Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
Hey folks! Sorry for the delay...
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
I was so bummed about missing Monday that I just now stoppped crying and realized that I was getting to do this today!
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
To the queries!
Kyle Busch Fan (NC)
Hi Ryan, good story today on Regan Smith. Like seeing stories on any driver other than Dale-Danica. Why didn't you mention that Kurt might be joining Regan at Furniture Row to provide Sprint Cup Championship leadership?
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
Thanks. That story was just posted on ESPN.com a little while ago. As for Kurt, he didn't get a mention because that's not really what the story was about. Plus, I think the team has way too much to worry about right now than expanding to two cars.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
The are WAY off.
Justin (SC )
What is your favorite Darlington memory?
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
Holy cow. There are so many. And honestly, last year's finish with Smith's win and the Harvick vs. Kyle deal ranks right up there.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
But my favorite was in '97 when they flipped the start-finish line and turned the backstretch into the frontstretch.
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
They set up a ceremonial final lap on the old configuration for David Pearson and Cale Yarborough to drive pace cars. They were Trans Ams and had Pontiac execs in the backseat.
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
They waved the green flag and Pearson dropped the hammer. Squealed the tires, smoke, the whole. Cale, like the rest of us, thought it was going to be a parade lap. He realized Pearson was gone, so he took off after him. The crowd lost their minds.
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
Afterward they said to Pearson, "You know that was supposed to be a ceremonial thing, right?" And he says "I wasn't going to let that little SOB beat me."
Boston 15 Fan (Boston)
After 3 years of dedicated reading and participation in all the NASCAR chats, I've come to the conclusion that the lovable loser's long streak is really not hurting the fan base at all. It seems to have gotten to the point that talking about or convincing themselves that a win will happen is as fun for JR Nation as it would be if he won. Is that crazy?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
It so fitting that this would come from someone in Boston because I always kind of felt that way about Red Sox fans (and I am one). There's a little part of Sox fans that kind of liked being miserable. Same with Cubs fans.
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
That being said, I don't believe that the 88 fans are enjoying this at all. There's no masochism here. Just sadism.
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
I do think that all the "this could be the week" talk has increased interest among casual fans, especially here in the non-football days.
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
When he finally does win - and he will - it's going to be nuts.
why wasnt Zippadeli ever teamed with Kyle busch?
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
At JGR I think it was discussed, but for the longest time I think everyone there knew that Dave Rogers was being groomed to become Kyle's Cup crew chief and that's what happened. The last couple of years I felt like Zippy's heart wasn't in it like it had been when Tony was there. The return of the pep in his step this year since he moved to Stewart-Haas has done nothing to convince me otherwise.
Tyler (Not Greenfield New York )
I want to get something straight that the writers and drivers have been saying the last couple of weeks. The fans do not want to see wrecks! We want to see good racing! If wrecks happen from good hard racing then so be it. I am tired of the drivers and writers trying to dumb down the fans and make it sound like all we want to see is wrecks! Do you think any true fans wanted to see Eric Mcclure get hurt after hitting the wall like that? I don't.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Fair enough. I believe that talk started with all the "Bristol is boring" chatter, which transitioned into "we need more cautions" talk over the next few races. I do think there are definitely race fans who want to see wrecks. But to me a real race fan wants to see real racing.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
I had a great discussion with Andy Petree and Marty Smith about this on NASCAR Now last week. Andy's point is that fans want to see cautions because they love restarts. Makes sense to me.
Cliff Millergren (Wewahitchka, FL)
I have watched NASCAR most of the 53 years of my life. I have watched so many regulations that NASCAR has imposed on teams and drivers, some good, some not so good. Afer listening to the drivers and owners after the Talladega race I have not heard anything good from either and NASCAR is caught in the middle between both Team/Drivers and Fans and something really has to be done. The BIG down hill slide to me is when NASCAR introduced the COT both between drivers and fans. Hey in NASCAR isn't there something about "Stock Car"? Oh yeah, that's just a name right, or is it? There is not one bolt, nut, coat of paint or anything else on the cars these guys drive today "STOCK"! I would LOVE to see the sport go back to the "Race'um on Sunday and sell'um on Monday" style of cars. Cars that REALLY come off the "Showroom Floor"!!!!! I know there are many aspects of the cars they drive today that have been improved for many different reason but nothing saying that those improvements can't be used on REAL STOCK CARS!!!!! Just saying!!!!
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
This sounds great in theory, Cliff, but in actuality this hasn't happened since the 1950's. I don't disagree with you on the CoT. And neither does NASCAR. But the good news is that the 2013 cars look like real cars. That Ford is a mean looking piece. So is the Dodge (though we may never see it race). The Toyota will be unveiled on May 22.
Rob F (Hoboken, NJ)
Hi Ryan, nice piece about Smith. The man was robbed at 'Dega, but winning at Darlington had to be 100 times more meaningful. Anyway, of the first time winners in cup last year, who would you rank as the most talented overall? I don't know if Smith is the best of that bunch, but his win certainly impressed me the most.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
I've made no bones about the fact that Smith's win was my personal favorite of 2011. He's a great guy and deserved some redemption from Talladga '08. And, as he says in the piece, the way he won at Darlington really earned some respect.
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Of the guys who got their first win last year - Smith, Ambrose, Ragan, and Menard - I think Ambrose and Menard's futures are probably the most solid because of their employment situations. But I think Smith and Ragan probably have the most pure talent of the group.
Ryan (Florence, AZ)
Coming into the 2012 season, NASCAR had more momentum than ever before. Coming off the heels of the closest championship in history, Junior running well, and a lot of parody, NASCAR should be thriving. But in my opinion, NASCAR hasn't promoted and marketed the brand enough. It seems to me that they should be doing more to get people in the stands and in front of the TV. What are your thoughts? BTW, TURN 4 is the single best NASCAR article to read every week. You all do a great job.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Thanks for that. The Turn 4 pieces are a lot of fun. Props to the ESPN Motorsports bosses for dreaming that up.
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
I'm not sure about the lack of marketing theory. They're trying. I know they're spending money, especially in the markets that host races. But maybe that's where the change in strategy should be. Start advertising in the less obvious places, maybe even during broadcasts of other sports.
Ryan McGee (2:43 PM)
I've always wondered why more sports leagues didn't splash big trailer-type ads in movie theaters, during all that pre-show video stuff so many theaters are doing now. Every movie I go to is jammed with high school and college kids. That's the group everyone's trying to reach.
Brian (Rochester NY)
when is nascar going to reduce engine size. It seems like they will have to in the next 10 years because now the cars are getting close to going over 200mph at newly paved racetracks(Michigan,Pocono)? Atlanta will be getting repaved soon. Or will we see more restrictor plates in the next 10 years.
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
I think the answer will be in EFI. Talking to engineers and NASCAR's competition gurus, that seems to be the logical place where the engine choking is going to come from one day.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
The bigger question to me isn't ten years down the road, it's 20. Like or not, street vehicles are going hybrid if not full-on electric. How will NASCAR adapt to that?
Steve (Seattle, Wa)
Why does Biffle get so little attention while leading the points for 10 straight weeks?Do the drivers have more respect for him than the media?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
I don't agree with you. At least not from our end. He's been on NASCAR Now a ton this year. And the last few years we had him on every Sunday in the Breakfast With Biff segments.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Honestly, he's just a relatively quiet guy. Maybe that's where that perception comes from.
Hey Ryan, I couldn't agree with you more about Rockingham being the signature moment of the season in the Turn 4 article. I was there as well and it was a great day!!!!
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
It was awesome. Pre-race gave me chills. In the middle of it all Ward Burton says, "Man, this feels like 1997, don't it?"
Bob T. (Winston-Salem, NC)
You mentioned four of last year's first-time winners, but how about Trevor Bayne? What do you see in his future considering Roush's trouble finding sponsorship now?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
Oops! Yeah, I think Trevor is probably the most talented of that entire group. But I really am beginning to think he's going to have to find a way out of RFR to really thrive. I've said it before and I'll say it again, that team's inability to land sponsors for Bayne and Stenhouse both just totally baffles me.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
But I'll say this, too. He should only leave for a lateral move. Taking a step down to a lesser organziation never works out. Never.
Jake (Irving, TX)
TX Rangers brought in rookie Yu Darvish and every home game is a sellout. Do you think part of NASCAR's problems is people are sick and tired of the same-old, same old, Dale, Stewart, Gordon, Johnson, Kenseth, Burton,Martin who have been around forever?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
Maybe. (And I'm digging the Darvish reference.) The sport needs a Jeremy Lin, Cam Newton kind of buzz-creator. I think Bayne is that guy, but the national momentum he had from Daytona is beginning to fade.
Are you hearing that Kurt will be in the RCR #31 or JGR #20 or SHR #39 for 2013?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
No. And you can scratch RCR off any potential Kurt Busch employment list. A. Childress won't put up with it. B. Any future Cup openings at RCR will be going to the Dillon boys.
NASCAR and McClure were very lucky that McClure didn't hit the concrete wall with no SAFER barrier just a little bit further down that wall. Why isn't there SAFER barriers around the whole track at Dega?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
THIS DRIVES ME INSANE. I got killed on Twitter when I said, "Can we please get SAFER barriers to cover all walls at all tracks?" because people came back with "But McClure was saved by the SAFER barrier!" Not the point. The point is that we had to look and see and make sure he'd hit where the soft walls were located and not where they aren't, which as you point out, was just a little further up the track.
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
There should never even be any doubt in our minds! They should just be there. Everywhere. There's no excuse for it. Especially the "But cars never hit the wall at that spot!" excuse. That's baloney. If we've learned anything it's that cars will find the spots without soft walls.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Cover every square inch of every wall. No excuses.
Do you think the Boris Said and Greg Biffle feud is really done? I'm sure Boris will somehow have a ride at Sonoma next month.
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
I don't think they like each other very much. That will never change. And yes, I promise we'll see Boris at Infineon and Watkins Glen both. Will we see payback? Not from Boris. He'll be racing on a shoestring budget and can't afford to wreck anything on purpose.
Saul (San Diego)
It was miserable watching Dale Jr be miserable, it fun now watching him now, as it appears that he is having fun.
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
Yep. He's a good guy. It's good to see him having fun - and being serious - again.
Ryan (certified octo free) (Ventura, CA)
Hey Ryan, How cool is it that Denny is running a Cale Yarborough paint scheme for both Darlington races on his Toyota Camry?
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Awesome. That's another great Darlington memory. When Tim Flock (who should be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame) was sick with cancer, Darrell Waltrip ran a Chrysler 300-M paint scheme that looked like Flock's legendary car he won with on Daytona Beach. All the die cast proceeds went to help Tim pay his medical bills. He dies not too long after that, but talking to him about it and hearing the emotion in his voice was an amazing experience.
Stephen Colbert (NC)
Your thoughts on Smoke's comments?
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Was it really anything new? It certainly wasn't the first time someone got out and ripped plate racing. And it sure as hell wasn't the first time Smoke was that sarcastic. I had the first question in Friday's media Q&A, which was just minutes after the end of practice. I said, "How's the car look?" He said, "It's red with a big 14 on the side of it."
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Who do you like this weekend?
Ryan McGee (3:05 PM)
I like 11, 24, 17, 39, and 16. And for dark horses I think you should also keep an eye on Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, and Jamie McMurray.
Chad (Portland, OR)
Is NASCAR at all looking at the tire situation and how they just do not wear at all? Part of NASCAR in the past was how well drivers were able to handle cars when the tires really started to wear. That is now basically gone and I think it is missed.
Ryan McGee (3:06 PM)
They are. That's a common complaint from drivers and teams right now is that the tires don't fall off. Curious to see how long they hold on Darlington.
Ryan McGee (3:07 PM)
But at the same time, I am always reluctant to mess with tires too much. That's typically a very slippery slope.
Ryan McGee (3:07 PM)
There a big group of teams at Loudon today working on this very issue. In fact, they are on NASCAR Now...which just started on ESPN2!
What are your expectations for Carl Edwards on Friday as he calls his first NASCAR race from the broadcast booth?
Ryan McGee (3:09 PM)
I think he'll be great. The handful of times he's done that with us before - such as during the Chase on SportsCenters - he was great. The backlash that has developed about him, the whole "he's not genuine" thing kind of makes me scratch my head. But that aside, he's smart as hell and just as articulate. The analysis should be good. Right now it's a two-race deal.
Danny McCoy (Las Vegas)
How come we don't see more reporting on driver salaries and contract negotiations, like in other sports?
Ryan McGee (3:12 PM)
The other sports have to operate open-book because of their tax exempt status. Believe it or not, the NFL operates as a non-profit. So those salaries are available on the tax forms they file, which can be obtained by the public. NASCAR is a series of independent contractors, so the negotiations and numbers are much more difficult to dig up.
Ryan McGee (3:13 PM)
Alright folks. Gotta go. Sorry I was late, but I did hang around until quarter-after to make up for it. I'll see you on the TV from Darlington this weekend. Southern 500, I love it!
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