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February 13, 12:52 PM ET
Chat with Ryan McGee

Ryan McGee
  (2:00 PM)

What up, folks? I've just finished wringing out my wet clothes from Daytona and I'm ready for some chatting magic.

Megan, Queens NY

The Daytona 380? Horrible. This is the Super Bowl of NASCAR and it was cut short. Do you think that NASCAR should implement some rules saying that the Daytona 500 will ALWAYS be 500 miles no matter the circumstances? They have lights you know...

Ryan McGee
  (2:01 PM)

Megan, I hear you, And I wish that it was as simple as leaving the lights on and letting the rain pass, but long after the race was called it was still coming down pretty hard.

Ryan McGee
  (2:03 PM)

No one wanted to end it early and it hardly every happens - this was just the fourth shortened 500 in 51 tries - but what we REALLYdidn't want was a replay of the 21 Hours of California that we had one year ago or the Four Days of Michigan the year before that.

Josh (LA)

The NASCAR officials knew he rain was headed their way, why didn't they start the race 1-2 hours early so they can get all of the 500 miles in instead of Daytona 400 or whatever it was? I mean, take all that pre-race junk out which no one watches and wastes 1 hour of race time.

Ryan McGee
  (2:04 PM)

Josh, I think that THIS is the question we need to be asking. Had we started the 500 even an hour earlier than the scheduled 3:40 PM ET green flag time then we would have come pretty close to making the full 500 miles.

Ryan McGee
  (2:06 PM)

These new later start times showed up after the new TV contracts went into effect in 2001 because FOX and NBC wanted to grow the west coast audience...but I see you're from L.A., so I guess that says all we need know about that theory.

tayler [via mobile]

was that dale jrs fault yesterday or vickers for blockin him that hard with 100 laps left and them both a lap down

Ryan McGee
  (2:06 PM)

Ladies and gentleman, here's your bazillion dollar question from the 51st Great American Race!

Ryan McGee
  (2:08 PM)

I believe that Dale Junior was at fault. Vickers didn't do anyone any favors with his blocking move (Dale Senior in particular had no patience for blocking), but had Dale Junior lifted his right foot a hair and eased back into line - which he had plenty of room to do - then he likely could have made the pass cleanly the next time around.

Ryan McGee
  (2:09 PM)

What we had there was a very frustrated driver - he'd already committed two pit road penalties - trying to make too much happen too soon.

Ryan McGee
  (2:10 PM)

And BTW, NASCAR says that the difference between what Earnhardt did on Sunday and what Jasoin Leffler did in Saturday's Nationwide race (Leffler was parked for five laps) was that the Saturday hit was malicious in intent and that Junior's wreck was simply a good old fashioned racing deal.

Tim (OR)

If the entire 500 miles was run who do you think would have been in victory lane?

Ryan McGee
  (2:11 PM)

Kyle Busch, hands down. You never can predict what's going to happen in a restrictor plate race, but nearly everyone in the garage has been quick to admit that they had nothing for Shrub.

Ryan McGee
  (2:12 PM)

In a related note, the driver who has led the most laps hasn't won the Daytona 500 for the last five years.

Sam, NY

Wasn't Junior sick too, and then the pit road problems probably all too much to contain. Where was Mr. H, he should have been on the radio ..... okay, it was Mr. H's fault Jr Nation!

Ryan McGee
  (2:15 PM)

I'm typically all for giving a driver a chance to hand off blame...but both of those pit road mistakes and the Vickers wreck are solely on the man in the cockpit. The only thing you could possibly find any blame on the team was why they insisted on going on and completing the pit stop when the NASCAR official assigned to their pits told them to backup and get the car inside the righthand line. If they'd taken his advice they would have lost a few seconds instead of an entire lap.

Steiny (NYC)

Do you think Jeff Gordon had a good chance to win the Daytona 500 if rain had not cut it short?

Ryan McGee
  (2:18 PM)

No doubt, Steiny. Like I said earlier, I think Kyle Busch had 'em covered, but if everything had played out with KB behind the wall, then I think Gordon would have been in the mix late. Considering the fact that they couldn't keep right side tires on the car, he'll take his 129 points for 13th and be happy about it.

Randy South Orange, NJ [via mobile]

What are yout predictions for Dale Jr. this year could he possibly win the Sprint Cup?

Ryan McGee
  (2:22 PM)

In two words - not good. For Junior it is paramount that he come away from places like Daytona, Talladega, and Richmond with the most points possible to overcome the place where he is historically pretty average - like our stop this week, California. The wreck shouldn't bother JR Nation as much as the two pit road deals. That was terrible.

Jason, NC

Did anyone else has tire problems like Gordons? His were the only ones that they showed.

Ryan McGee
  (2:24 PM)

Jason, the number of teams that had tire problem was about the same as those who did not...and not all of those teams had trouble in the actual 500, but rather in practice and in the Duel 150's. What that tells me is that the issues were more of a set-up problem than an actual tire problem. If everyone is having the same issues across the board (like we had at the Brickyard last year) then it's a Goodyear problem

Ryan McGee
  (2:26 PM)

The folks that had issues were having them way up on the very edge of the right front, which means thay were running WAY too much camber - or tilt - in the tire. The teams that backed off of that during the week didn't suffer that kind of wear anymore.

Andy (Toledo, OH)

Ryan - Any chance Scott Speed leaves NASCAR next year for the new F1 team that will launch a car in 2010 out of Charlotte that was reported on ESPN.com yesterday?

Ryan McGee
  (2:29 PM)

Andy, there is a definite chance, though the new team is going to have to work awfully hard to get him. Scott openly admits that he is having more fun now than he ever had in F1. That being said, USF1 (that's the name of the new team) is supposed to have enough cash to go get whomever they want. Their short list includes Speed and current IRL teammates Marco Andretti and (wait for it) Danica Patrick.

Josh (LA)

You know the worst part of Daytona yesterday was the guy that caused the crash, Dale, came in higher position than the guy who was going to win it all, Kyle.

Ryan McGee
  (2:31 PM)

Sadly, that's usually the way it ends up. As they say, that's racing.

Jake, Dallas

Stewart-Haas runs Hendrick chassis, Hendrick engines and has Hendrick employees running the cars. What is Stewart-Haas about this?

Ryan McGee
  (2:33 PM)

It's not Hendrick employees running the cars, but there are a lot of former HMS employees there, that's for sure...along with a ton of former DEI guys that Ryan Newman's crew chief Tony Gibson brought along from the old #8 team.

Ryan McGee
  (2:33 PM)

It's not Hendrick employees running the cars, but there are a lot of former HMS employees there, that's for sure...along with a ton of former DEI guys that Ryan Newman's crew chief Tony Gibson brought along from the old #8 team.

Ryan McGee
  (2:35 PM)

This approach is pretty much standard operating procedure for anyone starting a new team, dating all the way back to the birth of Joe Gibbs Racing in the early '90's. They used HMS cars and engines until they'd had enough success to go it alone, which is exactly what Tony will do.

Jamie (Arkansas)

Didn't you feel bad 4 Elliot Sadler yesterday? He looked so disapointed in himself yesterday. Can he bounce back?

Ryan McGee
  (2:39 PM)

Jamie, I wrote about this in the Power Rankings - that conversation he had with his team over the radio as the rain started to fall was the most depressing scanner sound I have ever heard! I can understand why Elliott would believe that his career has been run under a cloud a bad luck. He's never really lived up to the potential success he seemed headed for in the late 1990's. But it's hard to feel bad for a guy who just finished 5th in the Daytona 500 and likely solidified his place with a team that didn't want him just a few weeks ago.

Charles, (Alamogordo, NM)

How about Happy yesterday? Harvick seems to have a knack for coming out of nowhere lately to make a charge. Jeff Hammond on Fox thought he would win the championship this year, don't you think he's got just as good a chance as any of the top guys this year?

Ryan McGee
  (2:43 PM)

Charles, one of the biggest stories lost in all the talk about rain, Junior, Vickers, Kyle Busch, etc...was the killer showing by Richard Childress Racing. Had the race stayed green I think Harvick and Clint Bowyer were going to hook up and make a run for it. As it turned out, they still finished 2nd and 4th. Casey Mears finished 15th and it was Childress engines that provided the boost that had all those Earnhardt Ganassi cars qualifying and running so strong.

Ryan McGee
  (2:44 PM)

Here's something you probably dont' realize - Bowyer has the best average finish of any Cup driver at Daytona over the last four years...and that includes the time he finished upside down on fire in '07.

Steve Toth Charleston, SC

Do you really think Danica is ready for an F1 ride?

Ryan McGee
  (2:46 PM)

No, Toth Daddy, I do not. But she can move product, just ask GoDaddy.com. BTW, Stavro's wasn't the same without you.

Kenny (Oakland,CA)

Did we see a revatilized Michael Waltrip finish #7 yesterday or was it more luck?

Ryan McGee
  (2:48 PM)

Kenny, I think it was luck and I think Waltrip would be the first to admit that...in fact, looking back over my notes, he did: "We might have overachived a bit."

Ryan McGee
  (2:49 PM)

Mikey's heart just isn't in in anymore. You can tell he's more worried about paying his bills and being on TV than winning races. I think his talk about retiring at the end of '09 is much more than just talk.

Jules, Waukegan, Ill.

Kenseth seems to be a hard-working, quiet guy who flies under the radar, doesn't seem to seek the spotlight, and yet has accomplished a lot in this sport. He doesn't seem to be the ideal 500 champion in NASCAR's eyes because he is such a humble dude. Is his win something that is being applauded by other drivers? And do you think this will garner him a little more attention by the media? I think I heard his name mentioned once in all the pre-race hoopla.

Ryan McGee
  (2:52 PM)

Jules, anyone who has every spent any time with Kenseth away from the racetrack knows that he's actually a very likable, funny guy, he's just never had a forum to show that off (that's the penalty comes with coming up through the ranks with Dale Junior). A lot of people are hoping that his personality will step out a bit now...and it may just start tonight when he stops by to chat with David Letterman.

Ryan McGee
  (2:54 PM)

I made a lot of people mad in my blog at www.espnthemag.com last week when I suggested that Kevin Harvick's career is shaping up to be just as impressive (if not moreso) than Dale Junior's. I think Kenseth's resume is now better than his old rival's. BTW...Earnhardt was among the first to run over the Victory Lane to congratulate Matt.

Sudzy, Nashville

What is Petty Racing going to do with Allmendinger? He is cleary the most talented driver on the team. Based not only on yesterday performance and the last 5 races or so of last year.

Ryan McGee
  (2:57 PM)

Suzy, I'm with you. We're getting to the point where it's going to be impossible to keep him out of a Cup car. The folks that run RPM already tried to clear room for him once. There's no reason to think that they won't try it again. There are a lot of older guys who haven't met their longtime potential who need to be watching their backs...

Larry (MI)

What is your take on all the blocking that goes on? It seems there guys that get the whole "give and take" and than there are those that just don't get it.

Ryan McGee
  (2:59 PM)

Larry, I learned a long time ago to always defer to The Intimidator and The King when it comes to racing matters. On separate occassions that both told me that they thought blocking was dangerous, stupid racing and it was the only offense that would cause them to wreck someone. That's good enough for me.

Ryan McGee
  (3:01 PM)

Alright folks. The checkers are waving. We'll see you next week. In the meantime, check out my work in the NASCAR Preview edition of ESPN The Mag (the one with Dwight Howard on the cover). If enough people buy it they'll let me keep my job!