Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 2010 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 '10 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 up my track sealant-covered brothers and sisters and welcome to the worldwide Interweb's biggest and baddest (we're pretty sure only) one-hour Monday motorsports block party. How about another round of applause for my lead-in, Ricky Craven. Can't go to our next stop, Darlington, without thinking about Ricky edging Kurt Busch in the greatest final lap of a NASCAR race ever. Not even debatable. To the queries!
John (Pensacola, FL)
Ryan, NASCAR power rankings must be difficult since its the only sport where everyone competes in the same event every week. Are your power rankings a rprediction of next weeks finish? Or are they something else?
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
It is tough, but it is also fun. My formula for the Power Rankings is one part how they just did + how they've done over the last few weeks how they usually do at the track coming up a pinch of off-track news gut feeling.
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
I try not to mirror the point standings, which usually isn't very hard. I can tell you this. I have also had votes on top 25 polls in other sports and this is much more fun...and one benefit of everyone competing at the same place at the same time is that it does make for easier head-to-head comparisons vs. trying to figure out who is better, Oregon State or Rutgers.
Ryan (Arlington, TX)
Ryan, Please explain what went wrong with Junior Saturday night. Did he just have a mental lapse? I fully expected at the very least a top ten out of that team. I have been a Junior fan for years, but this is getting silly.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
They'd had their problems early, got a lap down and decided - as a team - to decline the wave-around during the caution at lap 154 and wait on the next caution to get the "Lucky Dog" and their lap back. But after they ran into Bobby Labonte and had a tire go down they had to pit before that yellow and ended up going 3 laps down. Easy to question that call right now, but I would've done the same thing. Then again, I was at a wedding reception and not on top of a pit box, so what the hell do I know.
Emily (New Jersey)
Hey, Ryan! When do you think Carl will break his drought? I have my eyes on Dover or Pocono.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
You are a smart person, Emily. I have my eye on those, too. He could drive Pocono with his eyes closed. But remember, he finished second at Darlington in '08.
Shawn Anderson Riverside.Ca. [via mobile]
Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. Win a race this year?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Yes. Don't ask me where. We're in his best stretch of tracks right now. Maybe Michigan this summer? BTW, I wish we still raced in your current location of Riverside, but I drove down to where the track used to be and now its condos.
Hi Ryan, another good race on Saturday....my question concerns the white/blue smoke we saw consistently coming from what seemed to be the right rear of Kyle's car in each turn. His car seemed to be the only one doing this and I can recall seeing smoke like this from his car in a few other short track races last year. The TV commentators didn't really seem to know what it was. Can't imagine it was a tire rub and it is hard to believe it was oil (that is a lot of oil burned over the course of the race). What are you hearing, if anything; I am very curious. Could it have been from the splitter under hard braking?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Hey Kevin. How 'bout that Lebron? I don't have a definite answer for you, but I do know that the NASCAR Now guys expect to have an answer for tonight's show (5 PM ET, ESPN2). It was definitely blue smoke, which is usually the sign of oil, vs. white smoke which is usually a tire rub. I talked to a couple of crew chiefs about it and they said that the CoT's always let a lot of fuel pool up and blow all that fire we see out of the headers. They seem to think that's where that smoke was coming from.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What Race will be Danica Patrick's First ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
A lot of people keep pointing to the end of this season, maybe Homestead. But Hendrick is running out of Cup cars to put people in and I don't think she's ready for that yet...and neither does she.
Phil (Westover, W.Va.)
Ryan:It does not look like Bobby Labonte will find the luck of a Mark Martin and get a competitive ride late in his career. We all know that TRG is not going to get it done so what do you think his future holds. Should he basically retire or do you think he still has something left to help a competitive team or will one even take a chance on him.
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
I think he definitely has something to offer, as TRG has found out. A couple of those guys have told me that its like having a second crew chief on the car. He has started a marketing company and is getting his hands into some post-driving revenue streams, but he knows he still has speed in him. Marty Smith wrote a good piece about this last month on ESPN.com.
Kevin (Tappahannock Virginia)
Hey Ry-bo. I was at the race Saturday, and it was great to see my boy Burton finally get a finish worthy of his overall performance. For 5 straight races ? short tracks to long ? he?s been damn near the fastest car out there, and that bodes well. However, many of the upcoming tracks are not among his best. What do you foresee between now and the next Richmond race?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
Yo Kev, it was good to see him get up and front and stay there. For all the talk about Gordon, Burton could just have easily won three or four races. He could win at any of the next three tracks - Darlington, Dover, and Charlotte. He'll definitely win again before we get to Richmond in September.
Am I overreacting by believing that Tony Stewart's season (as far as contending for a Cup) is over?
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
It's getting close. I wrote about this in the Power Rankings. It just feels kind of blah doesn't it? If he can't get around Richmond then there might be a problem.
Ryan (Ventura CA)
Hi Ryan, What's going on @SHR? They were running a experimental set up for the fall race, that's not even a chase race
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Yeah, I'd heard that too. Doesn't make any sense. I'm going to be with the 14 pit crew all day on Wed. I'll see what they say.
Why does everyone think Kyle is back after winning one race? He has show better control this year but one race does not make a season. He had around this many points last year, had already won a few races and proceded to drop out of the chase. Yet people are already anointing him to take the crown from JJ. Please!!! Maybe one day but people should stop saying the guy is so great after one freaking win!!! Jamie Mac has one win! Newman has a win, Harvick has a win. Yet no one makes a huge deal about them.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Well, I do have Harvick #1 in my Power Rankings...and I had him there last week, too, so, I'm not totally out to lunch on this. As for Kyle, I have felt like he was "back" all year long, even before the win. I think it has more to do with what we've all seen/heard when things are going bad. In the past if he'd had a race like Saturday night, where he dominated and then fell off the face of the planet, he would thrown up his hands and given up. But instead - and he's been doing this all year - he complained initially, then went to work trying to fix it. And he did. He's turning potentially bad nights into good ones. That's a whole different person than we've seen in the past.
Danica (Parts Unknown)
Get me out of this IRL hell hole!
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Hahahaha! Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star wrote a great piece about how you've kind of vanished in IndyCar world. We're waiting on you back down here when you get done with the Indy 500...well, some are. Some never want to see you again.
Do you think Penski has had enough of Hornish wrecking every week and kick him out of the car?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
I think he's getting close. I wrote about this on Twitter last week. I HATE that NASCAR fans see Hornish as this stooge who can't get around the track. When he was in the IRL I have never seen a guy with bigger cajones. And his guts produced a lot of wins. I hate that he's been so bad in Cup. But man, has he been bad.
Michael (Las Vegas)
if you ever got arrested in the middle of the night, what driver would get out of bed to come bail you out ? :-)
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Probably Regan Smith. Though he might be in the cell next to me.
The WINGLESS CAR seems to have improve the racing or is it a perception that racing is whole lot better? your thoughts on the wingless car and racin.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
The racing was already pretty good, thanks to double-file restarts and green-white-checkers. But now it does seem better and the drivers all say they are more comfortable. Plus, the wing was uglier than the wrong end of a donkey.
Justin M (Boone, NC)
Over the past couple of weeks, there have been discussions on these chats and other places on the internet about changing the way points are awarded for laps led. I was thinking what could work is a system where there is a concrete amount of points (say for example, 100) available for laps led and each driver gets points based on percentage of laps led. If you lead 95% of the laps (Denny Hamlin at Richmond a couple years ago), you get 95 points. You lead 1%, you get one point. I think this would reward domination without skewing the points toward certain races (if you did it by total laps led, for example, it would be unfair because it's easier to lead 200 laps at Bristol than at, say, Pocono).
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
I like where you are headed, Justin, but the math is making my head hurt. I think we need to simplify before we complicate. Back in the early '70's they used to give points based on laps completed and laps led. The math was so complicated no one knew how it worked. Benny Parsons won the championship that year and didn't even know it until someone told him.
I understand that Mr. H wants Dale Jr as long as he can have him since he is a cash cow, but how long do you see that relationship lasting before Jr leaves to try something else?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
He's not going anywhere. Besides, to find a place where there's a better chance of winning races, where would he go?
Funny that you brought up Curt Cavin...he has a daily IRL Q&A and I actually got posted the other day. It made my day.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
He's a good man and a helluva journalist.
Are they really looking to put Allgaier in the 46 for a few races??? I hope not!!! That team is awful and it would hurt his confidence to drive around in such a car!
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
If they do that, it'll be the 46 in number only. Everything else would come with Justin from Penske. He's the future of that team.
Austin McGee (Jeahville, Arkansas)
I would come bail out my fellow relative, JEAH!!
Why wasn't there much mention of the fact that no cars have flipped over since they took the wing off? Especially at Dega?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
I think a lot of people have mentioned it, Ron. I know I have. I think a lot of people, and rightfully so, are waiting until until we have a situation that mirrors what we had with Ryan/Carl at Talladega or Brad K. at Atlanta. Once we get through a car turning at that particular angle and it stays on the ground then we'll have a better idea that wing caused...a better "official" idea anyway. All my aerospace engineering buddies (and I do have a few) never doubted it.
Will Gustafson be Jr's crew chief next year?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
I would be surprised. He and McGrew seem to have a good relationship. They battle some on the radio (like they did Saturday night) but that's more of a sign that Junior is comfortable than he's not.
Michael Nolting (Springfield, IL)
Im tired of seeing Jeff Gordon getting killed by the late race cautions, How long before the #24 car gets back into victory lane
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
This weekend would be a good pick. He's a 7-time winner at Darlington. I still say his four-straight wins in the Southern 500 back in the mid-to-late 1990's was the most amazing thing he's ever done.
Dee (Las Vegas)
Theresa should've just let Jr. take the 8 with him to HMS. She's not doing anything with it. And Jr. hasn't really been the same driver since leaving the 8 number behind. Any chance the 8 goes back to Jr?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
I would never say never, but don't hold your breath. It is a shame that it's just sitting on a shelf somewhere.
The Nationwide COT looks great. When will they run this year and is Nascar considering changing the front of the Sprint Cup Car?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
You're right. It is totally wicked and we'll see it four times this year - Daytona in July, Michigan August, Richmond September, Charlotte October. As for Cup, no changes to the nose right now. I think it is a great idea to give each series its own identity. I've been lobbying for that for years.
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
And I still say that Chevy is missing the boat big-time on this. Ford has the Mustang, Dodge has the Challenger, and Chevy should have the Camaro, but they say the Nationwide CoT shape doesn't allow the Camaro to keep its classic look. Whatever. The other two made it work.
Kelly (My Health Class)
I'm Bored. Hows Your Day Going?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Better than yours since I'm not stuck in health class! I saw a movie the other night where they showed a bunch of students sitting in a lecture and it literally gave me heartburn. Hang in there...summer will be here soon!
How do the IRL drivers view Nascar, as an upgrade or a downgrade?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Upgrade financially and exposure-wise. What's really changed over the last few years is that they also view as an upgrade competition-wise. That's thanks to Juan Montoya. But as Sam Hornish is showing them, that also means choking down some embarassment.
Wasn't that some awesome drifting at the end of the truck race yesterday?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
That was! A great finish to a sometimes unwatchable race. Speaking of the IRL, I was stunned to see such a small crowd on Saturday at Kansas. They were totally outdrawn by the Trucks on Sunday.
where does Kahne drive next year
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
My money is still on a Stewart-Haas car, fielded by Hendick.
Mike Buckley (Indiana)
GUESS WHO? Biffle. Can Biffle win the point series? I hope so......oy vey, oy vey. Good luck Biffle!!
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Yo Mike. I dunno. My confidence is waning. Someone at Roush - anyone - has to start winning races before I can feel like anyone out of that camp is a Cup contender.
luca (middleburg, fl)
hey Ryan, what are the chances Juan Pablo has to make it in the top 12? his finishes when he is not wrecked are outstanding!
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
Luca, I feel much better right now about a guy like Juan, who is outside of the top 12, than I do about a Biffle or Kenseth, both of whom are inside the top 12. He has a ton of momentum right now. If he is in striking distance - say top 15 - when we hit the Indy/Glen/Altanta stretch in late summer then he can do it. But because he got off to such a rough start to the season his margin for error is much slimmer than it was a year ago.
Chris (Dinger Nation)
Speaking of Labonte hooking on with a semi-decent ride, any chance he might end up in the 9 car? Does RPM have its eye on anyone to fill that spot, presuming they run four cars next season?
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
Perhaps...but I think the much more pressing issue at RPM is their existence.
Is Kevin Harvick's only option staying at RCR, or do you think he has other choices - leading the points has to mean something to other owners and prospective sponsors, doesn't it? He's not going to end up like Casey Mears, believing RCR and hanging around only to have the car sold out from under him a month before Daytona for lack of sponsorship, will he?
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
First, there's no comparison between Harvick's situation and Casey's. It's Kevin's ride if he wants it and there won't be a problem recruiting sponsorship. He does have other options - I wrote a blog about them two weeks ago - but I have said all along that as long as he is a title contender it is going to be awfully hard to leave RCR.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
What Harvick seems to want is an assurance that RCR is doing what it can to get rid of this up-and-down every other year trend they've been stuck in seemingly forever. If he sees evidence of that - and contracting from 4 cars to 3 seems to have helped - then I think he might stay.
Ironhead Forever (New York)
Who was the driver who first started bragging about "having a top 20 race car" as if mediocrity was something to be proud of?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
I don't know exactly...Stroker Ace? I'll never forget back in the late '90's I picked Rick Mast up from the airport to be on RPM2Night and he showed me his plane that he'd just piloted down from Virginia. Then he paused and goes, "You know how you know there's too much money in this sport? Rick Mast owns an airplane."
Is Kyle your pick to win Darlington Sat. night?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
Kyle, Gordon, Jimmie, Burton, and (darkhorse) Truex.
Jeremy (Athens, GA)
Do you ever see KHI going to cup? I have always heard that he wants to stay in NW and the Trucks. What would it take for him to move up? He has made KHI one heckuva contender each week and I think he could be a great owner/driver in cup!
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
It is a definite possibility. If you've ever been to the KHI shop in Kernersville, NC then you know that it is just as nice as most Cup shops. If he could get the financial backing he'd do it. But that's a BIG if. Right now his engines and a lot of his R&D comes from RCR. If he bailed on Richard you figure he'd had have to find another partner for all of that.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Alright folks, that'll do it for this week. If I didn't get to you, hit me up on Twitter (@RyanMcGeeESPN) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Next week I'll be on a half-hour early, live from the Death Star in Bristol, CT getting ready for that night's NASCAR Now roundtable. Until next time, tip your waiters and waitresses and enjoy the music of The Remedy.