Welcome back my frost-covered brothers and sisters to the Internet's biggest and baddest one-hour Monday afternoon motorsports block party. I am standing in what is left of the snow here in the CLT with one eye on my grill and the other on your questions. So without any further ado, adieu, ahem...let's drop the green on 2010 with some queries from the rowdiest race fans on the worldwide interweb.
Mr McGee, hope you're well. Thanks for the BA articles and blogs on ESPN's NASCAR page. Dude! We're only 5 days away from RACING! No real question about NASCAR. Just wanna know if you watched any of the X Games? I love it. How cool is it that two of the turns on two different courses have NASCAR monikers? The "Daytona" turns for ski and snowboard X. The "Talladega" turn for the snowmobile course. Awesome.
One more thing: Do you need an assistant? Firing up dragsters and eating at places like Smok'N has to be a bit difficult. Tell kleeda I'll work for cheap!
Welcome back YAR, and yes I was totally jazzed to see the NASCAR-themed turns at Winter X. I covered the SnoCross guys during a bone-freezing weekend in Winnipeg a few years back for ESPN The Magazine and have been a big fan of those lunatics ever since. That Talladega Turn was ridonculous.
And I appreciate the offer, but I have an assistant. My five-year old daughter is sitting here coloring as I type.
Alright Ryan, the first party of the year! Hope the off season has been good. How many HMS drivers make the chase???
It's been great. Very cold for NC, but soon enough it'll be 97 degrees with 90% humidity, so I'll take it. I say three of the four Hendrick cars make the Chase. History says that one HMS car always lags behind the other three, the so-called "Curse of the 25 Car". I don't think Junior will make the Chase, but I think he'll come close and he'll win a couple of races, which will be a ginormous improvement over last year's debacle...though not enough to please Dale Jr. fans I'm sure.
Ryan, how do you feel about Kurt Busch and Addington this year? Past Cup champ who beat everyone but Hendrick cars last year and a crew chief who knows how to win...sounds like a championship team to me. Thoughts?
I like it. A lot. The biggest challenge for any crew chief stepping into a job with a Busch brothers is always getting used to their demanding ways, especially when they start barking on the radio on Sundays. After his stint with Kyle, Steve is already used to that. If he can keep the Blue Deuce's momentum going from the end of '10, there's no doubt that he'll be a title contender.
And I would love that for Addington. He's a great guy and didn't deserve what he got at the end of the season.
I saw that if Danica Patrick does really well in the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Rick Hendrick might put her in a Sprint Cup Series race really late in 2010 probably the last race of the season. Is That True? Is Rick Hendrick Really rushing this?
Well, keep in mind that the fourth word in your question was "if". No one is going to stick in her a Cup car unless she has shown signs that she is even remotely close to ready. Homestead is a loooong ways away, so let's see how she fares this weekend in the ARCA race before we start worrying about her maybe possibly being in a Cup race in late November.
Please please tell someone to get that allstar showdown out of Irwindale!!!!! That track was awful!!!
Love you Tracy, but you're crazy! Irwindale is the nicest short track in the nation and I'm not the only one who feels that way. I'm guessing you're a homestate Joey Logano fan and would love to see him win a Showdown on the east coast. But where are we going to run that in January? Stafford Springs?
So who gets in the first scuffle this year with the loosening of the rules????
Good question! I think it'll happen in practice long before we get to the 500. I'll say Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart. I like my odds of one of them getting angry early.
Ryan, I'm a big Ford racing fan. Please look into your crystal ball and tell me who the 4 RPM drivers are next year?Also, is Valvoline picking up the other 18 races on Kenseth's car?
Kasey Kahne is outta there. I think he and Harvick move to Stewart-Haas, which expands to four cars with Hendrick backing. The other guys, I have no idea. Right now, even though Kahne says he hasn't ruled out staying, I think the future of the team is in the hands of A.J. Allmendinger. Their focus has to be keeping him happy and in the fold. As for Valvoline, right now they are committed as Kenseth's primary sponsor for only three races.
You got it McGee, I'm from about two towns over from Middletown. I just can't help but root for Joey. I can't say I'm much of a fan of seeing Logano in the showdown though. I liked seeing the young guys in it like Matt D (of JGR) and Ryan Truex, and of course Pena was awsome
He's such a great kid it's hard not to like him. And so far he's managed to avoid the typical first-year trappings that seem to turn a lot of racers into spoiled brats. And yes, anyone who wasn't impressed with those other young guys trying to beat Logano - especially 16-year old Sergio Pena - weren't watching. Those young dudes can wheel.
When are the races @ Texas Motor Speedway?
Here's the whole 2010 schedule: http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/schedule?seriesId=2&year=2010
New season, new questions, Glad to see you back Ryan. My first is this, theres been alot of talk about cutting back purses,but who does this hurt the most?, the start and park guys? Will there be any advantage to fans with cheaper prices as they claim, or will it be made up elsewhere?
Yo Bill, great to see you back. You folks got some serious snow didn't you? Yes, purses are being cut by 10 percent. This is in addition to cost-cutting measures that had already been implemented, such as the testing limitations in Cup and the crew limits in Nationwide and Trucks. I think fans have already seen some benefit from the tough $ times as tracks have cut ticket prices over the last year and this year have started adding more amenities with those seats. Just this week Daytona unveiled the Party Porch on the backstretch, which is giant bar at the entrance of Turn 3 open to anyone with a ticket.
The purse cut was really more to help the tracks, who have lost a ton of revenue over the last year and are responsible for paying the purses. And will it hurt the Start-n-Parks? Yes, but not enough to run them off.
Heard any reasons why all 3 Series arent going to the new fuel fill can?
Tom, I think they're going to give a run in the Trucks first and see how that goes. They've done this before with a lot of ideas, try it down there first and then move it up if it works.
Other media think that Denny Hamlin's torn ACL may hurt his chances of doing well in the chase. Do you think that his injury will affect his racing?
I've talked to some NFL & college football trainers about it and they say that the effect, if any, will be long term. If he's wearing the right braces, and he will be, it should be okay. Football players have finished seasons with partial ACL tears, so I think he'll be okay. Byt the way, big props to my fellow Duke Boy, Marty Smith, for breaking that story when it happened.
Loved your post the other day about Jr. winning 15 races this year, but still losing the JJ in the chase. Hysterical! Super funny!
Thanks Teri. I love that my bosses let me have some fun with my blog. Here's the one she's talking about if you haven't seen it (I address Denny's ACL in there as well): http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4863024&name=mcgee_ryan
How much is Nascar secretly wishing that anyone but Johnson wins the title this year? His title reign, although impressive, has really bored the masses.
Yo Matt, I've been Staunton. Buddy of mine worked at the VA hospital there back in the day. But I digress... Yes, I think that secretly there are some suits down in Daytona who want someone else to win a Cup for a change. Especially the guys who sell more merchandise than he does (14, 88, 24). But they'd never admit that in public. And if you've seen the new HBO series, Jimmie Johnson 24/7, you probably realize that beating him is even harder than you realized.
The Bud Shootout needs to go back to polesitters only. It used to be a special thing for a limited number of drivers, now it seems like everyone and their brother is invited.
Totally agree Cale (awesome name by the way, Mr. Yarborough was a pretty damn fine qualifier himself). Winning a pole on Friday now has next to zero value to it, especially since the implementation of the Top 35 rule. Putting those cars in the Shootout would help. Though I will admit that it was a pretty dull race when we only had like nine guys in it.
Ryan, I've asked you this before, want to see if your answer has changed. Who retires first MM or Gordon? Gordon doesn't want to race past 40 but I don't see MM slowing down anytime soon.
Gordon. After spending some time with Mark recently talking about his workout regmine, I think he might race until he's 70. Even Marty Smith is astounded at what Mark does in the gym and Marty is half-cyborg when it comes to working out.
Hi Ryan, With NASCAR talking about going to fuel injection, do you think they will run smaller fuel cells to equal out for better fuel milage?
Good question Ben. You'd think they might do that to keep the number of pit stops where it is now. The last thing you'd want to do is marginalize the importance of those crews, which a lot of days are the most exciting part of the race.
Do you agree that Ron Hornaday and all those oldies on the truck side are overrated? Because everytime Ky. Busch comes along he shows them how to drive...And BUsch did not even make the chase. Although I have to say Busch is an exceptional talent.
Netherlands representing in the block party! I wouldn't say overrated, but I do think some numbers have been, let's say inflated over the last few years as the top-to-bottom quality of the fields have suffered due to economic reasons. That being said, I love watching the Trucks, always have. But Kyle Busch is a big leaguer and they are essentially Class AAA baseball, so he should whip them when he steps down just like you'd expect Albert Pujols to crush the pitching of the Toledo Mudhens.
Ryan, welcome back...has anyone given any specifics on this "loosening the rules"? Are we just talking about on the track? Is Smoke going to deck somebody and not get fined? What happens teammates who are a lap down just start wrecking people? I'm a little confused.
The way it was explained to us at NASCAR's "State of the Union" stop on the media tour is that rules are going to become more relaxed all the way around. They don't want Tony knocking people out, but they probably won't say much if he threatens to knock them out. And if some idiot starts wrecking people on purpose all the time he's going to get in trouble. I think they learned a lot from all the excitement surrounding the Hamlin-Keselowski fued last fall. There was as much chatter about that during November as there was about The Chase. Me? I like it.
Why are you so certain Kahne is out of RPM? He is now in a Ford and has the backing of Roush? Could you see the organizations doing a swap of Kahne and Ragan? It sounds like Biffle and Edwards love the idea of Kahne being in their mix.
That's a good call, Chris. And David Ragan admitted just last week that he feels like he's on the chopping block if he doesn't perform. But Kahne's frustration predates all of this stuff now. He's been out of sorts since Evernham was shown the door. But as I said earlier, on the media tour he sounded much more upbeat about the team than he has in the past.
Chandra Johnson is due in July. Do you think that Jimmie Johnson's pending fatherhood will have any effect on his racing?
No doubt. And any driver who has had a kid will tell you the same. For me, it's more about sleep deprivation more than anything else. My daughter didn't sleep for 18 months. I know Gordon's daughter had a hard time sleeping for a while and he is the first to admit that it had a big effect on his driving. The good news for JJ is that the baby comes in July and by the time the Chase arrives in late September he will have had some time to sort through all of that.
What does the top 5 look like entering the chase this year Ryan?
We are unveiling our Chase picks day by day on ESPN.com, starting today and running through the end of next week. I won't tell you what order my top five are in, but I will tell you that the teams are, in numerical order: 5, 11, 24, 48, 99
Welcome back, Ryan,Any word on whether this Casey Mears "ride" is going to be a start and park? Man, poor guy's career just fell apart after his win in Charlotte.
The 90 car, Keyed Up Motorsports, is not planning on being a start and park. Doug Richert is the crew chief and he says that he's working on cars "to run whole races". They have no sponsorship and are planning on running the first five races and then see where they are in relation to the top 35 in owner points...which sounds like a S&P to me, but we'll see. And yes, Casey's best days in Cup are probably behind him.
speaking of merchandise, 'ya think Action, Revell and the likes are worried about getting stuck with a lot of diecast with the"wing" on the back or do the diehard fans buy 'em up any way
Unfortunately Tom, fans haven't been buying a lot of them at all, wing or not. I don't know much about making diecasts, but I'm thinking the spoiler has to be easier to make than the wing!
Ryan, I got a feeking Braun and/or Stenhouse/Darnell will be at RPM in 2011, making it for sure a 'Roush" team.
Whatever became of Kyle Petty possibly driving Grand Am cars? Are his driving days officially ka-put?
He says a good deal never really came together. I never felt like his heart was really in it anyway. Yes, sad to say, I think Kyle's driving days are done.
Ryan,I like Dodge having one organization all resources on one team plus the way Kurt ran last year he should be awesome .Some say its a disadvantage but, the dodge teams really never shared info any way plus Penske developed the R6.Your thoughts
I'm with you. There was never any real cooperation between the Dodge teams, even when things were going well in the early part of this decade. In fact, there was a lot of in-fighting between the Dodge owners because some would share, some wouldn't, and others grew jealous of what they felt was an uneven relationship between Dodge and some teams over others. Whatever Penske is doing right now they need to keep on keeping on. And I LOVE their future with Kurt, Keselowski, and Justin Algaier. Sam Hornish...ehhh.
Over/Under 2.5 top 10 finishes for Danica in Nationwide this year?
Over. I think she'll get three.
Are there any races on the schedule that you feel could be shortened lap wise?
Dude, I am a HUGE supporter of shortening races. I totally made a lot of people mad last year when I wrote a column about this...in fact I usually write it every year. Every 500-mile/lap race should be shortened to 400 at least. The only race that should remain 500 or more are the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, and the Southern 500 at Darlington. Everything else should be shortened. If they want to keep the magic "500" in their race title do what Phoenix does and make it 500 kilometers...though I'm not sure what Phoenix is thinking by adding 100K to their April race.
I feel like the couple yelling at John Candy and Steve Martin in "Trains, Planes, and Automobiles". YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!
Speaking of going the wrong way...our time is up! Join me back here next Monday, same bat time, same bat channel. And be sure to check out tonight's season premiere of NASCAR Now on ESPN2. My fellow Duke Boy, Marty Smith, and I will break down Hendrick Motorsports for 2010. As always, tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of Stryper.