Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 2009 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." For the '09 season, he will be putting together the NASCAR Power Rankings for ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join McGee Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ryan McGee (2:01 PM)
Wecome back all my oil-covered brothers and sisters, to the Internet's loudest and rowdiest one-hour Monday afternoon motorsports block party.
Ryan McGee (2:01 PM)
How about another round of applause for Boris Said, easily the scariest hair in motorsports history.
I thought that was a really good race yesterday, i think kansas has a bad rep because its another 1.5 mile track but there was guys battling for position in the top ten the whole race, are they for sure going to get a second date in the future?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
I'm with you Sean, and I am one of the guys who has been critical of all the 1.5-mile tracks. Yesterday we set Kansas Speedway records for fewest cautions (6), most leaders (14) and most lead changes (26) and the outcome was in doubt until the final lap. I don't really need much more than that from a race.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
And yes, there are getting a second Cup race soon. The local government just signed off on a ginormous casino/hotel complex to be built over turn 2. Atlanta, Fontana, and Martinsville need to watch their backs.
Chris D (Columbia, md)
With all of the success from the Hendrick stable, what do you think the other teams within Nascar, mainly the big teams like Roush-Fenway or RCR can do to improve their chances for next year? It seems like Roush is making some headway but RCR seems to be lost in the sauce! Thanks and Go SMOKE!
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
Chris, I think we'll see the other teams close the gap next year. If you really go back and look at it, one of the big teams seems to always get a jump on the field at the start of each year. Last year it was Roush. The difference now is that without all the testing it is harder to make that ground up. As for RCR, they always look good one year and dip the next. If the pattern holds they should bounce back next year.
Mike (Evans, Ga)
Do you think Lance McGrew will be back w/ Dale Jr next season?
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Yep. Dale Junior stated this weekend that he wants McGrew back and Rick Hendrick hinted pretty strongly that he'll be back. I am already working on my ESPN.com Insider blog for tomorrow and have been running numbers. The finishes haven't been great with McGrew, but the in-race loop data numbers reveal a pretty nice improvement in performance. Now if they can find someone who can tighten a lugnut...
Chad (Las Vegas)
How far out of the points is still in the race for the title? I really want to know if Jeff Gordon still has a shot.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
I think the top eight are still in it. That goes back to Biffle in 8th, 114 points back. Everyone in that group is one race away from being back in it and until we get on the other side of Talladega - "the Lotto" as Mark Martin calls it - being within a race's worth of points will still be in it.
Jeremy (West Des Moines, IA)
What exactly was Tony's deal with some of his post-race comments? It seemed like he went after the reporters and Gordon for pointing out the fact that the Chase made things more exciting than the old points system... what the heck?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
In case you forgot, Tony is still Tony. For the last month he's been getting bombarded with questions about the old points system and if he thought he's been screwed out of a 3rd Cup by the Chase system. He lashed out pretty good, reminding everyone that the old system was last used five years ago and he has no problem with the new system. He even called it "cool".
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
And he's never really enjoyed questions that begin with "Jeff Gordon said..."
CNNSI has a report that says Danica Favre could very well be driving for Jr. Motorsports in a limited role for 2010, gotta be a surprise for all those dopes who made it seem like she was staying in the IRL and not going to run any races in the Nationwide series when that report broke about 2 weeks ago, doesn't it?
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
For the record, I was never one of those dopes. When everyone was saying, "Well, that's it, no NASCAR for Danica..." I was screaming, "Have you see the IRL schedule?!" It is thin, spread out, and custom made for moonlighting. That's why see guys from the IRL racing all over the place - sports cars, etc. - all year long. She's doing exactly what we said she'd be doing in this very rocking chatroom months ago!
Hey Ryan, I loved the JPM comment in your Power Rankings this week! How long have you been saving that one?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
When he first came to CART I was a producer on the late, great RPM2Night on ESPN2 and we used to drop that line on an hourly basis. I've been sitting on it for years. Thanks for noticing.
Mike (Glastonbury, CT)
Mark Martin is out of his racing gear and in street clothes faster than a lap around the track. Anyway, is Mark Martin taller than Calvin Borel? He might be able to transition to horse racing if he gets tired of racing cars.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
I've always said that the race to get out of the track is better and faster than the race on the track. The all-time champs were Rusty Wallace and Kenny Schrader. During the last lap of the race, if Rusty wasn't winning he'd come on the radio and ask his handlers if the golf cart was in place to get him out of the garage and to his helicopter.
Does Greg Biffle's run in a new car give hope that the Roush cars can still improve by season's end? Thanks.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
Yes. Especially with all the 1.5-mile ovals left in the season.
Bill S (High Point, NC)
I have heard that Gillete has said that at least one RPM car will be a Ford by years end. My question is when and where it will be brought and who gets it first?
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
Look for A.J. Allmendinger in a blue oval at Talladega.
Zach (Waterbury, CT)
Have you ever been on the receiving end of Tony's sarcasm? If so, did you know he was going to say something smart back to you?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Back in the fledgling years of the Indy Racing League there were many races where I was the only national media member there, at least on the TV side, as a field producer with RPM2Night. He would win the pole by 5 mph (no joke), lead the first 175 laps, then blow up while leading. When he got out of the car there I would be to ask, "What happened?" So yes, I have been on the end of many a Smoke Show. But he almost always came back and apologized later.
Did NASCAR take the 5 and 48 back to R&D this week because they found something in post-race inspection? Or, are they just double checking to make sure the teams heeded the warning from last week?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Double-checking. All part of the warning system.
What's your take on the Biff calling for 4 tires on the last pit stop and ultimately costing him the win? Didn't Erwin want to take two?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Yes, Erwin did. The Biff, like all drivers almost always do, wanted four. As soon as the green flag dropped, Biffle came over the radio and admitted that he'd made a mistake.
You suck McGee
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
I know, Ryan.......I know.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
Thanks dude...and I actually mean this thanks.
Ryan, I'm a stats junkie, but I can't find the answer to this question... Is Mark Martin now the oldest driver to lead the championship standings for more than one week?
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
Yes he is. That's a good one.
is there any new news about the richard petty/ robert yates merger or are they still working out the deal?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
They are still working out a deal. Geroge Gillett stopped by the Kansas media center to clarify a lot of the rumors going around about the future of RPM. He said that the merger is coming along, he expects RPM to field a Ford by season's end, he understands Kasey Kahne's frustration but appreciates his patience, Petty disciple Robbie Loomis will likely still be running the racing operation and that the Saudi prince he's been talking to will NOT have majority ownership in the team but has been offered a chance to buy a minority stake.
Bill S (High Point, NC)
Remember, Tony is still the only driver to win a championship under both systems. But give him a break, he didn't want to answer alot of questions after the race, he wanted to go racing. How did he do on the dirt last night?
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
I totally get where he was coming from. After a race, especially after winning a race, he hates to talk about hypotheticals. He wants to talk about the race. Lost in the whole thing was that he was telling all of his fans that are still claiming that the system is robbing him of a Cup to shut up and accept that he likes the Chase. And he finished 7th in the dirt late model race at Knoxville, Iowa. Scott Bloomquist won. Newman finished 22nd out of 28.
dz (phx, az)
how does nascar determine the tracks for the race schedule? for example, fans and some writers bash on pocono but there was no schedule changes for 2010.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
There is a committee of NASCAR officials that determine the schedule. There's not really a system they use, but certainly market size and revenue play a big part. Pocono continues to retain two races because: 1. The Mattioli family has been tight with the France family for decades and remained loyal to NASCAR during some shaky times. 2. It is the closest speedway to New York City.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
Do you see any benefit to scoring chase drivers separate, 1-12 regardless of finish is race. I haven't thought about how exactly the points would work, but it would keep all chasers alive if they were taken out by a non-chase driver.
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
I do some benefit there and several drivers and team owners have mentioned it in recent weeks. But the argument against that is that it will further marginalize the teams and sponsors who aren't in the Chase. I'd like for someone to come up with a model system and run it during a Chase and see what it comes up with.
Ryan (Virginia Beach)
Am I the only one who thinks it was ridiculous for NASCAR to tell Brad Kesolowski to "be careful" around the chase drivers? It's not like he was a lap down car that was holding up the leaders - he was battling for position. If the chase drivers are as good as everyone claims they are, then shouldn't they be able to handle themselves out there?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
No, you are not the only who thinks that's ridiculous. Asking a racer not to race is like asking a dog not to eat or a baby not to cry...it ain't natural!
I promise I am not a stalker but where are you doing this chat from? Do most ESPN analysts sit in their office, hotel, or house typing away on a laptop? Thanks just curious.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
I'm at home now here in NC. But over the last year I have done this chat from racetracks, race shops, restaurants, and earlier this year I did it from the press box of Rosenblatt Stadium in the middle of a College World Series game. I'll never miss the Monday Motorsports Block Party!
Jake (Las Vegas)
Jimmie Johnson your favorite to win at Fontana (his home track essentially)?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Yep, the numbers don't like. Over the last ten races we've run at the Auto Club Speedway, JJ has posted the best average finish - 6.1 - and two wins, both in this fall race. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth are right there with him and in fact have racked up more top tens and Kenseth has one more win...but you can't put much stock in Roush Fenway right now.
I think if I was Jack Roush or RCR, I'd be beating down NASCAR's door to get the testing ban lifted for next year.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
Yep. Especially Roush. But it isn't happening. They got a little more wiggle room when NASCAR opened up the essentially the AAA baseball-level tracks, but nothing can replace the real thing. I myself am all for keeping the ban in place. Yes, Hendrick has had a big year, but I think the testing limitations have allowed teams like RPM, EGR, and MWR to keep up better than they ever have.
dz (phx, az)
ryan, so basically it's about nascar trying to make the largest buck? it sounds like the nascar officials got it all figured out.
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
You just now figuring that out, dz? Sniffing out cash is a time-honored NASCAR tradition!
Ryan, what's up? Great race this weekend. What would be more more historically important, JJ winning again, MM winning at his age or Smoke winning as a driver/owner? By the way, wish me luck, it's my first day as a non-smoker.
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
First, congrats to you on the no smoking deal. Hang in there, first few days are the worst from what my friends tell me. Second, I have to go with Mark, not just because of his age but also because of the reaction that it will create in the garage. I think we'd see a sport-wide celebration every bit as emotional as when Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 in '98.
Ryan you are being hard on Kurt in the rankings, he sucks at Kansas and started 39th but came up 11th! Whats up?!
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
I feel you, Wade, but where else do I put him? Maybe ahead of Biffle, but do you really think they are better right now than 11, 24, 14, and 42? When I do the Power Rankings I also factor in what I think they will do in the near future. And I really think that the erosion caused by only letting the crew chief come into work one day a week will start showing soon. I think they will win Martinsville, but fade by November.
Hook (Southern Maryland)
What is the bigger tire that will be tested at Richmond tomorrow supposed to do?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Match up better with the CoT. It was clear when the taller, wider car was introduced that it needed a taller, wider tire. Goodyear has done a helluva job making the old smaller tire work, but I have yer to find anyone in the garage who doesn't think a bigger tire isn't a good idea. I think we would have had it sooner if not for the economy.
Nino (Clarkston, MI)
Why not run most Nationwide and Truck races on a Friday, Saturday schedule together. Practice and Qualify Friday, races on Saturday. Then have the Cup have two day weekends, with one day dedicated to practice and qualifying and the other to racing.
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
That's coming Nino. NASCAR has been running numbers in conjunction with teams to see how much money that would save...and it's a lot. Travel costs alone would save a team millions. Track owners don't like the idea, but backing Nationwide and Truck shows back a day might help keep the turnstiles clicking. Honestly, since the introduction of the Top 35 rules fans haven't really been coming out for Cup qualifying on Fridays anyway.
Ed (Fort Worth)
Rusty beat Dale Sr out of the garage after a bad day? I thought Senior was legendary at getting out of Dodge after a bad day. One of the few times Rusty was ahead of Dale apparently.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
What about an F1-esque point system for the Chasers only during the Chase? Score everyone else the same as always as they battle for 13th...I mean the Chasers are already on their own point system when we reset them to 5000
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Matt, my new daily ESPN.com Insider blog starts today, should be posted this afternoon, and I write about this very idea. I found a racing bloggrer who has been running the NASCAR results against the F1 points system all year. Interestingly enough, the standings end up being about what they already were under the old season-long points system...with the exception of Kyle Busch, who was top six thanks to the F1 system that puts more emphasis on wins.
Mark (Mount Airy, MD)
Hey Ryan, Is MacMurray still in the lead in the Chase for the #1 ride next year??????
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Jimmie Johnson (Charlotte)
I feel like NASCAR sabotaged me with a bad set of tires to make things more interesting at Kansas. Do you agree?
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
No...but a lot of people seem to agree with you. They also think that Dale Jr. blew up on purpose to help you out. Those same people probably think that Lyndon Johnson was the second shooter on the grassy knoll.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Alright folks, that will do it for this week's Monday Motorsports Block Party. See you on NASCAR Now this Wednesday and cruise over to ESPN.com's Insider to check out my new daily NASCAR blog. In the meantime, don't forget to tip your wait staff and enjoy Aldo Nova.