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 (2:02 PM)
What's up my Texas hot sauce-covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the worldwide interweb's biggest, baddest, and perhaps only Monday motorsports block party. My heart rate is finally back to normal after Sunday's wild race at Texas Motor Speedway and I'm ready to chat. To the queries!
I was reading an article that said Denny Hamlin's CC picks a pit stop that is always next to Jimmie Johnson's. They did that at the Texas race and during one of the pit stops Denny pulled into his pit box in a position that when Johnson pulled out he had to maneuver around Denny's car. Whoever the CC of the 11 is, he is a genius, just as much as Chad Knaus.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
Mike Ford is indeed a smart cookie. He was a little perturbed earlier in the Chase when the 48 picked a stall directly in front of the 11 and filed that little grudge away for when he could use it. He used it on Sunday and totally relished getting inside the 48's head. He knew that the 48 pit crew had been struggling and when the 11 kept kicking their butts it clearly had an effect. When Knaus had to pull his team and replace it with the 24 guys Ford and his guys did a pretty nice little stare down.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
I love me some gamesmanship and that was some pretty big league stuff.
Brian (Oklahoma City)
If Jimmie Johnson's crew members had some truth serum in them, what would they really say about yanked from the pit box mid-race?
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
I will put it to you this way, Brian. I don't believe that this morning at the 24/48 shop was the usual hunky dory lovefest that Knaus would like us to believe that it is.
Hey Ryan, Here is my outlook on the HMS season so far. At one point all 4 teams were in the top 12, with Jimmie and Jeff the top 2. All the teams struggled in the middle of the season with Jimmie and Jeff regaining steam first. Now Martin is gaining traction. Will the 88 get better next year? And can HMS regain the lead when it comes to horsepower? it seems as if they are third behind ECR and Gibbs.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Jacob, this is all pretty fair and I think it is just further proof of how hard it is to have all four teams clicking at once. The fact is that HMS lost their way as a whole midseason and hasn't ever completely recovered. Of course, if the 48 rallies to win the Cup over the next two weeks everyone will forget that.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
I think that HMS engines can certainly regain the top spot. That always seems to be a rotating position year-in and year-out. As for the 88...hell, I have no idea. That crowd exhausts me.
On the last restart, Greg Bifle was lined up in front of Jimmie Johnson. When it went green, Bifle took off really slow and cost Johnson a few spots. Did Bifle slow up on purpose or did he not have first or second gear(like one analyst said)?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
No, it was a legit problem. He didn't have second gear and was very vocal about that on the radio. He struggled with that on pit stops and restarts throughout the last stanza of the race. When he finally got around that gear and got up to speed he was flying. As far as he fell back on that last restart he still rallied to finish fifth.
I keep hearing that Kyle has shown maturity this year but then you see incidents like yesterday, Kyle saying disrespectful things about others in his interviews, and the list goes on. He only seems to show maturity when things go his way, at best. Your thoughts.
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
To clarify, what you've heard (at least from me) about Kyle's maturity has been in how he reacts to a bad car. This year he has greatl improved when it comes to not packing it in as soon as the car seems bad, especially during the first 2/3rds of the season. Where he has clearly not matured is when he feels like the race has been taken away from him by things not having to do with his car or his team - like pit road penalties and being held by NASCAR officials. One day he'll put it all together. Or maybe not.
The Texas race was incredible! That is why I watch NASCAR and why I will never stop.Do you think there will be that much drama at Phoenix?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
Totally agree, Sam. That was one of the best 1.5-mile oval races we've had a long time. I hope that we'll see that kind of drama at Phoenix. I think we will. We've had some pretty crazy moments there during tight points chases in the past. I remember in '96 when Terry Labonte and Jeff Gordon were battling for the Cup and Labonte wrecked and broke his hand in practice at Phoenix! We'll see.
Ryan (Frisco, TX)
Was out at the track all weekend long, and what a great racing weekend once again at TMS...Is TMS considered one of the biggest money makers for Nascar? (of course behind Daytona) I mean Eddie always has the place packed, and that is with or without the No limit Girls.
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Yes. Texas Motor Speedway is considered one of the great success stories of the last 20 years. As for the No Limit Girls, Eddie and his crew got me in a little trouble. They sent a promotional poster to the house, my 5-year old daughter and I thought it was a poster she had ordered from school. I open it...and it's all babes in bikinis. That took some explaining.
Chris (Richmond, VA)
Isn't Kesolowski's NW championship rather hollow without the owner's points championship? What it says to me is that he was the best driver out of the drivers who raced every race, but did not have the best car. Thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
I don't think Brad's title means any less without the owners championship. At least not to Brad. We've seen this before in Cup and Nationwide and I don't think it takes anything away from the driver. But I do think that people have been a little too quick to declare as the man who brought Roger Penske his first NASCAR championship. The driver's title is just that, for drivers. Penske hasn't won a NASCAR title until he nails down the owners championship.
Brian (Huntington Beach CA)
Ryan, enjoy your chats, my question is what do you think of the possiblilty of a team-ordered suspension of Kyle Busch a la his big brother a few years back. His antics have got to be getting old with both his team AND NASCAR.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
Thanks Brian. And it'll never happen. If Joe Gibbs Racing was going to suspend a driver internally they would've done it with Tony Stewart a long time ago.
Matthew (Columbia, NJ)
Hey Ryan, will Kyle Busch face further penalties for telling the nascar official he's #1 yesterday?
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
I think he will be fined by NASCAR, no doubt. Look for that happen on Tuesday. And we'll also see some sort of slap on the wrist for these guys...
Why did the NASCAR officials get in the way of Gordon and Burton. With ratings in the toilet, the sports could have used a good old fashioned fight. All they had to do is give them 2 minutes to settle it like men like they do in Hockey. Just monitor it and step in if necessary to avoid serious injuries.
Joe (New York)
Jeff Gordon may not win a race this year but atleast he won a shoving match this year..what are your thoughts on the whole situtation and do you think something like this will motivate Jeff to drive wide open in the last two races and try to get a win or could he use this as motivation for next years drive for five??
Trey (Bakersfield, CA)
Did Gordon land a punch to Burton's ear or was that just a shoving match?
Bobby (Midland Park nj )
Ryan Being a 24 fan that was the highlight of season
Bobby (Lower Alabama)
Did you buy Burton's story about sun in his eyes and getting hooked up with the #24? Sure looked intentional to me.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Okay...first, I thought the NASCAR officials did just enough restraining and just enough looking the other way to keep it entertaining without someone actually getting hurt. Second, I don't think that anyone landed a good punch. No one ever does in those situations. Only in the movies. In real life it's just shoving and pulling and tugging and ducking...
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
As for Burton's story about the sun, I totally buy it. If you've ever stood near the backstrech at Texas in the late afternoon (and I have) then you know that the sun is brutal. We'll have the same issues at Phoenix this weekend, always do.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
But that doesn't mean that what Burton did wasn't stupid. Even he has admitted that it was "probably the dumbest thing I've ever done in a racecar".
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
And I will also say this: As a race fan, I thought the whole thing was awesome.
Bob (Los Angeles)
Fairly impressed with how Bowyer has stayed relevant despite the points fine early in the Chase? Seems to be driving somewhat angrier, more determined, no?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
He's always been solid down the stretch. He's won two Chase races and could've won a third. Give him his 150 points back and he wouldn't be contending for the Cup, but he'd be fighting for the top five.
By my calculations, IF Mark Martin had made the Chase, he'd be in 4th place right now.
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
I haven't done the math, but that sounds about right. Don't be surprised if he wins at Phoenix.
Dave (New York)
Will jeff gordon win a race in 2010 or will he win a race in 2011
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
If he's going to do it in 2010 he needs to do it this weekend at Phoenix. But that's assuming that he still has his own pit crew.
Ryan, hope all is well in Charlotte today. What happened to the #2 in the Chase? As one of the serious threats before it started, now they're 20th or worse. And do you see Harvick or Johnson getting past Hamlin with the last 2 races to go?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
I have no idea what has happened to the Blue Deuce and neither do they. If he struggles at Phoenix, a place he can normally drive with his eyes closed, then it might be time to panic.
Justin (New Market Alabama)
Do you think every Nascar race track will eventually have lights? Do you think Talladega will get lights and move the race out of the chase?
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
I do think Talladega will get lights. But I will flip out if it gets moved out of the Chase. It's in the pefect spot right now to make things interesting at just the right time. And yes, I do think all Cup track will end up with lights eventually. Maybe not the road courses, but the others for sure. They pretty much already have them.
I'm amazed that a company like M&M, who caters to young children, is still with a driver who acts the way that Kyle does. Are you?
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
A little. But you think about how much exposure they receive versus other sponsors, it's probably worth it, don't you think? And believe it or not Kyle is among the top handful of guys in merchandise sales right now...that's a lot of walking billboards for M&M's.
If NASCAR is a "team" sport like everyone says it is, then why was the 48 team allowed to use the 24 pit crew? That is like the Panthers using the offensive line from the Giants.
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
Apples and oranges Fred. More accurately, it would be like the Panthers swapping out the entire starting line with the guys from the practice squad (which at this point wouldn't be a bad idea for the Panthers). They are on the same payroll and work in the same buiding. The "teammates" line is pretty blurred.
Damon (Frisco, TX)
At the NNS race on Saturday I saw two trailers that were stacking people 5 and 6 deep. Danica Patrick and Kyle Busch.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
Yep. It's like that scene in the Howard Stern movie. "The average Howard Stern fan listens for hour and twenty minutes." "But what about the people who hate Stern?" "Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day."
Diane (Los Angeles)
Everyone keeps saying this is the closest chase in history. I was at Homestead in 2004 and seem to recall numerous changes in the "champion" at the time being posted on the big screens, and for some reason seem to think 4 involved - JJ KuBusch Mark martin for sure and maybe Jeffy. Were they just not bunched up until after Phoenix that year?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
I hear you Diane. When we say that we're talking about right now...or at least I am. In '04 we had three guys within 21 points headed to Homestead. Gonna take some work to get us there this year. But I will say this: If Harvick wins at Talladega instead of finsihing second we're right there.
Bernadette (Cleveland, OH)
Looking ahead to 2011, do you think we'll see the amount of testing that we saw pre-economic nose dive, or do you think NASCAR and the teams have seen they can live without it?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
I think we're good for now. We're going to have the return of the big open test at Daytona next January, but I think what we might see is more practice for teams on Friday or even Thursday.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
I think the teams may have shot themselves in the foot a bit when we had that giant two-day spoiler test at Charlotte and everyone insisted that it was a giant waste of time. That was the time to plead an official case of "We need to bring back testing" and they didn't take advantage of it. I don't miss it, really.
Even if the 48 team does not win 5 in a row, the fact that they never have finished below 5th in points is remarkable. That being said did Knaus's decision to change pit crews yesterday tarnish what up until now has been a reputation as the best in the business?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Totally agree. I have said for a long time that the 48's complete body of work is more historic than just the four straight titles. As for Knaus and his rep, let's see what happens over the remainder of the year. Keep in mind, that move did put them into a position to possibly compete for the win at the end. The regular 48 crew wasn't doing that.
I was glad to see some fire out of Jeff Gordon. All the fans in attendance and watching on TV let out a huge cheer when this happened. Heck, even I jumped off my couch when it happened. And nascar wonders why their ratings are bad. IMO, nobody needs fined after sunday. This made nascar relevent again for the last 2 races.
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
I agree with you about no fines. If they do insist on some sort of penalty, make it like the one they slapped Cale and the Allisons with. Something to announce, but nothing that really means anything. A token.
Kendall (South Dakota)
Do you think that Coach might assign Mike Ford to work for Rowdy on the #18 for 2011?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
Not in a million zillion years.
Diane (Los Angeles)
Good to hear that RPM will finish out the string this year for all 4 teams. Since Ford appears to have been a big factor in Marcos' decision do you see them getting him out of it if RPM folds or do you think the Marcos' back to MWR is more likely?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
Marcos back to MWR/JTG Daugherty isn't happening. No room at the inn. Plus they all warned him it was a bad move and he did it anyway. I think Ford would try to help him find another ride, but where? Wood Brothers? If I'm them I'm sticking with Elliott or, after yesterday's surprising run, Bayne. Other than that Ford has nowhere to put him.
whos ur pick to win phoenix?i think the 48 can rally back hes done it so many times
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
I think Jimmie's the guy to beat at PIR, I really do. Hamlin hasn't won there but he does have 5 top 5's in 10 tries and Harvick is a 2-time Phoenix winner.
Dave (New York)
do you know whats jeff gordon aarp car will look like next year
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
No, but they are supposed to unveil it sometime over the next two weeks. They had hoped to have a car on display at the announcement two weeks ago but the deal had come together so fast it just couldn't get done in time.
Connie (Ft. Myers, FL)
What are your 3 biggest disappointments of the 2010 cup season?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
Mark Martin, Dale Junior and the attendance figures. I really thought they would bounce back.
The Rent is Too D*** High Guy (New York)
And the NASCAR races are too long!
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
I don't disagree with that at all. If Sunday's race had been 400 miles instead of 500 no one would have cared one bit. I like what Phoenix does. They get to keep the 500 in their race title but it's kilometers, not miles.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
What would be the ramifications of a Gibbs driver taking out JJ intentionally or vice versa for a Hendrick guy?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
Oh man...I really have no idea. I think NASCAR would flip out. They'd park that car and suspend the driver and crew chief for a while. By the way, how about the authorities in Brazil coming out and saying that if Felipe Massa let his Ferrari F1 teammate Fernando Alonso pass him to gain championship points they would throw him in jail! That was awesome.
Knaus made the right move Sunday. HOF pitchers are pulled from baseball games if they start screwing up in the 3rd inning. Same thing here.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Roger Goodell (NY)
Man, I see what the France family goes through when they change rules in the middle of the season. Everyone else is getting hit in the head and I'm the one with the headaches!
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Good to hear from you Commissioner.
Nose (Cales Face)
I beg to differ! A swing landed on me back in '79.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Nice. As Bobby Allison still likes to tell it, "That's when Cale commenced to beating on my fist with his face".
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Alright folks, that'll do it for this week. See you on NASCAR Now this Wednesday night. In the meantime, shoot me your questions/comments to @RyanMcGeeESPN on Twitter or email@example.com. Until next week, tip your waiters and waitresses and enjoy the music of Gwar.