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 '11 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 white concrete dust covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the one-hour Monday motorsports block party. I'm a couple of minutes late, so let's forget the intro and go straight to the queries!
And you ESPN folk thought JJ was done muahahahaha. Remember where he took the points lead last year? Kansas!
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
I know, right? And for the record, it wasn't just ESPN reporters. It was everyone in the media center! But I will say this. He's in that group of guys who can't have another major miscue. One more bad weekend and he'll be in real trouble.
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
In this week's Power Rankings I said he was like Cole Trickle sneaking up on Russ Wheeler and jacking up his back bumper. "Remember me?!"
Toni Stert (Burger King)
What do you think my chances are now?
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
You're fine. That's why I kept you at 2nd in the Power Rankings. But you've also had your one horrible week now. Can't have another.
Any chance we'll see Steve Letarte drop the hammer and make some rotations on the #88 crew? The loose nut on the sway bar AND a loose wheel ruining what could have been a pretty good day seems a little excessive.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
Yeah, that was bad. I thought Dale Jr handled that pretty well. In public he gets criticized for not being assertive enough. But behind closed doors he can wield that "I'm driver get your crap together" hammer pretty well. Certainly better than he did when he first got to Hendrick.
Catch 22 (Maryland)
With Kurt Leading the most laps at Chicago and now winning at Dover would you say he is a legitamate contender?
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
Yes. Part of what I love about hitting the reset button for the Chase is that it feels a lot like football season. Every week is a roller coaster. Win and you're the best team in history. Lose the next week and you're the worst team in history. The Chase brings that to NASCAR.
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Think about it. One week ago he was flipping out over the radio saying "Get ready to not be invited to Vegas again!" This week he's all "We're the best team ever!"
Chris (Sicklerville, NJ)
How is it possible for the 14 team to unload that bad and never really get any better from practice through the race?
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
They're just bad at Dover. Darian Grubb spent all week warning us. He started with the "don't expect us to win three in a row" talk during all the live coverage from Victory Lane at Loudon.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
What was just as surprising was that Newman was as bad he was. Dude won there in May!
We haven't heard much from Tony Stewart about Mark Martin splitting a Cup car with Danica lately, and the last thing we did hear was how hard it would be to get sponsors. Richard Childress has said he has potential sponsors lined up to continue running the #33 if he can find a driver. Any chance he'll go after Mark Martin for that car? It seems like a perfect scenario to put Mark in that car full-time in 2012, then let him split it with Austin Dillon in 2013.
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
Yes. Mark swears up and down, and has all year, that he has nothing cooking right now. I have believed him. One thing to consider with RC is that he will have Ellliott Sadler on the payroll next year through the KHI buyout. And Brian Vickers is still floating around out there.
Catch 22 (Maryland)
Was it a coincidence that JJ Yeley, fellow Ford Driver, brought out a caution just as "Concrete Carl" needed one, similar to the Menard incident a few weeks back?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
I would think about that for a second if he hadn't brought out like five others already.
With Mark Martin nothing but an aged, old, middle of the pack , field filler, why don't owners go after 1 of the young, exciting dudes from Nationwide or trucks?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
First, that's a little harsh. You act like he's Joe Ruttman. Second, I do think there's a wave of young guys coming. I wrote as much in ESPN The Magzine last month. But a lot of those guys are under contract with certain teams. They can't move up until the guys ahead of them move on. In some cases, that isn't happening for a while.
Ryan, do you like Kahne's chances for getting a win before the season is over? Also, what's the word on John Brantley's leg for Florida? Thanks
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
I do. I thought Dover might be his best chance, though. I give him a lot of credit. He has stuck with it and has helped that team keep getting better even when he's known that he's leaving and also that the team might not even exist next year. That's a good guy that does that.
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
No Brantley for LSU. That's bad for the Gators. I'll be on The Experts on ESPNU tomorrow talking about that.
Newman Finished 21st in May. But it was weird yesterday. Really the only good HMS/SHR car was the 48.. The 24 and 88 were ok at times.. But nothing special
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
You're right. I spaced out. Kenseth won. And you are right about HMS. Martin was surprising because he finsihed 2nd in May. And I do know that's true!
andy (Planet Earth)
Penske's 2 car team has more wins then Hendrick's 4 car team, who would have thought that going into the season?
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Not I. Especially the way that the 22 labored through the summer.
Ryan, you mention Smoke and Johnson not being able to have another bad week (and I am sure that applies to others as well) so was wondering who you think still has a mulligan coming? I did like what Tony said in his chat the other day...it all depends on what the other 11 guys do....if everyone is 30th or worse than you just need to be 30th
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
I think that big wad of guys sitting 2nd to 10th are in the no-more-mulligans club. Stewart could probably stand one more, but it would make life tough. And he's right. If everyone else has two bad weeks then having two bad weeks of your own will be okay. But history tells that there's always at least a couple of guys who only have one bad week and those are the ones who are still in it when we get to Homestead.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
Speaking of which, how huge have those "regular season" bonus points been for guys like Harvick and Kyle Busch? Those bonus points for their four wins have A. Kept Harvick in the points lead and B. Kept Kyle from totally vanishing after Chicago.
Ryan.... Whats the latest with JPM contract? do you think they are just riding out the rest of the season? what needs to change in order for the 42 team to be in the chase next year? .... thanks
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
Yeah, he'll be back. As far as what they need to do, I think they've already started it. They just missed on some car construction stuff. Pair that with the fact that the Earnahrdt-Childress engines were down a little when the year started and it made for a a pretty deep hole. The horsepower has returned. Now the EGR cars need to.
Do you think newman is in trouble?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
In the Chase? Yes. I think he's done. He and Hamlin are the only two I'm ready to write off.
Ryan (Virginia Beach)
What's up, McGee? Last I heard was that Penske got Alliance Truck Parts lined up as primary sponsor to get Hornish in NNS full time next year - is that still on track? Also, do you think Hornish will ever drive a cup car for the Captain again?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
Yo Ryan (love the name). Yeah, I hear the same. I think Sam has a chance to get back to Cup one day, but I think he's a long way from returning full-time. I wish so bad he would go back to IndyCar, but clearly that's never happening.
Nelly (San Antonio)
It doesn't seem like Rowdy has done anything wrong in the first 3 chase races but that Rogers and the #18 have given Rowdy average race cars. Can they step it up so the Rowdy can win 2 of the next 7 races and the Championship?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Yes. He's not out of it.
Jeremy (Talent Oregon)
Hey Ryan, is sunday a must win for the 24 at Kansas?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
I wouldn't call it a must-win, but it's a must-do-well. Like top five. He's defeinitely in that no-more-mulligans group.
Andy (Dayton,Oh )
Can Harvick keep up the consistant runs, him and Carl haven't had a "bad" race, His 12th was the worst. Do think past stat are really out the door this year.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
I don't think past stats are completely out the door, though Kurt kind of blew that up didn't he? The biggest variable that had rendered stats useless was the fuel mileage thing, which thankfully we didn't have again at Dover. And yes, I say Harvick can keep it up. So can Carl. The Chase isn't unlike a 500-mile race. Stay out of trouble and keep yourself in position for the last green flag run. In other words, survive September and October so you're in position come November.
Jeff (Death Valley , SC)
How about my Clemson Tigers!!!! Gamecocks stink
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Yeah, I'm a believer now. I wasn't. But I am now.
Will the changes to the cars NASCAR mandated make a difference at Dega? I do not mind the 2x2 racing we have seen at plate races. It is just different. NASCAR fans do not like changes.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
You know, Vinnie, it didn't bother me either. I don't see how anyone can look back on the Daytona 500 and say it wasn't incredible. But the overwhelming tone I get from fans and drivers is that they hate it. I think we'll still see it, but not for the long sustained periods of time we've had in this year's previous three plate races. And I don't think these changes will "solve" the 2-car tango, but I think it is the first step in that direction.
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
All that being said, I also wouldn't be surprised if after we have cars running 215 mph in the first practice session they'll probably make another change before the race.
Eddie Olczyk (Chicago IL)
Why does NASCAR have a reputation for only appealing to rednecks?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
I don't know. On one hand, I love rednecks. I are one. But on the other, I compare the crowds I see now to the ones I saw when I was a kid growing up in Rockingham and it's a whole new ballgame. Whatever, people that think they're too cool to actually go see for themselves will always cling to that. But I go to football games all over the country, pro and college, and what I see in the grandstand at Dover looks just like what I see in the bleachers at Lambeau or Wrigley or the Meadowlands.
Is there any win sweeter for a racer than the way Kurt "Busch Slapped" #48 yesterday especially with the way Johnson has been running his mouth and yappin' about Kurt all season?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
Well, in all fairness that smack has flowed both ways. But yes, it is more special because of it. Jimmie is the gold standard. Knock a chink in his armor and it makes it even sweeter. We saw that with Kyle too when he held off the 48 a couple of times earlier this year.
Johnson finished 5th, 2nd, 2nd, and 5th before winning the Sprint Cup at 30 years of age. Do you see a similiar pattern for Rowdy?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Sure. I think we've seen in the past, going all the way back to guys like Dale Jarrett, that once they get over that hump, whether it's trying to win a certain race or finally become a top ten driver or finally win a Cup, more success follows.
With Jr.'s slim championship hopes done for it do you think he will give up on trying to win races too?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
No. I have to say, Junior Nation is as pessimistic today as I've ever seen them. You guys don't see all the questions that come into this chat. I simply can't post them all. But of the 200 that have come in I bet half of them have been from Earnhardt fans declaring this another lost season. Is he in great shape? No. But is it over? No.
Norbert Reithofer (Munich, Germany)
After Toyota's successful entry into NASCAR do you see any other foreign automakers trying to enter the fray?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Those conversations have taken place, for sure. I know that Honda, VW, and even BMW have snooped around. But they wanted to see what happened with Toyota first. And they were also turned off by the whole carburetor thing. Now that fuel injection is coming they might start asking around again. I wouldn't expect it soon, but one day down the road we'll have another overseas make.
Eric, kurt got lucky because the 48 had tire resedue on it. Whos called 5 time?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Uh oh...Fight! Fight! Fight!
Is it hip to be from Wisconsin now? Brewers, Packers, and Badgers are all looking good. In a Lt. Dan voice... So you boys are from Wisconsin, hun? I've been through there. Milwaukee is a fine town... If only the Milwaukee Mile were on the NASCAR schedule.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
That Matt Kenseth's not doing too shabby either. Some of the most I've ever had was covering the July 4th Busch Series weekend at The Mile. It also happened to coincide with Summerfest!
What happens to the 140 people laid off by Harvick and the 152 people fired by Red Bull? And what happens to the cars , haulers equipment etc?
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
They go looking for jobs. It's going to be bad. Some of the KHI employees will be absorbed by RCR, but certainly not all. Same with equipment. The bigger hurt is going to be when/if RBR goes away. I think of lot of people saw that paperwork filing with the State of NC and thought that measn the shutdown is imminent. It might be. But I do know that the team's GM, Jay Frye, is working hard to try to keep as much of it together in some capacity next year. That's a tough assignment, but I credit him for trying.
Is Dodge trying to get into any other NASCAR teams? Is any other NASCAR teams looking at Dodge? They seem to be stronger then we all thought.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
They want to, yes. But there aren't a lot of places to expand into. And quite frankly, moving onto a third-tier team doesn't do them any good.
Michael Schumacher (Gland, Switzerland)
How strong is NASCAR's following outside of the United States?
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
Pretty strong. When I worked with NASCAR Media Group in early-to-mid part of last decade the TV deals got done to put the races on in more than 100 nations. And Juan Pablo Montoya's move to NASCAR can't be understated. The audience he brought hasn't been so much in South America like NASCAR thought, but more in Europe and, believe it or not, Russia. The Russians love JPM because they hate Michael Schumacher and Juan always refused to bow to Schuey's legend in F1.
NASCAR fans are tired of waiting for Jr. to perform. Do you think that's the reason we see so many empty seats like yesterday at Dover?
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
I think Dover has it's own problems, but there's no doubt that Dale Jr's success or lack of it moves NASCAR's needle one way or the other. Two weeks ago on NASCAR Now I called him "NASCAR's Tiger Woods" and cought some flak for that. But I never suggested the Dale has had the kind of success that Tiger has. What I was saying was that his relevance has a direct effect on TV rating and attendance. That's fact. A big reason the ratings were so good for Richmond and the first two Chase races, even a race run on a Monday, was because he was a legit part of the storyline. Earnhardt haters don't want to hear that, but it's a fact.
Andy (Dayton,Oh )
I can totally see Bowyer leaving his RCR teammates out to dry at Talladega and push a MWR car to a win.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
You're assuming an MWR car will be in position for a win.
Going into next year how do you think Bowyer will do with MWR? I mean they honestly aren't that good of a team but Bowyer is a good driver.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
I said it in the Power Rankings and I'll say it again here. I have no doubt he can win at MWR. But it's going to take a while because they have some serious work to do first.
Chris (New York City)
I poured my heart out to you and you ignored me smh
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Sorry. They were coming fast and furious. But I have good news! You can hit me up on Twitter (@RyanMcGeeESPN) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll do my best to get back to you.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
The bell just rang, so I gotta go. See you back here next week. And now we can all run to our TVs and watch NASCAR Now, which is on ESPN2 right now! Until next time, tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of The Wonders.
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