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 (2:01 PM)
What's up everybody?! How about another round of applause for that Randy Lajoie? Back in the RPM2Night days he and I almost bought the farm together when the Navy let Bobby Allison fly the plane we were in that had just been just launched off the deck of the U.S.S. Enterprise...but that's a story for a different (non-family) chat.
Ryan McGee (2:01 PM)
Bring on the questions!
With a 5th place finish Sunday, is Labonte going to be the favorite to win #7 next week and what are his chances in making the Chase?
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
Yo Billy, I think he's going to be the favorite, but I see no reason why he can't be a contender...which would be no small accomplishment for a driver and a team that were both on the same scrap heap just a few months ago. If Bobby's Yates engine holds together and his pit crew doesn't lose the race for him he'll have a shot. He could get around Atlanta blindfolded.
How much more special was yesterday's win to Busch because it was on his home turf?
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
No doubt. The Busch boys learned to race doing circles around their cul-de-sac just down the road from LVMS and it was on the Bullring in the LVMS infield that Kyle and Kurt started drawing national attention with their prowess in Legends cars.
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
Their father is a highly respected blue collar worker and weekend racer out there. I know the boys had a personal race going to see who would be the first to win a Cup race on their home track...and Kyle won that race.
Matt Kenseth (Concord, NC) [via mobile]
I was so disspointed yesterday.... thanks to all of my fans for supporting us... we will hopefully compete well this weekend!
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
I don't know if this is for real or not...but it would be cool if it is. We were dissapointed too, Matt. Always nice to see history.
Ryan, if you were going to start a cup team, who would you put behind the wheel? Brian Vickers, David Ragan, Jamie Mac or Elliott Sadler? Please rank them
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
1. Vickers (and obviously the folks at Red Bull agree with me on that, seeing as how they did it) 2. Ragan, I think he's the most underrated racer in the garage and his Dad is good people. 3. Jamie Mac 4, Elliott Sadler. But if you'd asked me this question ten years ago, Elliott would've been #1.
Jennifer in Topeka
I heard a lot of talk about sway bars over the weekend. I thought teams weren't allowed to use those on tracks bigger than a mile.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
First off, be careful with this crowd, Jennifer. Any woman who comes in here asking sway bar quesitons is likely to end up with a pack of stalkers!
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
Second, you are right, sway bars were only allowed at tracks one mile and under...until this year. Now they are allowed on every track with the exception of Daytona and Talladega. The ban was lifted to give teams another avenue to alter the car's handling. The CoT has put them in a pretty small box adjustment-wise, so this gives them another option. It's basically like having another set of rear springs to play with.
Why am I so disappointed in Hamlin? Ya he's finished in the top ten and top fifteen it just seems he hasn't had a car good enough. Especially yesterday, his car just didnt look good at all.
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Nick, a lot of people share your feelings. Denny's kind of at a crossroads right now in his career. It has to be frustrating for him to play second fiddle to Kyle Busch and also live with all the hype about Joey Logano. But I chatted with his crew down in Daytona and they all said he was like a different person this year focus-wise...so stay tuned. It's a long season.
Ryan, could you explain a typical pay agreement between an owner and a mid to upper level Sprint Cup driver? Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
Bill, the percentages and numbers vary greatly from team-to-team, but the basic structure is salary plus percentage of winnings. For a young guy like Logano that percentage is likely smaller while a guy like Gordon might take home 50% or more.
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Drivers will also negotiate with sponsors separately for appearance fees, etc. A top shelf driver will have revenue streams from merchandise, endorsements, at-track winnings, salary, appearances, and personal investments such as stocks and real estate.
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
They ain't broke.
William in GSO
Do you think teams like MWR and HOF will be able to keep the pace or is this just things going right for now?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
They can't keep pace with the likes of Gordon, Johnson, Kenseth, etc...but their definition of a successful season is different than those guys. They want to win A race and stay in the top 20 in points. That would be a win for both of them at this point.
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Reutimann can do it and so can Labonte. Mikey has already begun his annual free fall from the top ten.
louie (bellmore, new york)
i was talking to a friend and asked him when kyle bush was at hms where was all this talent that he has and is show...was he holding back because he was unhappy or does gibbs really have that much better equipment
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
It's all timing Louie. If you go back and look at what he did in the #5 car they were on their way to being where the #18 is now. Then he arrived at Gibbs just in time for their Toyota-powered revival. He'd never hold anything back. It's not in his DNA.
Schmoe in Grand Rapids, Michigan
With the engine troubles in the differant makes, could there be a common part failure amongst all makes of engines??
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Schmoe, from what the engine builders are telling me it is not a unform problem across the board. The common denominator is that these guys are making a ridiculous amount of horsepower right now (from 850 to 950, depending on whom you ask). A couple of guys have told me that they think the lack of testing has something to do with it. Typically by this time they have tested so much that they've found a happy medium between all that HP they found over the winter and the chassis setups.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
This year they haven't had a chance to do that, which I think is what Jack Roush was trying to say last night when he started rambling about the tires being faster than they had anticipated and that's what caused their LV engine troubles.
SchueyRules (Bonn, Germany)
I enjoyed your story on the USF1 announcement. Are they really going to be able to pull this off?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
I hope so, Schuey, if for no other reason because I am a big F1 fan and would love to see it work in Charlotte. I am also a big Peter Windsor fan.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
But here's the thing. They have no shop, no crew, no engines, no cars, and no drivers...and their planned first race in a little more than a year.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
If I was a Kyle Busch or Scott Speed or Danica Patrick I wouldn't touch that for at least another five years. But if I was a young racer who always dreamed of walking the frid at Monaco and didn't care about being racy, I'd sign right now.
This drives me crazy - Jeff Gordon is the points leader? He's finished 2nd, 6th, and 13th. Matt Kenseth has two wins (!), yet he is sixth. Kyle Busch has the other win and a 3rd, yet he is behind Reutimann who was 4th, 12th, and 14th. Is NASCAR EVER going to change things so they don't kill drivers who break engines or get caught up in crashes. They get less points than a guy like Max Papis, who just rode around all day but didn't DO anything except be the worst car on the track.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
JJD, I hear you...and so does your fellow Pacific Northwest resident, the esteemed Terry Blount. He writes about this extensively in his excellent new book "The Blount Report: NASCAR's Most Overrated and Underrated".
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
They has to be a way to better award teams and drivers for wins. Terry says everyone with a win should automcatically be in the Chase. I like that, but what I like more is a gigantic points bonus to the winner. Right now the gap between the guy who wins and the guy who loses isn't nearly enough.
Earnhardt has only won 3 cup races in the last 3 seasons. Hasn't Dale missed his window of opportunity to be in the class of Johnson or Gordon?
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
Steve, ask this quesiton again in November. If he hasn't righted the ship by then, then the mid-30's age window will be on its way to becoming slammed shut.
will the heat go deep in the playoffs or lose in the first round
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Someone please escort this stick and ball weenie out of this chat room. (And no, they won't make it out of the first round...should have kept Shaq!)
Edward (Lexington, Kentucky)
When if ever will J.P. Montoya live up to the "can't miss" status that has followed him? What will it take to put him over the top? Any other open-wheelers to follow soon?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
Edward, I really think JPM can win this weekend at Atlanta. If he's ever going to win an oval event, this is the place. I think the timing of his arrival at Ganassi was bad. Had he come in six years ago when Sterling Marlin was contending for the Cup he could have done the same. But they've been lost in the woods for the last five years and JPM has suffered because of it.
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
And no, I think the open wheel migration has been put on hold. JPM and Sam Hornish are the last guys left from the much ballyhooed Class of '08...and I think Hornish has one foot out the door.
one (los angels)
the prosecuted will be rewarded for they knnow him because they suffer for I, grace to the hearers and doers
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Lane (Morristown, TN)
Did Mark Martin make a mistake by coming back to race full time again?
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
Craig (Cupertino, CA)
Even though the result isn't what they wanted, I have to believe Jimmie and Chad are ecstatic how that brand new car ran yesterday (especially considering last year's Vegas debacle). The high banked 1.5 mile tracks were their only weak spot at the end of last season. Your thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Ecstatic isn't the word I would use. Between being caught in the pits when Jeff Gordon brought out the caution and then wrecking out of a top ten finish there wasn't a lot to be ecstatic about. But the good news is that they have shown signs of waking up.
DD from Charlotte
All you folks who bought into the "he can't drive the COT because it's too loose" theory can kindly shut that down. He drove a car without a left-front fender to sixth. He used to race open-wheel, didn't he? So, who said he can't drive a loose car?
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
DD...read the papers, dude. They've been writing that about Gordon for the last six or seven years. Ed Hinton wrote a story about it on ESPN.com just last week. I never bought into the theory, but the theory was certainly out there. Had been ever since he started struggling with Robbie Loomis as his crew chief back in 2002.
Brad K looked horrible both on Sat and Sun. Is he a professional race car driver or just Dale's roommate?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
Both...and he'll be fine. At least at the driving part, I don't how he is about drinking milk straight from the jug or picking up his socks.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
BTW...we had a question earlier from the guy claiming to be Matt Kenseth on his mobile phone in Concord...
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
He wanted to know how I thought he was going to do at Atlanta this weekend.
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
I live by the numbers, champ, and the numbers say you'll do just fine with five top fives and eight finishes of 13th or better over your last eight starts...and you did lead 128 laps there last fall.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
Plus, with your old spotter (and my new Facebook friend) Mike Calinoff back on top of the press box I like you chances of finally getting that first AMS win. Then again, you might want to...
Schmoe in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Matt needs to be spending time in the engine shop and not in the chat room :)
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
Yeah, what Schmoe said...
Ryan, what are your thoughts on the new and up and coming drivers over the last few years? Any one or two jump out at you?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Lost in all the hype around Logano are a couple of very solid kids. I like Colin Braun over at Roush and I really like Austin Dillon, Richard Childress's grandson and son of former Busch Series racer Mike.
brock , las vegas nevada
did u agree with the bookies putting clint bowyer a 75/1 odd to win
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
No. And if I were allowed by employer to do so I would have laid something down on that. Vegas bookies haven't quite gotten a handle on NASCAR yet...and that suits NASCAR just fine. They don't care much for gambling.
Brad K is NOT Dale Jr's roommate. He doesn't even live with him. I'll just bet Brad's brother, Brian, was happy to finish ahead of his brother is this week's race.
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
TG, relax man. It was a joke. And yes, Brian was very happy.
Roy (Parsippany, NJ)
With all the trouble with drivers getting on to pit road this weekend at Las Vegas should NASCAR look into increasing the speed limit?
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
Not a chance Roy. Those of us who were around back when there were no pit road speed limits don't want to see any increase in speeds. I still have nightmares about seeing Ricky Rudd slamming into Bill Elliott's car at Atlanta...and so does Ricky Rudd. The drivers - and their spotters - need to work that out.
Robert, Las Vegas
If Nascar could figure out how to make money from gambling they would be the biggest supporters.
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
You'd think that, Robert, but think about this - would there be an easier sport to corrupt? You couldn't determine who would win, but you sure could determine who would lose.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
It would make point shaving look like a middle school kid cheating on a math test. Read this story I wrote two years ago for more: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/cheat/news/story?id=2963342
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Alright follks, time is up! Thanks as always for stopping by and please tip your waiters and waitressess. Thanks to "Matt Kenseth" for checking in and enjoy Marilyn McCoo.