What's up my Pennsylvania mountain mist-covered brothers and sisters and welcome to the Internet's biggest and baddest Monday afternoon motorsports block party. I'm back from Pocono and ready to talk racing. To the queries!
2 part question ryan, first when will the sponsor announcement finally happen for my man harvick? and do you think he can win the cup this year?
1. It's coming in the next three weeks. I'm betting we'll get it at Atlanta. 2. Absolutely. He sent a message yesterday after hitting the wall on lap one and then fighting back to finish in the top five. He can win at Watkins Glen, Atlanta, Bristol, and Richmond, so there's a pretty good chance he'll get some more bonus points between now and when the Chase starts.
BTW...I messed something up here and accidentally deleted 2 questions. First was about Kentucky getting a date. Yes, that's happening. But New Hampshire won't be the only Bruton Smith track losing a race. Atlanta's going to lose a race to Vegas. And it looks like Kansas will get one of the Fontana races.
The other one I messed up gave me props on my book "The Road To Omaha"...so I feel like a bum for accidentally deleting it! Sorry!
Hey Ryan. With Mark Martin running in the top 10 all day yesterday, do you think he & Gustafson have finally figured out the spoiler. Do you think Mark will make the chase,
I think they have figured it out. And I think it was a great service to his team when Mark kind of went off at Indy telling everyone to stop asking about next year and let him focus on this season. Some people have been giving him flak for sounding off, but I thought it was the right thing to do.
As for the Chase, I really don't know. I thought he was a shoo-in, but that was when the Roush Fenway cars were struggling. Now Biffle has opened up a pretty nice gap between himself and Bowyer in 12th, so it's shaping up to be a two, maybe three-car race for that final spot.
Hey, Ryan! Is it safe to say that RFR is finally coming back to life? Biff's huge win yesterday plus Carl with 4 straight top-7 finishes has got to be making Jack real happy.
No doubt Emily. You could kind of see it coming, though I thought they'd hit on it earlier than they did. I got to sit down with all the Ford Racing brass at Charlotte in late May and they had a very deliberate plan for the new FR9 engine. That timetable has happened exactly the way that they described it me that day. I still don't have a lot of confidence in Kenseth's team but Edwards has been running well for over a month and The Biff could've easily won two in a row. Amazing how many ills a little horsepower can cure.
This coming from a Blue Duce fan. Is it just me or does it seem that when Jimmie Johnson gets in some traffic he forgets how to drive? Bump drafting at Pocono?!
Yeah, that was pretty bad. We've seen more mental errors from Jimmie in the last month than we've seen from him during entire seasons. People bang on me when I bring up sleep deprivation with the new baby at home, but when my daughter was born I could hardly make it through a conference call at the office, let alone driving 200 mph down the Long Pond Straight.
Hey Ryan, glad to see my favorite driver back in victory lane for the first time since Dover. Do we have a new feud with Kurt and Jimmie?
Me too Matthew. As for the 2 vs. 48 this is nothing new!
I was busy and missed the end of the race. Did they invert the top 20 after that rain delay or something?
Hahaha! Yeah, they did it like a Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway and inverted the field for the A Main! No, the field basically inverted itself with calls on pit road. Hornish took no tires and took the lead, others (Biffle) took 2, and others (Gordon, Montoya) took 4. And the confusion was compounded by all of the "When/if the rain finally gets here" strategies that a lot of mid-pack teams were rolling the dice on.
What will the Race distance for the Kentucky Speedway Sprint Cup race in 2011?
Probably 400 miles. But I would love to see it be 300. I would love to see a lot of races be 300.
big wrecks have become a regular thing at pocono. a few years ago with dale jr and steve parke then the big one in june with kasey kahne and then yesterday with elliot sadler. is there any way to stop this from happaning? restricter plates? stop racing at pocono all together? to me its a boring track exept for the last 20 or so laps so nascar wouldnt lose much and it open up space on schedule for lets say IOWA SPEEDWAY. just sayin
Jesse, to the point I was just making about 300-milers, I think these races would be well-served to shorten up the distance between the two best parts of the race - Stanza 1 between the green and the first pit stops and the Final Stanza of last pit stops to the checkers. Part of the reason that Iowa races are so good - Trucks, Nationwide, even Indy Car - is because they are shorter and you absolutely have to watch every lap or you'll miss something. Even the Cup drivers admit that they don't pay a whole lot of attention to the middle parts of these 500 milers.
At the halfway point of Sunday's race Tony Stewart's spotter came over the radio and said, "250 miles to go". Smoke said, "Oh my god!" His spotter laughed and said, "I knew you would say that."
Do you think Jimmie Johnson can finally conquer Watkins Glen???
Yes he can. He has 3 top fives and 4 top tens in 8 starts. And quite honestly, he needs to. His team looked totally stressed in the garage on Sunday morning. Chad Knaus had originally agreed to come onto NASCAR Now with me, but politely declined when the time came because he was clearly stressing out. They are having a hard time closing deals these days. As weird as it sounds he needs to win a race before the Chase to prove to himself he's back on track.
Did you have the same Dale Sr. flashback I had when Sadler hit the wall? If nothing else, it was a testimony to the safety devices today verses just a few years past.
I did. And you're right. If that crash happens in 2001 Sadler's probably dead or in the hospital this morning. Even still, we have no business running America's top motorsports series at a facaility where the backstretch walls are SAFER barriers and the pit wall is literally falling apart. I love Pocono, love the people that run it, but they have to sink money into facilities. They did it in the garage not too long ago. But th bigger concern is the track itself.
Yes or No question. If Gordon is leading during the red flag do they stop the race?
So when will we hear that daddys money (er Paul Menard) is going to drive for RCR next year?
I think we'll know officially by Wednesday. I will say this, though, bringing in Menard isn't quite the cash grab that it would have been two years ago when he first talked to RCR about coming over. He's posted more top tens this season than he had in his entire career before this year.
Seeing Sadler win on Saturday was awesome... the wreck Sunday not so much. Does a win in the truck series help him at all as he looks for a new ride for next year?
No doubt. And his emotional release made it pretty obvious that he was in a bad place emotionally about his driving ability. A lot of Dale Junior fans have long told me that Earnhardt should run more Truck & Nationwide races to help his morale. I didn't really believe that. But after watching his celebration at Daytona and Sadler's on Saturday I'm changing my mind.
How soon before the first article is written about all of the empty seats and mediocre racing at Kentucky's Sprint Cup race? Are fans really interested in adding another cookie cutter track? Why was KY added before IA?
Kentucky's being added before Iowa because of who owns it, Bruton Smith. He's the man moving the race, not NASCAR. I think it'll do great the first few years, but I do want to see what it's like there five years down the road. I think about the Nashville Superspeedway. You couldn't get within ten miles of that place on race day when it first opened and now it has some of the worst crowds on the Nationwide schedule.
As for Iowa, I hope they get a Cup race one day. But for now my advice to them is to keep selling it out and enjoy what they have.
Doesn't the wreck yesterday prove that outdated old tracks like Martinsville, Pocono and Atlanta have no business being on the schedule?
No way in a million years would I lump Martinsville and Atlanta's facilities in with Pocono's. Been to all three of them dozens of times and the only one with a crumbling 1970's infrastructure is Pocono. Love the garage, love the new solar farm, love the people. But standing out on pit road yesterday morning was a little shocking.
Why does NASCAR keep moving away from its southren roots? I understand that you need to grow the sport but I just get the feeling that NASCAR wants to go to one weekend per year with what I call "roots" tracks.
Well, Len, they're going to go where the tickets are sold. I love Atlanta, but they don't sell enought tickets, especially to the spring race. The March race had literally the best weather I've ever seen at an early spring race and no one showed up. I was born in Rockingham. They didn't sell enough tickets so they lost their races. I tell fans all the time, a ticket is a vote.
But I don't think NASCAR's abandoning its Southern "roots" tracks. Talladega, Daytona, Martinsville, Bristol, Richmond, and Charlotte all still have two dates each. Darlington is still on the schedule. And of the tracks that are about to lose dates - Fontana, New Hampshire, and Atlanta - only one is in the south. And one of those dates is going to Kentucky!
Who gets the 4th RCR ride. Any Chance Martin comes over from Hendrick. Both Chevys.
Nope. Gonna be Paul Menard. I still say Mark's staying put. So does he.
People showed up at Wilkesboro....just sayin'...
Yeah, but that was a long time ago. And as much as I loved (still love) the place, they let the facilities go to total crap during a time when all of these sparkling new tracks were going up around the country. Even Junior Johnson agrees with me on that.
So did I understand you correctly that Fontana is losing a date? Does this mean that Nascar finally IS listening to fans by not taking a date away from Martinsville? How long do you think this makes 2 dates there safe? Everyone in the area panics every time they talk about taking a date away...the track is pretty much all that area has left...
Fontana will lose a race before Martinsville does. That being said, the crowds do need to pick up there...just in case.
Ryan, the reason Nashville has gotten so bad is their prices. $55 for a nationwide race can't compare to camping in the Talladega infield for a 4 nights at $110.
Totally agree. And other tracks killed themselves by sticking to these stupid "you have to buy a season ticket" sales plans.
How many seats at Pocono? How many were empty yesterday?
About 77,000. I walked the grandstands around 1:30 PM while they were drying the track and the main grandstand was pretty much full. I was totally impressed, especially with the dicey weather situation.
Um, Gordon was leading during the stoppage for the wrecks when the rain started rolling in... people need to stop acting like Nascar makes calls to let drivers like Gordon or Johnson to win. If they did make call to favor Gordon would he be in his longest winless streak of his career? (And this isn't directed towards you but to someone else's question earlier...)
So are the teams more wary of the cost of fuel injection, or the fact that if they use an unhackable controller they wont be able to use the easily hidden ignition based traction control that is available now?
Hahaha! Probably more B than A.
Ryan are you positive that Atlanta is going to lose that race to Las Vegas? The quality of racing on the abrasive, and yes, Southern track is some of the best in the sport. I'm going to miss attending that March race if the reports are true.
Pretty sure. And I love the March race too, Daniel. But you have to admit the crowds for that event have been bad, particularly this year. The good news is that the Labor Day crowds have been excellent, so at least you'll have that.
please tell me you have the inside scoop on marcos. is he staying here in the states or going home? i hope he stays because he's my favorite driver!
I think he's going to RPM. Ford had a huge hand in getting him to the USA and I think they're working to get him back in a Ford. I do think he'll end up back in Australia one day, or at least in a series with a thinner schedule that will allow him to commute from Australia. His family is there for a lot of the year and I know that wears on him.
Is it me or do we always have rain issues at Pocono? I think that race lasted 8 hours. Before we all yell at the 48, I'm pretty sure I saw others bump drafting (88 comes to mind) as well. Do the drivers or NASCAR decide when and where bump drafting is "OK"?
We do always seem to have some rain at some point. It was so frustrating becayse the weather Thursday-Saturday couldn't have been more perfect. But hey, at least the water was falling from the sky! I've been there when the sun was out but ground water was coming out from under the track!
As for bump drafting, yes you did see planty of other guys doing it, including the 88. But the 48 was the only car that jacked someone up so hard that it caused a giant violent crash. The drivers ultimately do police themselves on when/where to do it, but NASCAR is quick to remind that doing it entering/exiting corners is a bad idea.
So Hornish seems like he has the hang of Pocono (4 top 11 finishes in a row) How long until he figures out other tracks?
Would Ganassi been able to keep Jr. at DEI?
Nope. Those scars with Teresa ran too deep and too long for anyone this side of Dr. Phil to keep them together.
do you think ricky rudd would be good in rally cars
Yes! I need to lobby my X Games people and get him in a Super Rally car at the L.A. Coliseum!
I agree with you on tracks losing races because they can't sell tickets, which is why Fontana should have lost a race 3 years ago. But what about Loudon? They sell out every year, have the only track in New England and still lose a race? That's ridiculous.
I totally agree. But the way the rules work is that if a track owner wants to move a Cup date to another track that he/she owns then they can do it. Don't forget, that's how New Hampshire got its second Cup date. Bob Bahre bought half of North Wilkesboro, which also sold out its races, and moved one its two dates to Loudon.
What is going to happen to the final race for next year?
I won't be Daytona, as was reported by some. There has been some talk about Vegas, but I think Homestead is a good place for the finale. I didn't like the move when they first did it, but it's grown on me.
Doesn't Burton being 5th in pts. with Zero wins prove that Nascar needs to change the points system?
Why pick on Burton? Gordon's second in points and he hasn't won either! I have said for years (and I wrote in ESPN The Magazine one issue ago) that the points gap between the race winner and the runner-up should be much larger, like 50 points. But don't worry. It'll all shake out in favor of the race winners when the Chase starts.
Alright folks, the bell just went off and I have to go. I'll see you on NASCAR Now this Wednesday night on ESPN2. If I missed your questions you can shoot them to me on Twitter (@RyanMcGeeESPN) or via email (email@example.com). Until next time, tip your waiters and waitresses and enjoy the music of Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers.