Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 2012 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." McGee puts 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 West Coast monsoon rain covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the Monday Motorsports Block Party Chat. It's a beautiful day here in NC but I literally have no voice, so it's good to be communicating through the keyboard. To the queries!
After being declared the winner yesterday, Stewart thanked Hendrick chassis and Hendrick motors even before his sponsors. Isn't that a little unusual?
Ryan McGee (2:01 PM)
Not really. He should. Without Hendrick's assistance he wouldn't be doing what he's doing. He did the same when he won the Cup. This is nothing new. I remember back in the early '90's when Joe Gibbs Racing first started it was in a very similar situation. And whenever that 18 car won a race Gibbs and Dale Jarrett fell all over themselves to thank Hendrick too.
I had a chance to ask @odsteve and @mikejoy500 about adding some flexibility to start times on twitter this weekend and I'm interested in your take? If we know rain is going to be a problem, can't we start early to get the whole show in? Or better yet a Sat night contingency w/ lights? They said a ticket is a contract and no way to let everyone know. In this day of social media and mass communications I disagree, the word could get out w/ a litte planning & us fans would get a real show. Thanks!
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
Kyle, I hear you and I see where you're going, but you just can't get the word to everyone. Those of use who are heavily into social media I think assume that everyone is, but they just aren't. Hell, a lot of people still don't have cable or internet access. I get where they are coming from and that's a longstanding mantra from Bill France Senior...
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
That being said, I always argue they they could alter the actual at-track schedule within the hour of the green flag. Slide all the prerace stuff up or condense it. As soon as the TV network hits the top of the hour then drop the green and go instead of waiting until 1:22 or whatever.
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
That's also a huge consideration when you're talking about moving races up to Saturday night to beat the rain. The TV factor. You can't go to FOX on Friday and say "Tell all your affiliates that your prime time schedule is out the window".
That Chevy V-6 turbo Indy car engine sounded really cool and I was wondering if Chevy might use that motor with the new NASCAR model next year?
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
Man, didn't those turbochargers sound awesome in St. Pete? To me that was the final shovel of dirt on the old IRL/CART Civil War. As far as Chevy using that in NASCAR, that'll never happen. Turbochargers will always be a stock car no-no.
DepotSmoke (Key West)
How important will it be for one of the real Hendrick drivers, Gordon or Johnson, to win the 200th for Mr. H?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Mr. H and I have talked about this a lot. He doesn't care who gets it just as long as he doesn't have to keep hauling this 200th win hats from track to track anymore. I think there are a lot of people who think it would be more fitting if Jeff or Jimmie did it, but I'm not one of them. Dale Junior winning anytime, but especially this win, would be a huge story. And when I think about all of the different drivers who have won under the HMS banner it would be cool for Kasey Kahne to add his name to that list via this milestone.
Hey Ryan, As a Hamlin fan I'm a little disappointed with the gamble costing the 11. But should I be taking some encouragement out of California? The 11 was on top of speed charts and running up front, and Martinsville, Texas, Richmond, and Darlington are 4 of the next 6 stops, where Denny has multiple wins. Big things coming for Denny and DG?
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
He was one of the three best cars all day. Darian did what he thought was right. Apparently one of the two weather models he was looking at made it seem like they'd restart. But yes, you compare where that team is now to one year ago and you have to be very happy. And he's always cash money at Martinsville.
Chris (Fullerton, CA)
What are the chances Kurt Busch wins one race this year and finishes in Top 20?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Not great. I think he could win a race, especially at a plate track, but top 20 is a lot to ask.
Ryan certified Octo free (Ventura CA)
Chevy had quite the coming out party in Sunday's IRL race. Curious as to why Penske is using Chevy power in that series, but switching to Ford in Cup next year
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
The Captain says he talked it over with Chevy prior to making the switch and they cleared it. He's balanced multiple engines across multiple series before...just not the greatest rivalry in American automobile history!
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
As far as why he made the switch to Chevy, that's just who he thought would give him the edge as this new engine formula was introduced. Sure looks like he was right.
I think you sold Junior a little short in your blurb for him in the Power Rankings. I will admit... in the past, we've seen Junior treat racing like a chore, especially at tracks like Fontana where he usually doesn't do well. But I think this year we're seeing him with more confidence, and he seemed like he genuinely felt like he could've gotten more out of that car. I think he was proud of the fact that his team was adjusting to keep up with track changes and wanted to prove to everyone that he could perform at the end of the race, but his opportunity was cut short.
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
His career average finish at Fontana coming into yesterday was nearly 22nd and he hadn't had a top five there since 2007. I have no doubt he might have been up there mixing it up for the win at lap 200, but his wins are coming. That 3rd place finish is good. Time to move on to a stretch of his best tracks.
Chris (Little Rock,AR)
Why would Dodge even consider letting Penske build ther engines next year when they will be running Fords?
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
I don't see that scenario working. And keep in mind that it was thrown out there by Penske himself, who would certainly stand to make a lot of money from that. But I just don't see how it would work. By the way, kudos to my buddy Nate Ryan on that story.
The 14, 18 and 11 were the class of the field all day, it is ashame that we didn't get to see them fight it out in the end.
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
True. But it was the right call by NASCAR. Three hours after the red flag it was still raining and it was also pretty chilly. Would have taken forever to dry the track even if had stopped raining.
Which track will be Jr's first win in a while?
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
I've had my eye on Texas all along. He can certainly win at Martinsville, but there are an awful lot of guys who are too good there.
John (Columbia, TN (marlin country))
With Tony's win yesterday is it safe to say he is a lock for the chase with the 2 wild card spots?
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Pretty close, yes. When that was pointed out to him Sunday it was clear he hadn't really thought about it...and then he got very excited about it.
McGee. Has anyone ever told you that you kind of look like Stephen Colbert? I was wondering if any NASCAR drivers besides Trevor Bayne are outspoken Christians.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
I do get that. Especially in my skinnier days. But I still get Johnny Benson way more than anyone else. A whole crowd of fans at Las Vegas started yelling "Johnny!" at me when I was walking through the Neon Garage.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
Trevor is certainly not alone in his beliefs. That's proven at every Sunday morning MRO chapel session. He and Michael McDowell are very active in churches and with faith-based organizations when they are out on the road. They were cohosting a huge rally in the famed Daytona Beach clamshell the night before the 500, right under my hotel room widow.
Ryan (real one) (Ventura, Ca.)
After Rowdy's great run yesterday to 2nd how come he only ranks 13th in your story this week?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
He's 13th in points with 2 top 10's and that was the first week he's been a serious threat for a win. He still has work to do and I have no doubts he'll get there. The good news for Rowdy fans is that he seems to be building it up slowly instead blowing everyone's doors off this time of year. Be nice if he'd save that for the fall instead of struggling when it really counts.
How much support does Robby actually get from Dodge? Clearly it's not enough if he can't even afford to start and park anymore. His team only ran the distance 13 times last year, and that was with "18" races worth of support. Does Dodge just not like Robby?
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
It's next to nothing. It's not that they don't like him, they just don't have the kind of deep pockets to go around underwriting undermanned teams. Robby has a unique self-sustaining business model and is fighting just to keep the doors open. That's not Dodge's fault.
iam begging to wonder about logano looks like the same thing is happening las year hes not very good in cup
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
He's tied for 12th in points. This time last year he was 29th. Way to early to be writing him off.
Jeremy (Port Angeles, WA)
Is the engine quieter this years Indycar turbocharger then it was with the CART Series?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Not quieter, just different. This some of that old Champ Car turbocharger whine in it as opposed to the old engine which sounded more like a NASCAR Cup engine than anything else.
why is it that Tony Stewart can be soooooooo Hot right now but his team mate Ryan Newman is still just luke warm? I think its because that team has found something with these new cars that the rest of Nascar hasn't quite caught on to yet..
Ryan McGee (2:38 PM)
I wouldn't necessarily categorize Newman as lukewarm. He has 5 top 10s over his last 11 races, finished 4th, 12th, and 7th over the last 3 and is in the top 10 in points. But there's no doubt there's something that SHR has found that is really to Smoke's liking. He's driving so aggressively, going back to last fall, and that's the sign of a driver who has rides he likes.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
You also can't discount the influence of bringing in Greg Zipadelli. There's no doubt that has a ton to do with the big smile on Tony's face right now. And Zippy looks excited too. Last year he looked like he'd really tired of working on the 20 car.
Jeremy (Phoenix Oregon)
Hey Ryan, what does Jeff Gordon have to do get back into chase contention and is Martinsville a must win?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
He doesn't have to win Martinsville, but he needs to show that he can. It's not that he's had bad cars. Not at all. They just can't get out of their own way. Sunday night he Tweeted "Martinsville can't get here fast enough" and he's right.
Michael (Edinboro University of Pennsylvania)
When Jr. finally does win a race, will it be as big (if not bigger) as Tiger's first win in a while? Imagine the stories if the both had won yesterday!
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
NBC's ratings for Bay Hill on Sunday were up nearly 130% over the same round one year ago. If Junior is leading with 20 to go I have a feeling the social media buzz will drive some serious traffic to the Cup race too, even people who don't normally watch.
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
In a related note, I laughed out loud at all the people saying that NASCAR threw the red flag on Sunday to save Jimmie Johnson's top 10 finish. Let me tell you something. If NASCAR really fixed races, do you really think that during the time of down ratings and attendance Dale Junior would have been allowed to lose for four years?!
Any new info on Kenseth's contract situation since it's potentially up after this season?
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
Not really. The search continues, but the team is no danger of shuttering or anything like that. I think for the RFR sales follks the focus in the big sponsor search is already geared toward 2013.
I was ready to write off Ferrari, but; after this past weekend, I have hope. Ferrari has a way of throwing money at its problems. Have they figured something out with aero?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
They still have a long way to go. They kind of caught the breaks in action the right way and then Alonso had to drive his butt off to stay up front. No doubt the win helped morale though. It's been pretty low with those guys.
Do you have any idea why Jimmie wasn't black flagged for spewing oil on the track for six laps Sunday?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
It just didn't look that bad. It started as very thin smoke, so thin Jimmie hadn't even noticed it until Matt Kenseth let him know he was leaking oil. He got down on the apron out of the way and rode it out, which was as smart move.
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
I honestly think that if it had been anyone other than him very few fans would even bring it up today.
Martinsville Top 5 and darkhorse?
Top 5 drivers and a darkhorse for Martinsville?
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Give me the 48, 11, 24, 88 and 29 (with 14 as well). As for darkhorses how about the 31 and 39.
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
For a darker darkhorse, how about the 42. The most amazingly unexpected surprise about his career has been how solid he's always been on short tracks.
How satisfying is it for Kurt Busch to be ahead of Dinger in points?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
He'll never say it publicly, but he's loving it.
If Tiger and Jr. would have won yesterday, Twitter would have been blown off the web, iPhones, iPads, and Droids.
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
No doubt about it. And then the Jets would have had to hold Tebow's press conference on Sunday just to see if Twitter could actually be broken.
do you know if anybody has been doing any practicing specifically for Martinsville recently and where would they practice for that?
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
To test for Martinsville the most popular spot is the Little Rock test track that Andy Hillenburg built behind the Rockingham Speedway. It's a near-perfect Martinsville clone. He built it for Legends cars racing, but he was also smart enough to know teams would use it for testing. This time of year that sucker is in use nearly every single day with Cup and Trucks teams getting ready for Martinsville. They also use it to get ready for New Hampshire, Richmond, and even Phoenix.
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
It's little revenue streams like that that have allowed Andy to get The Rock back in shape for NASCAR. The Trucks are racing there April 15.
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. Hit me up on Twitter (@RyanMcGeeESPN) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll see you at Martinsville this weekend. In the meantime, tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of Southern Culture on the Skids.