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 KC Masterpiece-covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the intermitent Monday Motorsports Block Party chat. There were so many caution flags on Sunday that I wasn't entirely sure if we'd make it the chat on time, but we did, so...to the queries!
Cameron (Palo Alto, CA)
I think we need to throw Kansas in with Talladega and Martinsville when we talk about wildcards from now on, Mr. McGee. With the addition of progressive banking, I figured the racing would be better than the old, flatter track, but that isn't even close to the case. Do you have any idea how long before the track is worn to the point where it's racey again?
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
People who know a lot more about these things than I do are surprised that it hasn't worn out quicker than it has. The winter are so brutal there that I think it was supposed to have "grayed" more than it has. That's what's happened at Michigan, which seems to have aged in much quicker.
Ryan McGee (2:08 PM)
I think a lot of the issue yesterday was also trying the new tire. For the record, I like where they are going with the new multitread tires. Anything has to be better than this rock-hard stuff that the teams seem to dislike so much. But why in the world are they throwing a whole new tire compound at teams in the middle of the postseason?!
With Jeff Gordon's recent top 5's the past few weeks, do you see him contending for a title or is top 5 the best he gets in the points?
Ryan McGee (2:10 PM)
He can totally contend, but he's on a tightrope. He can make zero mistakes. I think Kansas was their biggest curveball (other than Talladega, which is a curve for everyone). Now they are hitting his wheelhouse tracks. Places like Charlotte, Martinsville, Phoenix. The stage is really set for him. But again, there can be no missteps.
Any updates on Dario? Was he released for the hospital?
Ryan McGee (2:12 PM)
He's going to remain in the hospital for a couple of days yet. He suffered two spinal fractures and a concussion. Luckily, these spinal injuries were away from where he'd been hurt before. Even more lucky...he's still with us. How no one was killed in that incident is nothing short of a miracle.
Justin M (Waco, TX)
The sad thing about the INDYCAR incident is that there isn't enough money in the sport for the drivers to have any leverage to make changes to the circuits. There were three high speed corners with no runoff area on the Houston GP course, two of which had grandstands on the outside. That's unacceptable for the drivers and fans. If they're going to have oval-style turns, they need to have oval-style barriers or enough runoff room for racing incidents like yesterday's to not be catastrophic.
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
I agree. I covered the Houston street races in the CART days and the same issues existed there. Honestly, and I know they are filled with tradition and all of that, but street courses always look dicey to me. Really, any temporary racing structure does. Even at Montreal, when I was there for the F1 event, there were sections of concrete barriers where I couldn't believe how shoddy it looked.
Zach (Dubuque, IA)
I know they're no Hendrick Motorsports or JGR, but why isn't Josh Wise and the 35 team running at the level of the other Front Row teams (Gilliland and Ragan)? Is it lack of sponsorship or the driver?
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
That portion of the team isn't really designed to compete.
Kahne... Francis and team need to hit the showers... Cause they are stinking up the Chase !!!!!!!!!!
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Woof, right? Each week I look at that car along with the 56, 14 & 11 and I think, "This is the race they finally turn the corner"...and it never happens. Kahne hasn't had a top ten since Labor Day weekend.
Mike P (Lenexa, Ks)
Was the whole weekend just a storm of craziness with shrub dumping Bk on saturday, the weather, the grass fire in turn 1 which precided a debris caution for duct tape, shrub wrecking twice, and harvick dominating yesterday
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
in your opinion did Kurt Busch do anything wrong yesterday while racing Jeff Gordon?
Ryan McGee (2:17 PM)
Looked like nothing but a racing deal to me.
Ryan, very scary accident with Dario thank goodness everyone will be okay. Dale J. for the Nationwide race Sat. used the word "yawing" the car sp?? what does that mean?
Ryan McGee (2:21 PM)
That's a flying term that wasn't even uttered in this sport until Ryan Newman and all these engineers showed up! He was essentially talking about how far the car was traveling left-to-right off it's center. Draw an imaginary line down the center of the car, splitting it in half. However much he feels the car is flicking itself off that axis when he turns it, that's yaw.
Seeing that Kansas may now take the Mother's Day date, pushing Darlington to an April date. Is this just putting off the inevitable, that the Lady In Black may not have a place in NASCAR a few years down the road? Say it ain't so.
Ryan McGee (2:23 PM)
We'll see. I think moving Darlington off Mothers Day would be a horrible mistake...unless it was moving back to Labor Day. I don't see a NASCAR future without Darlington in it. If that were to happen, I think it would be the last nail in the sport's coffin with the longtime "core fans" as they suits like to call them.
Pending a big shake up at Talladega I think this is a 3 man race (Kenseth, Johnson, Harvick), thoughts on that?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
Like I have always said and continue to say, I'm not willing to call it any sort of specific (fill in the blank)-man race until after Talladega. Right now I'm willing to go all the way back to 11th as far as guys who can still get back into it...but only if the two guys up front get into big trouble at Talladega and those others don't.
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
That's a big if.
If not for a couple of bad restarts yesterday, Dale Jr. could have been looking at two of his best races this year on two consecutive weeks. Do you think this is a product of the 88 team racing more aggressively for wins, or are they just peaking at the right time?
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
I think they are peaking at the right time. This is the first time since March that he's posted three consecutive top ten finishes.
Ryan McGee (2:27 PM)
But you are right about those restarts. That's his Achilles Heel right now.
It seems like ESPN has nearly abandoned NASCAR. The website has very few contributors and NASCAR Now airs at ridiculous times. One would think with the Chase in full gear that there would be better coverage. Has the sport really lost that many fans?
Ryan McGee (2:31 PM)
We did lose Newton and Blount to the NFL. But we're doing huge first segments on SportsCenter following each Cup race, which we didn't do before the Chase. We're also airing Sunday night NASCAR Now one-hour shows, which we didn't do during the Chase. And our Marty & McGee podcast didn't start until summertime and it's rolling along. I can't speak for anyone else, but when it comes to me, Marty, Massaro, and Ricky Craven...we're working our butts off!
KB Nation (Global)
Do you think #NASCAR had Goodyear introduce that new tire at Kansas to handicap Rowdy knowing that he's struggled at that place?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Yes. That's totally what it was. A massive conspiracy in Akron involving months of planning, hundreds of workers, and millions of dollars in manufacturing for no reason other than to screw Kyle Busch.
Pole winner wins the race. Are we seeing NASCAR becoming like F1? Predictable?
Ryan McGee (2:34 PM)
Yes, we've had more pole winners win races this year than we've had in a while, but if you actually watched the race and saw Harvick yo-yo his way through the day I don't think there was much predictable about it.
If a driver with zero wins entering Homestead has the chase lead. Does he try to win the race or does he try to finish above the cliniching scenario position?
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
Clinching scenario. But honestly, the way it's structured now, from the Chase to the points system, winning the title without winning a race is next to impossible.
Ryan McGee (2:36 PM)
To me, the only way you can have a modern racer win a title without winning a race is to have some ridiculous set-up like Nationwide has right now, where the regulars can't win because Victory Lane is overrun with moonlighting Cup drivers who are ineligible for the title.
I heard it suggested on Trading Paint or Speedway..that during the chase the chase contenders race with seperates points than the non chase drivers. For instance max points this year would be 13 plus any bonus points and minimum points would be 1 plus bonus points. They get points based on how the finish between eachother. That way they are genuinly racing eachother for the title and it would help keep it much tighter and exciting. One race wouldn't ruin their chase. What say you McGee??
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
I've heard that theory before. I get where it's going in principal, but it feels like another "rigging" maneuver to me. If a team runs championship-worthy in the Chase then they should be able to outrun everyone on the track, Chasers and non-Chasers.
Do you think Martin, Labonte and Burton are probably finished as #NASCAR drivers and will retire from driving?
Ryan McGee (2:40 PM)
I wrote a piece about this on ESPN.com a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I think they are close to being done. Even if they do score lower-level rides, their days of winning are done. I think we'll see Burton in the TV booth in 2015.
Rich (Rochester, NY) [via mobile]
Will Larson have an EGR car this week or the below average equipment the 51 has each week? I know when Austin dillon drives the 33 he is driving newer RCR cars and not the older stuff Cassell drives
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
This will be EGR stuff.
How bad would it be for NASCAR for Jeff Gordon to win the cup and not win a race all season? Would this force a change for next season?
Ryan McGee (2:41 PM)
I don't think he can win the Cup without winning at least a couple of races.
Want to thank you and Marty for " Marty and McGee". Provides plenty of entertainment for me on my down time. Nice call on the fan BBQ in Martinsville.... I have been going to M'ville for years.... Uncle Sam had different plans for me this year though... Keep up the good work
Ryan McGee (2:46 PM)
Thanks man. We do that every Tuesday morning and it's the most fun I have at work. The Martinsville #406 BBQ is coming together. It'll be Friday afternoon, location TBD. Sorry you'll miss it but tell the boys on the wall down there we said "huh".
Jesse Schanback (Ithaca, NY)
2 Hendrick Motorsports within the top 4, how do these teams/ groups always have the better equipment?
Ryan McGee (2:47 PM)
You talking about the 48 and 24? I think the argument can be made that 24 was last to the feeding trough most of the season. Remember, he had to be added to the Chase. He's just gotten hot at the right time. And remember, he still hasn't won a race this year.
Do you think NASCAR overstepped their authority for penalizing Piquet for a tweet he posted on a private account, away from the track on a Non-NASCAR related subject?
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
What he did was stupid and in today's climate you have to be called out for it. Listen, that's the gig. If you're going to take the paychecks and be a public figure, then you have to smarter about what you say or type. But I do think that if they are going to police that, they need to do it across all social media sites.
Jordan O. (Green Bay, WI)
Any chance that you guys create a Spotify playlist for your top 5 & honorable mentions? Or do you have the link that one of the members of the 406 has already created? Also do you know if Marty has seen this yet? http://s3.amazonaws.com/br-cdn/temp_images/2013/10/06/ESPN-WALL-KID.gif
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
I am getting the name of the woman who is already doing that. I'll mention her on the show tomorrow.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
I don't know if he's seen that yet or not! I just sent it to him.
I know this is off subject, but The Book of Manning was one of the best programs I've ever seen on ESPN. I noticed you contributed.
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
Thanks. It was truly an honor to be included. I was in there a lot more than I expected to be, I can tell you that.
Jeff Gordon fan (NASCAR)
Just saw where Chad Johnson, crew chief of the 56 team at MWR, has asked for his release. Is this the beginning of the end for that team?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
He will not be the last to leave.
did it appear to you that the 48 was going to win at kansas without the last caution. he looked a lot faster
Ryan McGee (2:53 PM)
I don't think he was going to win, but I think he was headed for second. But the mechanical failure might have been earlier and/or worse, too. I think he'll take that finish and move on.
Did you get any submissions for a "Marty & McGee" theme song? If so, when can we expect to hear them?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
Some folks said they are working on some. Haven't gotten one yet.
Mike (Paris, OH)
This is a broad comment but I don't understand NASCAR's obsession with keeping everything close. For years NASCAR racing grew and grew and grew even when only 6 cars finished on the lead lap or Earnhardt wrapped up the title with 2 races remaining.However, ever since NASCAR became obsessed with manufacturing closeness (Chase, Lucky Dogs & Wave-Arounds, rules with cars, etc) the ratings and attendance have steadily declined.Is it just me that notices this or am I way off base?
Ryan McGee (2:56 PM)
We had Darrell Waltrip on our Marty & McGee podcast over the summer and he said some of this same stuff. I do think the days of five guys on the lead lap are way overrated. I paid to watch a lot of those races and the races were largely bleh.
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
I think that 20 years from now we'll look back and realize that it was all just too much change at once. If all of those things had happened over a long period of time, it might have been easier to digest. But it came so fast I think a lot of people found it way too hard to keep up with.
Your Top 5 drivers and a darkhorse for Charlotte
Ryan McGee (2:59 PM)
48, 18, 20, 24, 29. Darkhorses: 22, 1, 9.
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
Alright folks, gotta go. I'll see you at Charlotte this weekend. Until then, download the Marty & McGee podcast when it drops Tuesday afternoon. Please tip the wait staff and enjoy the music of Tall Paul.