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February 7, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ryan McGee

Ryan McGee
  (2:02 PM)

What's up my Super Bowl confetti-covered brothers and sisters and welcome back to the worldwide Interweb's biggest and baddest (pretty sure only) one-hour motorsports block party. My family is sick, so I have moved block party HQ from my office to the local public library, so I'll have to keep it down. Don't want to anger the librarians...or wake this old guy over in the corner that smells like Ben Gay and Marlboro Reds.

Ryan McGee
  (2:02 PM)

To the queries!

Sean (Duluth, GA)

Do you think Kasey Kahne will run the full season in the #4 Toyota Red Bull or will he and Kenny run the final 5-6 races in the #5 to get a jump start on 2012?

Ryan McGee
  (2:04 PM)

I think he'll run the whole schedule, for two reasons. One, no way Mark Martin gets out of that ride early, especially if he makes the Chase, which I think he will. Two (and I have said this before) I think Kahne is going to have a solid year with Red Bull. So much so that I think he's going to want to stay. He won't, but he's going to be torn when the time comes.

Marc (Kissimmee, FL)

Who do you think Rowdy will payback first? Harvick for Homestead or Reuitman for Kansas?

Ryan McGee
  (2:04 PM)

Harvick. Kyle still gets visibly irritated if anyone brings that up.

Frank (Brewer, Me)

Mr. McGee - Can you believe that the NFL had a champion that did not have the best record? I have been an NFL fan since 1935 and it has not been the same since Branco Nagorski and the team with the best record won the champion... Oh wait a minute, this is a NASCAR chat, nevermind. We would never have postings like that on this site

Ryan McGee
  (2:07 PM)

Hahahaha! I'm with you. The postseason is the postseason and now that NASCAR has an actual "playoffs" the guy who wins the most races isn't always going to the championship. The guy with the most wins rarely won in the old system either. And you're right, no one is complaining about that in the NFL today are they?

Janice (Phoenix)

What did you think of the booing Harvick got during his pre-game interview yesterday?

Ryan McGee
  (2:08 PM)

I think it means he's winning again. You don't get booed unless you're winning.

Karen (CA)

Ryan, Do you feel Politics (Gov't) has any place in any professional sport? It was brought up last wk in Blount's chat because Dem conv will be in NC in 2012. I say "NOT". Sports and religion should be "politics free zone". I have criticized Nascar analysts many times in the past 10 yrs. for this.

Ryan McGee
  (2:13 PM)

Nope. I don't discuss politics with anyone at anytime, let alone on the various platforms that ESPN gives me. I remember when Rusty Wallace endorsed Bob Dole in Victory Lane at Bristol and it went over like a wet loaf of bread, even with his Republican fans. I was in D.C. last summer when Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa participated in the Glenn Beck rally and that too didn't go over so well, with Cardinals fans on the left and the right. That being said, as a North Carolinian I am excited for Charlotte for landing the convention just because I know it will mean big exposure and also because it will help my friends at the NASCAR Hall of Fame when it comes to the box office and facilities usage.

Ryan McGee
  (2:13 PM)

If people want to use their stage to talk politics they can. It's part of what makes America what it is. But it's just not for me.

Lois (Denton, TX)

Since Dale is the sports most popular driver why do people say NASCAR needs him to win bring back fans and viewers? Wouldn't it help NASCAR more if say Edwards or Rowdy won the championship?

Ryan McGee
  (2:16 PM)

I have always pointed to Dale Junior as the end all/be all proof that NASCAR doesn't fix races. If they did then he would've won plenty over the last two years during this attendance and ratings dip. And people say that his winning would help because it would bring more eyes to the TV. It's the Tiger Woods factor. When Tiger is relevant, PGA ratings go up. Way up. When he isn't, or when he doesn't play, the bottom falls out. It's no coincidence that when Junior started struggling so did the TV ratings.

Ned (Richmond)

will the fire at the JGR engine shop hurt Rowdy's chance of winning the shootout and 500?

Ryan McGee
  (2:18 PM)

No, they're okay. One Daytona engine was damaged, but everything else was already ready to go. If there's any effect from the fire it'll be long term, but even that should be fairly minimal. They are really fortunate that situation was contained as quickly as it was. It really scared some folks when it first happened.

Dan (MI)

If you could give a Cup ride to any driver in any series who would it be and why?

Ryan McGee
  (2:19 PM)

Hmmm...how about Lewis Hamilton from F1. I'm convinced that guy could qualify a 10-speed bike for any race in the world.

Chris (NJ)

which anthem rendition was worse Christina Aguilera last nite or that rock band last season at one of the races?

Ryan McGee
  (2:22 PM)

Saving Able! That was the second worst ever, behind only Carl Lewis. Honestly, Christina's wouldn't have made the top five of bad NASCAR anthems from last year alone. I do give her some credit for not lip synching like everyone else usually does, but how can you forget the ramparts?!

Ryan McGee
  (2:22 PM)

I used to work in minor league baseball and we always sent out our anthem singers with a little laminated card that had the words on it. Even the most experienced singers go out there and blank.

Karen (Santa Barbara, CA)

Going to really miss Ray Evernham as ESPN analyst. He's smart, not smug! Especially on Monday race recap. Have you heard who will replace him -- please NOT another show for Larry Mac. Surely there are other non-employed knowledgeable Nascar mechanics.

Ryan McGee
  (2:24 PM)

I will miss Ray too. Over the last two years I think we did about a half-dozen NASCAR Now roundtables together and I learned more from him during the post-show dinner than I did in some entire years at the track!

Ryan McGee
  (2:25 PM)

We already have Andy Petree and Tim Brewer in the fold, so we're covered on crew chiefs. But I can tell you that on the NASCAR Now roundtables we are adding a handful of new guys, including Ken Schrader and Johnny Benson. When Johnny and I do the show we'll need to wear nametags so people can tell us apart.

Ryan McGee
  (2:26 PM)

And take it easy on my man Larry Mac! But I do agree, he's plenty busy already.

Kyle (Burlington, VT)

Hey Ryan, great to have the monday afternoon block party back to ease the "superbowl hangover". Seems like there are more teams capable of winning than ever before this season, give me two drivers that didn't make the chase last year but will this year, and who do they replace?

Ryan McGee
  (2:27 PM)

Thanks Kyle. Great to be back. I think that Jamie McMurray and Mark Martin probably get in this year after missing last year. That will probably bump Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman.

Doug (Wis)

Racing was so much better/popular when fans could associate with the different makes/styles of the cars years ago, and the drivers that drove their favorite make.

Ryan McGee
  (2:30 PM)

We're returning back to that Doug. Talking to the folks at the NASCAR Research and Development Center this next generation CoT really won't resemble a CoT at all. They will actually look like the cars they are supposed to look like...imagine that! I never hated the idea of the CoT like others did, but I did believe that stole some of the great brand identity that we all grew up with. The first step toward going back to that are these new Nationwide Series cars. The Cup cars will follow that model very soon. Can't happen soon enough.

JT (Monroe, LA)

Jayski reports that the NASCAR HOF is actively persuing the Democratic convention hoping to have Democratic events at the HOF.

Ryan McGee
  (2:33 PM)

That's a fact. And so is everyone else with any space to rent here in Charlotte. Not a political thing, a money thing. There was a huge story in The Charlotte Observer over the weekend with tips on how to capitalize on the DNC, and that's just for regular citizens. From what I understand most of the downtown hotels room are already booked. I think this could be a very big deal for the NASCAR Hall of Fame at a time when, quite frankly, they need it. When the Hall was built it included thousands of square feet of meeting and convetion space. Why? For stuff like DNC week.

Rick (Pittsburgh)

With Ganassi taking 1-2 at the Rolex, and the relative success of last years NASCAR campaign, do you see JPM and McMurray making strong pushes for the Chase and possibly being a real factor this year?

Ryan McGee
  (2:34 PM)

Yes, both. I think when all the preseason polls come out most of my colleagues will have McMurray in the Chase. A lot (not me) will also have JPM. If he hadn't gotten off to that brutal start last year he would've had a real shot last fall.

Cory (Geneva, IL)

What would be different about NASCAR today if Jr had won the past 5 titles? Would it be mainstream? Would the chase and points still ahve been tweaked? Would we have the COT?

Ryan McGee
  (2:35 PM)

TV ratings would be higher. All the other changes I think still would've happened. The CoT was more a result of post-Earnhardt Sr. safety measures than anything else.

Steve (pa)

That comment on the HOF and the DNC is what made karen angry about politics in sports. Not really a political comment, more of an observation.

Ryan McGee
  (2:38 PM)

Yep. Not meant as a political comment, sorry if it came off that way. The convention business is really starting to take off here in Charlotte. Over the last few years we've had the NRA and even the world dart throwing championships. We also host the CIAA basketball tournaments every March. The Hall stands to benefit from them all, no matter who their members vote for in November.

Ken (VA)

Is it true that David Ragan signed with Roush through 2014?

Ryan McGee
  (2:38 PM)

Yes.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

What is Lance McGrew going to do after this season? Francis will be coming over with Kahne. (Good luck with that Martin in the chase thing too, it made me laugh)

Ryan McGee
  (2:40 PM)

That's a great question. Perhaps one of the four current guys moves into management. I don't think Knaus wants to, so it'd have to be one of the other three. As for the Chase prediction, here's what Mark Martin told me two weeks ago when I asked him what his biggest goal for 2011 is...and I am copying and pasting this in from interview transcript:

Ryan McGee
  (2:42 PM)

"My top goal this year is to prove to the world how great of a crew chief Lance McGrew really is so they will get off his butt. He is a good crew chief and has put up with a lot of abuse over the last two years. Before I worked with Alan Gustafson everyone said the only reason he'd won races was because of Kyle Busch. Well, we proved them wrong on that because he won with me too, an old man. I look forward to helping people realize how sharp Lance really is."

Sonny (Alabama)

Why don't Martin, Labontes, Elliott, Burton, Nemechek retire with dignity like DJ, Rudd, W. Burton, Spencer, Schrader, Marlin and the rest of that generation have done?

Ryan McGee
  (2:44 PM)

Well, Martin and Burton are still contending for wins so I don't blame them. Bobby Labonte has driven sleds for the last five years, so I don't blame him. Elliott and Terry Labonte are making bags of cash for being part-time racers, so while I don't like it, I can't disagree with it.

Ryan McGee
  (2:47 PM)

But Rudd retired and then came back, Ward Burton and Sterling Marlin were pushed out of the garage, Schrader still races whenever someone lets him (he ran a race just last year) and Spencer is, well, Spencer. The fact is that no one retires gracefully anymore. Jarrett came closest.

Eric (Virginia)

Clint Bowyer: Championship contender? Or forever an also-ran?

Ryan McGee
  (2:47 PM)

Contender.

Tim (El Cajon, CA)

Ryan, think there will be more burnouts/donuts on the Strip this year or will they put the clamps on that? That was great!

Ryan McGee
  (2:47 PM)

The plan is to still do it. Some folks complained, but they were drowned out by the cheers.

Rick (Philly)

Any news on Darby's replacement? That story seemed to have died

Ryan McGee
  (2:49 PM)

No, we all asked Darby and Helton about it during their press Q&A at the Daytona test a few weeks back. The general explanation is that a good replacement hasn't been found. That doesn't surprise me. No way I would want that job.

Clay (Charlotte)

Hey McGee, where are you at with our Wii tournament on the new uber-screen?

Ryan McGee
  (2:49 PM)

Working on it...

Johnny (NYC, NY)

You think the changes w/ the 24 will have an impact...or is it really just window dressing?

Ryan McGee
  (2:50 PM)

It's definitely not window dressing. As Gordon is quick to explain, it's not a crew chief change or a crew change or a car change...it's a driver change. I think he'll get a boost at the beginning from the emotion alone, just as he did when Letarte first took over. Long term, we'll see.

Gus (NY, NY)

Odds Denny Hamlin equals or betters his win total from last year?

Ryan McGee
  (2:51 PM)

Less. Eight is a lot, twice as many as he'd ever won in a season before.

Scott (Atlanta)

Is Kyle Petty associated with RPM after the reorganization and the King taking on operational control, or is there still bad blood between father and son?

Ryan McGee
  (2:52 PM)

He is not involved at all. The ice seems to have thawed some, but certainly not completely.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

What do you expect Martin to say? He is just being a company man. Compare Alan Gustafson and Lance McGrews radio chatter and its pretty obvious Lance isn't in the same league.

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

Let it go, Junior Nation. You got a new crew chief.

Ryan (Ventura CA)

SHR keep newman? or go after a bigger name like Edwards

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

I think they keep him. If they add a new driver it would be in a third car. But Newman might want to avoid his annual slow start...just in case.

Teri (Burbank)

I don't think you look anything like Johnny Benson! You are both distinguised in your own way! :-)

Ryan McGee
  (2:54 PM)

Thank you Terri. But I can't tell you how many times people have shouted "Hey Johnny!" to me at the track, especially when JB was with Roush.

Oscar (Ft. Pierce, Fl)

Since Eddie Gossage publicly slammed the start & parkers, can Texas refuse to pay them any prize money for start

Ryan McGee
  (2:56 PM)

Nope. Per their contract, they have to pay money to all cars that finish. But that would be in line with an interesting proposal that Dale Jarrett laid out for me last month - to go back to 36-car fields, then take that money and put it all in the winner's share of the purse.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

Got nothing to do with Junior, I feel bad for Martin, he got the shaft....compare the Alan and Lance, its obvious who is "sharp"

Ryan McGee
  (2:57 PM)

Well, we'll see. I was just a little blown away at how passionate Mark's statement was during the interview.

big ben (nc)

do you think the nascar execs are secretly hoping for an NFL lockout that will last at least until Homestead in November? is it something they at least have their eyes on so they can capitalize on "the chase" being the only sports on tv in the fall?

Ryan McGee
  (2:58 PM)

Yes. They would never admit that publicly, but yes. And they would be joined in a big round of kumbaya with execs from the NBA, MLB, and NHL.

Chad (GA)

do you think the changes of the start time for the races this season will help the ratings.

Ryan McGee
  (3:00 PM)

I think the changes to the fall start times is something that needed to be done a while ago. I had always said to start the race an hour after the early NFL games kick off. Going straight up head-to-head was never going to work. Now you're catching folks when most of those games are either already decided or hitting halftime.

Chris (Crestview, FL)

If Junior wins a couple races this year will everyone get off his back? Or will nothing ever be good enough for the haters?

Ryan McGee
  (3:00 PM)

They will get off his back. But then they will say that NASCAR fixed the races. Sigh.

TG (PA)

Sounds like Mark Martin is blaming Junior for Lance's past 2 years. Does he have a problem with Junior now?

Ryan McGee
  (3:01 PM)

Nope. He later went on to say he had nothing but great things to say about Junior. He just didn't like seeing McGrew get abused 24/7. And he was.

Jeff (Charleston)

GENTLEMEN....and Tony Stewart....START YOUR ENGINES!!!!!

Ryan McGee
  (3:04 PM)

Sounds good to me! And that's the perfect place to stop for the week. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and sorry I could't get to all of your questions. Hit me up on Twitter (@ryanmcgeeespn) or email (mcgeespn@yahoo.com). I'll see you back here next Monday, 2 PM ET, as always. Until next time, tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of Mini Kiss.