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September 17, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ryan McGee

Ryan McGee
  (2:00 PM)

What's up my bratwurst juice-covered brothers and sisters and welcome to the post-Chicagoland edition of the one-hour Monday Motorsports Block Party. I defeated Tron in light cycle race on the 3rd level of The Grid, so this week's chat seems to working just fine after last week's issues. So, without further nerd yammering from me, let's get to the queries.

Mike (OH)

In 2006 JJ finished 39th the 1st race, worse than 12th the next 3 races, only won one race and won the title. Too many are giving up on Gordon already.

Ryan McGee
  (2:02 PM)

Jimmie finished 25th in the first Chase race of 2010 and came back to win that title, too. But one very large factor to keep in mind is that both of those comebacks happened under the old points system. On paper, the current one-point-per-position system wouldn't seem to be much different. But it really punishes teams more for a bad day than the old staggered scale did.

Rodney (USA)

Kahne is very under the radar right now. People seem to forget he scored the 3rd most points in the chase last year on the same tracks for this year. Right now in your opinion, who will finish higher in points, Dale or Kasey?

Ryan McGee
  (2:04 PM)

I don't think he's under the radar at all. Maybe in the public, but certainly not in the garage. I wasn't at Chicagoland on Sunday but I was at four of the six races leading into the Chase and the 5, along with the 2, were the cars that all the competitors were buzzing about. It's been that way really since mid-summer.

Ryan McGee
  (2:04 PM)

To your other question, I think the 5 finishes higher, but both will be in the mix all the way to Homestead.

Jamerson (Georgia)

Why do you think Brad Keselowski is disliked by so many people? He's well-spoken, nice to the fans, very interactive through Twitter, has alot of personality, and wins alot of races. And yet the people's feelings towards him tend to be either negative or apathetic.

Ryan McGee
  (2:07 PM)

All the ESPN.com guys are going to address this very question in Tuesday's Turn 4 roundtable. I don't know that your perception is accurate. Certainly not based on what I have always labeled the greatest sociology experiment in sports - pre-race driver introductions. Two years ago I would have labeled it as indifferent. Now there is a strong reaction both ways. Keep in mind he's still pretty new and very young. I think he has a chance to become a star.

Ryan McGee
  (2:08 PM)

His willingness to speak is mind will serve him well, making people both love and hate him. And, unlike say Kyle Busch, he was handed the favor of being the good guy early in his career thanks to the Carl Edwards feud.

Ken (Detroit)

With declining sponsorship $, and most the top team owners (Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush, etc) advancing in age, are we looking at very different NASCAR landscape in 5 - 10 years? Don't see the sport getting much interest from outside investors to buy/start teams like in other sports.

Ryan McGee
  (2:11 PM)

What maybe you don't see is that most, if not all, of those owners you list here have succession plans in place. Rick Hendrick is grooming his son-in-law, Marshall Carlson. JD Gibbs is already running things at JGR. The big question - and it is really big - is, are sponsors signing on because of the dynamic personalities of the current owners? That factors in, yes, but as long as a team is winning and the drivers are marketable, history says coporations will sign on.

Ryan McGee
  (2:12 PM)

But there is potential for some wobbliness there. No question about it.

Jacob (Charlotte, NC)

hey Mr. McGee..Is there any reasons you've heard about the drop off with Harvick. he usually preforms very well at Chicago. Is it horse power, aero?

Ryan McGee
  (2:13 PM)

I talked to him about it a few weeks ago, I want to say it was at Michigan. I asked if there was one thing they were missing and he just laughed. "No, if it was just one thing we would have fixed it. It's all of the above."

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What race do you think will a non chaser will win in these Chase races of 2012?

Ryan McGee
  (2:14 PM)

This weekend is a good chance. I think Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman could both win races in the Chase and Newman is mighty good at the flat tracks like Loudon.

Justin M (Knoxville, TN)

This weekend I listened to BK's radio for the first time on Racebuddy. I've never heard a spotter give a driver so much information, and then he gives incredibly specific feedback on the car. It's no wonder they're always a factor at the end of races because they're learning throughout the event. It just shows how smart and focused BK is right now.

Ryan McGee
  (2:17 PM)

He really reminds me a lot of Rusty Wallace. But the difference with Brad is that he is willing to give such specific information and then let crew cheif Paul Wolfe use that data to make the decisions. What Rusty would be guilty of sometimes was to take that too far. He'd give the info AND the solution, right down to how many pounds of air pressure to go up or down.

Ryan McGee
  (2:18 PM)

The chemistry right now between BK, Wolfe, and the whole team is just really clicking right now. That creates trust and there's no substitute for that when it's time to make the money.

Scott (Charlotte)

Wow, both Eurys are out at JGR. That going to be a fun Thanksgiving.

Ryan McGee
  (2:20 PM)

Yes, reports now that Tony Jr is off Danica's car. This follow's Tony Sr being let go last weekend. Unfortunately, all of this has been a long time coming. I think if the front office hadn't been family these moves might have happened a long time ago. They have some serious catching up to do and Pops never seemed willing to take advantage of the ultra-modern resources he had at his diposal, specifically the Hendrick Motorsports engineering deaprtment.

Nick S. (Fontana, CA)

I was at the Indycar seasone finale Saturday night, I was plesently surprised at the suspense all the way to the end (except the red-flag was lame, glad it played no roll) and the competitiveness of the racing....what did you think? Any idea on the consensus of other fans?? I hope they do what Roger said, and leave this race as the finale!

Ryan McGee
  (2:22 PM)

I agree. Though we were robbed a bit by Will Power's issues, it was good stuff. Their season should start and end on ovals. I have always said that. And they should run ovals on non-Sprint Cup weekends. Those races are breathtaking.

Jill (TX)

I see Eury Jr is the latest casulty of Danica. When will JRM realize that the Eurys were not the problem? Thankfully she is Smokes problem next season.

Ryan McGee
  (2:23 PM)

I know she has her problems, but she didn't get anyone fired. Her reaction to the Tony Sr news when we told her at Richmond was proof of that. I love the Eurys, but there's been an erosion going on over there for a while now.

Dee (Vegas)

"The 14 car fought from behind from the time it was unloaded off the truck on Friday, but squeezed out a sixth-place run".... I see what you did there considering Smoke's pre-race 'rituals.' Nice. Any word on Dale Jr's sponsorship issues with Diet Dew pulling back? Is AMP going to come back or is another sponsor in the mix?

Ryan McGee
  (2:26 PM)

Gross! I honestly hadn't thought of that, but I appreciate the credit. I think.

Ryan McGee
  (2:26 PM)

As for the 88, they've been quietly shopping for a third primary sponsor for a while now. It'll be a rotating group of sponsors.

Brian (St. Paul, MN)

If a Dodge driver would have won a championship, do you think they would have stuck around for years to come?

Ryan McGee
  (2:26 PM)

Nope. Their minds were already made up. But it would certainly be a heuckuva way to go out.

Jeff (Georgia)

Ryan, speaking of the Eury's departure, it shows that Turner Motorsports has taken advantage of that Hendrick Engineering and has really passed JR Motorsports. Would you agree? Thanks

Ryan McGee
  (2:27 PM)

I think that example has certainly come up in some JRM meetings, yes.

Billy (LA)

Did BK violate the rule for re-entering the track? He certainly came back on before the end of the turn. Thanks.

Ryan McGee
  (2:29 PM)

NASCAR says no. And once he had a chance to calm down, even Jimmie said it wasn't totally ridiculous. Perhaps if Johnson hadn't had to move a little, he could stayed out front, but he admitted after the race that the 2 was so good at the end that it probably didn't matter.

Ryan McGee
  (2:30 PM)

It's a gray area and NASCAR admits that they have looked at making permanent blend lines, but at some point is it too much regulation? Balls and strikes are part of the game and in this case they called a ball. Or a strike. I get confused with my metaphors...but you get my point.

Ryan McGee
  (2:31 PM)

Overshadowed by the whole thing was that insanely good pit stop and strategy call. Before that stop Johnson had more than a one second lead. But they got the car out in a position where Brad could make that, albeit aggressive, move.

Keith H (Seattle)

Ryan, at $15 million per year, how can these teams keep crying the "sponsorship blues?' Seriously, do the teams really need motorcoaches and private jets? Can't there be some trimming done?

Ryan McGee
  (2:33 PM)

This is (literally) the million dollar question. And the truth is that some guys are already making lifestyle adjustments. Superstar drivers are "carpooling" now with their planes and the second and third tier drivers, guys who would have had planes ten years ago, are showing up more and more on my commercial flights every Thursday.

Ryan McGee
  (2:34 PM)

Teams had also become very bloated staff-wise. As painful as some of the personnel cuts have been over the last few years they have also been permanent fiscal adjustments that had to be made. Leftovers from the mid-2000's days of milk and honey.

Nick (Savannah ga)

During the chase it seems like the top ten is always full of chase drivers usually at least 6 or 7. Is that a product of those teams being so much better? Or a product of non chasers staying out of the way?

Ryan McGee
  (2:34 PM)

No one is getting out of the way. They are the best teams, plain and simple.

Susannah Luciano (Seattle, WA)

I like Danica - she is fun to watch and a competent driver. But does she really bring that much to the table aside from a load of money? She always gets good quality rides initially, and at some point, the teams she runs with become a little less competitive. I always hear "Oh, if she were in better equipment"... She gets the equipment and then is mediocre anyway! Thoughts?

Ryan McGee
  (2:37 PM)

She is a competent racer that has been thrown into the deep end of the pool. That's why I have been shouting from the rooftop that running Cup full-time so soon is such a huge mistake. I think she is on a development curve, I really do. But it is a slow one. And while Tony's equipment is good, JRM's is not. She's no different than any other inexperienced driver, move them up too fast and the long term damage that you do their pysche is irreperable. We'll see.

John (Illinois)

Looked like the grandstands in Chicago were nearly at capacity. That's the first time in a few years that I can recall the seats not being embarrassingly empty for the Cup race. Whatever they did to increase attendance must have worked.

Ryan McGee
  (2:38 PM)

It was nice, but not super great. The weather certainly helped. Last year was a mess. And the Bears being gone while there were no big MLB games in the city also helped. But there's still work to do.

Joe (Troy, NY)

Ryan, my son came to me and asked me what the difference is to Biffle being in third place in the standings down 20 and being eighth down 19. I told him that there's an awful lot more people between Biffle and the top, but in the end, all Biffle needs to do is run top fives and the rest should sort itself out, right?

Ryan McGee
  (2:41 PM)

Yes. We are in the sort-it-our phase of the Chase. We'll know in about four weeks who is a real contender and who isn't. Right now you just need to not suffer a giant points loss (Gordon) and maintain contact with the lead pack. Even if a guy goes on a winning spree (Smoke '11) you can keep him within sight by punching out top fives. Not top tens. Top fives. But once we hit that final five, you have to go.

Will (Cincinnati)

How do you think NASCAR would respond if Kyle Busch gets hot in the next 9 races and wins three of them? I would think that this would be rather damaging to the artifical construct called the Chase.

Ryan McGee
  (2:42 PM)

We've seen non-Chasers win before. I don't think it does much harm. They don't want a guy winning like 6 out of 10, but a couple isn't a big deal. The closer we get to the end of the year, the race winners don't get as much attention as the title contenders anyway.

Ryan McGee
  (2:43 PM)

I know this, though. Kyle would love nothing more than to crash the party like that.

Ryan McGee
  (2:43 PM)

If for no other reason, because it would mean that he'd finally had a decent autumn for once.

Saul (San Diego)

Do any of the chase driver have an curious pre-race ritual?

Ryan McGee
  (2:44 PM)

Not really. Some guys always make sure to eat the meal. But the real ritual is the race to the bathoom and back before "GSYE".

James (Akron)

Do you think the drivers 7th and below are basically finished in the Chase?

Ryan McGee
  (2:45 PM)

No. The only guy I'm willing to somewhat close the door on is Gordon. He isn't totally done, but he's going to need a LOT of help.

Scott (Charlotte)

Come on Ryan it is "DSYE"!

Ryan McGee
  (2:46 PM)

My bad.

John (Illinois)

It would mean nothing if Kyle Busch wins multiple Chase races. Under the old format, a 13th place driver with 10 races to go would have had ZERO chance of winning the championship anyway. It takes nothing away from the Chase for a non-Chase driver to win.

Ryan McGee
  (2:46 PM)

Yep. Don't disagree with you at all.

Jay (Ga)

Another great run by Sam Hornish Jr. I still believe he should be in the 22 instead of Slowgano. Was this mainly sponsor driven, because Roger has wanted Sam in a Cup car for years, and this wouldve been the best time, right?

Ryan McGee
  (2:48 PM)

Man, he is sure building his case isn't he? This is easily the longest stretch of nice runs that he's ever had in Cup. It's three straight 11th place finishes and his fifth top-12 in his past six starts.

Ryan McGee
  (2:50 PM)

Yes, sponsors had some say in the Logano move, but only a part. There was a real push internally to bring him in, a push that included Brad Keselowski. I still maintain that if JGR hadn't forced JoLo and Zippy to work together as long as they did then Joey would have developed quicker. Zippy is a racing genius, but his heart was never in it.

Ryan McGee
  (2:51 PM)

The numbers may not prove it out, but the eyeball test tells you that Logano is a different racer this year.

Ryan McGee
  (2:51 PM)

But this will be his last shot at the big-time, even as young as he is.

Ryan McGee
  (2:51 PM)

There's too much good talent coming up the pipeline to let guys hang around in these Cup cars like they used to.

Fred (NC)

What exactly happened when Hamlin didn't get enough gas. Gas man fault or something else?

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

They just didn't get it all in. It's a shame. They essentially lost all the bonus points for the regular season wins on that last lap. Then again, perhaps it was those bonus points that saved the day. It's a half full/half empty deal, isn't it? Kind of like a gas can.

Joe (Troy, NY)

I am seeing a lot of print about Keselowski's performance...and rightly so, however, I am not hearing how the 48 team continues to perform in the chase time after time after time. It's another top five for him and I haven't heard one bit of concern from Roush, or MWR. Just me?

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

Check out my Power Rankings.

Ryan McGee
  (2:54 PM)

And I can tell you that yes, the garage is feeling a little like Harry Gant in Stroker Ace. "Oh hell, here we go again."

Jamerson (Georgia)

People keep saying that the Captain should've put Hornish in the 22 instead of Logano. But don't forget... Hornish already has a sponsor in Alliance Truck Parts that is interested in a Cup venture. I expect we'll see Hornish in a #12 Cup car, at least part time in 2013 and probably full time in 2014.

Ryan McGee
  (2:54 PM)

I agree.

Aaron (Hemet, CA)

If Gordon wins at Loudon, how much better are his chances to win it all?

Ryan McGee
  (2:57 PM)

Certainly better, but again, he's in a position where he also needs other guys - a lot of other guys - to struggle. Say he wins and gets 47 points, but the top six guys all finish in the top ten. He makes up only a handful of points on each. He needs help.

Chris (Rutgers Grease Trucks, NJ)

Hi Ryan: Who are your top 3 this weekend in order? Will we see another #2 & #48 1-2 finish? Thanks!

Ryan McGee
  (3:00 PM)

I have my eye on the 11, 48, and 39. We could see the 2 get in there and mix it up. Or the 5, who won there just two months ago. Darkhorses: 31 and 56.

Ryan McGee
  (3:01 PM)

Alright folks, gotta go. See you next week, same bat time, same bat channel. In the meantime, tip your wait staff and enjoy the music of Government Cheese.