Chat with Ryan McGee
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 '09 season, he will be putting together the NASCAR Power Rankings for ESPN.com.
Send in your questions now and stop by Monday at 2 p.m.ET to join the chat!
McGee Archive: Columns
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
What up folks. I gotta say, I'm feeling a little inadequate following Ray "I was voted the greatest crew chief of all time" Evernham, but I'll do my best. Let the chat magic begin.
Do you think California can support NASCAR?
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
Steiny, you always bring the heat with your questions and this one is the question of the weekend.
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
The experience at the Auto Club Speedway today is far different than it was when we went out there for the grand opening even back in '97.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
You couldn't get within ten miles of the place for all the enthusiasm and RV's. Now they are openly thrilled by selling 60,000 tickets, which is what they did last night...this despite the great efforts by the track staff and ammenities that are among the best on the schedule.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
First things first, move the date away from freaking Oscar weekend! Taking the green flag at the exact same time that Brangelina is walking the red carpet in L.A. is just moronic. Think of it this way. If you were KABC or the L.A. Times would you send your reporters to Fontana to interview Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch or to the Kodak Theatre to chat with George Clooney and Salma Hayek?
Do you think the 17 can make it 3 in a row
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Phillip, there is no doubt that he can. His numbers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are sick.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
In his last six LVMS starts he has two wins, one second, one fourth, and an eighth.
From the comments in your power rankings it looks like your not sold on JPM. Why not?
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
Dave, you wouldn't believe all the heat I have taken for even having JPM in the top 20 at all! I am proud to say that of all the various big league Power Rankings around the Web I was the only guy to have JPM in my preseason Top 20. BTW, don't be surprised if he pulls off the upset win at Atlanta in two weeks.
SavageCA (L.A. )
Will the lakers win it all this year ?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Not as long as LeBron is sitll playing. Wait...somebody escort this stick and ball guy out of the chat room!
javier (atlanta ga.)
who do you think will be the next kyle busch?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
Javier...most people will tell you about your ATL homeboy (not to mention Kyle's teammate) Joey Logano. But keep your eye on Austin Dillon, grandson of Richard Childress. The buzz in the garage is that he's going to be the real deal.
Saul (San Diego)
In the NFL, you lose the first 2 games and it?s time to freak out. The 3rd game becomes a must win. So with 24 races to go before the chase, are there any drivers/teams that are beginning to freak out that must do well next week?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Yeah, his name is Dale Earnhardt Junior. Even the most hardcore JR fans are starting to grumble. And I don't want to hear anyone blaming this on his crrew chief/cousin/punching bag Tony Eury Junior. Tony Junior's pit strategy is the only reason Dale won a points race last year and he isn't the guy that bullrushed his way through Daytona or overtuned the engine last night.
Jacob (va beach)
what is one place that you would like to see a race at?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Langley Speedway outside of Virginia Beach, baby! Just kidding, I've been there. I've been to all but two tracks on the Cup schedule, so I am covered there. But I have wanted to go to Monte Carlo to watch the GP of Monaco eveery since I first saw the movies "Grand Prix" and "Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo". How cool would it be to see NASCAR racing through the streets of Monte Carlo? It'd take them a year to reconstruct all the casinos.
Wow, what a surprise. With all the pre season hype I thought the only driver at Roush worth anything was Edwards. I guess this guy kenseth still has what it takes huh?
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
Yeah, he's not bad huh? Funny how quickly people forget that Matt's the guy that was so dominating just five years ago that he forced them to completely blow up the points system. BTW, if you're eveer bored go to www.racing-refrence.info and do the driver-to-driver comparison between Kenseth and Earnhardt Junior. You tell me who has had the better career...and it ain't the guy that's shot the most TV commercials.
Aside from the horrible racing at Cali they started the race at 6:15 ET! I understand the West Coast audiance but if the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders can all start regular season football at 4:15 ET so can NASCAR. Vegas this week the green flag is around 4:30 ET, there was no reason for that race to end at 10 PM ET on week 2 of the NASCAR season.
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Bristow, I'm with you and I think that the suits in Daytona are starting to realize that as well. If you break down the TV numbers (and I have) there hasn't been a significant bump in west coast ratings since they started moving start times six or seven years ago. What it ended up doing was taking the old school "core" fans out of their routine, so they lost some of them in the long run. Besides, if I lived on the West Coast I'd be at the beach on Sunday afternoon and watching the race on my DVR that night.
Do you believe Stewart is off to a strong start with new Stewart-Haas team?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
I think the only person more suprised than me over Smoke's hot start is Smoke himself. I think he had mentally prepared himself for a long season...and I think he's still expecting the troubles to arise, but short of winning a race picking up two top tens in his first two races as a driver-owner has to be perfect case scenario at this point.
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
But everyone has to remember that the tema he bought into, the artist formerly known as Haas-CNC Racing, was no Mom and Pop struggling team. They showed enough muscle at the of last season to get back into the top 35 in owner points, which showed everyone that they had the resources to compete once someone came along that knew how to make them work.
Saul (San Diego)
Are we saying that in So-Cal, a NASCAR fan and OSCAR Fan are one in the same? I have trouble thinking of a So-Cal-fornian saying to himself/herself, Hmmm? should I buy tickets to go watch the race or stay home and watch the Oscars. BTW, I was at the race yesterday and while it was not sold out, it great to see fans with their gear on cheering or giving the finger to drivers as they roared by; and watching the Dale Jr Girl fan heartbroken when dale lost his engine; start your engine, the Green Flag Start, and re-starts, the roaring engines, the fumes?victory, NASCAR style.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
No Saul, I don't think the fans are one in the same (and I am fired up to hear you had a good time, I have always thought the place was fan-friendly). But NASCAR's excuse for running the second race of the season out there has always been so that they could capitalize on the USA's media capital and the coverage that racing there should bring. But as long as they run the race vs. the biggest event that SoCal hosts every year then it all but guarantees that none of that media coverage is going to actually materialize. They'd be better off running at Vegas on Oscar weekend and then coming to Cali the next week.
I was reading a random article last week where they were debating if Kenseth will be a hall of famer when it's all said and done.If so, he would likely be the most under-appreciated, underrated guy to make it. Your thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
JB, I totally agree and your point is proven by the fact that there was even a debate about whether or not Kenseth should be in the Hall of Fame or not. What the hell else does he have to do? He's won Cup Rookie of the Year, a Cup title, a Dayotna 500, 18 races, and holds the record for most consecuitve weeks atop the points standings (33). If he retired today he'd walk right into the big sparkly building in downtown Charlotte.
Ryan, you continue to take gab's at Jr fans complaing he's not as great as is fans make him out to be, shouldnt those gab's go at the media yourself included. the MEDIA makes Jr out to be the greater than he really is and his fans take the blame just because we root for him
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
Glenn, I feel that way about both the fans and the media. And I think a lot of people in the garage feel the same way. And I think NASCAR itself is to blame for a lot of that because for so long they went out of their way to only promote a couple of drivers when there were 43 equally compelling personalities that they could have been using to sell the sport. Thankfully, the new ad campaign is touching a lot a different folks instead just the top three merchandise sellers.
Hey Ryan, do you think JPM's performance so far has to do more with this been his third year or having a better car? It seems like he has been fast and towards the front in every practice and race so far. Any chance he makes the chase???
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
Felipe, I think the entire Ganassi team is in the process of turning things around and JPM has so far been the biggest beneficiary of it all.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Once they actually get all the pieces in place from their merger with DEI and their new engine alliance with Richard Childress Racing, stability will settle in and all the boats should rise with the tide. That goes for Martin Truex as well.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
It also helps that JPM is finally with a manufacturer program - Chevy instead of Dodge - that isn't in seemingly total disarray.
Ben (Mobile AL.)
Who is your pick for this weekend? How do you feel Gordan will fare this weekend? thanks for your work!
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
Ben, I think Gordon will do just fine. I think JG fans should be very encouraged by his sudden enthusiasm. Remember, that car ran pretty freaking well second part of last season, so they've managed to carry that forward. Also, Gordon has worked out some kinks physically that were bugging him more than he's let on, specifically his back. I remember when Dale Earnhardt Senior had his two long losing streaks, it wasn't until he realized that he was injured and didn't know it that he got things turned around in 2000.
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
As for my pick this weekend, I think it'll be a Roush Fenway car, either Kenseth, Biffle, or Edwards.
What do you think of Hamlin? I love his style and just want to see him win more. He's so quiet, you never hear about him, and you just want to root for the guy. Do you see him becoming one of the top drivers in the cup?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Nick, I like Denny. I spent three days living with him during his rookie season for an ESPN The Magazine feature and you really got the sense that he was struggling with how to handle the sudden influx of attention and money.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
I think he'd be willing to admit that he got distracted by the lifestyle stuff - buying planes, his gigantic new house on Lake Norman, etc... - but now he has made an honest effort to refocus on racing.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Talking with some of his crew guys down in Daytona they have been really impressed with how he's carrying himself these days. Things like spending more time at the raceshop and asking a lot more questions about the racecars. They seem to think that he feels a little liberated now that he's the senior guy at Joe Gibbs Racing. Hard to believe considering that he's only 28 years old.
robert owensboro, ky
Do you believe this will be Michael Waltrips last year as a driver?
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
No doubt. I had my doubts when he started hinting at that during the winter, but I think he's looking at this great start to the '09 season as a chance to say goodbye on a good note. No one wants to leave when they're financially broke and running at the back of the pack, which is where he was during his first two full seasons as a driver-owner. Now that he knows MWR is in good hands I'm betting he'll bow out gracefully.
For a non-hardcore NASCAR guy who's never seen a live race, which race is the ONE to attend for a sports fan?
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
The Daytona 500. I forget sometimes how much fun the whole event is, but this year I got to do a lot of walking outside of the media center and had a huge smile on my face the whole time. You can't possbily undersrtand how gigantic the Great American Race is until you experience it in person. Plus, all the cool Fan Zone stuff in the garage is off the chain.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
My top five: 1. Daytona 500 2. Bristol night race 3. All-Star/Coca-Cola 600 week in Charlotte 4. Darlington 5. Martinsville I love me some Old School.
Are there any drivers you watch in cup today and can say that their driving style reminds you of a particular driver from the old days?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Kenseth reminds me a lot of the kind of guys I liked growing up. They shut up and do their talking with their steering wheels. Guys like Harry Gant and Terry Labonte. They are the masters of taking their car,m no matter how or good bad it might be, and somehow quietly sneaking their way into the top five without you even noticing. That said, they could also drive the rubber off the tires and put a chrome horn to you if they had to.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Those, my friend, are real racers. It's like Humpy Wheeler always says about David Pearson. He could smell money. He'd ride around in 15th all day if that's what the car had in it. Then, when it was time to make the money, he's suddenly appear at the front like he'd popped out of a trap door.
Phil (Brooklyn, NY)
My main man Ryan! You got Reed still in your top 20. When do you see him breaking through and getting his first Nascar Spring Cup victory?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
My main man Phil! Keep on eye on Atlanta in two weeks. I have a good feeling about the kid on his hometown track. If he wins I'll be pulling out all my old #43 gear and dressing like Richard Petty all week.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Thanks for stopping by, folks, and don't forget to tip your waiters and waitresses. Up next it's Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes in the Lido Lounge.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
I'll see you next Monday at 2 PM ET...in the meantime, buy a copy of ESPN The Magazine so they will keep paying me.