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March 25, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ryan McGee

Ryan McGee
  (2:03 PM)

What's up my water bottle-bruised brothers and sisters and welcome back to the intermittent Monday Motorsports Block Party Chat. My travel schedule has been super heaby this year, so it's kept me away from you for a while. But I'm back. Gonna at least try to get one of these in every few weeks...especially when we have a Sunday like we just had!

Ryan McGee
  (2:03 PM)

So without further ado, adieu, ahem...to the queries!

Phoenix (AZ)

As NASCAR fans, do you think it is fair for us to expect better behavior from a cup champion then the way Stewart made a fool of himself after Fontana?

Ryan McGee
  (2:04 PM)

Honestly, I kind of saw this coming. I didn't know when or where, but I had a long chat with Tony at Las Vegas. It was an interview for NASCAR Now and he admitted that he was getting more and more fustrated with a lot of things. You kind of felt his temps rising...and that was three weeks ago.

Ryan McGee
  (2:06 PM)

I will say this, though, as misguided as his Fontana rampage may have been, this is a great example of the weird spot Tony is always in. He says people tell him all the time he should be more like he used to be, not so calm as he is (for the most part) now. But then, when he goes off, those same people call him out for it! It's a helluva tightrope. So much so, I wrote an ESPN The Magazine feature on the topic last year.

Andrew (Paducah)

Saw your tweet Sunday. How long did it take to explain to the little one that it wasn't Danica who won at St. Pete?

Ryan McGee
  (2:08 PM)

Hahaha! Well, a couple of hours later when they showed Danica 3,000 miles away in a totally different car, she figured it out. She's not the only kid - or adult - who confuses my man Hinchtown for Danica. He's actually got a great sense of humor about it.

Jason (Palo Alto )

Am i the only one that when I look at the replay saw that hamlin tried to turn down and wreck logano and that is what caused him to wreck

Ryan McGee
  (2:10 PM)

No, you're not. To me, that was one of those racing hard, plenty of blame to go around deals. And to me, there's not really any blame to speak of.

Tim (San Francisco)

The happiest man in the garage for this Logano and Hamlin/Stewart feud must be Clint Bowyer. Now everyone is waiting for Stewart or Denny to retaliate rather than Bowyer. Do you think that eases his mind at all in regards to that?

Ryan McGee
  (2:10 PM)

I still think he's keeping a little mental Post-It on the dashboard with a big number "24" on it.

PJ (Boston, MA)

Hey McGee, Jeff Gordon has said that the setup for Martinsville hasn't changed since he got into the sport even though we've seen the style of Sprint Cup cars change multiple times. Are the teams expecting the same setups to work with the Gen-6 car that have in the past?

Ryan McGee
  (2:12 PM)

The teams I talk to say if you ran well there 20 years ago, then you can still run well there now. Gen 6 isn't going to change that. If anything, it'll take it back closer to how it was with the pre-CoT car. I guess that's Gen 4? I get confused with the Gens. Makes my head hurt. Makes me need a shot of gin with an "i".

Rich (NYC) [via mobile]

Hey Ryan. First off, how's Hamlin? Heck of a hard hit. What do you think about Smoke being upset with Logano? Smoke has done his fair share of blocking yet he gets upset with the 22 for doing what he'd to. Your opinion? Thanks!

Ryan McGee
  (2:14 PM)

We just got word that he'll be staying another night in the SoCal hospital. No details on the actual injury as of 2:15 PM ET Monday, other than he was complaining about back pain. He was awake and alert when he was choppered over on Sunday.

Ryan McGee
  (2:15 PM)

That hit reminded me a lot of what we've seen in IndyCar, where drivers have suffer back injuries ranging from spinal compressions to outright back breaks. But we'll see.

Ryan McGee
  (2:16 PM)

What makes me so mad about the whole matter is that he shouldn't even be in the hospital. Why in the hell there isn't a SAFER barrier covering every inch of conrete retaining walls - inside and outside - at every Sprint Cup racetrack is simply inexcusable.

Ryan McGee
  (2:17 PM)

As someone who had to cover the mid-'90s through '01, the fact that racetracks and sanctioning bodies are still willing to roll the dice on "Oh, but they never hit the wall there" makes me want to scream.

Lee (Tampa)

good morning Ryan, I've personally watched Tony wreck half the field at Talladega along with getting black flagged at Daytona for advancing his position under the yellow line. shouldn't he zip it before offering his critique of other drivers?

Ryan McGee
  (2:18 PM)

It was truly amazing watching my Twitter timeline fill up with dozens of version of this same comment mere seconds after he called Logano out on the FOX telecast. Race fans have long memories.

Kevin (Boston)

First off good to have you back on the Monday block party...what on earth is Stewart so upset about? Did he really think Logano was not going to block him? If Stewart the owner saw one of his drivers pull over he would have FREAKED.

Ryan McGee
  (2:20 PM)

In that situation, you can't expect any driver not to protect his position. If we go down the road of policing blocking at every racetrack, then we've lost touch with what racing is supposed to be. Had it been less than 20 laps into the race instead of less 20 laps remaining, I would get it. But again, I think this was just a straw-breaking-the-camel's-back situation for Stewart.

Ryan McGee
  (2:21 PM)

Some of that was tied to Logano, but a lot of it was tied other stuff. Especially his team's continuing struggles.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

How do you think that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. & Danica Patrick will do at Martinsville?

Ryan McGee
  (2:23 PM)

I don't expect much from her. But I think he's a solid sleeper pick. He's always been so good on flat tracks and short tracks. Look at his Nationwide record at Iowa and Richmond.

TG (PA)

In F1, what's with the team rules that tell you to let your teammate win?

Ryan McGee
  (2:24 PM)

To me, "team orders" are the single aspect of Formula One racing that totally undermines the entire sport. It's been around forever, but that doesn't make it a tradition. It makes it dumb.

Tom (CT)

Hi Ryan, should Logano wtch his back with Sam running so well in NW? I know Roger is sticking up for him now but a few more weeks of his attitude and Shell may not be too happy.

Ryan McGee
  (2:27 PM)

Here's the thing about all this stuff with Logano. What's become lost in all the fisticuffs is that he's running really well. He's 9th in points and had a car that could have won three of the five races. So, no, his back is clear for now.

Ryan McGee
  (2:28 PM)

Did you see how quickly Penske jumped to JoLo's defense? And as for Pennzoil, over the previous couple of years they dealt with Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger failing a drug test. Joey's got a loooong way to go to push them over the edge.

matt (tennessee)

I think There's more to the story than a block between Tony and Logano. On twitter Harvick and Kasey also "secretly" criticized Joey. Seems like he's unpopular in the garage

Ryan McGee
  (2:29 PM)

He is not beloved. But not many young guys who came in with so much hype have ever been, sometimes fair and sometimes not. And his Dad has done him no favors in the reputation department.

David (Sacramento)

Raise your hand if you think NASCAR should limit the amount of NW/CWTS races Sprint Cup Series drivers run? I get the whole cherry picking and getting more seat time before Sundays, but it's starting to just be a disgrace seeing guys like Ky. Busch dominate in the best equipment out there (why not try racing his own stuff and see how good he is....oh wait that was last year). Especially this year with so many contenders for the championship, it would be nice to see those guys win races instead of 3/4 of the season being won by Cup drivers.

Ryan McGee
  (2:31 PM)

Yeah, that's one of our ESPN NASCAR writers' Turn 4 debate questions for tomorrow. Is it good or bad that Kyle Busch has won 3 of the first 5 races. I say bad. And I'm with you. Put a limit on entries. The points declaration idea was a great one. An entries cap would be the next step.

Brandon (San Francisco)

WHAT A RACE! It was about time the new Gen-6 car put on a really entertaining race pretty much from start to finish, and at boring ol' Auto Club Speedway. I don't know about you, but I was pretty impressed to see Dale Jr go from 18th to 2nd in those last 10 laps, I know him and Steve still need to improve the car so he can be up front for more of a race leading laps, but how much of a threat for this championship do you think he'll really be this year?

Ryan McGee
  (2:33 PM)

I think the 88 is a legit contender. Just five weeks in he's already established a very comfortable points margin over the 11th place car. That's huge. Being able to go into the summer working on your Chase stuff vs. just trying to get into the Chase is a big advantage.

Ryan McGee
  (2:33 PM)

I know it's frustrating for Junior Nation to keep coming close to wins without getting a trophy. But just think back to three years ago and compare that team to this one. It's light years ahead.

Turk (Mich.)

Great power rankings today! How as Kurt Busch turned that @FR78racing team into a Top 5 team and do you expect Kurt to win several races and make the Chase?

Lance Harbor (TX)

Where does Junior get his first win this year?

Ryan McGee
  (2:36 PM)

Martinsville is a good bet. He's never won there, but his numbers are great. His average finish of 13th is 5th among all active drivers. Mid-spring and late summer are always his best stretches for a win. All his wheelhouse tracks are in there.

Matt (Virginia)

It would seem to me that Tony and other drivers comments (not to mention their stupid girlfriends) speak more to some preconceived resentment towards Logano's station in life than any problem with his on track racing. Your thoughts?

Ryan McGee
  (2:38 PM)

As long as they've been racing cars there have been two groups of drivers. The ones who had to work their way up the ladder with a wrench in their hand and the guys who are perceived to have been handed everything. Tony is an old school guy and will always take up the cause of the blue collar guys. Joey's father has been successful in business and, yes, has bankrolled both his son's racing and his daughter's ice skating.

Ryan McGee
  (2:39 PM)

But I always use a quote here from Austin Dillon. I once talked to him about that silver spoon rep and he said, "Yeah, my grandfather has always made sure I had good equipment. But it isn't out there driving itself."

Skyler (Carmel, Indiana)

Multiple reports in the Indianapolis area Saturday that NASCAR's Brian France/Mike Helton met with IndyCar's Mark Miles/Zack Brown last week. What do you think this could've been about?

Ryan McGee
  (2:41 PM)

Certainly it was just a chance for the NASCAR brass to meet with the newly-named IndyCar boss for the first time. But I hope that it means the two groups will start working together once again. The IRL's only stretch of real momentum was when it was in the good graces of NASCAR and International Speedway Corp.

Tom (Pa)

Do you have a feeling that Menard, Stenhouse Logano etc are up in points until smoke, gordon, harvick get a handle on this car? I think its only a matter of time

Ryan McGee
  (2:43 PM)

We'll see. It is early yet, but last year we all kept waiting on guys like Truex and Menard to fall apart and it never really happened. That should be scary for guys like Smoke and Gordon. I remember one year ago when Kasey Kahne was stuck way back in points and he said to me that making big leaps in the standings is harder now than it used to be. Why? Because there are fewer awful drivers and teams out there now.

Ryan McGee
  (2:45 PM)

Marty Smith and I were having this conversation a few weeks ago. Two decades ago, the top handful of drivers were so good - Earnhardt, Wallace, Elliott, Kulwicki, Allison, Gant, etc. - but these days the second and third tiers are so much better than they used to be. 1-43 is much stronger than it was when I was growing up. That makes holes harder to dig out of.

Robert K (Geneva)

Why does the media seem to be so afraid of Stewart? He has been involved in more than his share of crashes lately. Will anyone ask him about Talladega last year? Somehow I doubt it.

Ryan McGee
  (2:46 PM)

I'm not afraid of him. And I've asked him about it. I asked him about it that day. He took total blame.

Branden (Pittsburgh PA)

Ryan thanks for doing the chat really enjoy them. As a Montoya fan it is getting frustrating each week watching him struggle. What do you think Chip can do? Heroy was supposed to be a good addition coming from Hendrick but it don't seem like he is getting it done. Would Chip replace him or Montoya first?

Ryan McGee
  (2:48 PM)

Thanks! That JPM situation is getting tough. They already have replaced the entire front office, their engine supplier, and the way they build their cars. And, as you point out, the crew chiefs. What's really going to hurt Juan is if McMurray keeps having strong runs. Stay tuned...

Marc (NJ)

What is the chance that Paul Menard ends the season as RCR's top driver?

Ryan McGee
  (2:48 PM)

Yes. But that will only last as long as it takes Austin Dillon to get moved into his new office.

Richard Robert (Talledega)

So Danica mania has faded.......has she finished on the lead lap since Daytona?She's not a rolling chicane like Milka Duno but not very competitive. DO you think she will get better this year or is she in for a very long painful year?

Ryan McGee
  (2:50 PM)

I said all along that I thought running Cup full-time this year was a mistake. No matter a driver's gender, skin color, or planet of origin, her numbers in Nationwide were on a very obvious progression and that curve told me she should have done one more season with a schedule similar to last year's. But the people who write the checks felt otherwise.

Ryan McGee
  (2:50 PM)

I said all along that I thought running Cup full-time this year was a mistake. No matter a driver's gender, skin color, or planet of origin, her numbers in Nationwide were on a very obvious progression and that curve told me she should have done one more season with a schedule similar to last year's. But the people who write the checks felt otherwise.

Dwane (Ky)

is there something going on with bk racing with their cars not doing to good all the way through the races?

Ryan McGee
  (2:51 PM)

Yeah. They're still BK Racing. Harsh, but true.

Ryan (Frisco, TX)

Kurt had another excellent run yesterday in the 78. Does he ever get credit for what he helped build at Penske racing!!! Listening the the 51 team the other day they where asked why are they running good and they gave credit to Kurt for helping them last year....did the same thing at Penske

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

Well, Penske wasn't exactly broken down when he got there. But I will be the first to admit that he has FAR exceeded my expectations with Furniture Row. When he ran well at Bristol, I was quick to write that off to a talented driver being able to overcome a second tier team because it was a short track. But for them to be legit contenders at a place like Fontana, that tells me the team is ahead of where I thought they were.

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

It'll still be an uphill challenge to make it through the marathon of the season, but so far so good.

Mike (Ga.)

Since Rowdy is a young driver still learning doesn't he need all the seat time he can get in Nationwide and trucks to gain experience for cup?

Ryan McGee
  (2:54 PM)

Is that a joke?

Brandon (Myrtle Beach)

Is it me or is Logano's plan to not be pushed around backfiring on him?

Ryan McGee
  (2:56 PM)

What else is he supposed to do? His whole career he's been called soft. So now he toughens up and people say he's reckless. And he's still just a kid.

Tony (San Rafael CA)

Your F1 commment is spot on. Preach it!

Ryan McGee
  (2:57 PM)

Thanks. Drives me nuts. People are painting Vettel as a villain. Isn't he supposed to try and beat the other cars? Isn't that called racing?

Ryan (WI)

On Smoke's rich kid comment, sad thing is a they all are now, can you name some one who's got a ride cause of talent 1st?

Ryan McGee
  (2:58 PM)

Brad Keselowski. We talked about this last year. He said he felt like Indiana Jones, the last guy that slipped under the big giant door before it slammed shut. He's not wrong.

Larry (Il)

You top 5 drivers and a darkhorse for Martinsville?

Ryan McGee
  (3:00 PM)

48, 24, 88, 29, and - if he's healthy - the 11. Darkhorses: 31, 39, 78.

Ryan McGee
  (3:01 PM)

AP is reporting compression fracture of L1 vertebrae. As I feared, a very similar injury to what we've seen in IndyCar. The good news for him is that he has a week off to recover. Can he race with that? Probably. Will it hurt like hell? Yes, especially at Martinsville.

Ryan McGee
  (3:02 PM)

Stay tuned to ESPN.com for updates.

Ryan McGee
  (3:02 PM)

Thanks for joining me. It was great to be back. We'll do it again in a couple of weeks. Until then, tip your waiters and waitresses and enjoy the music of Nantucket.