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 (2:03 PM)
What's up my 5W30 covered brothers and sisters...and welcome to the worldwide interweb's premiere Monday one-hour motorsports chat session.
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
The Chase looms, tempers are flaring, teams are streaking and slumping...so without further ado, adieu, ahem, let's get to the queries!
Could Michigan be up for losing a race soon. Crowd was absolutely horrendous. How many do you think were there? If they moved Atlanta(where racing is actually good) then they should move 1 from Michigan.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
Horrendous, no. Though it was certainly not what we've seen at MIS in the past, it was better than June. And it was still more than 100,000 people. You have to keep in mind two things about Michigan tickets. #1. It is easily the most hard hit city in the nation with the slumping economy. #2. The Big 3 automakers aren't buying up all the tickets like they were a few years ago.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
Atlanta wasn't selling out even when times were good. What we saw at Michigan was pretty much what we've seen everywhere. And yes, we'll see it this weekend at Bristol too. Tickets ARE available for every race at Thunder Valley this weekend. So go!
Ryan (Ventura CA)
Hey Ryan, Who goes 1st, Zippy or Logano? I think Smoke would hire Zippy in a second.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
Perhaps. And perhaps enough time has passed since Tony's promise to Joe Gibbs that he wouldn't hire away all of JGR's good people. That being said, why would he want to replace Darian Grubb right now? Everything seems to be going pretty well.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
I will say this about Zippy, and I've been saying this for a few weeks now, I think he looks and sounds tired. Things haven't improved as quickly as he would have liked with Joey and I think he looks a little disconnected. But that might just be me.
Chris (Harrisburg, PA)
Until KB made that mistake he was running top 5 all race and Denny had a strong run. Do you think JGR has found it and has momemtum going into the chase?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Yeah, they're fine. They were admittedly trying out some stuff mid-summer and now it is go time. I don't know if Busch is ready to make a run at the Cup just yet, but Denny surely is.
Bart (Wilmington, NC)
Denny said his Toyota couldn't keep up with #29 on the straight and Kurt blew up trying. Does #29 have something extra special under the hood?
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
Yes. And so does every car that's carrying an Earnhardt-Childress engine. Ever since they unloaded at Daytona inb February the ECR engines, which are in the three RCR cars and the two Ganassi cars, have been making serious horsepower. And they showed it yesterday. The only one of those cars that never looked like a contender was McMurray. But he's had a pretty good year, don't you think?
Hey, Ryan! No, the Roush Fords have not won a lot, but if they keep ripping off top 5s every week, do you see them (mainly Carl and Biffle) as serious title threats?
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
There is no doubt about it Emily. No one - and I mean no one - has more momentum heading into the Chase than the Roush Fenway cars. And when you consider how well Biffle, Edwards, and Kenseth have all run at Bristol in the past you figure that will carry on through this weekend. The folks at Ford told us all spring that once the FR9 engine was in place it would make a big difference. They weren't lying.
Ed (Fort Worth)
McGee, this may be a little extreme of a comparison, but is Logano starting to mimic BK? The 20 seems to be hissing guys off right and left lately. Your thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
He's kind of leaning that way, isn't he? I think Joey can really sense that he is at a crossroads in his career. How he asserts himself now will likely have a far-reaching effect on how fans and other racers perceive him for years to come. He's not backing down to the Harvicks and the Newmans of the world and I think that speaks highly of him.
Chris (Harrisburg, PA)
When Dale jr said to Marty about the chase, "I dont give a S. I want to go home. I busted my A all day" 2 questions. will Nascar fine him for profanity on live tv and will Mr. H park him?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
He might be fined, but likely not. And no way he's getting parked. Not by Hendrick. What good would that do?
Jules (Gainesville, GA)
everyone will say Dale's comments to Marty were frustration etc. but if Dale jr really doesn't give a S about the chase then shouldn't he get out of the car?
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
He doesn't give an S about the Chase because he knows he's not going to be in it.
Submarine Mike (Jacksonville Fl)
Ryan, I am a little perturbed with Rick hendrick. When he signed Dale Jr he promised us the fans that he would do EVERYTHING to help Jr win a cup. He has failed on that promise. Is Chad Knaus he CC. Has he focused the entire orginazation on helping Jr. NO. Yes I know I am splitting hairs but those were his words. Could we see a CC swap mcGrew for Gustafson
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
I totally disagree, respectfully, Sub Mike. Hendrick fired Junior's cousin and best friend. He raided Mark Martin's team, which finished second in points a year ago, and moved key personnel over to help the 88, which has clearly hurt the 5. He put McGrew on the car, who is a product of the 24/48 shop and won a Busch Series title with Brian Vicker,s and put him on the 88. The pit crew has been shuffled, engineers have been shuffled...to quote Ed Hinton, there's only one common denominator here.
kevin (new jersey)
ryan you said in your power rankings that david ragan finished in the top 10, he actually finished 11th. as a ragan fan i would of loved the top 10 but he was 11th, and this wouldnt of been his first top 10 like you said he got a 6th place finish at talladega. i feel like i being harsh on you lol. have a great day
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Yeah, that's what I get for writing the Power Rankings all hopped up on allergy meds. We're fixing it. I wondered which one of you Raganites would call me out!
Will the tire changer that said the "f" word on live tv get fined...Marty did apologize..lol
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Probably no fine. And it's become standard operation procedure for play-by-play guys to address and apologize any time a bad word slips through. BTW, love Marty in the booth. He's a real race fan and it shows.
Rick (Buffalo, New York)
With Sadler's good run this weekend (both cup and NW) are you hearing anything on his prospects for a cup ride next year? Would he benefit from running full time for Harvick in trucks and then hope to come back to cup in '12?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
He has no leads for next year...yet. But you certainly think his chances must be improving. As for stepping down to Trucks full-time, I would love to see it. But I think a lot of these guys worry that once they step out the Cup garage they'll be replaced and forgotten in a hurry. And they are right.
off topic of racing...but what the heck was that national anthem all about? It was horrible...seems to be a theme this yr.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
Yeah, that was bad. We've had some stinkers this year, but that was the worst. On Twitter I posted a message to all the track operators that if they are worried about the singer they have booked they should call my wife. She can wail.
Your take on the PGA bunker flap..and draw a parallell to NASCAR if you can....
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
I felt terrible for Dustin Johnson because he's a good guy. I spent some time with him here in Charlotte during the Quail Hollow Championship back in May. No one disputes the rule, but I think golf's rules sometimes suck the fun out of the game. As for a NASCAR comparison, let's just say that I can't wait to talk to Regan Smith about it when I see him at Bristol this weekend. I still say he was jobbed out of a win at Talladega. That win would have totally altered the path of career.
How long before Danica gives up on NASCAR? Without testing, there just seem to be enough time for the learning curve on a weekend.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Totally agree with you on testing. I think the testing rules have slowed her development, as well as young guys like Joey Logano. There's a reason we don't see rookies winning in bunches like we saw with Stewart, Earnhardt, etc. Those guys were testing somewhere every single day. Logano and Danica have tested a lot too, but on tracks they don't actually race on, like Rockingham or Walt Disney World Speedway.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
As for giving up...no, not yet anyway. I still say what all of the drivers have said. She has to pick one or the other. She'll continue to flounder at both if she keeps splitting time.
Hi Ryan...a couple of weeks ago, Edwards gave props to Kasey Kahne and Kenny Francis for sharing some setup information that helped them to light a spark. Is it me, or does it seem like the information sharing only went one way, as Kasey and Kenny aren't running as well as the Roush Fords?
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
I hear you, but if you really go back and look at what Kahne has done, he's run better than people realize, he just doesn't have the finishes to show for it (paging Pocono #1). I don't know if people realize how thin the resources are at RPM when compared to Roush, Hendrick, JGR, RCR, or even Earnhardt Ganassi and Michael Waltrip Racing. That they've done as well as they have is pretty impressive.
Who do you got winning this weekend?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
How about Kyle Busch? He's due to get back on track before the Chase and he's also won two of the last three we've run up there.
What are your thoughts on the track being built in Fort Erie with help from Jeff Gordon? Canadians love NASCAR and would love to have a race here, do you think NASCAR would allow a Cup race in Canada?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
I love the project. And I would love to see a Cup race in Canada. After attending the F1 race in Montreal and talking to the Michigan Speedway folks about the huge percentage of ticket sales they have from Canada, I think the time is coming when we could have a Cup race up there.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
That being said, I don't think it'll happen anytime soon. But never doubt the persuasive powers of Gordon's stepfather and business manager, John Bickford. He's like a Jedi.
Do you think Bobby Labonte will step into the #47 brfore the end of 2010?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Nope. But perhaps he could jump into a second car for them just to get his feet wet? Regardless of when he gets in the car I love the pairing. JTG Daugherty needs to build toward the future and I think Bobby can give them the stability (not to mention the past champion's provisional) to do start working toward expanding to two cars. And he can also act as a mentor for whatever young driver they sign to take them into that future.
Stewart seems to be getting closer to a win - question is, will it before or after the chase starts?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Before. I have my eye on Richmond.
Liz (Altoona, PA)
how much a factor is Dale jr's poor performance in all those empty seats?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Huge. And it has also been a factor in the TV ratings dip (though they seem to be bouncing back). I was sitting in an ESPN NASCAR TV brainstorming session 3 years ago and one of the things we talked about was the "Tiger Woods Factor" of Dale Junior. When Tiger doesn't play or is struggling, as he is now, the PGA Tour suffers. Same with Junior. His fan base is such a huge percentage of the grandstand that they walk away when he's not factor. Though I will say this, he has struggled for so long now that it isn't the giant impact that it was 2 or 3 years ago.
Caster and Camber (Bahama, NC)
Whats up Mr. McGee? Two part question if you have time. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. He is in his younger 40s so he should be alright. When things like this happen its gets you thinking about things. I have never been to a dirt track race. Any suggestions? Maybe in NC? Also, if you could only go to one more racing event what would it be and why? Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
Wow...that is some perspective right there. Best wishes and prayers to your friend. Tell them to hang in there and that the ESPN.com Monday Motorsports Block Party is pulling for them!
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
There are a lot of great dirt tracks near you in both NC and VA. I love the Cherokee Speedway down near Gaffney, SC. From your place it is a straight shot down I-85 south. Just last weekend I made my poor wife ride with me off the interstate to ride by and see the dirt flying. We were coming from a wedding and were a little overdressed, but she'd never seen a real dirt track before. It was featured in National Geographic years ago and I hear Jeremy Mayfield's been running down there some.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
As for going to a race I haven't been to yet...I am so fortunate to have been to Daytona, Indy, and even Baja. But I have always wanted to go to Europe and see the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of LeMans. And it was killing me not to be at the Knoxville Nationals over the weekend. I've never been. I told Evernham I'm riding with him next year.
Diane (Los Angeles)
Listening to the Elvis station on XM radio while following your chat. 33rd anniversary of his death. What's your favorite song by the King---of Rock in Roll
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
I was listening to Elvis Week all last week! Old school, I go with "That's Alright". New school: "CC Rider".
Phil (Richmond, Va.)
I hear rumors (other than your misleading tweet) that Martinsville was going to be adding lights. Is it true? That would make my favorite track that much better!
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Yeah, I messed that up. Total typo. I was Tweeting about Kansas but had Martinsville on the brain. No lights at NASCAR's oldest racetrack, but stay tuned. I am headed up there next Thursday because the track is announcing what PR guru Mike Smith described to me as "a bunch of very big capital improvements". That's huge news. If ISC and NASCAR are putting money into the old track then that means they have no intention of abandoning it.
Janie (High Point, NC)
the so-called experts have been saying that Stewart will go on a summer winning streak. well, summer is almost gone and it has never started. Is #14 adn #39 suffering from the same woes as the other Henrick cars?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Janie, Smoke may not have won a race this summer, but have you looked at his stats since Memorial Day? He has nine top tens in the ten summer races. He only had four top tens in the dozen races before that. If that's not heating up with the summer, um, what is?
Vicky (Florence, SC)
Hi Ryan, On Sat. KB and Denny swapped cars to learn. How come Mr H doesn't have Dale jr and Jimmie swap cars during practice?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
That's happened a little at some test sessions. But with Jimmie working on winning a Cup title I think it's too late to see that happen this season. Pretty cool to see Denny and Kyle do that, especially since they barely talk.
Should Joey hire a bouncer to handle his light work?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Doesn't need one. He has his Dad.
Jack looked good at the track last weekend. Next weekend he may even look better. I say he bounces even farther back. Your thoughts?
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
It was great to see him. And I have to be honest, after seeing the video and the photos from the plane crash I really thought he'd be in much worse shape. And yes, I think he'll bounce back much more. It was obvious that he was a little weak from his time in the hospital and you know that strength will come back. Pretty cool that all four his cars finished in the top eleven. They were clearly inspired.
Enzio (Lancaster, PA)
2009 : 42 car in the chase with no wins = uproar2010 : 24 & 14 cars in the chase with no wins = silence
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
There was no uproar from me. I was a big supporter of Montoya in the Chase. As for the silence, I wish you could see my email and Twitter inbox. A LOT of people are questioning how McMurray can win the two biggest races of the year and not be in the Chase while all these guys with no wins are in.
Ryan McGee (3:04 PM)
Alright folks...gotta go. Speaking of email and Twitter, hit me up if I missed you today. I'm at @RyanMcGeeESPN and firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll see you on NASCAR Now this Wednesday evening and I'll see you at Bristol this weekend. In the meantime, tip your waiters and waitresses and enjoy the music of the Lovemongers.