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June 26, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Ryan McGee

Ryan McGee
  (2:09 PM)

Hey everybody and welcome in to the intermittent Motorsports Block Party Chat! It took me some hacking and light-cycle winning, but I have finally made it. To the queries!

Kevin (Near Milwaukee)

Ryan, 2 summers ago this week, Roush announced that MK was leaving. Everyone knows no announcement was made where he was going until September, but a little surprised there has been no news about Carl Edwards yet. If I gave you choices of (a) before Daytona, (b) before Indy, or (c) after Indy for when an Edwards announcement is made, which do you take?

Ryan McGee
  (2:10 PM)

Joe Gibbs Racing has a presser scheduled this weekend. Not saying that the Cuz announcement is coming, but I'm saying it could. I think we'll definitely know before Indy. Carl is tired of thinking about it. His team is tired of thinking about. And honestly, we're tired of asking about it.

Kevin (Cleveland)

Ryan, glad to see you doing a chat, is ESPN going to ever get back to where they are doing multiple chats per week as they did the last few seasons?

Ryan McGee
  (2:12 PM)

Thanks. Good to be back. We'll definitely be doing more in the future. Our 2015 plans are in the works right now. We kind of got hung up a little when a couple of our guys joined the NFL beat. But hey, I'm here! (Despite the best joint efforts of my laptop and the firewall.)

P-Dub (America's Vancouver)

Love the M&M podcasts...please settle an argument I have...I say it's better to be the #3 or #4 driver on a team with fast cars vs. a #1 on a team with slow cars. If Greg Biffle signs with someone else the former will be tru but if he stays with Roush it will be the latter if u believe Cuz is off to JGR or Penske. What's your take on our argument and where do you see Biff signing? Might be his last contract....

Ryan McGee
  (2:14 PM)

First, thanks for the love for Marty & McGee. We just recorded a new one this morning and there's a link to it on the ESPN.com NASCAR page. It's literally the most fun we have. Today was kind of "Storytime with the Rednecks". Next week will be our July 4th special and I have a special musical instrument I'm bringing.

Ryan McGee
  (2:15 PM)

Your question is a great one and I tend to agree with you. I think back on guys who have made moves when they thought they were second tier at their place for a situation where they thought they'd be number one at a smaller place. It usually doesn't work out. It has to be a move to a top tier team.

Ryan McGee
  (2:16 PM)

Who am I thinking about? Bobby Labonte. He left Gibbs to be the top dog at Petty. And, all due respect to Petty, we never heard from Bobby again. You have to think that had he stayed at Gibbs for a few more years he'd had at least a few more wins than he does now.

Dave (WI)

I thought the race in the rain was fun to watch, liked the strategy and skill of moving the throttle in 2 directions instead of the usual 1. They say there is no way to race ovals in the rain, but has it ever been tested, or is it just something too scary to discuss and try?

Ryan McGee
  (2:18 PM)

Ovals in the rain would never work. It's just physics. I've talked to a lot of sports car guys about this because they've run in the rain through Turns 3&4 and down the frontstretch at Daytona during the 24 Hours...

Ryan McGee
  (2:19 PM)

They all say that it's something that could be done in short bursts, but not constantly. And not in stock cars, where there is SO much weight thrown outward with relatively little downforce.

randy (indiana)

is there still a chance RPM switches to Toyota ?

Ryan McGee
  (2:19 PM)

Yes

Mike P (greater KC metro)

Could the Daytona July race be the race where someone like Larson or Dillon "steal" a win. This race has been known to give surprise winners?

Ryan McGee
  (2:22 PM)

Yes sir. But to me it's good that you qualified stolen with quotation marks. At this point any race that Larson wins wouldn't be a steal. He's a near-weekly contender. And I think we're going to get a real idea of where Dillon is over the next two weekends. His breakthrough wins in the Nationwide Series came at Kentucky and if you watched him during February Speedweeks, he knows how to get around Daytona, too.

Sam (SLC)

I was honestly surprised gordon didnt move Carl out of the way. Kinda seems like hes gone soft.

Ryan McGee
  (2:23 PM)

Do I think that 26-year old Gordon would have pressed the issue harder? Maybe. But do I think Gordon has gone soft? Nope. I have no complaints about that finish on Sunday. I thought it was great.

Mike (Shawnee, KS)

Hey McGee--Just got back from Jamaica and enjoyed watching Sonoma from a very relaxing swim-up bar. On to the question: What was more telling to you? Carl's victory & performance at Sonoma, or his lap-down finish at MIS the week prior?

Ryan McGee
  (2:25 PM)

It's funny, I was telling a story about Jamaica earlier today. I was there five years ago this week. I know that because that's when Michael Jackson died. People were literally out in the city park in downtown Kingston crying and screaming. I was there writing a story about Usain Bolt for ESPN The Magazine and he nearly started crying talking about Michael, too. I realize this has nothing to do with racing, but as soon as I saw "Jamaica" that's what I thought about.

Bryan (KY)

Ryan, I went to the inaugural Cup race at Kentucky, and swore and never go back due to the traffic/parking issues. Against my better judgment I am going this Saturday. Please tell me things have improved.

Ryan McGee
  (2:26 PM)

Tremendously. I wasn't there the first two years but I was there last year, the third race, and kept tweaking the other members of the TV crew saying, "What the hell have you guys been complaining about? This traffic isn't bad at all?"

Allen (California)

Is HMS that strong or is the competition (JGR, Rousch, RCR) just that mediocre?

Ryan McGee
  (2:28 PM)

Each of the other super teams has their issues right now, but honestly, Hendrick is just that strong. Brad Keselowski said that Hendrick seems a full year ahead of everyone else engine-wise. That's all you really need to know.

Greg (Pittsburgh)

Are you going to post pictures of Dodd getting his beard shaved? #406

Ryan McGee
  (2:29 PM)

He already posted them on Twitter at @DanielDopp. It's pretty striking. I said on the podcast today that it's like Benjamin Button movie, he reverse-aged.

Sam (SLC)

So how many cautions this sat night?

Ryan McGee
  (2:31 PM)

I'll say 6. I think we had 10 last year, but the average falls about 6.

randy (indiana)

Do you think Ambrose gets replaced after this season ? and by who if he is ?

Ryan McGee
  (2:31 PM)

No.

Clint D (Dallas, TX)

Just and observation. No one has more top 5's then Jr and only 1 driver (Gordon) has more top 10's!!!

Ryan McGee
  (2:34 PM)

Yep. And that's why he's a legit title contender. I was chatting with Tony Stewart about Junior a few weeks ago and he said without a shadow of a doubt that this is already Junior's best season, even more than his six-win season in 2004.

Brandon (Tulsa)

When will there be safer barriers on every wall? I have heard you and Marty discuss it as I am a charter member of the #406, but when? I think the fans need to start getting more involved in these type convos. There isn't ever a situation where the drivers are to safe.

Ryan McGee
  (2:35 PM)

As you know, I'm with you. I wrote a column about that in ESPN The Magazine one year ago and I was inspired to do so in large part because of a couple of big hits at Kentucky, where there are gaps in the frontstretch.

Ryan McGee
  (2:35 PM)

Marty has a big story coming on ESPN.com soon about this.

randy (indiana)

At Sonoma The King told Lee Spencer of motorsports.com that "we're close" cause time is running out, what do you make of The Kings comment ? most of the other media say word on the street is RPM is staying Ford ? but, I didn't read The King saying that.

Ryan McGee
  (2:37 PM)

I think there is still some dialogue elsewhere. I think that The King would like to stay with Ford. And I know Ford wants him to stay. That brand has really leveraged RP as the face of their racing brand, second only to Carl Edwards, over the last couple of years. Now he wants assurances that they are willing to repay that in the form of technical support.

Ryan McGee
  (2:38 PM)

He is very sensitive to pecking orders because he felt very slighted by Dodge when they trotted him out as the face of the brand when they reentered the sport in 2001, but he felt like his team was third in line when it came to actual help.

Ryan McGee
  (2:38 PM)

I think he stays with Ford, but I don't think the Toyota talk is over, either.

Tanner Hoke (Salisbury, NC)

Who takes over the 21 now that Bayne is going to Roush?

Ryan McGee
  (2:39 PM)

I would hire Sam Hornish Jr.

Owen (Larchmont)

Do you think Conforto should start in AA?

Ryan McGee
  (2:41 PM)

A college baseball question! To me, AA is the biggest hurdle for minor league players to get over. So I'm a fan of starting guys in High A, even for just a few weeks, to get used to the lifestyle (and bats) and then easing them into AA. History says that works pretty well.

Nick Rolando (Orlando)

Ryan, am I the only thinking Kasey Kahne is driving for Penske in 2016? Would be a great fit there. Fast cars, two fast teammates and could get a shot at driving for the Indy 500.

Ryan McGee
  (2:43 PM)

I like that idea. It makes sense. But Penske has to decide to go to three cars. JoLo and Brad aren't going anywhere. And the other part is that he has to leave Hendrick. At Michigan a couple of weeks ago I asked some HMS about the "Kahne out" chatter and the looks I go were a mix of laughter and wanting to choke me because the question was so ridiculous.

Ryan McGee
  (2:44 PM)

Chase Elliott is still two years away from Cup. That's a long time. Gordon might be gone by then. That seems to run month-to-month, depending on his back.

Eric (Iowa)

Daytona, Pocono, Richmond, Bristol....we have several tracks getting run for the 2nd time this year in the next 10 races leading up to the Chase. Are you looking for any teams to take a step up the 2nd time around?

Ryan McGee
  (2:45 PM)

I'm looking at the rookies. I think Larson and Dillon both could get it into another gear. And I think Matt Kenseth is inching closer to taking off.

Mike (Shawnee, KS)

Sorry to side track ya Ryan, so I'm gonna ask again--what's more telling, Carl's win on Sunday at a road course or his constant lap-down performance at MIS the week prior?

Ryan McGee
  (2:47 PM)

Sorry! I saw your question earlier but before I could get to it, it had scrolled away! I think it just tells you how sideways it is at RFR right now. I've been going to Michigan for nearly 20 years and I've never seen them so lost. And they'd only won at Sonoma once before and put two cars in the top ten?!

Ryan McGee
  (2:48 PM)

The good news for RFR is that Carl won. The bad news is that if they are lost at Michigan, that probably speaks more to Carl's worries than the win soothes them.

Tim [via mobile]

When Toyota came into NASCAR all I remember reading was they had the money and resources to outspend and outengineer everyone. Well, I'm very curious where all that money and engineering is right now. As a kenseth fan, the main reason I was ok with his move to Gibbs was I thought most weeks he would have a piece able to compete with Hendrick. Right now it's like he never left roush. I understand dominance is cyclical, unless you drive for the Hendrick stable, but I'm very surprised the Gibbs cars are not just off, but roush off.

Ryan McGee
  (2:51 PM)

Don't totally overreact here. Last year was so unlike a typical Kenseth year that I think it made people forget what his typical game is. That's what we're seeing this year. I mean, he is 4th in points and the only three cars with more top tens are the three top Hendrick cars.

Ryan McGee
  (2:52 PM)

Let's not forget that this is a team that is still very much in transition when it comes to engines. And I can tell you firsthand that that Toyota is doing things that are long-term engineering projects. I've seen stuff that I can't write about that would blow your mind. So, don't worry. They'll be fine. When he wins it'll break down the dam.

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

Which brings me to the next question...

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Who do you think will win the Quaker State 400?

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

Matt Kenseth.

randy (indiana)

RPM is third in line with Ford and would be third in line with Toyota ?so whats the difference for The King ?

Ryan McGee
  (2:53 PM)

$$

Nick Rolando (Orlando)

Don't you think though Ryan that the whole point of Ford bringing Penske on was so they could expand one day again to get more cars back on the track? At least I think that's what Jamie Allison and the Ford brass had in mind.

Ryan McGee
  (2:54 PM)

Maybe. They've certainly done the studies and they've expanded before. But right now The Captain doesn't seem interested.

Eric (Iowa)

There's a lot of buzz about the year that Jr. is having this year which is also Letarte's final season on the box. Can Jr. carry this momentum through next year or will the learning curve with a new crew chief halt the big 'mo?

Ryan McGee
  (2:55 PM)

Dale is great when addressing this. He has said often, as he did after his great Sonoma run, that he believes Letarte's situation has "created something special" with this team and this season.

Ryan McGee
  (2:57 PM)

He also says that he will have a little input in his crew chief replacement, but admits that his track record in picking his own guy isn't great, so he plans on leaving most of that up to the management at Hendrick. He's also quick to say that he believes the person who should have the biggest vote is Letarte himself. That makes sense.

Ryan McGee
  (2:58 PM)

If Steve is given the chance to pick his successor, then I think that's the best chance to keep this sort of magic going into 2015 and beyond. Makes a lot of sense to me.

DJ (SF)

Who are your top 5 favorites (and one wild card) that could win this week?

Ryan McGee
  (3:01 PM)

Give me the 48, 18, 2, 20 and 24. Darkhorses: 5, 78, 3.

Ryan McGee
  (3:03 PM)

Alright folks, thanks for stopping by. Sorry I couldn't get to all of you. Have a great Independence Day next week. And in the meantime, download the Marty & McGee podcast at ESPN.com/podcenter. We need the business. Until next time, please tip the wait staff and enjoy the music of BlueMonday.