What's up my champagne-covered brothers and sisters? Welcome to the final 2009 edition of the Internet's biggest and baddest Monday afternoon motorsports block party. I won't break out the Christmas music until next week, so today I'm going with Chickenfoot. To the questions!
Can anyone rise up to challenge HMS next year? I have a hard time seeing Ford teams doing it on a first year engine. Can Kyle avoid the big team killing blow up and pull it off? Or is Smoke our best shot to take downs JJ?
This is the million dollar question, Chris, and as I type there are literally a couple dozen race teams meeting all over Charlotte to discuss that very issue. I think the biggest threat will come from Stewart, but I think he proved this fall that he can't hang over the long haul. The only hope may be Edwards, who can't possibly be this generic two years in a row...can he?
Dale jr dropped to 25th in final points yesterday. Do you think he will be even worse in 2010?
Are Lance and the #88 crew getting frustrated with all of Dale's on-track mistakes?
How do the 48, 24 and 5 run in the top 12 and Dale jr finishes 28th?
I am tired of hearing everyone talk about dale jr. They say he will do so good every week but always seems to finish 32nd. Cant they talk more about the people actually winning?
Ah, Tyler. Dream on. He's still the biggest star in the sport. It's just how it is. But to answer the deluge of 88 questions...no, he won't be worse in 2010, he can't be. Yes, McGew and company are frustrated, but no more frustrated than Junior was when they missed the setup so bad at a couple of track. And I really believe that the reason Junior has been breaking stuff when the others have not is because he's been pushing too hard. I talked to Ricky Craven about that when we were at ESPN to do NASCAR Now last week and he agreed with me. Drivers that are pressing break stuff.
I am a Denny Hamlin fan and i am very proud of the season he has had. Do you believe the promise he made about him saying he was going to win a championship in a few years?
Yes. No question about it. He's a much more mature person than he was just a year ago (the Keselowski mess aside) and over the last 16 weeks he won as many races (4) as he did in the previous three years. Speaking of maturity..
Do you rate Kyle Busch as favorite to win the 2010 Sprint Cup?
Yes. And a big reason is because he is ditching his Nationwide Series schedule to concentrate on Cup. Now that strategy has also backfired on guys in the past. Kevin Harvick went Cup-only one year and quickly realized that he was more comfortable when he was racing all the time.
Can NASCAR please arrange for the season to end early next year so Ryan can come out to the Baja 1000. Pretty please? :)
Yeah, what he said! For those of you that don't know who Desert Dingo is, he's one of the insane folks who just ran the the Baja 1000 in a Class 11 stock VW bug. Even Robby Gordon says they are nuts. They keep inviting me out, but Homestead keeps getting in the way!
did you see that burnout the 48 did right through the spectators???? i slept good sunday night. did you?
That totally freaked me out. For those of you who didn't see it, the 48 did a burnout between the stage and a bunch of people standing around on the frontstretch after the race. I have no idea how he didn't end up running over 20 people. Then again, he is a pretty good driver, isn't he?
People will talk to you about JJ and his 4 titles...however I'm curious to know what is your point of view in regards to the #14 and 42 incident.....
I thought it made the Hamlin-Keselowski thing from Saturday look like a conversation between Steven Hawking and Albert Einstein. Montoya and Stewart cost each other a shot at the win, a combined four points positions, and by my calculations around half a million bucks in banquet prize money. So stupid.
McGee, what it is? Hey. I noticed some of the drivers had visors on the their helmets. The visors and JJ's perennial whooping he lays on the field got me to thinking about an appropriate helmet for JJ. He needs a Darth Vader inspired helmet. Seems apt. Right?
Nice. Years ago I produced a TV story about drivers and the lengths they go to in order to make their helmets look cool. I should do that again.
Have you heard anything about JR Motorsports purchasing a ARCA car for Danica.
Yep. That deal is all ready to go. The hang-up now seems to be from Andretti side of things. Anyone surprised about that? I'm not.
Would Jimmy even have 4 championships with the old system? I dont think so.
Well, let's see. Under the old system he still would've won last night by 66 over Gordon...
He would've lost to Edwards by 16 in '08.
He would've lost by 353 to Gordon in '07.
He would've won by 4 over Kenseth in '06.
Hey Ryan, Thanks for making Monday's more tolerable with the weekly chats. What do you think will be the big off season story in NASCAR this year?????
Danica. Without a doubt. The deal with JR Motorsports is stuck in a holding pattern right now. They'd hoped to have it done by Champions Week in Vegas two weeks from now, but things have gotten bogged down on the IRL side.
Any news on Mr. Hendrick's neice who was having the liver transplant yesterday?
Yes. The surgery went well and everything has gone as scheduled so far. That's great news.
Did the fans and team really applaud when Denny cashed in his chips on Brad K?
The fans sure did, thought there has been some debate over whether they were cheering for Denny turning Brad or for the nice job Brad did of spinning and then continuing on as if nothing had happened.
I'd just like to give a call to Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin for their strong Chase efforts this year. Just puts into perspective how close to perfect you have to be to win the title (especially in Denny's case), doesn't it?
No doubt. Denny won four races and was the only Chaser to beat Jimmie head-to-head four times (I think it was four) during the Chase. But all it took was a couple of bad days and his title hopes were toast. If he could have California back he might've really made a run at this thing.
Do you think Nascar should have penalized Stewart just like thy black flagged Juan Pablo?
Yes. That whole things was bush league.
Ryan, who do you see having a better season in 2010? Mcmurray or sadler?
Wow...sounds like a push to me. But I'll take Mac. Remember, his best days were with Ganassi the first time around. Sadler is miserable. Every time he turns around he's being stuck with another inexperienced crew chief. That deal on pit road yesterday pretty much summed up his whole season...and most of his career.
Are we going to see another round of layoffs like last year?
Yes. In fact, there are a lot of folks up at Richard Petty Motorsports who are packing up their things today. The numbers won't be as large as last year, but it will sting just the same.
When you talk about Danica's deal being stuck in a holding patten on the IRL side of things, is it because Michael Andretti is waiting for December 1st when he officially takes over the racing opperations or is it something else there we don't know about?
I think that definitely factors into it all, yes.
How can you say Tony proved he can't hang over the long haul when this was only his first year with his new team? How quickly we forget that he wasn't even suposed to make the Chase yet alone lead the points for awhile. He showed in 05 that he can close the deal in the Chase. His team just needs more experience.
I can say that because it's the truth. They faded at the end of the year. That's a fact. That doesn't take away from the unbelivably surprising run they had this year, but it happened, no matter how much it sucks for Smoke fans to hear it. That fade is another reason why that mess with Montoya was so unreal to me. He had a chance to win a race to end the year and end all of the talk about the team running out of steam...and he blew it.
can you assess how well mwr team will do next year?
I like where they are headed. It's hard not to like the future of a team that has David Reutimann, Truex, and their young guys in the development pipeline.
Where do you see this Kasey Kahne/RPM situation going? Can he get out of the last year of his contract this off-season and sign on with SHR? If not, will smoke wait a year to get Kasey? Or does he go to JGR or something?
Kahne will stick it out through next year. He has to. But if he doesn't make the Chase, he'll be bailing out of RPM ASAP. There seems to be a bit of race between Kahne and Harvick to get that SHR ride, doesn't there?
What seperates Jimmie from the rest of today's field IMO is his will to win. Over the last 4 years when that 48 team has needed to come up with a strong run, Jimmie's delievered and in a big way, remember 2007? Down 68 points to Jeff Gordon at Charlotte, then he wins 4 straight races.....just incredible.
Hard to argue with that. People like to complain that the tracks in the Chase are lined up for Jimmie. But the fact of the matter is I don't think it'd matter what 10 tracks were in there. They just know how to step up their game when it is go time.
Would JJ have won this championship if we were under the old points system?
This one, yes.
Hi Ryan, happy Monday!
Hello...thanks for stopping by the RaceCast chat yesterday. That thing gives me a migraine for two days afterward, but it is fun.
I missed the whole Stewart-Montoya thing, what happend?
I'll David from DC get me started on that...
Ryan-It looked like JPM had a great run off the corner and Stewart slammed the door. JPM wasn't happy and made sure Tony knew it but didn't come close to wrecking him. Next lap Stewart blatanly turns left and cuts JPM's tire. I can't condone JPM coming back out and turning Tony but he was really out of line when he cut JPM's tire. Other than calling it stupid for both guys, what was your take on it?
My take is that there was too much on the line and it was too early in the race for those guys to allow themselves to get dragged down into that mess. And it was a little disrespectful to the guys who work on and have to fix those cars to treat them like bumper cars. And the combined half-mill they cost themselves also cut into their crews' end of year bonuses. They whole thing was just childish...but I'm not above admitting that it was fun to watch.
I know everyone has to be PC and all that for the cameras, but do you think behind closed doors Gordon is a bit hurt that he brought in the next BIG thing, and that he's not Rick Hendrick's main guy anymore?
Without a doubt.
will NASCAR ever add a third road course, or add a road course to the Chase?
I don't think they will because they don't want to take a race away from an oval to do it. But I have long maintained that a road race should be in the Chase. If the playoffs are supposed to crown the truly most well-rounded champion, then they should be a microcosm of the regular season. Every other form of track if represented in the Chase, why not a road course? Let's run Montreal in the summer and Sonoma in the Chase.
Will we ever see Kenseth make another legit run at a Cup, or have his best days passed?
I think he has at least one more in him. He certainly proved he can still win with his back-to-back victories to start 2009. But I think when the final book is written on Kenseth, he and Roush are going to regret moving Robbie Reiser off the pit box. The reason that Jimmie has had such an amazing decade-long run is because they have kept that 48 team pretty much intact.
Looks like RCR is definitely headed in the right direction. Any chance they can upend Hendrick next season?
I don't think they can top to bottom, but I think they can certainly get one or two of their cars up into the top five in points. It's hard to remember that they had three cars in the top six just one year ago! To Richard's credit, he has admitted that they made a big mistake in the construction of this year's cars. When they threw those out and started over is when the turnaround happened.
No question, just a comment that Sunday's are going to be a little off for a few months without the races and your chats. Hope you get to enjoy some time off!!
Thanks, Simmy. Gonna go vanish into the Keys for a little while at the end of the year. But if you need a fix I will still be blogging a couple of days a week for ESPN.com.
I for one liked the 14 42 issues. Every week we hear driver after driver complain about the 42 racing him hard, and then we hear the 42 complain about the other drivers. Finally it was a time for less talk more action. Or should we ask for more plain vanilla racing. Besides it was Tony's money anyways.
I hear you Don. Like I said earlier, I may not like it. But it does make for good watching!
Do you think Penske and Kurt are gonna hire Addington?
It's been discussed. That'd be crazy wouldn't it? Just the latest bizarro chapter of the weird relationship between the Busch brothers.
Is the Dale Jr/Henrick Motorsports chemistry all wrong? Does Dale fit into that HMS culture?
He's getting there. Tony Eury Jr openly admits that he had no idea how far apart the worlds of Hendrick and old DEI were.
Ryan, I gotta run a little early, but I just want to thank you for doing these chats. It's great for fans to have the opportunity to chat with the writers who cover this sport every week, but you seem to enjoy it the most out of all the ESPN.com guys. You've answered a lot of my questions and provided so much insight. I'm headed to my first Daytona 500 in February to hopefully see Dale Jr raise the Harley J. Earl trophy once again. Hopefully, I'll see ya there. Until the, have a great off-season.
Thanks Jack. I'll be the guy who looks like Johnny Benson walking around with Marty Smith.
Does nascar schedule race tracks picked for thier date to try to get the best time in the season for good weather? if nascar notices the a track is getting rained out alot, have they ever changed the scdedule because of this ? is this also the reason for the last races of the season being were they are ?
Yes. NASCAR work with the tracks to try and figure out the best dates. Every market has its unique issues, whether it's seasonal or competing with other sports teams or even other racetracks. Great example is Atlanta. They consider themselves a tradition NASCAR track, as they should, and lobbied to get the Labor Day date when it was obvious that it wasn't working at Fontana. Atlanta being in the Chase seemed like a good idea, but the fall weather was unpredictable and they also had to compete with Georgia Bulldogs football. This year they got the Labor Day date and had their best crowd in years...and Fontana saw an increase as well.
Who is the running to get Ray Evernham's services next year and beyond? Sounds like when the RPM/Yates deal is finalized, Ray's non-compete may expire...
Perhaps. I need to ask Ray about that. He's been lobbying the team owners hard to be let out of his non-compete deal. When he agreed to it (it also came with a ton of money) I think Ray thought that he would still be included in team decisions, or at least consulted on competition matters, but that hasn't happened. The prevailing rumor is Hendrick. Can you imagine if he ended up back with the 24...or with the 88?
You go to Craven for your expert advice? BIG mistake.
Aw, c'mon James. Craven is one of the all-time good dudes. And last I checked he's won a few more races than you or I have.
To echo Jack, thanks for the great blogs and chats this season. Hope to run into you at TMS in the spring! The food offer still stands!
10-4 Ed. I'll be taking you up on that.
Ryan, i'm planning a road trip with my brother next summer. Choices are ORP/Brickyard, Daytona summer race, College World Series. We'd be camping at all of them. Where should we go?
If you have to choose one? Go to the College World Series and then head back east and catch the IRL at the Iowa Speedway. I did that last year and it rocked. You can always stop by the Brickyard on your way home and do the Hall of Fame Museum and Track Tour. It's the best five dollar value in all of motorsports!
And I'll be at the CWS signing books.
And I'll be at the CWS signing books.
Why in the world is there no oval with a flat side and a banked side?? That would be awesome...
Good question. Some of them come close. You should have one built in Holland and when VW comes to NASCAR in the next few years they can host the race!
How long can a good CC be away from Cup and still be huge benefit to a team? Could Ray come back and lead a team to a championship in the next 2-3 years?
He wouldn't want to be a crew chief. He'd be a GM, consultant, or advisor. Though I wouldn't want to be the poor crew chief working under him. That'd be like being the point guard on a team coached by Magic Johnson.
Alright folks, for the final time this year, they're telling me I gotta go. If you still need your NASCAR fix during the off-season I will be posting my ESPN.com blog about twice a week throughout winter. In the meantime, as always, tip your wait staff and enjoy the holiday music of Andy Williams.