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)
What's up folks? The weather here in NC is terrible, so there's no better time than to bunk it in and get psyched for the worldwide interweb's biggest and baddest Monday motorsports block party. I've thrown in Kenny Wayne Shepherd and I'm ready to talk racing! And how about a round of applause for Randy Lajoie. I saw him out at the ARCA race in Rockingham yesterday, working with his up and coming racer of a son, Corey.
Hey Ryan,After seeing the Harvick piece with Marty yesterday, I wonder why RC would be more inclined ot get rid of Mears instead of Harvick. Kevin clearly doesn't want to be there, and Casey has picked up tihngs of late. I know he's not a "superstar", but I also know he'd at least appreciate the ride. Thanks
Debbie K (Wisconsin)
Ryan...Marty Smith's interview w/Kevin Harvick aired during the countdown show was very insightful.Do you see him lasting all 2010 season at RCR?...I cant see this arrangement working out a whole year. Contract or no contract...
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
First, if you folks haven't seen Marty's interview with Harvick, check it out here: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4539850
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
Second, the interview has gone over at RCR like a wet loaf of bread. First, I do understand why RC would want to keep Harvick for one more year instead of Mears. Happy is a much more sellable face and name...but more importantly keeping Kevin around also meant keeping Shell/Pennzoil around. And these days sponsor $ is worth more than drivers, sad to say. Second, I don't see this last the length of 2010...unless he makes the Chase. If he doesn't, he'll be out of there before season's end. The good news is that he's been running well as of late. Then again, so has Mears.
2 major mistakes in both Auto Club races, is Denny Hamlin losing his focus? Does he stand a chance of a comeback in this years chase?
Frank (Washington DC)
Is Denny done?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Frank and Mojo...yes, he is done. My rule of thumb about the Chase is if a driver is still within a race's worth of points - 156 is the most you can gain on someone in one race - is still in it as long as Talladega is hanging out there. So my cutoff right now is Kurt Busch (6th, 121 points back) and up. Everyone else can start working on 2010. As for lack of focus, sure looked like it. To DH's credit, he took blame for Sunday.
Did we just see it sunday....the inevitable....now johnson has the points lead...i have this weird feeling like i have seen this movie before....hmmm.....when is the daytona 500 again?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
The 500 is on Valentine's Day...and yes it feels a bit like The Shining doesn't it? No matter what we do we end up in the same place. Pesonally, I think the thing is still very much in doubt. Hey, Martin is only 12 points back! But I have really be surprised at how defeated JJ's competition already looks. Gordon all but signed a surrender agreement after the race...and he finished second!
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
That's the benefit of being The Man. Like Jack Nicklaus used to say. Simply by walking onto the course he knew he'd already beaten 90 percent of the field. He was in their head.
E J (colorado)
ok im conserned about kasey now should he just leave for EGR for a year then SHR in 2011
Debbie K (Wisconsin)
Hi Ryan...Obviously, driver's contracts are set up unique to each individual...but, based on your Nascar experience/knowledge, do you think there would be a stipulation in Kasey Kahne's contract that he would have an 'early out' based on the manufacturer? RPM signed him to drive Dodges-they're going to Ford's next year...and we know Kasey's not a Ford fan! Your opinion?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Debbie and EJ, I think he's staying put. If there was an out in his contract we'd already know about it. He and Harvick are kind of in the same boat. Make do for a year and bail...though they are both rumored to be bailing for the same ride at SHR, so stay tuned.
Dave W. (Ukiah, Ca)
Ryan, First I would like to thank you for all of the hard work you must put in to give us all of these fantastic stories you hit us with every week...especially the power rankings. The one liners you come up with are classic bro!My question is, as a big #48 fan, I still get amazed on how many people still dislike J.J. Did you hear the boo birds yesterday when he won a race he obviously deserved to win? Do people not realize they are possibly witnessing history with the run this team has been on the last 3 years? I don't think the #48 haters out there will appreciate what they are seeing until Jimmie hangs up his helmet but I for one am going to enjoy every minute of it!!!I hope he wins more than 4 in a row just to see how long it takes for fans to realize we are watching something very special on the track.
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
Thanks for the props. And yes, I heard the boos. Hey, dynasties are only good for the people who make them. Everyone else gets tired of having their heads kicked in. When Earnhardt and Gordon had their stretches where they were winning all the time people booed them to.
David Pickett (GA)
Mark Martin is going to win it all
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
See? David hasn't given up yet!
Jerry (Tampa, FL)
Props to Kahne for calling out NASCAR on phantom cautions. I think there were at least three debris cautions that were called during convenient TV commercial periods. Whether they're phantom or not, it just looks bad and almost isn't even believable.
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Well, Jerry, I can tell you this. I was a TV producer for a long time and no one from NASCAR ever gave a hoot when we needed to go to break. But phantom cautions...they absolutely happen. And they happen when the leader has an eight-plus second lead with one pit stop to go and no end in sight. Like Sunday.
your link to the video you cant click on it? is it on the nascar paig?
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
Ctl-C and paste it into the browser.
More dominant athlete: Tiger or Jimmie?
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
Last four years? Jimmie. But if Tiger hadn't gotten hurt it'd be a push.
Mark Martin (NC)
I just want to say how awesome HMS is. I am just so proud to be driving the 5 car. I just hope I won enough races to stay around next yr. Alan G is so awesome, my teammates are just so awesome. My lif is just so awesome.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
Thanks for checking in "Mark".
Mike (Star City, W.Va.)
RyanAny update on where you think Bobby Labonte will land next year. Do you think he has a chance for a competitive ride like the fourth car at Childress.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
I don't think he is headed to RCR. It's looking more and more like Paul Menard (and his cash) will be moving up there.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
As for Bobby, he is in talks with his current part-time ride for a possible full-time gig. Hall of Fame Racing, the 96, which will be parting ways with Yates/Petty next year has talked about bringing him back.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
When RCR was trying to save the Jack Daniels deal they threw Bobby out there as a potential driver, but now that JD is gone, Bobby's chances probably are too.
Paul Menard??? I thought he was the fourth car in the Evernman-Gillette-Petty-Yates-Rousch...er, RPM stable?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
He and his Daddy aren't happy with how all of that has gone down.
Bill S. (High Point, NC)
Saw that "Daddy Lagono" got his hard card pulled by NASCAR for what he did after the race Sat. Just what does having your "hard card" mean? He can still go to the race but does it limit his activities and where?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
Hard cards are literally little plastic cards you wear around your neck - officially it is an "Annual Credential". They are issued to anyone who will be at a certain number of races. They also allow "Hot" access to the garage during practices. Taking his hard card takes away his free pass to the track every week and limits his garage access. Now he has to apply to NASCAR and/or the track for credentials for any race he wants to attend, which is a total pain in the butt.
is it true nascar doesnt like other cars "racing' chase cars?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
NASCAR was very quick to address that on Friday. At Kansas they warned Brad Keselowski to back off some of the Chase cars, particularly Montoya. They contend they were merely doing what they do 50 times a race, which is warn a driver - especially a young driver - to chill out if he's being too rough. Those who heard what they said to him over the radio (and I did not) claim it was a direct "leave the Chasers alone" warning.
With all the Chase contenders all so close, one "big one" at Dega would be interesting.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
Yep, and that's why I say that if you are within one race's worth of points of the leader you are still in it. After Talladega I'll cut that line down to like 50 points.
Why did Kyle bother to start the race on Sunday? Its not like he is in the chase battle, unlike the NNS where he is fighting for the title.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Points. The driver must start the race behind the wheel in order to be awarded the points. I have to say though, as sick as Shrub was, that was pretty wicked how he moved up 20 spots during the first green flag run. I had the flu back in September and I couldn't get out of the damn bed for more than an hour, let alone go from 43rd to 23rd at 195 mph.
Do teams that are not in the Chase just use these last few races to test and try new things for the years ahead?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
Absolutely. Two prime examples - the 88 has spent the last few weeks putting in setups from the 24, 48, and 5 to let Junior get a feel for them. AND at least one, more than likely two, of the Richard Petty Motorsports teams will be running Fords instead of Dodges before season's end to get ready for their 2010 switch.
When is Daddy Menard going to realize that fronting millions of dollars for an "also ran" isn't exactly the best business decision.
If Menard gets that 4th car at RCR, that's a sad statement on our sport. YOu called it though, the allmighty $$$ is more important. Maybe one day Casey Mears will be able to stay in the same car for 2 straight seasons. It's been 6 years in a row now. Is that a record?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Yep, we said it months ago when this Harvick mess started. During these hard economic times, Childress's top priority was keeping Shell/Pennzoil's $ on board, not keeping Harvick. Lose Harvick and you have a job opening. Lose Shell and you have dozens of people out of work. If bringing in Menard's means not having to lay off the people that currently work on the Jack Daniels team, then that's what he'll do.
think the 88 team hit on something yesterday for ol Jr.? he was coming like ganbusta's!!
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
He's been running great the last few weeks. More importantly, he's been running stronger as the races are going on. But they cannot catch a break. BTW, I started my new daily blog last week and one of the first things I did was a statistical comparison between the 88 with Tony Eury Jr. calling the shots and with Lance McGrew calling the shots. The results might surprise you. http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4535731&name=mcgee_ryan
So with Kahne being all but mathematically eliminated (sigh...), does he run a Ford before the end of the year?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Probably not. That would likely create all kinds of contractual issues with Dodge. Lord knows, Kasey doesn't need to make any more manufacturers mad at him. Kahne and Ford were in court vs. one another for years.
For those purist who hate the chase:Look at both Trucks and Nationwide title race, lead is 197 and 155 between the top two. YawnThis year's Chase has 5 drivers within 105 points of lead with 6 races to go.Without it, Stewart would be 180 over the 24 and 188 above the 48 - with no other drivers within 400 points.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
Yep. I said it on NASCAR Now a few weeks ago. Anyone who thinks the Chase isn't better has a short memory. I spent many a long Sunday asleep in the media center at places like Rockingham, Phoeniz, and Atlanta covering races that didn't matter because guys like Earnhardt, Gordon, Jarrett, and Kenseth had 200-point leads with a month to go.
Will (Chico, Ca)
Do you think that Juan Montoya's success in the Chase is based on the Ganassi merger with DEI, Brian Patte, or having ECR Chevy horsepower under the hood?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
The last two. The only real benefit of the DEI merger was that it brought the Earnhardt-Childress engines.
Debbie K (Wisconsin)
Mojo...whatever you do, do not mention the 'old point system' to Smoke! You'll get an earfull!
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
Yeah, we made that mistake at Kansas. Holy overreaction.
Bill H (Concord, NC)
In The Harvick interview, the "Nobodys Dead" comment from Harvick kind of floored me, and Marty clearly was not expecting that. What is your take on that comment?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
I got what Harvick was saying. His point was that no matter how stressful it gets at RCR during all this contract furor, it'll never compare to what they had to overcome when he was thrown into the car in 2001 the week after Earnhardt died. But it was blunt as hell wasn't it?
How many more times will NASCAR take the 48 and 5 back to the R&D Center that are not needed? Before long HMS will just move next door.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
The good news is that Hendrick Motorsports is only about a ten-minute drive from the R&D Center. Good thing. Because NASCAR will keep hauling 'em over there until they've made their point.
do you like the old car or the current. Does it cost more to run the current car becuase it takes more money to figure it out?
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
Nope, the opposite, Teams are building fewer cars and the tighter specs leave little room for tinkering. They were testing and twisting and tinkering with the old car so much that they were building them and sometimes just throwing them away without using them if something didn't work. I like the new car. And it's getting better. This aeromatch problem that everyone complains about was worse on the old car.
Rickey Henderson (Hall of Fame)
Ryan McGee you are great, but Rickey is the greatest of all-time.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Andy (Sioux Falls)
do you think "The Biff" ran Logano into the wall on purpose in the nationwide race? i have heard people say biffle said he was going to do it on the radio.
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
NASCAR is reviewing Biff's radio tranmissions right now. They scan everyone during the race and I know that during Cup races they record most teams at NASCAR Media Group here in Charlotte. If he did say that he was going to do it and then did it, I'm thinking he's going to get popped pretty good fine-wise. And Logano's Dad might have had good reason to do what he did.
Hook (Southern Maryland)
Are there any differences between the Sprint Cup COT and the Nationwide COT?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
A little. The Nationwide cars are supposed to be Pony Cars. So far Mustang is in, but Camaro isn't...which I think is a huge mistake on Chevy's part. Here's the official rendering from Ford. http://www.jayski.com/schemes/2010/nationwide/images/2010mustangCOT.jpg
Eric (Camarillo, CA)
What's so exciting about 43 cars driving in a big circle hundred of times? I don't get it.
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
Just like I don't get why someone would take the time to come to a NASCAR chat room to ask that question. Go watch soccer or something, dude, we're talking racing.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Alright folks, on that cheery note it's time to wrap up this week's edition of the block party. See you back here next week. In the meantime, keep checking out my new new daily Insider NASCAR blog. Today I'm telling you what young up-and-comers to keep an eye on in NASCAR's future. As always, tip your wait staff and enjoy Big Audio Dynamite.