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March 22, 1:30 PM ET
Chat with Ryan McGee

Ryan McGee
  (1:32 PM)

Hey hey my New England rain covered brothers and sisters. Coming to you live from ESPN HQ in Bristol, CT, aka the Death Star, for an earlier, shorter version of the Internet's only weekly motorsports block party.

Ryan McGee
  (1:32 PM)

I'm here with Allen Bestwick, Randy Lajoie, and Mike Wallace getting ready for tonight's NASCAR Now at 5 PM ET on ESPN2. But now...to the queries!

Kevin (Florida)

They say after five races you start to gain a picture of who the chase contenders are. A lot of the talk around the 88 team at the beginning of the year was getting of to a good start for those first 5 races. How do you think the team will be feeling after 10 races and do you see them moving even higher up? (They are the second Hendrick team in the points right now)

Ryan McGee
  (1:35 PM)

I think that 88 fans should be cutting backflips right now. A year ago he was barely hanging onto the top 25...and now he's 8th. Are you kidding me? And this stuff about Junior and Lance McGrew not getting along is a bunch of bunk. I chatted with those two before practice on Friday and they had me laughing so hard I was literally crying. And he's not as bad at Martinsville as people think...

JB (Little Rock)

Would you say Kyle's 9th place finish after wrecking out and moving to 10th in points was the sign that Kyle has really matured and is ready to fight for the Sprint Cup?

Ryan McGee
  (1:36 PM)

No doubt, JB. I have been racking my brain trying to think of a Cup race when he took a terrible day and car and turned them into a top ten finish. In the past, if he was out of contention for the win he just threw his hands up and faded away. He seemed like he was going to do it again on Sunday but to his team's credit - and his - they got him turned around. HUGE sign of maturity.

Josh (DC)

Were all those empty seats at Bristol because of the weather or because people are sick of #48 winning all the races?

Ryan McGee
  (1:39 PM)

Josh we just had our show prep lunch here at ESPN and had a long talk about that very topic. The weather to me was a non-factor. Friday and Saturday were literally the prettiest days I've ever seen at Bristol and no came then either. I think it's the economy (fans I talked to had to choose between the March race or the August night race and chose the night race) plus the decline in classic Bristol-style racing over the last few years. Which is why I'm expecting Bruton Smith to blow it up and start over. Seriously.

Ed (Fort Worth)

Ryan, is it just me, or does Junior have a talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory? Yeah he's higher in the points standings this year, but it always seems to be something with the 88...speeding was just the latest goof. He can't help mechanical stuff, but that can be avoided. At least McGrew jumped his butt on the radio.

Ryan McGee
  (1:40 PM)

Hi Ed...to me, if 88 fans are picking that race apart yesterday they're just looking for faults to complain about (no offense, buddy). What they should be focused on is that he was able to overcome that mistake. Last year he would have mentally checked out. I thought it was a very encouraging day for Junior Nation.

Mike (Nijmegen, Netherlands)

I'm a big Montoya fan! He's the best driver ever! Altough it seems like he always runs into big trouble. It was the case in F1 and since he joint NASCAR it's the same story. It's really "'bad luck" but... How will it progress?

Ryan McGee
  (1:43 PM)

See? This is why I love the Internet's Monday Afternoon Motorsports Block Party! The Netherlands representing! As for JPM, I hear you. But I think so much of what happened to him in F1 and even CART was self-imposed because of his over-aggressiveness. What we've seen so far is JPM with a great car and getting caught up in other people's stuff. I really thought he had a car that could've won yesterday. But no one could have avoided that late pileup.

Harold (PA)

Do you think the head games #48 plays demoralize the other Henrick drivers as well as the other teams?

Ryan McGee
  (1:44 PM)

Yes. No doubt. "I have the same stuff and resources that he has...so how can he be kicking my butt every week?"

Ed (Fort Worth)

Haha no offense taken Ryan. Don't get me wrong, happy for a top 10, especially with Martinsville and Texas on the horizon. You think yesterday would give Bruton pause about blowing things up at Bristol? Great racing and a melee wreck. Can't ask for much more...unless you hoped for JJ not to win.

Ryan McGee
  (1:46 PM)

You know you're my boy, Ed. And no, I don't think that Burton is influenced by anything but the bottom line. And when his biggest cash cow is suddenly losing money I think he'll blow 'er up. The complaints about the new layout since the reconfiguration seem pretty loud when they are echoing off empty seats.

Philip (Greensboro)

Hey Ryan, we all know about the great start RCR had in the first three races ... but where'd the "mo" go at Atlanta and Bristol? Did we jump the gun on the resurgence or do you think it was a couple of rough weeks? (And for kicks and giggles, any concern in the engine room at ECR? Blown motors for the 42 and the 33 this year already ... a rarity for those guys.)

Ryan McGee
  (1:48 PM)

Yo Philip. I was in G-Town last weekend for the ACC Tourney (speaking of empty seats). I don't think we jumped the gun. The 29 is still in the points lead, the 33 has three top tens, and I really think the 31 is poised for a surge with some his favorite places - Phoenix, Richmond, Darlington, Charlotte - coming. And two blown engines isn't bad if you consider the sheer number of motors that ECR is hauling to the track every weekend. At Daytona alone they had nearly 100.

Frank (Kingston Pa)

Ryan, I lost my job last February but had tickets to both Bristol and Martinsville so I attended. This year I obviously could not renew. Do you think the promoters and NASCAR understimated the lag affect of people losing their jobs and future ticket sales?

Ryan McGee
  (1:49 PM)

Yes., but they totally understand. To their credit, most tracks have cut back on ticket prices. Sadly, the local hotels are still jobbing race fans at every turn.

Jeffrey H. (RVA)

Ryan! whats up with DH!? Is he just having straight bad luck or what? and will he get things going this weekend in martinsville?

Ryan McGee
  (1:50 PM)

Not time to panic yet for the 11 guys...but if he doesn't run well at Martinsville, it might be time for Toyota to look into getting DH a robotic knee to replace that torn left ACL.

JD (Boston)

How about another JPM question... is he a NASCAR convert (meaning he loves it enough to stay for the remainder of his career) or do you see him ever returning to open wheel ??

Ryan McGee
  (1:51 PM)

I think he's in for good. He is having so much more fun thatn he did in open wheel, especially F1, and is very open about that. Perhaps more importantly, his wife Connie and their kids love the NASCAR life even more than JPM does. If he goes anywhere after NASCAR it'll be to sports car racing and that'll just be to have fun.

Matt Huntley (Gainesville, FL)

I don't understand the gripes about JJ winning. I'm not a fan but it was a pretty good race. He drove like a banshee at the end which was cool (And his burnout up the ramp to victory lane was awesome). BTW: I've been to the only events this season so far Jimmie hasn't won in person (Bud Shootout, Daytona 500, and Atlanta).

Ryan McGee
  (1:54 PM)

Matt, at some point people have to look past their griping and appereciate that we are seeing history in the making. But I think he's just going through the same cycle that Gordon, Earnhardt, even Petty, all went through. People, mostly their rivals, get tired of having their brains beat in every week. As for your JJ winless streak, you might be able to make some money. A lot of people would pay you to come back to the track if you really are a Jimmie Jinx.

Chuck (Denver)

We lost alot of respect for Harvick for the things he said about Carl then he goes and dumps Joey. Why did Harvick go running his mouth about something that has nothing to do with him?

Ryan McGee
  (1:55 PM)

That deal with Carl goes waaaay back. It's hard to forget the moment when a man wrapped his hand around your throat in the garage.

Billy (Reno)

Do you think Kyle is regretting getting Addington fired??? Kurt and Steve are making Kyle and his not the CC always the driver comments look really dumb!

Ryan McGee
  (1:56 PM)

Kurt had a great line about it after the race: "I'm beginning to think the Busch brothers don't know how to drive without Steve Addington."

Jamerson (Georgia)

Only three questions in, and we've already got noise about Jimmie winning too much. Don't these people realize they're watching HISTORY IN THE MAKING?!? Jimmie Johnson is the driver our kids will be talking about the way we talk about Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

Ryan McGee
  (1:56 PM)

You sound like Rick Hendrick after Sunday's race.

KevinK (near Milwaukee)

If Johnson can win at Bristol, then Kenseth can win at Martinsville - valid thought, or pipe dream?

Ryan McGee
  (1:57 PM)

The way that the 17 is running now...a valid thought. I give Todd Parrott a lot of credit. He took a very good team and made it even better.

devin (johnson city tn) [via mobile]

What did you think of lance calling dale out on the radio yestetday? There's only one other crew chief that I have ever heard talk to dale that way, and that's pops

Ryan McGee
  (1:59 PM)

And how did he respond to Pops...by running well. I think that Lance and Dale have had conversations about how they should and shouldn't communicate. And those things don't happen overnight. Back to my first 88 comment at the start of the chat, after hanging out with those guys for a few minutes before Friday's first practice, they really seem to be clicking right now.

Saul (Sacramento)

What cost more: Sponsoring NASCAR Car or an IRL wheeler? Does IRL have attendance problems like NASCAR?

Ryan McGee
  (2:00 PM)

It's not even close. $15 mill for a decent Cup car. A third of that would get you primary paint on an top shelf IRL car. And yes, they have struggled for fans for a while now.

Scott (Balto)

How does it feel to be WRONG after your debate on NASCAR NOW last week and then seeing NOTHING happen between BK and uncle Carl on Sunday? Humbled? :-)

Ryan McGee
  (2:01 PM)

Yes...and your boy Marty is quick to remind me. That's what friends are for, right?

Steph Drossel (Computer Class)

Ryan, aren't your legs sore from running through my dreams all night long? :)

Ryan McGee
  (2:01 PM)

Um...

Ryan McGee
  (2:02 PM)

Okay, on that note, I gotta go. I'll be back at my normal time of 2 PM ET next Monday. And don't forget to check out NASCAR Now at 5 PM ET on ESPN2. Me, Mike Wallace, and Randy Lajoie are going to help Allen Bestwick break down Bristol! Until next time, tip your wait staff. And enjoy the music of the Swinging Richards.