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!
K. Lee Davis (2:04 PM)
Ryan is experiencing technical difficulties.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
Woohoo...I'm here. So let's not mess with the cutie intro and get down to bizness.
Hi Ryan, since #2 is so slow and good at saving gas do you think the EPA should recogonize #2 for being green and good for the environment?
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
You sound like Denny Hamlin.
Smoke is looking like a fool for letting Grubb go, that guy can bring a car to a track ready to race. What's the real reason they parted?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
Personality clash. Behind the scenes it was just not working. It happens. With Zippy coming over from JGR there probably would have been some clashing there anyway, okay not probably, there's no way to know that for sure. But if Grubb and Tony had issues, then Grubb and Zippy, who is a lot like Tony, likely would have too. Either way, Smoke got a Cup out of him. Perhaps Denny might too.
Impressive win by Team Deuce. That being said, which was more impressive.. BK stretching their fuel for Chase win #2(since this has been their strength over the field for a while) or the Hendrick boys (lookin at you JJ and JG) to actually make it to the checkers and for the 24 to at least look like he was going to challenge BK? Thanks McGee
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
They both blew me away. After that second quick yellow in a row, when all the crew chiefs were begging their drivers to save fuel I kind of shrugged it off because I didn't think there was any way in hades we'd run that long to the finish at Dover without another caution. Wrong.
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
If there is one chink in Jimmie's armor it's saving fuel. So for him to stretch it like he did tells you that, not surprisingly, that's something he's really worked on.
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
I did a story for ESPN The Magazine a few years ago where we put Carl Edwards, another gas guzzler, in a street car with a world champion hyper-miler, an mpg specialist. It was fascinating listening to them talk. There is a real science to it. And now that these cars have electronic fuel injection, time with a specialist like has real applications because street cars uses a somewhat similar system.
Cameron (Palo Alto, CA)
Good Morning Mr. McGee,With the impressive run from Kyle yesterday, i hope it squelches all of the "Dave Rogers needs to go" talk. Now the real question is TRD fuel mileage I suppose, both Kyle and Denny seemed not very impressed with the amount of gas their TRD engines needed.My question, is Brad that much better at saving gas than the rest of the field, or does Penske have something going on over there?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
Yeah, we'll see. These crew chiefs now really live lives like NFL coaches. The "Fire him!" vs. "He's a genius!" attitudes swing wildly week to week.
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
There will definitely be some talks with folks at TRD about fuel mileage. And they need to talk to Michael Waltip Racing too. Those guys seem to have a better handle on it. I think JGR is still kind of figuring out how the life of an engine customer goes vs. an engine builder. I give them credit because you look at where they were with TRD at the start of the season and where they are now and the improvement is pretty big.
Tom (San Diego)
Any thoughts on the 2013 IndyCar schedule/TV package? I see a lot of positives there.
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
I like where IndyCar is headed, but I am still waiting on a giant shake-it-up move that we all have expected from Randy Bernard with the schedule stuff. I love the old school summer oval feel of Indy/Milwaukee/Pocono and I like the doubleheaders. But I don't understand why they won't run an oval sometime in the spring. And I hate that month-plus gap in the second half. I still think we could see another race added somewhere in there.
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
I do like the Pocono race. And bringing back the old Triple Crown. But I am not one of the people that thinks the Pocono race should be 500 miles. 400 works just fine.
Claudia (Western NY)
Only 3 races in, and realistically, 5 teams are already out of the chase. Is this how Nascar really wants it? Might they someday have an elimination format... bottom teams eliminated after 5 races?
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
I get this question a lot, but to me it's just natural selection. Teams are eliminated on their own. I guess we could formally cross them off, but I don't know if I see the point. It would just be paperwork.
Jake (Plano, TX)
Who do you think goes in the 51 the rest of the year, starting with Charlotte? Regan Smith? AJ? Are there any other real contenders?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
I think the right thing to do would be to put Regan in there, even if he's not in that car next year. I think we all need to give Smith a lot of credit. I'm pretty sure he's not very happy with how all of this has gone down, but instead of raising hell in public he's doing the heady thing and being a good guy while he's courting sponsors and teams for 2013.
Do you think Brad Keselowski would be a good champion for the sport? He gets mixed reactions from the fans and I don't think he has much recognition level with the general public, but if he does win it, he'll be a hit on the talk show circuit with the amount of personality he has.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
I think he would be great. When I'm covering other sports I only get asked "What's he really like?" from other writers concerning a hanfdul of NASCAR drivers and he's becoming one of them.
Boston for 15 (Boston)
This has been a pretty great Chase. Every week someone new wins, and every week, that driver is anointed the favorite to win it all! Clint's turn next week!
Ryan McGee (2:29 PM)
Yeah, that's a by-product of having a separate postseason. Every reaction is kneejerk, a la football. I will say this, when I do the Power Rankings each week I try very hard not to simply plug the race winner or the points leader up top. But in the case of BK this week, he was kind of hard to reason out of the top spot.
To Expand on Claudia thoughts, I like the elimination ideal, unless you win in the elimination window( every few races maybe). Much like a true play off game. What do you think?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
I don't mind it one way or the other. But the most common complaint I get from fans about the Chase is that it is too much manufactured drama. Wouldn't this make that feel worse?
Ed (Fort Worth)
Hey Ryan, would you mind just sharing a couple of thoughts about Chris E. and what he meant to you as someone who professionally covers and reports on motorsports? I was very sad to read of his passing - Hinton was right in saying we lost a great one.
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
It's pretty simple, Ed. If Mr. Economaki doesn't come along I don't have a career. And neither does anyone else in the media center. Certainly not a career you could actually make a living off of. He invented the motorsports column, the national motorsports publication, the position of motorsports "insider" and was the world's first real pit reporter.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
On the other side of that, it was Chris who so relentless with New York network executives to take motorsports seriously and give it the same national stage that stick and ball sports received.
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
We all, fans and people within the sport, owe Chris Economaki forever. If you get a chance read my story I wrote about having dinner with him at Pocono in 2010. One of the great meals of my life.
Did Rowdy Busch upset the people in Daytona Beach by stinking up the show yesterday and stealing the thunder of the Chasers?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
No. History says there is always at least one race in the Chase where a non-Chaser wins. Anyone who went into the Chase thinking that Kyle wasn't going to do what he did at Dover at least a few times during the final ten races doesn't know much about Mr. Busch.
Is there anyway to shake up, say 2 of the Chase tracks a year starting in 2015/2016? The sked hasnt been set that far out, and Dover's attendance didnt look anywhere near capacity other than the frontstretch. Id change 3 races and add a road course but have the other 2 rotate yearly. Notify the 2 tracks that will host several years out. If it is that far in advance, scheduling shouldnt really be a problem.. too easy a fix?
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
Mike Helton has said that NASCAR has tinkered around with some models, though he is always quick with his "We just set this around the ten races that were already there" speech. I think we are no more than a few years away from some massive schedule reconstruction. At least I hope we are.
Wouldn't giving the chasers their own points system raise the excitement of the Chase? It's pretty much down to 3 guys after only 3 races.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
I do like this idea. I didn't to start of with, but the more I think about it the more I dig it.
Chris (Rutgers Grease Trucks, NJ)
Hi Ryan! You look great on TV!!! I had Jimmie as the chase winner when the chase started. Now I think the #2 may very well take it. Who is your pick after 3 races? Jimmie just lost his top track. Thanks!!!
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
Thanks. Are you sure that wasn't Johnny Benson you saw on TV? I still lean toward Jimmie simply because of experience. But I truly believe all three of the top guys now can go the distance.
Frank (Kingston, Pa)
With regard to JGR fuel mileage could it be that JGR bet this was not going to be a fuel mileage race? Both DH and KB had to pit and JL's car ran out of gas at the end. It may have explained the speed the JGR cars had trading fuel mileage for HP
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Totally. Hamlin said as much after the race. And I said earlier, I didn't think there was a chance we'd go green all the way to the end. One caution and the cars that had to pit for fuel likely wouldn't have.
Tim (Madison, WI)
I do not think that Talladega should be in the Chase. The probability of getting swept up in a wreck is too great. I don't even consider it to be real racing as drivers spend 95% of the race riding around. The drivers hate it, but the fans (except me) love it. Thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
I like it. And I like where it is close the middle, but not right in the middle of the Chase. The fact that Talladega is looming out there is the only reason we can still look at a guy like Gordon and think, dude still has a chance.
Bill (Scranton, PA)
If Jeff Gordon makes up at least 20 points on the top-3 next weekend, and is under 30 points out with six races to go, is he back in the hunt again?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
Yes. But that's a tall order. Speaking of Talladega, this is a ginormous weekend for Gordon. We'll know by Sunday afternoon whether or not he's still in it.
how many driver are looking for a cup ride for next year? who are the drivers?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
Well, every driver in the next two levels down is looking for a Cup ride, but of the current full-time guys or recent full-time guys, you have Regan Smith, David Reutimann, AJ Allmendinger, and that's really about it. A guy like David Ragan is always looking for something better than what he has, but I don't see him going anywhere.
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
The last real maybe, sorta ride that could come open is the 43, but I still think Almirola stays there.
Has any crew chief ever won back to back titles with 2 different teams?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
No. Some guys have been with the same team and had great success with different back to back driver, but no titles. I don't think. I'm racking my brain here.
Is it time to stick a fork in #88 being nearly a full race out of the points lead?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
Not yet. But we have three groups right now. The top three, the guys that need to get a move on, and the guys who are toast. Earnhardt's in the get a move on group.
Food for thought... Is Richard Petty the most overrated driver in history? In 1979, his last championship year, only 12 drivers raced full time. Of those 12, only 5 won a race. Heck, in his first championship year, only THREE drivers were full time (and those three won half the races). Comparatively speaking, it makes Jimmie Johnson's 5 championships in a row look superhuman, given his competition.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
You don't know me very well, do you? I will never use the words Petty and overrated in the same sentence unless it is the sentence I am typing right now.
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
To me, it's different eras. It's like comparing Johnny Unitas and Tom Brady. Like Petty and Johnson, they are Mount Rushmore guys. I'm good with that.
Johanne (Ft Meyers FL)
Do you have a link to this dinner story?
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
Here you go: http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/columns/story?columnist=mcgee_ryan&id=5685970
Rob F (Hoboken, NJ)
Hi Ryan, where would Penske be in terms of performance had Kurt not raised his voice in early 2011? I understand KB has an abrasive personality, but I don't know that they would have made the changes they needed so swiftly without him.
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
Great point. And Brad was a big part of that, too. Brad just knew when to stop talking.
Aaron (Bath, ME)
Who would put on a NASCAR-themed Mount Rushmore?
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
To me, it's always been the guys who the eras. Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon. They were (are) the total package guys. They had just as much impact off the track as they did on, and there's kind of natural baton passing between them. Jimmie is in that group. So I need five heads on my NASCAR Mt. Rushmore.
What are Teresa and Ganassi gonna do to get DEI back to the team it once was?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
I don't know. Neither do they. They made huge front office and car construction changes over winter and this is when we should be seeing the benefits. There's no doubt that Earnhardt-Childress Engines has had an off year, but horsepower doesn't fix problems. It masks them.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Unfortunately, I think they are getting to the point where it's time to look at the last place they haven't up to this point - the driver roster.
Aaron (Bath, ME)
Who do you have for your top-5 at Talladega?
Ryan McGee (3:00 PM)
Give me the 2, 15, 5, 88 and 17.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Darkhorses: 55, 20 and 34. Seriously.
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. See you back here next Monday. I'll emerge from the smoke and twisted sheet metal to chat with you. In the meantime, tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of No Vacancy.