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February 9, 6:28 AM ET
Chat with Ryan McGee

Ryan McGee
  (2:01 PM)

What up, folks? Let's chat.

Chase (Atlanta)

Your thoughts on Stewart Haas performance so far? Did you give Smoke that 15 ranking before you saw the Shootout on Saturday and qualifying on Sunday? I know it's going to be a long season, but I was pretty happy to see the 14 and 39 both qualify in the Top 10. Should be an interesting year.

Ryan McGee
  (2:02 PM)

Chase, I think they're doing just fine considering everything they've had to sort out through the winter. One of the things that people forget is that this team was in pretty darn good shape when Tony bought it.

Ryan McGee
  (2:04 PM)

The artist formerly known as Haas-CNC was knocking on the door of winning some races and did a HUGE job of getting into the top 35 in points at the end of last year.

Ryan McGee
  (2:05 PM)

And yes, I had Tony 15th before this past weekend. I stand by what I wrote. I think he'll win a race or two, but there's no way they will be consistent enough to make the Chase...then again, Smoke has proven me wrong more times than I care to admit.

Chrissy Hynes-Newark, NJ

I am a frustrated Jeff Gordon fan. Will my man return to the winner's circle this year?

Ryan McGee
  (2:07 PM)

Without a doubt. In fact, he's my pick to win the 500. I think this whole "he's off the gas because he's a Dad" thing is a bunch of recycled oil. He was spotted here in Charlotte recently with his daughter a kid's aerobics class and if anything he looks like he's enjoying racing more than he was a few years ago.

Ben (Charlotte, NC)

Will the no testing rule eliminate any chance of a second tier team being competitive?

Ryan McGee
  (2:10 PM)

Great question, Ben. I think that in the short term it is having the effect that NASCAR intended. We've already seen teams like the Wood Brothers and Earnhardt Ganassi (or whatever they're calling it) playing a lot closer to the giant teams than most expected. This year, the gap will be narrow. But if they keep the current rules in place that chasm will get huge in the long run.

Ryan McGee
  (2:10 PM)

The smaller teams simply can't afford to do the computer sims and wind tunnel work that the Hendricks and Roush Fenways and those guys can.

justin(durham nc)

do u see scott riggs making the 500 via the duel on thrusday...looks like his only comeptition in his duel will come from nemecheck and kesolowski

Ryan McGee
  (2:12 PM)

Justin, I think he'll get in. I made mention of the great job that Haas-CNC did to get into the top 35...and your homeboy Riggs is the guy that made that happen.

Ryan McGee
  (2:13 PM)

I am not a fan of the top 35 owner points because I think it has cheapened qualifying. Winning a pole means nothing now, the top teams don't even really try anymore. And thanks to the top 35 rule we'll have five or six guys racing to get into the 500 on Thursday instead of 15 ro 20.

Rick (Pa)

I guess I don't agree with your logic on why JJ won't win a 4th. No rookie had ever led the point standings before JJ; no one has won at least 3 races in a year for the first 7 years before JJ; and I am looking forward to when we can say no one has ever won 4 championships in a row before...

Ryan McGee
  (2:14 PM)

Rick...I hear you. And I usually subscribe to the theory that you keep picking the dynasty until someone ends it. But I'm not one to argue with history, and history says it can't be done. But as they say, that's why we run the races, right?

Darren Leach: Knoxville, TN

What sort of impact do you see the currect state of the national economy having on NASCAR?

Ryan McGee
  (2:17 PM)

Yo Darren...GIANT. It's been well-documented about all the layoffs we've had in the sport since last summer (somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 now) and sadly I think we're going to have a second big wave come March when the Daytona-Fontana-Vegas swing is over. The good news - we got word this week that a new American Formula One team will be based in the Charlotte area in 2010, so there should be some jobs for folks there.

Glenn, Fla

Ryan. you put The Bif #3 in you ranking? he is a very good driver but lately(including last year) he has hit everything except the pace car in plate races

Ryan McGee
  (2:18 PM)

Glenn, you're right. I think I said he throws restrictor plates against the wall like a plate a Greek wedding. But no one - not even Carl - is as good as the Biff on the 1.5-mile "cookie cutters". And he's also money at Bristol. I have always said that if can stay within striking distance until we get to Hometead in November it's over...he's the best there's ever been down there.

Pete C Newark DE

Ryan, what drivers, not in the chase last year, do you think will break in this year?

Ryan McGee
  (2:20 PM)

I am becoming a big David Ragan fan. You talk about hitting everything but the pace car...dude hit everything but cars in the parking lot in '07 then nearly made the Chase last year. He's my dark horse. And one day Kurt Busch has to return to his old killer form, right?

Steiny (NYC)

Will Martin Truex Jr. or Mark Martin win the Daytona 500?

Ryan McGee
  (2:21 PM)

Neither one, Pole sitters just don't seem to win the 500 anymore. But I would love to see either one of them do it. We might have an Earnhardt-style receiving line on pit road for Martin if he wins it.

Ryan McGee
  (2:22 PM)

BTW...Truex is having a killer week. He won the pole on Sunday and for the next two days he's fishing with legend angler Roland Martin somewhere down in FLA.

Link: Abingdon, VA

What's the future for Morgan-McClure Motorsports? Rumor had it that they were preparing a #4 for Daytona if they could locate a major sponsor. Southwest Virginia NASCAR fans want to know when we can expect our team to be out there again.

Ryan McGee
  (2:24 PM)

Link...it doesn't look good. The folks at MMM sewar they are still in business, but there are down to just a few emplyees now and it looks like team owner Larry McClure is definitely going to do extended time for tax evasion. It seems like once they lost that Kodak sponsorship they were doomed.

Ryan McGee
  (2:25 PM)

As for your arm...I say do like Dennis Quaid in "The Rookie" and find yourself an open tryout. I watched that movie on ABC Family last week and cried like a little girl.

BTV

What's keeping Jr. from doing what his dad did?

Ryan McGee
  (2:27 PM)

Talent and timing. Visit www.espnthemag.com and see my new column that's sure to make JR Nation very angry...but I think it might be true. If you look at the numbers and resumes, Kevin Harvick is actually putting together a better career than Little E.

Seth, Dallas, Texas

Why do so many older fans make negative comments about Joey Logano and Scotty Speed?

Ryan McGee
  (2:30 PM)

Seth, I think its that same old school resistance to new and unfamiliar drivers that we've seen from fans for as long as NASCAR has existed. They hated Freddy Lorenzen when he came down from Chicago in the 1960's, they hated Geoff Bodine when he came from NY, and people forget this but that also hated Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Tim Richmond...all of these guys that showed up seemingly out of nowhere and started running up front with the old standbys like Petty, Pearson, Earnhardt, etc...

Ryan McGee
  (2:30 PM)

Logano and Speed are both smart guys and they know that only one thing will shut them up - winning. We'll see how quick that happens.

Mikey (NY, New York)

Everybody is talking Joey Logano, yet nobody is talking about Brad Keselowski. I think Brad is a way better drive, whats your opinion on those two drivers?

Ryan McGee
  (2:31 PM)

Mikey, good call. He comes from good racing DNA (his Dad is one of the all time good dudes) and he was hand-picked by Dale Junior, who knows a little something about identifying talent - he's the one who brought Martin Truex Jr down from New Jersey.

Red Bull (Henderson, NV)

Call me crazy, but am I insane enough to say that Brian Vickers has a good chance to win the Daytona 500? I mean, Newman did it last year, but for some stupid reason, I feel that BV will be a surprise driver on Sunday.

Ryan McGee
  (2:34 PM)

RB, you are not crazy, I was up there at the RBR shop a couple of week ago and slowly but surely those guys have gotten a pretty nice little race team put together. You think of Toyota and F1 and Europeans when you think of Red Bull, but the place is being run by guys like Tim Fedewa and Elton Sawyer and Jimmy Elledge and Ryan Pemberton...it doesn't get any more old school and experienced than that. And don't forget, BV knows how to win a plate race...even if he has to spin out his teammates!

Greg (SIXburgh)

at the end of the season, do you think there will still be 43 cars in the field?

Ryan McGee
  (2:36 PM)

Greg...first, not sure if you've heard but the Steelers won the Super Bowl. And yes, I think there will be 43 car, but not at all the races. By the time we hit summer all these start-and-park teams will out of cash, but will be able to get to places like Martinsville, Atlanta, etc... It's when we make the second West Coast swing this fall - Fontana, Phoenix, Texas - that we'll see some thin fields.

Ryan McGee
  (2:37 PM)

Unless of course this new stimulus package includes a provision to make sure that 43 cars come to the track each wekk. Pretty sure it doesn't...

Chip Smith, Seneca, South Caroina

I miss Humpy Wheeler. Will we see him back in NASCAR circles again?

Ryan McGee
  (2:39 PM)

Chip, Humpy is still in the circles, just behind the scenes right now. I wrote a column last month about his efforts to help unemployed NASCAR workers find job thorugh the site www.dontcheckup.com and he's also working on a book. That should be some seriously good reading.

Michael Collins

What are the chances of ever getting at least an exhibition race on a dirt track? I love Dirty racing.

Ryan McGee
  (2:41 PM)

If they did, I would camp out for tickets. I used to have that conversation with the late great Benny Parsons all the time when we worked together at ESPN back in the '90's. Why not? ARCA does it on a couple of big one-mile dirt ovals in the Midwest. Even better - let's do it at Churchill Downs!

Big Tex (dallas)

the first crash will involve..........

Ryan McGee
  (2:41 PM)

Robby Gordon. Don't they all? Even when it's not his fault, he seems to be in the middle of it.

jason

why dont nascars have blinkers

Ryan McGee
  (2:42 PM)

Because they'd be stuck permanently in the lefthand position.

Marc (Malden, MA)

If the cars handle as poorly as they did on Saturday, it's going to be a terrible race with a ton of crashes.

Ryan McGee
  (2:43 PM)

Marc...you may be right. I say let's wait and see what happens on Thursday in the 150's before we decide the 500 is going to totally suck.

Ryan McGee
  (2:45 PM)

Thursday's races will take place during the day, just as most of the 500 will. And I also think we were seeing a result of the lack of testing. These guys, even the veterans, were admittedly getting back their sea legs. That's hard to do on national television at 190 mph.

Emerson (Henderson, NV)

Quick, over or under 6.5 caution flags?

Ryan McGee
  (2:45 PM)

Over. Easily.

Matt (Cedar Falls, IA)

Do you think NASCAR will look at shortening the races by a percentage due to a lackluster economy?

Ryan McGee
  (2:47 PM)

Not this year, but if the $$ woes continue, they might do it in '10. They actually did once before. In 1974 all the big league sports were commanded by Congress to find ways to save money, specifically in the area of fuel consumption. NASCAR told tracks to shorten their total distance for the weekend.

Ryan McGee
  (2:48 PM)

Most of the tracks chose to trim or cancel practice sessions, but places like Darlington shortened races.

Ryan McGee
  (2:49 PM)

I'm hoping that this will force NASCAR to look at shortening races across the board and for good. I think well over half the current races should be slashed for good.

Larry DeSha-Camarillo, California

I haven't heard much about the NASCAR Hall of Fame lately. Could you give me an update on what's happening? Thanks.

Ryan McGee
  (2:51 PM)

Larry, I drove by it this morning. The NASCAR office tower looks like a real building and they are working on the offices inside now. The HoF itself is just getting going, though the frame is up and the shape is obvious, I talked to the HoF director Winston Kelley (of MRN Radio fame) and he says all systems are go for a late 2010 or early '11 opening...then we argued about the size of the inaugural class. Five is too small.

Rob (Madison, WI

When will Rick Hendrick get smart and realize that Tony Jr. is not the guy to make Jr. a consistent winner?

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

Rob, this is the hottest question among the citizens of Junior Nation right now. Personally, I think Tony Jr does a helluva job. I wrote in ESPN The Magazine a couple of issues ago that he has the hardest job in NASCAR. He's the only crew chief who gets booed and second-guessed all the time...even when his strategy wins the only point race that Junior took home last year!

Cory (Miami)

In your opinion, what driver can make the best of a bad race car?

Ryan McGee
  (2:54 PM)

Based on what he did last year in that sled that DEI built for him, I'd say Martin Truex Jr.

Ryan McGee
  (2:55 PM)

But if you want to know who I would want in any car at any time in any conditions and expect him to get it to the front somehow someway, I'd go with Tony Stewart. But I'd take skinny Tony over fat Tony.

April , Rogersville, TN

Can you explain what exactly happened with Gillette/Evernham?

Ryan McGee
  (2:57 PM)

April, I would. But they only gave me an hour for this chat. Short story - Ray was forced out, Sadler was almost forced out, and The King was welcomed not because of his cash (he had none to bring) but because of his image and name.

William Booker-Lynchburg, Virginia

Who do you think will win the Daytona 500?

Ryan McGee
  (2:59 PM)

Booker...I'm going: 1. Jeff Gordon 2. Kevin Harvick 3. Dale Junior 4. Carl Edwards 5. Bill Elliott...hey, why not?

Ryan McGee
  (2:59 PM)

Thanks folks, it was a blast. I'll be here every Monday at 2 PM ET! Buy ESPN The Magazine so I can keep my job!