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 (2:04 PM)
What's up my Bondo and duct tape covered brothers and sisters and welcome to the Monday Motorsports Block Party Chat. I have emerged from the wreckage and it's time to talk racing.
Sue B. (Seattle, WA)
Hi Ryan. I was surprised at some of the reactions after the race yesterday. Dale Jr loved these races when he did well. Now that he has had a run of not great finishes, it is bad? And Biffle's comments about never seeing anything like it...? For me (at home, on my couch admittedly!) it looked like every other "Talladega big one". I hear that the new cars next year tested well at Dega and put more in the drivers' hands, which I would LOVE to see. Did the drivers have a positive reaction?
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
The drivers did not have a positive reaction. Even Kenseth was very measured in how he described the action. That part was no different than any other Talladega race. What was different was that last few laps before the crash. I've been going down there for nearly 20 years. I've never seen a rolling parking lot like that one. They were 4- and 5-wide 4- and 5-rows deep. It was nuts.
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
The new car did test well, but we'll see what they do when there are 43 of them out there at once.
Do you think Ross, Chase, Bubba, Parker and Blaney are the next crop of up and coming cup stars?
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
No question about it. I say this all the time. I really think we have the most talented crop of young talent in the pipeline that we've seen in a long time. Maybe ever. And you can throw the Dillons and Stenhouse and Bayne in there too. Ryan Truex. The list goes on and on.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
It's going to be interesting to see where they all land over the next six or seven years.
Hey Ryan, since you also mentioned it in your Power Rankings, I was sure, based are the replays shown on TV, that Kesolowski was in 4th place when the caution came out, and he kept pace through the finish line, so why is he being scored 7th? Is the finishing order final yet, or still under review?
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
As of 2 pm ET Monday it was not official yet, but it should be soon. Paul Wolfe was very adamant about the 2 car being 4th, but Keselowski himself was resigned to the fact that 7th is where they'll be.
Why do drivers blame NASCAR for the style of racing at Dega when most of the time it is the drivers doing dumb things (like blocking) that causes the wrecks?
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
They're argument is that the rules package puts them in a box where they have to make moves like that. But even Smoke was quick to take the blame. Cutting down on a line of cars that are coming that fast never works. Don't blame him for trying, but he clearly misjudged how fast they were closing.
Ryan, I remember back in the early 90s or so the networks showing races didn't show all the prerace ceremonies(ie, prayer, national anthem, etc), why did they change? Was it to make it seem like the viewer was there? Personally, I'd like to see a lot less prerace and more racign sans commercials.
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
NASCAR puts that into the TV contract, that the prayer and anthem have to be shown. But keep this in mind with the commercials and the length of the prerace show - the networks paid hundreds of millions of dollars to air this races. It has to be paid for from somewhere. College sports and the NFL are showing more commercials than ever, too. But their games are stopped for their ads.
Do you see RPM signing Aric Almirola to a long term contract ?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
I don't know about long term, but I think he re-ups. A lot of fans know that I grew up a fan of the 43 car and they always try to convince me that Aric needs to be fired. But I like him. And this is the first full-time season he's ever had in Cup. There have been flashes this year - like Talladega - where I think he's shown enough promise to see if he can develop more over the next year.
Bryan virginia [via mobile]
What do u r think of drivers falling back to the rear of the field to avoid the big one? Its kinda takes the word race out of racing. Reminded me of all star race, disappointing.
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
To employ my least favorite saying in sports: It is what it is. And it's been around a long time now. I remember Dale Jarrett, among others, employing that strategy a long time ago and it's stuck. Looks to me like it doesn't actually decrease your odds of getting into the Big One, but even though Hamlin got caught up in it on Sunday (sort of) he still managed to maintain his points position).
Ok, after a disastrous finish, is Bowyer pretty much out of the title hunt?
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
I think no one lost more in the Big One than he did. On Twitter and during our ESPN.com RaceCast chat I kept telling people to keep an eye on him when it was go time, and dang if he didn't take the lead toward the end after being invisible all day. He finished 22nd, lowest of all the Chasers, but he's not out of it yet. He's not that far ahead of say, Harvick and Truex. But I think he's running much better than they are.
In looking at the replay, Smoke had to pick his poison. Try to get in front of Waltrip or get run over by 60 tons of steel. Bad options either way.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
True. But he chose the wrong path. Again, I think he just didn't realize how fast Waltrip was coming.
Ryan, why do you have to make negative comments about Kurt Busch when Kurt was only trying to get his car fixed to get back on the track and gain valuable points for his Phoenix guys?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
He drove off with a safety crew member leaning into his car! Kurt has moved way beyond benefit of the doubt territory. And I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about the entire garage.
Mack (Spade Racing) (Wilmington DE)
Mr. McGee, how much stock do the sport's "money men" (owners and sponsors) put in strong performances at restrictor plate races? Its basically a crap-shoot.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
It is indeed. The owners know they are probably sacrificing a lot of cars, but at the same time they pump a lot of money into developing those cars and the engines that pull them. Jack Roush is a great example. And the result is that RFR is a great plate racing team.
Keith H (Seattle)
I'm starting to think Talladega races are only missing Russell Crowe, chariots and a few tigers. "Are we not entertained?" (Gladiator references if you haven't seen it.) "That's not it! That's not it!"
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
That's funny. I used the same quote in reference to Talladega a few years ago. Great minds...
Time to stick a fork in Dale and Harvick's championship hopes?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
Harvick yes. Dale, not yet. But it's close.
Hi Ryan, happy Monday!Looking at the way the new point-per-position is playing out it seems to me that it forces teams to continue to race because things are just a tad closer. Do you feel that removal of the top 35 rule will dampen some of that competiton or simply hurt the underfunded start and Parker's?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
I have disliked the top 35 rule since day one. I've also disliked any provisionals of any kind, even when the Past Champion's provisional was put in to protect my man, Richard Petty. I get it. NASCAR is trying to take care of their most loyal teams, sponsors, and the stars that fans pay good money to see. But I am old school enough to believe in the fastest 43 cars being in the field. When Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson don't make the cut for the weekend at the PGA Tour event, does it suck for their fans? Yes. But does the Earth continue to spin on its axis and those guys come back win the following week? All the time.
Brian (Oklahoma City)
Do you believe that NASCAR will suspend KuBu for his on-track after he wrecked yesterday? Do you believe that he should be suspended or receive any punishment for that behavior?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
He will be suspended. Just a question of how long. The single greatest sin in the eyes of NASCAR is to put others - officials, safety workers, fans, media, crew members, etc. - in harm's way.
Ryan, what do you think of Dale's suggestion that NASCAR build the cars? Wouldn't that save money and eliminate the dominance of Hendrick, Knaus etc?
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
He was being sarcastic, but I can see where he's coming from. He not only had his driver hat on there, he was talking like a car owner too. But realistically, that'll never, ever happen.
As a follow up to Mack's question, is there any noise from sponsors not getting their TV time because their driver chooses to ride along in the back for the first 2.5 hours of the day?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Not really. And in fact, I thought Hamlin got more time - and more clear, pack-free visibility - for his sponsor because we kept doing the whole "Where is Denny now?" updates. I will be curious to look at the TV exposure numbers when my friends at Joyce Julius & Assoc., the people that track these things, do their weekly report.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
But for the sponsor it's like, if the payoff is a good finish or win...and whatever it is leads to being in the title hunt all the way to Homestead, then it's worth it.
Ed (Fort Worth)
Here's an idea for 'Dega - just start the race with a G-W-C and call it good. You're gonna get the same result as you did yesterday less the number of laps. These small shops have to dread restrictor plate racing because they know at the end of the day, the price tag is probably going to be ginormous.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
That's almost exactly what Clint Bowyer said. He said they should cut the length of the race in half because everyone's just waiting on the end anyway.
Mack (Spade Racing) (Wilmington DE)
Also, I think that the bigger issue with Kurt driving away was that he didn't have his helmet on. Since Nascar uses the in-helmet radio to communicate virtually all instructions, it was a legitimate safety hazard.
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
And the window net down. Both are just stupid. And everyone spare the comparisons to Dale Earnhardt in the Daytona 500 when he'd rolled over, got back in it, and drove it back around.
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
That was in '97 and he had a conversation with the safety crew about it before he got back in, had them put the net up and drove off when it was all clear.
Get this Ryan, Dale Jr runs the entire race and earned $89,000. Timmy Hill parks his car after 5 laps and earned $70,000. How can NASCAR think this is right?!!!Go back to a 36 car field, the hell with these stupid start & parks!!!!!
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
You are not alone in that opinion.
Nick Rolando (Orlando)
Ryan, how about my Gators! Pleasantly surprised at the 2nd yr regime in Muschamp and co. Also, looking ahead to '13 and the FA's who do you think leaves? My opinion is Harv leaves RCR and goes to SHR, RFR, MWR or even Penske.
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
How about them? (Bragging time: I called that upset on ESPNU last week.) Harvick will be an interesting case. I think the inconsistency drives him crazy. It seems we don't know what RCR will be until the year starts and then they are either great or way off. Then again, a lot of people predicted he'd leave the last time his deal was up and he stayed put. We'll see.
KarenL (So CALIF)
Perhaps it's time to revisit the "no blocking" rule -- at least on plate tracks. Jeff Gordon made reference to it when Jaimie (#1) kept changing lanes to block a run past him. That's what Tony did and mayhem ensued, changing the total Chase lineup. Especially since it's the 2nd car pushing another who can't see to back off. Thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:45 PM)
On paper, the no blocking rule is great. In reality, I think it's too hard to enforce. Especially if they are going to be in those kinds of packs.
Clint Bowyers comments. Isn't that the way most of the races have been. Lets wait till the end and crash everyones cars up to get to the front!
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
I have been pushing to shorten most of the races for a while now. Places like New Hampshire have always proven that when there is a shorter distance between the green and the checkers, the sense of urgency is much greater.
Man, I hate that golf analogy. The top 125 golfers are guarenteed a spot in the tournament each week and they can pick and choose which course they want to play on. You can skip over half the tournaments and still be Tour Champion. Do you think track owners would like that?
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
You're taking the analogy too far. I'm not talking about points systems or guys skipping events. I'm talking about guys showing up and missing cuts. If you aren't among the fastest 43 guys that showed up, do you really deserve to race?
Ryan McGee (2:50 PM)
People's argument to that is, well, then teams will have to start working harder on qualifying. Well...YEAH. I used to love watching qualifying on Fridays. We used to get big crowds for qualifying. Now no one cares because other than a good pit stall and spot in the Shootout, it doesn't really matter right now.
Carrie (Columbus, Ohio)
It would be truly a shame if Jeff Gordon was not in the Chase this year. Clearly he is driving his tail off. I realize that he jumped 4 spots in the standings this week, but it doesn't seem like it is enough with these amazing finishes he keeps pulling out. I wish it wasn't such a disaster if a Chase driver has one bad race. This weekend proved that again with so many people in the wrecked car pile.
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
At this point it's more about jumping other drivers for Jeff. The lead three guys are going to have a bad day at some point. At least history says they will. Jeff knows that. He just needs to keep doing what he's doing and they should come back to him. Should.
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
But if they don't, then they deserve to win the title anyway.
I just want to say that Kenseth is one hell of a driver. He hardly ever gets the credit he deserves.
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
He does from me! He had so many ridiculous saves that when we asked him about them on NASCAR Now Sunday night, he honestly couldn't remember them. We had to explain them to him so he could recall.
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
He's not going to win the Cup, but that was a heck of a parting gift to his 17 team.
Ryan, what if someone crashes during quals. IE Logano or McDriver? They are running fast in practice but they crashed in quals. Or say Kyles tire goes in quals. does he deserve to go home?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
I am a fastest 43 guy. That's never how it's going to be. There will always be provisionals to protect a handful of guys. The way it used to be. And I like that way a helluva better than the top 35 world we're in now.
But Ryan, the golf analogy is flawed because Tiger and Phil still play half the tournament before they'd miss the cut, rather than missing the whole race as you suggest. What about an F1 style qualifying, less chance a big name misses, but still fastest 43?
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Yeah, but they don't get paid. At least not from the purse. Again, the provisionals will create what you're talking about and that's fine. But sitting around for 2 hours for a qualifying that session that essentially determines which start and parkers don't make it has been beyond boring for a long time now. And I know I'm not alone here because I've watched the Friday - even Thursday night - qualifying crowds dwindle from tens of thousands to dozens of hundreds.
You top 5 drivers and a darkhorse for Charlotte?
Ryan McGee (3:02 PM)
Give me the 18, 5, 24, 17 and 16. Darkhorses: 31, 1. Fantasy owners, beware the Jimmie Johnson trap. It's true that he once owned CMS, but look at his recent numbers. 3 finishes of 28th or worse over his past 5 visits, including last year's Chase-destroying crash.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. NASCAR Now is coming on ESPN2 and I gotta get me some Ricky Craven knowledge. See you back here next week. In the meantime, tip the wait staff and enjoy the music of Tall Paul.