Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 2011 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 '110 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 (2:00 PM)
What's up my Dover harness track dust-covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the worldwide interweb's biggest and baddest (pretty sure only) one-hour Monday motorsports block party.
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
Before we get started, please allow a personal moment for pimping a project I am very fired up about. Starting on Tuesday, I'll be embarking on the NASCAR Now Classic Track Tour, visiting five classic former Cup Series racetracks. We're going to be broadcasting live from Bowman-Gray Stadium, Rockingham, North Wilkesboro, Hickory, and Greenville-Pickens. We're also going to have features on each track and special guests. It starts on Tuesday, 5 PM ET, ESPN2. Please check it out. It's going to be old school cool.
Ryan McGee (2:02 PM)
To the queries!
Last week Junior said #88 isn't good enough to win races. After yesterday, do you think people should believe him?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
First, I was stunned he said that. Second, I can see where 88 fans would be down, but he was running up front on the final restart. That strategy ended up working for some - Kenseth - and not for others. Steve Letarte said it was more about the tires not matching up than anything else.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
I know that Junior fans are starting to panic...but he's 4th in points and WAY ahead of where he was this time last year. But that's why I don't understand why he said what he did on Friday. Not exactly a confidence builder for the fan base.
Is the chemistry not there for Mark and Lance at the #5 shop? They have fast cars and seem to underachieve!!
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
They are getting closer. I had a chat with Mark and Jeff Gordon about this at Texas. They both admitted that they weren't there yet. But they also both said they felt like they were on schedule. In the case of the 5, I had to laugh when I thought about all those fast cars they've had this year that finished 15th...and then they had a 15th place car at Dover and finshed 2nd. Go figure.
Fran (Marietta, GA)
When a driver rallies from starting dead last to finish 4th like Kyle did at Dover, does that inspire and motivate the #18 team and everyone at Gibbs to achieve even more?
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
I think so. That's certainly a tough way to go about it, but the team felt horrible for putting him in that position and he (along with the pit crew) saved the day. To me, days like yesterday are the real difference between Old Kyle vs. New Kyle instead of the talk about his attitude and all of that. Old Kyle would have thrown his hands up after the engine change and been junk all day. New Kyle took the hand he was given and turned into a top five.
Lyle (Denton, TX)
I thought the HMS crew chief swap was supposed to help Junior and Gordon but now it looks like it helped Martin and Jimmie. What happened?
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
Lyle, I was never one to buy into the talk about one Hendrick shop being that much better than the other...but the results this year are starting to change my mind. There's something about being that 48 building that makes teams better. It's just how it is. But I do think that the 5-24 shop has closed the gap more than the 88-5 did.
Why doesn't Matt K. swig from a bottle of crown royal when he wins a race or does interviews. That would be priceless.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
After four hours of dehydration and lost water weight I'm pretty sure we'd have to carry him out of Victory Lane if he did. Next time I'll offer to do it for him.
Jenny (Elizabeth LA)
Do you think Trevor Bayne will race in the all star race? I would hate to see him miss it. Thanks for your time
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
I do. And I'm glad they didn't rush him back into the car at Dover. He's testing down in Georgia at the Gresham Motorsports Park first half of this week under the eye of NASCAR medical consultant Dr. Jerry Petty. Ultimately it'll be Dr. Petty's call, but from what the team tells me Trevor should be good to go.
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
The All-Star Race is a good event for his comeback. I'd have bigger concerns about trying to stick him in there for the Coca-Cola 600 for his first time back. That event is brutal.
Hi Ryan, do you think Kyle has frustrated Harvick by refusing to be drawn into the word games with the media that Harvick likes to play?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Turk, they were neck-in-neck when it came to smack talk last Friday.
Brad (Crossville, TN)
With Carl running as strong as he is to start the season, do you see him being the one to dethrone Jimmie Johnson, or do you have someone else in mind?
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
Carl's the guy to beat right now, hands down. It's not a stretch at all to look back and say he could have won six of the season's first eleven races.
Joanne (Ft. Myers)
3 straight finishes outside of the top 10 and failing to qualify for the All Star race on performance for Dale Jr. Isn't it time to put a halt to all the "Dale's back" yapping?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
"Back" is relative. He's fourth in points. One year ago he was 16th.
You think the score since Darlington is Kyle 2-Harvick 0?
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
I'll give him 1-0 because he beat Harvick in the Cup race. I don't count non-Cup races.
Ryan (Ventura CA)
What happened to Smoke?! Is he ready to clean house over at SHR?
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
It's getting a little desperate over there. I've been covering Smoke since the IRL/Busch Series days and I can't ever remember him having a car that bad when something wasn't broken or wrecked. The good news is that he's still somehow hanging on to 10th in points and we all know he typically warms up in the summer.
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
I do think he's going to blow up some processes over there. But fans calling for Darian Grubb's head aren't going to get it. If anything, it's been Grubb pulling rabbits out of hats that have allowed these bad cars to stay relevant week-to-week.
I want to hire Mark Martin to drive for my new team next year, but I seem to have misplaced his phone number. Do you have it?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Yes. But I can't give it to you. (BTW, if you have any ownership shares available that would help...I hear he'd like to go down that road.)
Ben (Grapevine, TX)
It was really cool seeing Kyle honoring his dad by running the MAC Tools sponsorship. Have you ever interviewed Tom Busch to learn how he taught his boys about racing?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
I have. Several times. Tom is a fascinating guy. He's also uber-intense. Spend ten minutes with Tom and suddenly the way his boys operate makes a lot more sense.
Nick Rolando (Orlando)
Ryan, every time I start to believe in Ragan he does something dumb like yesterday. Turining a top-10 into a 28th, please tell me he won't be back next year?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
That wasn't good, was it? I'm pulling for him, but I am in the same boat with you, Nick. Everytime he gets it going something happens to spin it out...sometimes literally. Jack Roush was clearly irritated with him. Stay tuned...
With his recent good showings (engine failures aside) KK is proving that the Red Bull cars must have something going for them. Any truth that the Red Bull bigwigs will be in NC this week and next to meet with potential 2012 drivers for the #4 (or whatever number it will be)?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
You're right, Jeff. I talked to Red Bull GM Jay Frye about this a couple of hours before Kasey went out and ran so well in the Southern 500. There's no doubt that KK has done RB a huge favor in running so well in these cars. It's essentially a want ad for potential free agents. And to Kasey's credit he's really been talking the team up.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
Engine failures aside, the cars are WAY better than they were just a year ago. And yes, the big bosses from Europe are expected in during Charlotte Speedweeks to talk about 2012. Pretty safe to assume those talks will start with Brian Vickers, then on the 4 car.
Kenseth seems to be one of the most old school, genuine drivers in the garage. It's a shame he doesn't have a huge following in the stands.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
True. But I do think it's bigger than you might think, certainly in the Midwest. I compare Matt to a baseball player like Willie McGee or a footbal player like Curtis Martin. One day he'll retire and we'll look back at his stats and go, "He did all of THAT?"
Love the NASCAR Now Classic Track Tour project. I think you should up the ante and replace 5 of the cookie cutter tracks with these. I miss seeing racing at those old racetracks.
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
Thanks, and I think that's whay so many other race fans like you have been emailing and Tweeting me about it since I announced it. It's going to be great. And the good news is that all five of the tracks we're visiting are still open for business, just not with Cup races. I was at Rockingham on Saturday for a UARA/USAR doubleheader and it was awesome. Chase Elliott, Bill's son and Hendrick development driver, won the second race. He's the real deal.
Jeremy (Port Angeles, WA)
One of the Indy TV stations reporters said that Danica's nascar deal is already done.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
with CMS saying they will pay any fine if there are any fights at the All Star Race, do you think there will be any Harvick/Kyle payback? I dont think so, because of the possible points penalty
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
I really don't know. You would think not. But I also wouldn't be suprised if Harvick turned Kyle and three or four other guys simultaneously went after Montoya all on the first lap.
Would Target ask Ginassi to find another driver or is Montoya there to stay? He hasn't won and seems to wreck everyone or just himself every week.
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
If Chip makes a change, I doubt it will be Target-pushed. He made the Chase two years ago, won last year, is in Chase contention this year, and keeps putting Target up front when it comes to media coverage, good and bad. They've been working with Juan since the late 1990's, so they know the deal. And don't discount how gigantic his name is globally.
Will Truex win a race this year? He has had 2 pretty good weeks and seems to be heating up a bit
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
They changes they made on the team have made an impact pretty quickly, haven't they? And he loves his hometrack of Dover, so that timing was good too. I do think he can win a race this year. And recent history says that MWR is pretty stout at Charlotte. Hmmm.
Hey Ryan, just how good is Cole Whitt gonna be? This ked has some serious talent..
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
I like him a lot. So much so that I lobbied like crazy to have him included in ESPN The Magazine's NEXT issue last December. Thank goodness they did, because he has made me look pretty smart!
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Now, that being said, I hope they take their time with him and move up the ladder at a prudent pace. If we have learned nothing else from Keselowski, Logano, and Bayne it's that rushing these guys into Cup too quickly can do more damage than good. We need to stop acting like the super-fast success of guys like Stewart and Johnson should be the expectation. They are two of the all-time greats, not the norm.
Bill (Winchester, VA)
What's going on Ryan!? Who ya got taking home the million bucks Saturday night?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
If he can dodge the bumpers of those who dislike him, it's hard not to like a guy like Kyle Busch in a hammer-down shortened event built around restarts.
Brad (Crossville, TN)
With Carl and Matt almost locked in the chase for now, do you see Greg making it in by points or wins? Or do you see him missing the chase all together?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
I think Biffle can make it on points but he looks good when it comes to wins too. He typically loves that late summer stretch that includes Pocono, Michigan, Bristol, and Atlanta.
Ricky Zane (Kirtland AFB Nm )
Ryan what was up with the attendance at Dover this weekend. I went to the the second race in 08' and it has seemed like it is just getting worse and worse. Any word on Dover getting a race taken away and giving it to maybe a second Vegas race?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
I think that more than any other track I am stunned by the sudden lack of attendance at Dover. I do believe that, like Bristol, it relies on out-of-staters in RVs. So fuel costs have hurt them. And I think that having a race in the Chase might mean that fans are saving their Dover trip for the fall. The track folks (though they don't say it a lot publicly) say this earlier May date is a tough sell.
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
But honestly, I don't know.
Ed (Scottsdale, AZ)
Why should the Big 3 (Edwards, Kyle and Jimmie) even bother with the All Star race when it is meaningless and the Sprint Cup is the goal?
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
Because they love big trophies and million dollar checks.
Chris (Eglin AFB, FL)
There are some big names outside the top 10 in points right now. Who do you see missing the chase?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Yo Chris. Love Eglin. Had a buddy stationed there a decade ago. I think Montoya, Kahne, and Burton are out. And I think that Hamlin and Gordon will make runs in, knocking out Stewart and Kurt Busch. Biffle and Martin are on the bubble with me.
Is Ferrari that far behind McClaren and Renualt? Just as NASCAR is more popular when Jr is relevant, the same could said with Ferrari and F1.
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
An F1 question! They sure seem to be. And I agree with you on the need for them to relevant. When they were also-rans in the mid-'90's I didn't think that F1 missed them. Then Schumacher reminded us how much more fun the sport was to watch with them, whether you loved them or hated them. It's like the Yankees, Cowboys, or yes...Dale Jr.
Doug (albany, ny)
I was just about to comment on that Ryan, we do teams feel it necessary to rush these kids along so fast.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
A lot of it is sponsor pressure. Owners prefer older vets, but marketing people always want to go younger. And ever since Jeff Gordon arrived nearly 20 years ago everyone's been searching for the next Wonder Boy.
Can Burton and Joey forget about the 2011 season and start working on 2012?
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
No entirely yet. But if they both get through New Hampshire - one of the the best tracks for each - then yes they can.
Miles the Monster (Dover)
Sorry for the boring race. I will drivers really race or crash next time.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Just as I suspected. Miles uses grammar very similar to the Hulk's.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Alright folks, I hate to stop, but it's time to go. See you back here next week to talk All-Star Race and Hall of Fame induction. And don't forget! My NASCAR Now Classic Track Tour starts Tuesday evening, 5 pm ET, ESPN2!