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 (2:00 PM)
What's up my seafood steam-covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the intermittent Monday Motorsports Block Party. We have a lot to chat about, so I won't get cute. I'll get to the queries!
Mike (Shawnee, KS)
Favorite BBQ joint in Kansas City. Go.
Ryan McGee (2:03 PM)
The vast majority of my experience has been with Oklahoma Joe's, and it's great. And there's an Arthur Bryant's right by the racetrack now. But I made the trip to Perry Foster's last year. Loved it the most.
Craig (San Jose, CA)
I saw where JJ is now the all time wins leader at four tracks (Dover, Fontana, Vegas & Phoenix). Does any other driver (current or retired) hold that title at more than four tracks?
Ryan McGee (2:04 PM)
I need to do some research on this, but I do know that when Richard Petty retired in '92 he held a huge stack of them. And if you start included tracks that no longer hold Cup races, it's not even close. The King has a big pile of them.
Carol (Omaha, NE)
Usually the top 10 get on the podium in Las Vegas...will they do a top 11 this year or stick with the 10 and 3 guys miss it?
Ryan McGee (2:05 PM)
They'll stick with the ten.
Hey Ryan, I've had sometime to think about 48 winning AGAIN at Dover & here is my reaction http://t.co/tgXmqlIHql
Ryan McGee (2:06 PM)
Judging by my Twitter timeline, you aren't alone, Michael Scott.
First race all season I watched live, will never make that mistake again due to all the commercial breaks, but I thought it was strange they threw a caution at the end for a spring rubber well out of the grove, even for those making pit stops it would have been out of the way. Was NASCAR looking to control the end and not have mad dashes onto pit road for gas and go stops. I was excited for the end until that.
Ryan McGee (2:09 PM)
I think the record is clear that I'm no NASCAR apologist, but if that spring rubber had sat out there and they hadn't thrown the yellow people would have complained then, too. I have no doubt that there are phantom debris cautions to tighten up races. That goes back to Bill France Senior. Heck, that goes back to most short tracks. But in this case, if there's something that big sitting there, especially at a place like Dover where they have big wrecks and guys dive down that low to avoid it, then it has to be called.
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
As for the commercials, and this goes for every sport, the choice is pretty simple. Either the networks can keep paying big fees so people can watch them relatively free - and that means commercials - or it can go to pay-per-view. NBC and FOX just paid astronomical amounts of money for NASCAR rights for the next decade. The commercials won't be going away.
Ryan McGee (2:11 PM)
And until the sport implements TV timeouts - which will never happen and never should happen - some action will be missed.
Mike P (Greater Kc)
If MWR co owner Rob Kauffman wont sponsor Truex and the 56 next year...(now it could be in the context of full sponsorship) but in the likelihood that he doesn't does Truex leave and go to FRR or possibly the 4th toyota at JGR
Ryan McGee (2:13 PM)
I think the perfect scenario for Truex would be NAPA going with him, which would allow for a team like JGR to expand. Problem is it looks more and more like NAPA is gone. Kauffman isn't going to write checks forever like Gene Haas seems to be prepared to do at Stewart-Haas. So unless they find that sponsorship, I don't think a chair will be there for Martin when the music stops.
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
The good news is that 5-Hour Energy is staying on board at MWR. Had that deal gone away, then the team was going to be in real trouble, no matter the drivers.
demon reading pa [via mobile]
if your not a fan of jimmie johnson i got 2 words for ya suck it.
Ryan McGee (2:14 PM)
That's pretty much what he said via his actions on Sunday. Actions as in winning.
It Rains a Lot (in Washington)
How many races do you think Johnson and Kenseth will combine to win in the Chase? I wouldn't be surprised to see them take at 8 of them..
Ryan McGee (2:15 PM)
First, to your name...no joke! And in Oregon, too. All those college football games up that way looked like clips from Waterworld.
Ryan McGee (2:16 PM)
Second, I think you're right. But I would throw Kyle Busch in there, too. I could see those three winning all ten of the Chase races.
DWS44 (Rock Hill, SC)
Two questions...What happened to the fairly regular Blount, Hinton, and Newton NASCAR Chats? You're the only one left who chats with us! Thanks for not disappearing!As for racing...what on earth is going on with Mark Martin and the 14 team? I really thought the car would be in good hands with Mark, but instead, the aren't even remotely competitive...they seem totally out of it every weekend now.
Ryan McGee (2:18 PM)
Thanks. Yeah, we as a department have been spread pretty thin this fall. Terry and Newt are now the ESPN.com beat writers for the Seahawks and Panthers, which is awesome for them. As you might know, I do a ton of college football this time of year and Marty Smith is on TV like 10 times a day every single day. So it gets tough. But we appreciate your loyalty and your business!
Ryan McGee (2:20 PM)
And I am with you on the 14. I kept plugging Martin into my fantasy lineup thinking they would get going at some point and it just hasn't happened. Sometimes it just doesn't click. Something else to consider: Mark is a master communicator. He's a data-providing machine. So the team might be trying some stuff out with such a smart guy behind the wheel.
You said you thought Jeff Gordon would be a major factor in these final ten. If not for the flat tire at Chicago and overshooting his pit stall last weekend, he might have finished ahead of the 20 in at least one of those races. Do you think he'll be able to contend for the title by season's end?
Ryan McGee (2:22 PM)
I really do. And so does he. You could really sense that from him in Sunday's post-race comments. The big test for them will be this weekend. If he can get through Kansas with a good finish and then head off to Charlotte, Martinsville, Phoenix, Homestead...look out. But he still needs a little help from that top three if he's going to catch them.
I was one of the few folks who was actually at the Dover race yesterday, the place is nice but the tickets are too expensive and Dover just has one too many dates.
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
I like going there. The staff is great and I like the racing. But Dover is the classic example of a place that overbuilt when times were booming. And yes, I also think that it is one of many places that should have one race instead of two. But with the new TV deal signed for as long as it is, I can't see any big schedule compression coming, no matter how much I think they need it.
It seems it would be too little too late, but that's three weeks in a row the 88 team had top 5 cars at tracks they aren't historically great at. I actually kind of believe them when they say they could win anywhere right now
Ryan McGee (2:24 PM)
Frank (kingston, Pa)
Is being the all time winner at Dover a big deal? It seems like it is described as one of the tougher tracks to drive it is it just hype?
Ryan McGee (2:26 PM)
It's super hard. An indicator of that is looking at the guys who have won there, especially the ones who have won the most. I think, perhaps second only to Indy, how the place looks on TV isn't really indicative of how it is in person. It much more narrow than it appears on TV and banked much steeper.
Greg (South Bend, IN.)
Ryan, Since it's going to close like this the rest of the way and nobodys going to have an "off" weekend, Do you think it will come down to who survives Dega?
Ryan McGee (2:28 PM)
I do. I was talking about this with some folks this morning in relation to this three-car breakaway talk about the 20, 48 and 18. There's no doubt they are the best cars right now, but I am always reluctant to sign off on a breakaway until after Talladega. As long as there are a few other guys hovering around that inside-one-race's-worth-of-points line The Big One can totally change everything in one lap.
Nino (Central Michigan U)
I want Jimmie Johnson to finish 43rd every week and Dale Jr to do well. Yesterday was the first time I actually appreciated Johnson's ability. There's a reason Johnson has 5 Cup titles to Junior's 0, he really is a good race car driver. To hold of Junior on that last restart, and then build a gap and maintain it with only 2 tires to his 4, wow.
Ryan McGee (2:30 PM)
As a Junior fan said to me on Twitter (@ESPNMcGee) yesterday, Jimmie+Knaus > Dale Letarte. But as I told him, you can pretty much put any driver crew chief combination on the right side of that comparison and the result would be the same. Not just now, but ever.
Rowdy Fan (NC)
After Chicago you wrote that you needed more proof that Rowdy is not a Chase Choker. Seen enough?
Ryan McGee (2:32 PM)
Yes I have. His average finish after three Chase races is 3rd and he's already posted as many top fives (3) as he had in any other full ten-race Chase.
Is NASCAR the only major sport that depends more on sponsorship for athlete empoyment, rather than pure talent? If a strong team could thrive on race winnings alone, I think we'd have a very diffferent lineup.
Ryan McGee (2:33 PM)
Different sports have this same issue, but on a smaller scale. I think about sponsor exemptions in golf or stick-and-ball teams signing guys who are past their prime (or were never that great to begin with) simply because they will sell tickets and merchandise.
Ryan McGee (2:35 PM)
But in motorsports - not just NASCAR, but all of racing - guys with money have always gotten breaks that others didn't. The first racers were all rich guys. As great as the James Hunt vs. Niki Lauda story is in the new movie "Rush" (which, by the way, is a damn great racing movie, go see it), both of those guys got to F1 by writing checks.
Ryan McGee (2:37 PM)
The good news is that in NASCAR there are still plenty of guys - in fact most of the paddock - who are where they are because of talent. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart's family went broke funding their racing as kids. Jimmie Johnson comes from zero money. Same with Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, the list goes on and on.
Bill S. (High Point, NC)
With all that has gone on at MWR, will Michael still run a few races next year, or hang it up?
Ryan McGee (2:39 PM)
He wants to. But right now he's more worried about saving the company than his future schedule. But as of right now, he's still entered at Talladega in October.
Where would Truex be in the Chase standings, had he not been penalized? Would this be a 4 man race for the Chase?
Ryan McGee (2:42 PM)
I don't know exactly where he'd be, but with finishes of 18th, 10th, and 15th, he'd likely be in that second/third group instead of with the top three guys who keep cranking about top fives and wins.
Ryan, as a former Clint Bowyer fan, I was wondering if you had any advice on new up-and-comers worth rooting for, particularly those that possess the qualities of honesty and integrity.
Ryan McGee (2:44 PM)
The good news is that you have a ton of potential stars to root for. The biggest wave of young talent we've seen in a really long time. I am a big fan of Chase Elliott. He's a good kid. Same with Kyle Larson. Corey LaJoie has ruffled a few feathers as he's moved up the ladder, but I like him a lot too.
Ryan, I apologize ahead of time for this rant. So last week at Kentucky was one of the few Nationwide races actually worth watching because there were no cup regulars in it, yet NASCAR or ESPN chooses not to air it on a channel where us commonfolk can actually see it. This week's snoozefest at Dover, however, was all over ESPN2 like it normally is. This makes no sense to me, especially since last Saturday was a much weaker college football day than this past one. Did NASCAR or ESPN not air the Kentucky race on normal TV because they didn't think people would watch it, as there were no cup stars in it? or was it just a scheduling decision? Either way it seems ridiculous and a poor marketing strategy to me.
Ryan McGee (2:48 PM)
It was just a scheduling decision and one that was made at the beginning of the season. But to be fair, ESPNews is in 75 million homes. That's every bit comparable to NBC Sports Channel, which will televise most of the second half of the Nationwide (or whatever it's called then) Series in 2015.
Of the these drivers, which has the potential to challenge the top 3 if they were to stumble a bit. 29 24 16 39? All still within a race in pts.
Ryan McGee (2:49 PM)
I think they all do, but right now it's hard not to look at the 24 and 29.
do you think kyle larson is still to raw
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
I think that this might be a little too early to put him in a Cup car. But I tend to be very conservative about these things, having seen so many guys get burned out being in Cup too soon.
Ryan McGee (2:51 PM)
That being said, guys like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have told me they think he's ready and that these cars will suit him much more than Nationwide, so...hard for me argue with them.
Sunil Herath (New York)
Is Hamlin still recovering or what's going with him this year?
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
He is. But the good news is that he said this weekend was the best he'd felt in a long time. You could see that. He was running well for a while.
Rowdy Jeff (los angeles)
Amazing how this Chase format is, KB18 finished 2nd x2 and a 5th place yesterday and he's still 3rd in points.
Ryan McGee (2:52 PM)
I know, right? Just proves that you gotta win.
Saul (San Diego)
Remember in the ?Ride of their Lives? documentary, in the end Mr. France is sitting and points to a painting on the wall and say?s something like it represents the history of NASCAR. So have you ever seen that painting reproduced for sale?
Ryan McGee (2:54 PM)
I do remember that film...I worked on it! That painting was actually an original. To my knowledge that copy remains the only one.
I'm not sure if you have said or notice this, but this year is a lot like it was in 2008. New car, 3 dominate teams leading and winning nearly most of the races..it's great knowing its already a three man race and we all know the big three are going to hide at talledega and get a decent finish ..I can't wait for next year.
Ryan McGee (2:55 PM)
Thanks for keeping things peppy.
Darn that football (American & Canadian), I didn't see the truck race unless it came on very late in the evening. One channel should be left open for anything NASCAR. Does Junior have a sponsor next year or will Mr. H. announce that later in the season or next January?
Ryan McGee (2:57 PM)
I think that this is (another) reason that NASCAR should look at shortening the season. Too many conflicts in the fall, for networks and viewers.
Ryan McGee (2:58 PM)
As for Junior, there are deals in the works. But I do think 88 fans, at least the ones I hear from, read way too much into the fact that he doesn't have just one sponsor on the car all year. If you take inventory, you realize that almost no one does. That's just not the economic model anymore, no matter who you are.
Doesn't Shrub have top 5's in the last 7 chase races (dating back to last year?)
Ryan McGee (3:01 PM)
He had 7 top 5's in the 10 Chase races last year...but wasn't in the Chase.
Race fans are race fans. Don't shorten the season. I could care less about football, hockey, golf, baseball, cricket... I just want to watch cars.
Ryan McGee (3:03 PM)
I hear you. And I'm one, too. But I do think the season is too long. TV ratings plummet in the fall and I think there's no time to make fans hungry. Why are the NFL Draft and college spring games such a huge deal? Because people are hungry for it. NASCAR starts in February (January, really) and ends with the banquet in December. It never goes away. That's oversaturation.
Ryan McGee (3:05 PM)
Alright, folks, gotta go. Be sure to download Marty & McGee tomorrow afternoon, it'll go up around lunchtime at ESPNRadio.com/podcenter. Until next time, tip your waiters and waitresses and enjoy the music of Government Cheese.
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