (with time) if he just quit pulling a Lane Armstrong claiming his innocence. I have no respect or tolerance for out right liars in general. But in sports, they also are (like it or not) role models to our children. Thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
I give him credit for showing up for all the media stuff (though he didn't stick around for it Sunday night). And I was impressed that he managed to stick to his story while under fire all week. But if you listen to last week's Marty & McGee podcast (espn.com/podcenter) then I think you can hear a man who kept running back over his own story.
It was encouraging to see the 11 up in the top 10 till he had an engine go down. What is really going on with them?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
Sometimes you just have a lost season. I remember that amazing 1992 season when Kulwicki, Elliott, Allison, and Gant battled all the way to Atlanta for the Cup. But what a lot of people don't remember is that the door was opened up for those four because the sport's two biggest stars - Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace - were AWFUL. Like all year.
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
The year before and the year after they battled for the Cup wire-to-wire. Sometimes you just miss it.
Also, most workers at the track are part time that have full time jobs they have to go to on Monday
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
True. A big part of that logistical nightmare.
Mike P (Lenexa, KS)
Did "Spin Gate" or "Itch it gate" help NASCAR in the sense of rating for the Chicago race or did the rain "wash" away any momentium NASCAR would have had?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
I think the rain was the last laugh in a laughable week. I follow Red Byron on Twitter (it's not really him, he's been dead since 1960) and he Tweeted that Big Bill France had sent the rain from heaven because everyone had been acting like a bunch of knucklehead.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Whatever momentum they had last week was bad momentum. I've never subscribed to the "any publicity is good publicity" mantra. When NPR is calling me and the New York Times is running stories asking questions about the integrity of the sport, that's not momentum. That's quicksand.
I think if u win u should be in the chase. non winners out, some yesrs would have a larger field than others.
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
I am coming around on this idea. The late David Poole pitched this idea years ago and it makes a lot of sense.
Laura (Manhattan Beach)
Do you think for 2014 NASCAR will expand the Chase field to top 10, 2 wild cards and Chairman's Provisional for 13?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
I think reducing the length of the race could potentially have a reverse impact, in that, not everyone lives next door to or within driving distance of these events. People may travel less to a race weekend if there is not what they perceive appropriate bang for their buck. Thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Then do the other thing I want them to do. Shorten the weekends. What if that day included a Nationwide race as an undercard with a Cup race that evening? Or how about an old school one-day show? Practice...qualify...race.
Top 5 & darkhorse
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
24, 48, 15, 39 and 18. Darkhorses: 31, 11.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. Be sure to download the Marty & McGee podcast when it goes up Tuesday afternoon. Visit espn.com/podcenter or iTunes. Until next time, tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of Tall Paul.