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)
Hi folks. and welcome back to the Internet's biggest one hour Monday afternoon motorsports block party. How about another round of applause for that Ray Evernham, greatest crew chief of all time as voted on by the NASCAR media. (Shhhh...don't tell him, but I voted for Dale Inman.)
Thomas Lexington, KY
Hey Ryan, love your stuff. Would love to hear your thoughts on the feel good story NASCAR had yesterday with Jeff winning and the idea that the "drive for 5" is for real.
TC Mount Vernon, KY
Hey Ryan, years down the road do you feel that people will look back and bring up the fact that even though the records may not show it, but under the old points system Jeff G. would have won six, maybe seven titles after this year?
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
Well, well...two questions right off the top from the Jeff Gordon Fan Club. Apparently he's huge in Kentucky.
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
First, it is a great feel good story that Jeff won at Texas, but an even better story is that he's led the points for most of the season. It's important for any sport for its biggest names to be relevant. I hate the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, and Alabama Crimson Tide...but their respective sports need them to be good. The 24 team is in the same boat. Whether you love Gordon or hate him, it's always more fun when he's contending.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
As for the points systems, I do think that people will look back and wonder about what could have been. Jeff jokes about it all the time, but he doesn't whine. It would say a lot about his already legendary career if he became the first man to win Cups under the two differnent systems.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
I would have to go back and see for sure, but I think Richard Petty's seven titles were spread out over four different points systems.
Do you think, in 20 years, that people will remember Jeff Gordon the same way we talk about the Allison family, Pearson, Waltrip, J Johnson, Yarborough, and other NASCAR greats.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Without a doubt, Dale. If people don't already think about him as being a part of that group then they're just not paying attention. By season's end he could be 3rd all-time on the wins list behind only The King and David Pearson. That's mind-boggling.
I heard you on the radio last night talking racing from a Phillies game. You're not getting soft and going stick-and-ball on us are you?
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
No, I'm not going soft. I'm here in the City of Brotherly Love working on a baseball story for ESPN The Magazine. But I did that interview with Speed Freaks last night live from the empty visitors dugout from Citizens Bank Park and this morning I drove out to Langhorne in search of the old speedway site. So racing is still #1 in my heart, Tracy! (Visit www.espnthemag.com on Tuesday afternoon to read about my Langhorne Speedway search - "The Track That Ate The Heroes"!)
Bradley knoxville tn [via mobile]
Is jeff gordan better than richard petty
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
No, you blasphemer! Andif he is, I would never admit it...as I sit here and type away in my old school Petty Enterprises t-shirt.
Hey Ryan, Any chance my boy Montoya wins on an oval this year and what are his chances of making the chase? Has a pretty good crowd of drivers behind him.
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
Felipe...it's going to be tough. But we all keep waiting on him to fade and he never does. If he's in striking distance when we hit August, he's got a great shot. He's solid at Indy, The Glen, Michigan, and Atlanta. And so far this season he's been aces on the short tracks. I think he's posted something like the 8th best average finish so far on the two short track races.
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
The Earnhardt-Ganassi merge led to a switch from Dodge to Chevy for JPM. And the biggest benefit of that move was that those teams now use Childress engines. And those suckers make some serious horsepower. HP's go a long way in making up for bad cars.
When Junior missed his pit, DW said that the 88flag was on the ground. On the replay, it was. Why didn't the crew wave it so Junior could see it better. Maybe he can add some flashing lights to it or something!
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
It looked like the lollipop was on the ground. But in the end that responsibility is on the crew or the spotter, whomever was desginated at the start of the race to count the driver in. If you've ever driven down pit road in a street car or ridden with a driving instructor from a racing school you know that the flat, straight nature of pit road is confusing looking even with nothing going on. But still, damn...that shouldn't ever happen. And certainly not twice in one year.
Nick (SLC, UT)
Rusty Wallace or Bill Elliot. Who was better in their prime? Better overall?
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
I love these. I'll go with Rusty. He could win on any track at any time. Elliott was strictly a superspeedway guy, but man was good at that. If he'd been able to handle the short tracks at all in '85 he would have walked away with the championship instead of losing to the more well-rounded DW.
Being from The Open Wheel Capital of the world i gotta know. Do you think Sam Hornish will make it or will be back in IRL next season or sooner?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Jon, I think the possibility of his returning to open wheel probably has a lot riding on this Helio Castroneves tax evasion trial. If Helio goes to jail for any length of time (and we should know by the end of next week), then the general consensus in the IRL paddock is that Will Power is not the long term answer for arguably the best ride in the series.
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
So why wouldn't Penske take Hornish, who is admittedly miserable and is easily the greatest racer in the IRL's short history, and put him in that car?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
This is just me specualting, and it all depends on what happens to Helio in court. But you have to think that The Captain has at least considered it.
josh tx [via mobile]
I just want to say haha to the guy who said on wednesday or thursday "no way i'm picking gordon to win at texas" thats wasnt you right? Lol
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Wait...Josh...you're breaking up...I can't hear you...
whats Jeffrey Earnhardt up to these days? any promise to him?
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
Yo Eric...Jeffrey is set to make his Nationwide Series debut the final weekend of May at Dover, just up the road from where I currently sit in Philly. He's going to run seven Nationwide events for Rick Ware Racing to prep for making a Rookie of the Year run in 2010. Have you seen him lately. He looks so much like his grandfather did at the same age it's a little creepy.
Jack in Hattiesburg, Miss
What are your feelings on moving the awards banquet from NYC to Las Vegas?
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
Hey Jack...I have mixed feelings about it only because I love going to New York during the holidays. But honestly no one in the city outside of Regis and Kelly care.
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
I think Vegas is a great idea, if for no other reason because they would have it at one of the big casino arenas that seat 10,000 people and that would let fans buy tickets and come to see it.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
The whole affair is so stiff now. Imagine if they did it like they do the CMA's now, in an arena where fans can come in and cheer for their favorite guy? That would rock.
With the economy struggling would it help the smaller teams if nascar went to a one day show like they do at local tracks across america?
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
No doubt about it Darin. At least cut it back to two-day shows at some places. A lot of people were shaking their heads at Texas, where the Nationwide teams - who are really feeling the pinch these days - were on the track Wednesday and Thursday, then had nothing planned on Friday before racing on Saturday. Hotel rooms and meal money alone made that a giant waste of cash.
Mark (Mount Airy, MD)
Hey Ryan, As a follow up to Hattiesburg Jack's question, do you seen the Chase finale eventually being moved to Las Vegas form Homestaed as well???????
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Yes sir. I think that's ultimately what the folks at LVMS would like to do. But I do know that the league likes ending the season in late November where the weather is guaranteed to be warm. The desert gets a little dicey that time of year for sitting in the grandstands.
Joe Staten island
I already think so but in your opinion is jeff gordon better than dale sr.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Not yet Joe. But he's getting close.
Tyler (Tampa, FL)
How do Shrub and Jr. have pretty much the same day, and in your power rankings you do nothing but praise and he stays in the same spot, but Jr. falls 5 spots and you make fun of him.
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
You have a short memory Tyler. Last week I ripped on Kyle and sang Junior's praises. The Power Rankings are all about momentum and achievement. Shrub's two wins are still enough to leave him where he is. A bad weekend doesn't cost him as much. As inconsistent as Little E has been, bad weeks are just that much more worse.
Is this a make or break season for Denny Hamlin? He seems to have matured a lot, but if he can't perform do you think he could be on the way out at JGR?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
He Jess, I wouldn't call it make or break, but it is definitely important. There seemed to be more urgency around his future when the season got off to such a bad start, but the way he's run the last few weeks he's just fine.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
The big thing that's changed this year is his maturity, Now that he's the senior guy at JGR he's not afraid to call out the team when he feels improvements need to be made, especially when it comes to his pit crew. And I thought he handled the late race run-in with Johnson at Martinsville like a pro...despite the fact that everyone kept trying to bait him into a war of words.
Tyler (Tampa, FL)
Okay, I looked back, and I apologize.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
And I appreciate that.
Is it just me, or does Kyle Busch have "Ricky Bobby" syndrome, "If you ain't first you're last"? He always seems to run really well or be toward the back.
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
You are corrrect, Clay, We had a question earlier about Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott and if there was a flaw to their careers it was this same syndrome. The good days are really, really good...but the bad days are really, really bad. The one thing that kept them both (and so far Shrub) from being Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, or Jimmie Johnson is that those guys have always limited their bad days to so-so days.
John, Covington GA
Didn't Tony win titles under both point systems?(2002,2005)
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
He did John. Nice catch. And it brings up another great driver discussion. For all the talk about where Jeff Gordon ranks among the greatest ever, where does Tony Stewart rank? He's not top five...but he's been better than most people realize. Now if he could just win the Daytona 500...
In your answer to Jessie, you stated that Hamlin's maturity kept him from getting baited in a war of words. What's your take on DW's piece against so much 'political correctness' when it came to drivers? I have to agree with DW...I'd LOVE to see more passion out there and some rivalries.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
I agree Woody. And I think Dale Junior-Kyle Busch could be one of those rivalries. Neither one of those guys is afraid to speak his mind and they genuinely do no like each other. But Earnhardt is going to need to start winning again to make that rivalry an actual rivalry.
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
I still get a giant smile on my face when I think about the great Kurt Busch-Jimmy Spencer feud back in the early part of the decade.
Ryan, did you hear any of kenseth's thoughts after the race? Pit road mistake,strength of the car, etc...
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Just that he was happy to have a car that ran up front again like he'd done at Dayotna and California. He had been terrible since then. You know, he usually checks in to our chat around this time each week (at least we think it's him). Don't know if he'll show up this week or not. With the off weekend most of the garage has jetted south to somewhere warm and beachy.
Joe Fleetwood Pa
I think Smoke should be in the top five since he won two championships under two different points systems, and he has taken three car markers to victory lane Pontiac, Chevy, Toyota
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Great point, Joe, Even though he doesn't like to acknowledge the Toyota part of it.
Aaron (Bangor, ME)
Excellent job giving credit for that Tony Stewart catch to somebody else after I posted the same message to you nearly an hour ago.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
Thanks Aaron. You know me, I like to diss people from Maine. You, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and L.L. Bean.
David Washington DC
Ryan-I heard a rumor the 8 team is folding soon. With the performance of Almorilla lately it wouldn't surprise me. Have you heard anything about that?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
David there is a lot of talk about the 8 and other teams that are on "10-race deals". A lot of teams with little funding had a ten-race budget set up in the hopes of finding sponsorship to make it the entire season. I think those teams are happy to see the off week hit now and are busy with their calcualtors right now seeing how much further they can make it. We'll have a clearer picture when we get on the other side of Easter.
Hey Ryan, at least they didn't throw beer or toilet paper when Jeff Gordon won the race. I think the fans showing some respect to 24, Agree?
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
John, I think that Jeff is finally making the same grandstand transition that guys before him like DW, Dale Senior, and Rusty Wallace all made. Early in their careers people hated them because they were young, good-looking, and blew in and started whipping the established stars. But late in their careers they were respected, if not beloved, by all.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
People started coming around on Gordon, interestingly enough, when he started struggling a bit after 2001. Now they like him because I think everyone realizes that we are watching history everytime he hits the track.
Marc (Malden, MA)
And if NASCAR/IRL would change their start times and allow Tony Stewart to win the Indy 500...
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
I know, it makes no sense. It's a win-win for everyone, yet no one wants to make it happen. Oh well...
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
At least The King is going to the Indy 500 this year! The last time he was there was to say goodbye to A.J. Foyt when he retired. Now he's fielding a car for John Andretti as an owner.
Aaron (Bangor, ME)
Hey, you'll get no argument from me. Aside from a ton of pine trees, moose, lobster, and good 'ole Ricky Craven, we don't have much here.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
But I do love all three of those things, and I love the Seekonk Speedway, so that ain't all bad!
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Alright folks, thanks for stopping by again for the Internet's biggest one-hour Monday afternoon motorsports block party. As always, your questions were the best. Don't forget to tip your wait staff and enjoy the Fine Young Cannibals.
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