RYAN NEWMAN Bold Moves Key to Bragging Rights, All-Star Win KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (May 19, 2010) - "Bold is How We Roll." If there was ever a race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit where this tagline applies, it's Saturday night's NASCAR ...
Bold Moves Key to Bragging Rights, All-Star Win
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (May 19, 2010) - "Bold is How We Roll."
If there was ever a race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit where this tagline applies, it's Saturday night's NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, when the best of the best battle it out for bragging rights, for glory and for $1 million. It's the get-it-done-now type of racing that many of NASCAR's stars grew up with.
"Bold is How We Roll," which adorns the bumper of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet, is also the tagline for Tornados, the bold, rolled snacks brand that Newman took to victory lane earlier this season at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., in just their third race together.
It was a bold pit call by crew chief Tony Gibson to take just two tires on the final pit stop that set up Newman's victory in a green-white-checker finish. And that very win qualified Newman for Saturday night's All-Star Race.
For Newman & Company, there's no better theme for this weekend's race, which consists of four segments - 50 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps and a 10 lap shootout to crown the race winner - than "Bold is How We Roll."
To come out on top and claim bragging rights at the home track for most of the Sprint Cup Series teams, it takes more than just a fast racecar. The team has to employ strategy over the course of the race, the pit crew has to be on top of its game at every stop, and the driver has to make some pretty impressive moves on the racetrack.
In 2002, it was then-Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year contender Newman and his No. 12 team who claimed victory in the All-Star Race. Newman wasn't even qualified in the main event at the start of the night but raced his way into the All-Star Race (then called The Winston) by winning the 16-lap No-Bull Sprint.
After racing their way into the show, Newman and his rookie team had nothing to lose. After all, they weren't even supposed to be part of the show. The team strategized, Newman was able to drive his race, and he benefited when fans voted to invert the field for the final 20 laps of the race. He took the lead with 17 laps to go and never looked back.
Newman and his team scored their first-ever Sprint Cup Series win together that May night at Charlotte. In eight appearances in the NASCAR All-Star Race, Newman has one win, three top-five and five top-10 finishes. As a former All-Star Race champion, Newman knows it pays to be bold in this intense, drama-filled race.
This weekend, the No. 39 car also will carry a special decal honoring the legendary Junior Johnson and his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Perhaps there was never a bolder driver or owner in NASCAR than Johnson, who started his racing career as a bootlegger.
With $1 million and bragging rights on the line, Newman and his "Bold is How We Roll" No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing team are ready to prove that, like Johnson, the legend being honored on the car, they are the boldest of all Saturday night at Charlotte.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:
In 2002, you got your first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in the non-point-paying All-Star Race. Talk a little bit about that All-Star win and what it meant to you.
"Until I won the Daytona 500, it was my greatest win, I thought, as a person and as a team. What we did and what we achieved that night, it's all for the glory. Obviously, there's some money on the line, but you're in your own backyard and you're in everybody's backyard. When you win on the home field and it's the race that's the All-Star race, it meant a lot to me. We weren't even expected to be in it, and that's why it was even sweeter, yet, because we had to race our way in. I mean, we raced our way into the race and got the invert and walked away with it for a while, there. It was a close finish at the end, with (Dale) Earnhardt, Jr. It was just a great team victory, and that's what we're here for as a team and as an organization is to put those events together and that always doesn't happen like that. In an All-Star race, it's that much more pride."
What are your thoughts going into the All-Star week and, in particular, the All-Star race?
"The All-Star Race is a lot of fun for everybody, including the fans. I like the format. I like the short race, and I love Charlotte Motor Speedway. You get to haul the mail around there and that's what we like to do as drivers, to be able to push a car and use that banking. It's three-wide racing. And the track is probably the raciest it has ever been. Honestly, it's a big weekend. The All-Star Race is huge in our eyes because it's the All-Star Race, and it's in our backyard, everybody's backyard. It's all about bragging rights. We're all about beating each other at our own game at our home field, I guess you would say. I love this race because it is a get-the-job-done-now kind of race. It's how I grew up racing, and how a lot of the guys are used to racing. It's a lot of fun. Our No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet has been pretty strong the last few weeks, and we've been able to move up in points to where we are just outside the top-12, so we're close. It's nice to have this weekend where we don't have to worry about points, but it is also a weekend where we can try some things that might help us out during the Coca-Cola 600 so we can get a good finish and break into that top-12. We're looking forward to having a good run and learning some things we can apply to the more important weekend in the grand scheme of things, the Coca-Cola 600. But right now, I think this week and this weekend is more about having some fun and being the best and beating the best on one night.
"As far as the race itself goes, I think the strategy changes every year. I think all of us know, after last year, that you have to be the fastest car for the last 10 laps. And in my opinion, the shorter the race, the better. It just increases the intensity of the excitement. It's still exciting, either way, otherwise the fans wouldn't come and see it. But the intensity and the excitement, I think, are due to the briefness of the last segment. I think there are going to be some crazy things that happen before that last segment, but I just think during those last 10 laps, getting the job done is what it's all about. And with the addition of a pit stop at the beginning of those last 10 laps in order to determine how the cars will line up, there's more emphasis on the pit crews than ever. I think that's the way it should be because this sport is such a team effort. The No. 39 Tornados pit crew has really improved over the past few months. We have had solid pit stops and have been gaining spots on pit road. And this weekend, those solid pit stops are going to be even more important on Saturday night.
"My All-Star win at Charlotte is my favorite memory there, and I would like to add another one to the list this weekend. When we raced our way into the race, and then started last, made the cut, then got the invert and had a fast racecar, that was really cool. Nobody expected us to even be in the race. When you race your way in and then beat the best, in my opinion, that was a true All-Star moment."
What does it mean to you to carry a special decal this weekend recognizing Junior Johnson's induction into the Hall of Fame?
"It's really cool to at least try to represent Junior Johnson. He's done so much for our sport. In my opinion, he's kind of the poster child of what and how NASCAR started and what it currently is. For me, I think it's an honor to have Junior's name on board the car. It's cool to represent the Hall of Fame and Junior Johnson at the same time. I've had the opportunity to meet Junior in the past, eat breakfast with him, spend some time with him and even share old stories. He's really a pretty cool guy, and I'm proud that we are able to recognize all of his accomplishments this weekend on the No. 39 Tornados Chevy. I'm looking forward to spending some more time with Junior this weekend at the track, and we'll do our best to give him a good ride."
TONY GIBSON, Crew Chief of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Talk about the All-Star Race. Is there added significance because the race is at everyone's home track?
"It's awesome. It's a lot of money. It's a lot of fun. There are no points involved, so things happen. It's a fun race to win. I've been fortunate enough to win it. It's a big shootout race. Bring the best of the best. When you win that one, it's almost like winning the Daytona 500. Because it's at Charlotte, it's almost like everybody's there. Everybody brings their families and friends, and more of the people from the shop are able to come to the racetrack because we're racing at home. This is everybody's home track, so the All-Star race is big. It's all about being the best of the best. It's about bragging rights. It's about a lot of money. It's good because a lot of people at Stewart-Haas Racing don't get to go to the races, so if one of us can win it, it is pretty impressive. It lets those guys get a chance to enjoy victory lane and the moment. Last year, it was really cool because Tony (Stewart) won the race to get our organization's first win, so it was pretty special for everybody on the team."
What kind of strategy do you have for this weekend's race?
"Our strategy went out the window last year when our shock broke there in the first 50 laps. We went into survival mode because we knew we had to in order to be a contender in the final 10-lap shootout. And that's really the key, in my opinion. Basically, all you need to do is stay on the lead lap until 10 to go. It's always going to come down to 10 to go. You need to have the fastest car in those last 10 laps. That's one of the reasons we were good on the short run last year. You can be good over that first 50-lap run and win that segment, but if you're not the fastest car on tires in 10 laps, then it is not going to matter. So we're focusing on being as fast as we can be on the short run - over 10 laps.
"Last year, we were able to come back from the broken shock, adjust on the car and we were probably the fastest car on the track during the 10-lap shootout. We were racing for the lead, and if the 24 car hadn't lost it, I think it was looking pretty good for us. But instead, we were done with seven laps to go. So, we know going in there that we had a shot to win this race last year. It's a crazy race. These guys wreck and beat on each other, and the same thing could happen again. We're going there just to run 10 laps as fast as we can run. If we finish dead last after the 50-lapper and the two 20-lappers, that's okay. My goal is, for those 10 laps, I want to be the fastest car I can be."
The No. 39 team has moved up in the points quite a bit the past few weeks, and the team is now in 13th spot in the championship standings, just 30 points outside of the top-12. Is it nice to have the All-Star weekend as a break from focusing so much on the points?
"It's a fun weekend for everybody because you have some extra time at home - you are in your own bed - and the race doesn't really matter, points-wise. But when it comes right down to it, it does matter. It matters because you want to win. You want to be the best. And I think a lot of us look at the weekend like an extra practice, really, for when the points do count in the Coca-Cola 600. We've got a game plan of stuff that we want to try. We want to experiment a little bit to see if we can find something that will make our cars better on the mile-and-a-half. So it's a weekend when there isn't a lot of stress, but you put all your effort in it because you want to be the best on this night at everyone's home track."
This weekend, the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet is carrying a special decal recognizing the Hall of Fame induction of famed driver and owner Junior Johnson. Any special memories of Junior Johnson, and what does it mean, in your eyes, for the No. 39 to honor him and his induction?
"It's cool. Junior Johnson is definitely one of the guys who got our sport to where it is at today. I was fortunate enough to be working in the sport while he was still involved. You always looked up to guys like him and Leonard Wood and Jake Elder. These are guys who I raced with and against. To be able to say I actually worked in the garage and got to compete against him is pretty cool. You know, when I won the championship with Alan (Kulwicki) in 1992, Bill Elliott was driving Junior's car. I felt like I was racing against Junior Johnson. So that's a pretty cool memory for me. I can always say I raced against him, and this weekend, he'll be racing with us. We're honored to represent Junior's induction into the Hall of Fame, and it will be cool to have him around at the track this weekend."