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 (2:00 PM)
What's up folks and welcome to the Internet's fastest one-hour Monday morning motorsports block party. Always nice to visit Thunder Valley, though it usually takes a few days to get the carbon monoxide out of my system and the ringing out of my ears. Regardless, I'm here for you...and we'll see if "Matt Kenseth" shows back up this week.
Do you know if kurt buschs damage hurt his car i never saw an interview or anything about it but he still passed a lot of cars.
Ryan McGee (2:01 PM)
Flynn, no doubt it hurt his car, but Pat Tryson and the team did a major league job of getting it back into racing shape.
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
The good news was that we were at Bristol, where aero doesn't matter so much, so the smashed nose didn't cost him much.
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
Also, these CoT cars are like tanks. If you really pay attention this year we're seeing guys wreck hard and still manage to stay in the race. Once he wrecked Kurt wasn't going to win, but he was killer on long green flag runs and they got a lot of those in the second half of the race.
Is Kyle rubbing Hendricks nose in it with the way Kyle made fun of Earnhrdt over the radio?
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
Yo Josh...Shrub was definitely taking a shot at Junior. This deal goes way back to the beginning of last year and Busch has really gone out of his way to push the 88 team's buttons. I was standing in the 88 pits in Darlington last May when Busch rode by during the parade laps and flipped the entire team the one-fingered salute.
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
I know a lot of people didn't like it when DW compared Shrub to Earnhardt Senior on the telecast yesterday, but flipping the bird during the parage laps? That has Dale Senior written all over it.
How is it that at a race like Bristol, with plenty of cautions, TV can't wait for the caution to cut to commercial? It seems that every time they went to commercial under green, they returned under caution!
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
Ben, before I started writing full-time I was a TV producer with ESPN and then FOX. I can tell you that it is nothing but pure bad luck in the production truck. It's no different than those awful Sundays when your favorite team can't get their pit stops timed out right, they stay out waiting on a yellow flag to pit under, then give up and finally pit...and the caution comes out and puts them a lap down.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
This is the only sport where they don't call a timeout and stop the game so you can take a commercial break...which makes it damn near impossible not to get caught.
with the no testing in nascar, doesnt this hurt the sport more than it doesnt? for the rookies it doesnt give them track time to learn. speed and lagano are better than they look because of this.
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
Josh, I think the rookies are the only guys the testing ban is hurting. I think the rest of these guys are running a lot closer than they would be if the big dogs had been allowed to go test like crazy as they usually do. A big reason that an A.J. Allmendinger and a David Reutimann have been able to keep up with the Hendricks and Roushs this year is because those teams haven't been out testing every single week and widening the gap.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
Long term, I don't that gap will hold up, the big teams are already funnelling testing $ into engineering and computer simulations, etc... But short term it's been great.
Saul (San Diego)
What happen to Clint Bowyer? No attention headlines, yet 3rd in points. Reason for doing well?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
Simple Saul, he's good. Very good. Anyone who doubts that needs to realize what he's done this year. He left the 07 for an all-new outfit and Richard Childress Racing and has that car contending for the Cup. Meanwhile, the team that he left has suddenly turned into backmarker with Casey Mears behind the wheel. He's a modern day Harry Gant, Terry Labonte, Jeff Burton type. You totally forget about him, but when it's time to make the money - POOF - there he is.
Speaking of AJ, Seems like he would be a perfect teammate to Kurt. Will Roger dump Sam or Stremme and go after AJ?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Yo Monroe, Penske isn't going to do a thing until this Helio Castroneves trial wraps up next week in Miami. I was down there all last week covering it (see ESPN.com for my stories) and while I sat there bored out of my mind listening to all that tax law mumbo jumbo I started sketching out "What if Helio goes to jail" scenarios.
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
If Helio is off the table (and right now it looks like a toss-up) then if I were Roger Penske (and I'm not) I would get Hornish out of Cup and put him in the #3 Indy Car ride. That would leave a ride open for A.J. or whomever. But if A.J. keeps running as well as he is, I'd expect him to replace one of his teammates at Richard Petty Motorsports.
Jordan (Candor, NC)
Does it seem Junior's just "fat and happy?"
I heard DJ on Nascar Now on ESPN2 saying that Earnhardt doesn't work out and that might be part of his problem. Is that one of the reasons he is only a mid pack driver?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
I posted those two questions back to back because they are basically the same question.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
Yeah, I think there may be some of that going on with Junior. Perhaps he has too much going on away from the track to concentrate on things on it. His father made the same mistake in the late 1990's, which became a huge source of stress between the Intimidator and his team, most notably crew chief Larry McReynolds.
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
That being said, I know for a fact that Junior has recently told all of his handlers that he wants to start slashing his extracurricular schedule to clear his mind for racing. We'll see if it works.
With all the Madoff and AIG financial stuff, do you think the jury will throw the book at a tax cheat like Castroneves?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
It can't help. I was down there last week when the judge sent the jury home for a long weekend and gave them a very stern talking-to about staying off the Internet and allowing outside influences to alter they feelings on the case they would be ruling on. I have no doubt that he was talking about everything you bring up...and the fact that he knew an ESPN.com writer (me) was sitting there working on a story to post over the weekend.
Do you think with the lack of testing, that we're going to see the same tire problems at Indy this year?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Nope. The lack of team testing shouldn't have any bearing on Indy. Goodyear has already run at least two tire tests there since last summer and has a couple of more planned. I talked to some of the guys who participated in the first tire test last fall and they were pleased with the results. I hope so. That disaster last August was second only to the US Grand Prix when it comes to embarassing debacles. Maybe it's the ghost of Tony Hulman still angry about IMS running races other than the Indy 500...
Toward the end of Dale Sr. career you could see a gut on him sort of like Stewart now.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
No way. The current Tony could absorb the middle-aged Dale Earnhardt. He's gotten so heavy that even rotund A.J. Foyt has told him he needs to lose weight.
All of my fellow Jr. fans have their panties in a bunch about how Jr. is 19th in the points. At this point last year #48 was only 13th in points. I would much rather have him peak later in the season, unlike last year where we got our hopes up early in the season, only to be let down....thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
Boston Tom, there is some reason behind their bunched undergarments. When I was working on my "March Madness" column for ESPN.com last week I couldn't believe what I was seeing when I started researching where guys were at this point in previous years of the Chase and where they ended up at the cutoff in September.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
History says that being outside the top 14 at the end of March means your chances of being in the top 12 in time for the Chase are slim to none. I don't know if I totally buy into that, but the numbers rarely lie.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
Plus, the 48 never looked as lost as the 88 does right now. Not ever.
Do you think that Kurt and Kyle are the #1 brother combination to ever race in Nascar?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Hi Andrea, love me some Austin. I had way too good of a time there one night back in college...but I digress.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
They are not the best brother combo every, but they are getting close. Before they officially enter that argument, Kyle needs to win a Cup Series title to go with big brother Kurt's. That's the only way I would put them on the same level as your fellow Texans, Bobby and Terry Labonte. Terry won two Cups, Bobby one, and they've combined for 43 Cup wins.
Irv, Ft. Worth
Waltrip said that he would quit if he didn't run up front this year. So far Reuitman and Ambrose have totally outclassed him. Is 2009 Waltrips "farewell tour"
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
NASCAR drivers have said that the F1 points system won't work. Do you agree with that statment?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
It wouldn't be a NASCAR chat without my man Steiny.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
I do, the same way that I agree with the F1 drivers that you can't base the system purely on wins and nothing else. I have said all along that NASCAR can keep the current system, but give a much larger - like 50 point - bonus to the race winner. Yesterday Kyle Busch led 378 of 503 lapsn and only earned 20 more points than the second place car. That's ridiculous.
I disagree. At this point last season everybody was talkinga bout how lost the 48 team was. Remember how terrible they were at Vegas? If Jr. hadn't lost an engine at california he would currently be in the top 12 in points.
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
I hear you Tom, but if you spend a day on the radio listening to the 48 and then spend a day listening to the 88 the difference between "a little behind" and "lost like a tourist in Moscow without a map and a translation book" becomes pretty obvious. The point is I never had a doubt that the 48 could pull out of their funk. I do not have that same confidence in the 88. Yet.
People blame Eury for Jr's problems how about blaming Zippy for Joey's troubles.
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Jeff, that's the cost of being the man calling the shot for the sport's uber-star. The fact that Shaq and Kobe couldn't get along was never Phil Jackson's fault, but that didn't stop everyone from pointing a finger at him.
Lisa in Aurora, IL
I am so mad about Yates shutting down the 28 car. What will happen to Travis Kvapil and that team?
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
Hi Lisa...they are all stuck in no-sponsor limbo right now. It is shame because everyone loves the Yates family, everyone like Kvapil, and they just had a very solid showing at Bristol. But that team is essentially Roush minor league affiliate now, and if there is spnosor $ to be had it is going to go to the official Roush Fenway teams first, namely the #17 car, which is need of a sponsor to partner with DeWalt in 2010.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
We'll see Kvapil again, I just don't know how much or when.
Luke (West Memphis, Arkansas
Hey Ryan, you've been awfully hard on Mark Martin this year. You think he's finally turned it around now?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Luuuuke...I have been hard on Mark, but only because I hate watching him stumble down the homstretch of his great career. Two consecutive poles and a solid sixth place finish on a track he hadn't run in three years is certainly a great sign. But he still has a long way to go to make the Chase. As Boston Tom and I have been chatting about, the numbers say it is nearly impossible.
Louise in Rocky Mount, NC
What's your take on all these NBA guys Twittering in the middle of games?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
We always get one non-NASCAR question in here every week don't we? I have no problem with it...but I'd be more impressed (if not a little scared) if one of our guys Twittered during a caution flag.
Michael, Lakeland Florida
I thought that lengends race at Bristol was kinda sad and really bad racing. Will there be more of those "old-timers" races?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
Michael, every time they do something like this I get all fired up for the idea, but the actual event never ends up being as cool as we'd hoped.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
It was a huge letdown when we realized that Pearson and Junior weren't going to be in it...and that DW had withdrawn (he gave some "official" excuse, but the real reason was that it was being televised by ESPN2 and not FOX or SPEED).
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
At the end of the day, though,it was worth it just to see Junior Johnson put on his open face helmet and goggles and drop the hammer for a few laps.
Hang on McGee, I need to see the numbers from the previous years but looking at the standings. Jr & Martin are 66 and 143 points out of 12th. That is less than one race to make up. Given the overall strength of the Hendrick program, I feel very strongly that both those teams can buck that trend.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Let me repeat myself from a few minutes ago, BT - "I don't know if I totally buy into that, but the numbers rarely lie." I'm not saying they can't do it, I'm just saying the stats say it is harder to do than we think. And the more people that are between you and the spot you are trying to get to makes it even tougher. It's more about position than points...I love your Beantown tenacity!
Who do you like this weekend at Martinsville?
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Jenks, I am going with the Hendrick Twins - Gordon and Johnson. Over the last ten races betwen the azaleas they've combined to win seven racked up 17 top fives. Back home we call that dominatin'.
Matt Kenseth (Concord) [via mobile]
Cant wait for texas just 2 weeks away!
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
And there you have it...our good friend "Matt Kenseth" checks in here at the very end.
Matt Kenseth (Concord) [via mobile]
Man, yesterday we did horrible.... martinsville we havent done that good either... we have to turn it around... hows it going ryan?
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Things are good "Matt". I'll be tracking you down at Martinsville on Friday and seeing if this is really you. Or maybe I won't and just keep telling my ego that it is.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
That will do it for this week's edition of the Internet's biggest one-hour motorsports block party. Don't forget to tip your wait staff and enjoy the Captain and Tennille.