Chat with Ryan McGee
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Ryan McGee will stop by to chat about the 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 (2:01 PM)
What's up my merlot and bratwurst juice covered and brothers and sisters and welcome back to the post-Sonoma/Road American intermittent Monday Motorsports Block Party chat. A heads up...a giant thunderstorm is rolling over my house here in NC. So if I suddenly vanish, don't take it personal. That'll mean my power just got knocked out.
Ryan McGee (2:01 PM)
To the queries!
Tim (San Francicso)
Hi Ryan - does the dialed back engines for TRD come back into play at Kentucky? If so, do we count out JGR and MWR teams contending for the win this weekend again?
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
I don't think so. I think that was a temporary solution while they sorted through some things. I'm not saying they'll be dialed back up to the hilt at Kentucky, but they'll be close enough to make some noise. Hey, they punched out top tens at Michigan with those dialed down engines.
Ed (Fort Worth)
Yo Ryan - not to sound sappy but I really enjoyed seeing the 'Dinger and Truex Jr. win this weekend. I know guys who win more often like JJ appreciate winning as well, but to watch both those guys celebrate was great. AJ kissing the camera was priceless. Hopefully the wins are a little validation for both of those guys going forward.
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
I agree. I said this in the Power Rankings and I meant it - I don't root for drivers because my job says I don't. But that doesn't mean I can't be happy for guys when they get a big win.
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
I've personally seen the pain in Truex's eyes afer many of his near-wins over the last two years. Rarely have I felt as bad for a guy as I did for him at Atlanta last fall. And my feeling on Dinger is that he's shown the way to handle it when you get in trouble for the substance abuse stuff. Own it, be humble, and follow the Road to Recovery plan that NASCAR and it's doctors give you. He did that and as a result he's back in Victory Lane.
Roscoe (Chino, CA)
Ryan, we you surprised that Kurt Busch gave such a Class Act, humorous post race interview, accepting responsiblity for the pit road penalties while many expected Kurt to lose his cool?
Ryan McGee (2:07 PM)
He continues to surprise me. He can still get chippy, but the threat of going off like a grenade certainlt isn't what it used to be. I'm no saying that he won't meltdown again one day. But he's had a lot of opportunities to do so this year and hasn't. I give him credit for that.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
All of that is also a big reason why I think Furniture Row suits him. He's embraced the whole "Outlaw" thing and he wears it well.
Dale Junebug Fan (NC)
On Fiiday we heard Kyle Petty say Sonoma was a "throwaway" race for Dale Junebug and the #88 team. What did he mean by that?
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
I didn't hear that, but I assume what he meant was that this wasn't a race that team expects to win. He does expect to win at Watkins Glen. And he expects to win at the next few tracks, especially Daytona. So perhaps what Kyle meant was this was a place to work on some stuff, not go nuts, get what points they could, and move on to the places where they expect to do well.
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
Back in the day, most of the garage treated both road course races like they were throwaways. But in the Chase era, every point matters and so many more of today's Cup guys have road racing backgrounds. As a result, we see guys going to road racing schools, entering sports car events, hitting simulators, and bugging road course experts for advice. Dale Jr. has done all of those things.
Ryan.... seriously... JPM running out of gas in the last lap?? for Godness sake... can this team get a break?? what happened??? why??
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
He was a little dumbfounded by that, too. He said the team - including himself - has to be smarter than that. Now it looks like his Chase chances pretty much come down to Indy, Watkins Glen, and Atlanta.
Can we say that Denny Hamlin's chase hopes are now officially over? I mean he is nearly 100 points from 20th and no win yet.
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
Done. But I don't think he'll bail before the season's over to have the work done on his back. I'm betting he'll be on the operating table the Monday morning after Homestead.
whats up with using soviet aircraft for the flyover of the Nationwide series race?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
Did they? I didn't see that. It has been interesting this year seeing what tracks have come up with for flyovers since the sequester has grounded the official U.S. military aircraft for non-military activities.
David B. (Reading, PA)
Well, that was an interesting race this weekend. Do you think Goodyear's new tire compound for the race was a good or bad idea?
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
I thought it worked fine. The drivers seemed to like how much tailed off. Carl Edwards in particular talked about how much fun it was later on in green flag runs. To me, that's always been the key to better racing, even more than the cars. A tire that gives way just the right amount and forces drivers to adjust late in runs, that always makes for good stuff.
Rosie Jayne (Englewood, Texas)
Hey McGee, did you see that Allmendinger hate on twitter Saturday, some sick stuff was being said.
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
The beauty of Twitter is that everyone has a voice. The ugliness of Twitter is that everyone has a voice.
Jeremy L. (South Hill, VA)
As a Bad Brad fan, even though Brad K is at the same place in points he was at at this time last year, I'm still concerned. Zero wins. What's going on in the 2 camp? Bad luck (I hope so)?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
Some bad luck and some growing pains making the Ford transition. In tomorrow's Turn 4 debate between us ESPN.com NASCAR writers we're being asked which lengthy winless streak will fall next now that Truex is off the skids. Spoiler alert: I'm taking Brad. After all, he is the defending winner of this weekend's Kentucky race.
OctopusArrogantPhoenix (Irving, Colorado)
Hello Mr. McGee, do you think that Kyle Busch Motorsports should be parked for the next month for their malicious act on our Nationwide Series Points leader Mr. Regan Smith?
Ryan McGee (2:19 PM)
I was watching the Nationwide race at Road America and the opening promo referred to it as "the new style of short track racing." I've noticed that the road courses have provided really close racing with a lot of bumping (specifically Road America) due to tight courses. Does this help the movement for more Road Courses on the schedule and more specifically, one into the chase. It seems the road courses give good action without having the field bunched up with a bunch of yellow flags. More green flag laps plus good racing is really exciting IMO. Your thoughts Ryan?
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
I hear that a really good looking guy with glasses that does ESPN.com chats on Monday afternoons wrote that script...
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
And yes, there is a push to add more road courses. Perhaps just one and perhaps within the Chase. If you'll recall, NASCAR's Mike Helton admitted that there had been some discussion about that, but he also said it was in no hurry.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
I personally have always been a fan of adding one more road race and putting it in the Chase. To me, the ten Chase races should be representative of the entire "regular season" and the eventual champion needs to have been tested on every type of track. Right now every type is represented - intermediate, retrictor plate, short track, flat track...but no road course.
Cameron (Palo Alto, CA)
Your Burton comment about him getting "Soda-Cookied" literally made me laugh out loud in my office. Keep the good laughs coming!!!
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Thanks. It might not even be fair. But it was low-hanging smart aleck Power Rankings fruit. And I do love that Mobil 1 ad.
Don Juan (TX)
I think SHR's equipment is subpar - both Danica and Tony had bad brakes on their cars which led to them running people over or spinning out. Danica and Tony are much better than that - Is it time for Tony to look to a different team for his alliance?
Ryan McGee (2:25 PM)
The Hendrick alliance isn't the issue. That team is still in the middle of expansion growing pains.
Joanne (Ft. Myers)
Isn't a road course ringer like Almendinger dropping down to take a NNS win a Road America just as bad as Cup regulars doing the same thing?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
I don't view it that way because he's out of full-time Cup ride. I view his situation like I do Regan Smith, Elliott Sadler, or Sam Hornish. Guys who have been in Cup before, perhaps even won up there before, but are down in Class AAA ball trying to work their way back up.
David (Los Angeles)
Dale Jr. has been vocal about the need to figure out what it is going to take to start getting to victory lane. They are one of the most consistent teams in the sport now, but often seem to lack speed of very fastest cars--even the 48 and 5 on their own team. Can they go from a very good team to a great one?
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
The launching pad is finally there for him to make that move up, yes. If you get a chance to ESPN.com's Podcenter and listen to last week's Marty & McGee podcast. We ran Marty Smith's Dale Jr. interview that he did for TV and Dale was great addressing this topic.
You mean Johnny Benson is doing chats on Mondays now?
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
I for one don't think anymore road courses need to be added. I think two is too many as it is. The stock cars don't do a very good job of turning left and the parts of both races I watched were nothing but a crash fest. If that's what they are goign to be, I'd rather watch demolition derby.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
Just a few years ago, you would have been in the vast majority on this. Now you're in the minority. Road courses are kind of the new short tracks. Wrecks are part of it. And I wouldn't exactly describe the Sonoma race as a crash fest.
Sorry, meant to say stock cars don't do a very good job of turning right. My bad.
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
I understod what you were saying. But let me say this too...if they expand, keep at three max. More than that and I'm with you. Too much.
Now that Dale June hasn't won in over 1-year do you think his next best chance in Michigan June 2014?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Nope. I never thought Michigan in June was his best chance. I always say his wheelhouse is in late spring and late summer. Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond, etc.
Afternoon McGee, I liked the rankings. It seems like since Texas the #2 bunch just seem lost. Decent finishes have been negated by late race incidents or they just aren't a factor with setup. Is it really the transition, because Logano seems to have it more figured out than them?
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
I do think it's the transition. The 2 team had a steeper learning curve. Logano was just walking into everything being new and different anyway.
Do you rate Waltrip Racing Tier 1 with JGR and HMS or more Tier 2 with Penske and Roush?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Tier 2. I see it as Hendrick, JGR, Roush. Then RCR, MWR, Penske. But it's way close than it's been between the two top tiers in a long time.
David (Los Angeles)
Why don't Nascar and Indy combine for a weekend at Pocono or California? I think it would be absolutely incredible for the fans and perhaps you'd get a few drivers in both races--if sponsors were willing.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
I just wrote about this in ESPN The Magazine (http://espn.go.com/racing/story/_/id/9362061/the-rift-nascar-indycar-lives-espn-magazine). On paper, cooperating would make all the sense in the world. But in reality, there are too many people too hellbent on making sure that doesn't happen. It's a shame really. With sagging ratings and attendance across all forms of racing, it would seem to make sense for everyone to get on the same page.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
The tide raising all boats and all that.
Tim (El Cajon, CA)
I really like that Elkhart Lake road course. I did notice that someone was still driving a Chevy Impala. Wasn't sure they could still use them. I think it was maybe Mike Wallace?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
The rulebook states what models you can still run. Typically that reaches back a year or so. For the lower budget teams, that's a blessing. In the CoT era, teams are once again dependent on the manufacturers to provide body panels, like it used to be pre-CoT. The top teams are going to get their stuff first.
Former Indycar CEO Rany Bernard used to use that phrase "The tide raising all boats". Look where that got him.
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
Yeah...I'm still shaking my head over his ouster. When this "Turbo" movie comes out in a couple of weeks I hope everyone at IndyCar remembers who helped get that deal done.
Frank (Kingston, Pa)
Ryan - Third race out of four that JJ did a great job driving but Chad made some judgement mistakes (e.g. Dover Restart - Chad said do not give back position; Michigan race - a number of decsions; Sonoma - 2 tire stop). Is there an issue with the new engineer sitting on the pitbox now that Ives is CC for Smith?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
I think there's something to that, but I also think that the team is in a "Hey, let's try this" mode right now. Their point cushion is so huge that they are in a position to fiddle around a little, whether that's trying new chassis stuff or letting the engineers do some real-world testing before the postseason starts. History says that they've been able flip the switch to game face pretty quickly when September arrives.
What grade would you give the Gen 6 car? Is it what people hoped?
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
I give it a solid B, maybe B+. It looks good and it's given us great racing at places where we hadn't really seen it before, like Vegas. I think the clean air complaints are overblown. Since when has a car ever not run faster at the front? Other than the slingshot days?
We know that guys like Mark Martin and Jeff Burton garner a lot of respect in the garage area, from both drivers and crew members alike. What about a guy like Jeff Gordon, who's always been a polarizing, love-him-or-hate-him driver? Does he get a lot of respect from other drivers and crew members too?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
No question about it. I talked with him about this at Darlington when he was making his 700th career Cup start. He's kind of moved into this elder statesman/living legend role. The coolest part of that - and funniest part to him - is how the tone of fans has changed. The boos are pretty much gone now. He's become this connection back to "good old days" of the 1990's, which is hilarious because back then so many viewed him as the guy who burning that era to the ground.
Are there any more fairweather fans than the one's in NASCAR? Truex wins and some people start claiming that he will be a force in the Chase.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
Hahaha. Yeah, a lot of the same folks who not so long ago were complaining that he was taking up a good ride.
Headed to Charlotte for the race in Oct., and will have a couple of days beforehand to explore the area. Top 5 things to do?
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
1. NASCAR Hall of Fame. 2. The race shops near the Speedway, Hendrick and Roush Fenway, have great museums. 3. Drive up to Welcome, NC to see RCR and Randleman, NC to see the Richard Petty Museum. 4. The NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Mooresville is an oft-forgotten gem and is right near another great shop/museum in MWR. 5. Go see Sam Bass at his gallery across from the Speedway, outside Turn 1.
Where will the 78 punch through and win a race this year?
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
They may have just let their best chance slip by. I do think they can win at Daytona, another place that kind of neutralizes the resources/pit crew advantage for the big teams. And he can win at Watkins Glen too. But he had the best car at Sonoma and let it get by him.
Matt_32FL (Tampa, Fl) [via mobile]
Is Road Atlanta now an ISC property as part of the Grand Am/ALMS merger. If so, does this make it the most likely candidate for a 3rd RC Cup date?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
They'd have to do a lot of work to get it ramped up for a Cup crowd. I still have my eye on that very nice, rarely-used new track down in Austin.
I think the all star race at Bowman Gray Stadium would be amazing - thoughts?
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Jeff Burton said the same thing on our Marty & McGee podcast last month. I love that idea. Taking it to old school short tracks. The atmosphere would be off the chart.
Lou Slips (VA)
Are the rumors true that Danica Patrick is thinking of coming to NASCAR?
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Mean. But funny.
Your top 5 drivers and a darkhorse for Kentucky?
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
18, 2, 48, 17, 5. Darkhorse: 27.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
Okay, folks, gotta go. If you're Kentucky this weekend, holla. And keep an eye out for the new Marty & McGee Motorsports and Music Extravaganza podcast tomorrow afternoon on ESPN.com's Podcenter and iTunes. Until then, tip your wait staff and someone please shoot Octo with a dart gun.