RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) HOW DID THE TEST GO IN DARLINGTON? "Well, the Darlington tire test I thought was fairly good. We came to some decent conclusions in the essence that we're going to go back one more time and do a final...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
HOW DID THE TEST GO IN DARLINGTON? "Well, the Darlington tire test I thought was fairly good. We came to some decent conclusions in the essence that we're going to go back one more time and do a final tire test with a different tire and try to hit a middle road with the two options that they had. One felt really good and wasn't going to last and the other one didn't feel so good and was going to last too good. We'll work with Goodyear and the three teams that were there and go back to do another tire test -- a short abbreviated test -- where we can prove that the tires will be ideal for the track.
"The track is great -- I like the old track better. But the track is great. They did an excellent job replicating what was there when they repaved it. It's super smooth -- the transitions are the same -- it's got a ton of grip. It's really fast. We ran a 28.12 on the 'controlled tire' and that I think is three seconds faster than the old race pace in race trim -- so it's super fast. You have to be on your toes. Turn 2 wall is about four-foot taller now when you come off Turn 2 -- it just feels like it. The track drives the same -- other than the fact that you don't slip the tire."
TALK ABOUT RACING AT BRISTOL MOTORSPEEDWAY? "I think they did an excellent job making this a better race track. From my standpoint sitting it the seat, it drives like a three-wide -- kind of like a Michigan. It's a lot of fun to race -- you can move around. It takes some time to move up towards the wall -- it's a three groove race track. Any half-mile that is a three groove race track is a heck of a race track in my book."
ARE YOU SATISIFIED WITH ONLY HAVING ONE TIRE MANUFACUTERE? "I think they (NASCAR) only need one -- that's my final answer. Would it be OK to have two? Yes. Do we only need one? Yes. I think that Goodyear has done a good job -- there's times they could have done a better job. We've made them aware of it. And there's times where they've done a good job and haven't gotten the credit they deserved. It's OK the way it is."
HOW DID YOU DAD END UP SPOTTING FOR YOU ON THE CUP LEVEL? "He was threatening to have to get a real job so I gave him a side job. He started spotting in the Busch Series in 2005. When we won the six-out-of nine-races -- he was the spotter. My spotter for the time was the guy I went to college with and works with our team there in Oakley. He was spotting on Sunday's and when he decided to come of the road and be more a family man, he gave my dad the opportunity and he wanted to do it. We started in 2006 with him spotting and it's been a progression of arguments (laughs) and high-fives since."
DID YOU GET ANY FEEL FOR HOW THAT RACING WILL BE IN DARLINGTON AFTER THE TIRE TEST? "The abrasiveness and the bumpiness is gone. We're wearing out tires- don't get me wrong. It's so sticky and I literally never slipped the rear tire when I was there -- and I didn't want to. You take a track like that (Darlington) when it's a repave -- if you slip a rear tire - it's like an Indy car spinning -- it's gone around and there's no saving it. We were conscious of that going into the test. Racing wise, I've always said Darlington is not the perfect race track. To me, it's my favorite race track to drive -- but racing wise -- going three and four wide -- you're not going to see it at Darlington. So it's going to be difficult -- it's going to have its own set of difficulty as far as passing and working in traffic and things like that. It's going to be a very important track position race in the essence that if you're out front -- it's going to be easier to stay out front because it's difficult to pass there. It's always been a give and take race track. It's the give-and-take race track when it comes to passing. We'll have to adjust our speed and how the cars handle there with this new pavement for sure."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD HAVE A TEST IN TEXAS? "When we tested at Darlington, the Darlington control tire -- the one that was our baseline that they wanted with their anticipation maybe being able to use - was the Texas tires. After feeling those tires at a brand new abrasive track, and knowing that Texas has aged -- I think that we'll have a good tire going into Texas. Do I know that? No. But I firmly believe that tire that they've chosen -- that they adjusted -- for this year- the new Texas tire - is going to be a good tire for Texas."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON DALE JARRET ON A RACE CAR DRIVER AND FAVORITE MEMORY? "Obviously a great race car driver. A champion of champions - a first-class individual -- although he spun me out here on purpose (laughs). We've always had a good relationship with the exception for couple times which is tough to do in this business. I think that he's had a lot of respect for me and I've had a lot of respect for him. Going back to my first Daytona 500 and the Gatorade 125 at the time -- he came up to me after the race and told me that I did a good job. We finished like 13th or something -- but it meant something for me to have somebody that was champion in 1999 -- somebody that was a champion in the racing past to come to me and tell me that I did a good job was special for me. It was one of my special moments with him. We share a lot together in the essence that we've both won the 500 and our dad's both called us to Victory Lane. I think a lot of Dale -- I wish him the best in his retirement -- we'll see him in Charlotte."
IS THERE EMPHASIS ON PHYSICAL FITNEES WITH THE HANDLING OF THE NEW CAR? "Yeah, I cut back on the cookies -- I cut down to like five a day. It's definitely more physical -- but it's not to that point -- we're still sitting in the easy chairs if you ask me. There comparable and comfortable -- because we have to sit there for four hours sometimes -- when we have red flags it's five hours. You have to be in physical shape, don't get me wrong. But I've not lifted a single piece of iron or pumped any metal or did any push-ups or sit-ups the entire year. I'm not in Mark Martin shape, but I don't think that I'm giving up anything sitting in the car on lap 499 -- I'm just as strong as I am in the beginning."
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF A PERFECT RACE TRACK? "I think Atlanta and Michigan -- even Charlotte has matured quite a bit with the new asphalt to the point that I think they're great race tracks. Michigan is an easy track to drive -- you don't have to have a ton of talent to get around there fast. Darlington you have to have a good bit of talent -- and that's the difference. That's why I like Darlington -- I've always claimed it as my favorite. Dover is a great race track. You can really make up some time -- move your line around -- get offline in the corners -- it's very demanding."
IS IT NICE TO HAVE EASTER WEEK OFF NEXT WEEK? "Like you wouldn't believe; it's been a lot of work. I was home one day this week which is kind of rough. I'd prefer three -- it's just kind of a vacation at home with the dogs -- with Krissie -- fishing and doing stuff outside. I might fire-up the lawn mower for the first time even though the grass doesn't need to get cut. Just enjoy being around the house."
WHAT SHOULD BE THE PERFECT BALANCE FOR THE RACE HERE AT BRISTOL? "To me, I'm a race car driver and I want to see a race. I want to see us go door handle-to-door handle and rub sides. I don't want us to see us bumping and banging and getting mad because one guy spun another guy out. Now in saying that, this new car doesn't allow us to spin each other out the way we used to, but we can still get it done.
I like the race track the way it is -- the way it was -- it was OK. It's not like it was a bad race track before. I just think it's a racier race track now and if fans are here to see a race -- then those fans should be happy. If those fans that don't like it that much, they're not here to see a race, they're probably here to see a crashing. Go visit your demolition derby."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR TRIP TO DETROIT THIS TO CELEBRATE THE DAYTONA 500? "We went to Chrysler headquarters and basically gave a 'thank you' out to all the people there. I've never realized how many people or how big the building was. They said that the Chrysler headquarters is the second largest building under one roof to the Pentagon in the United States. It's a huge building. They have over 12,000 people that work there and we had about 8,000 that were watching us. It was pretty cool. We were at the bottom-floor level and it's four or five stories up -- they have stairs and mezzanines -- all these people looking at us -- it was like Wizard of Oz or something.
"Just to have all those people be thankful and sign some autographs for them is great. We sat down and had lunch and to have the head people tell us how important it was -- people were smiling that usually weren't smiling -- just because we won that race. It meant a lot. It was nice to sit down with Bob Nardelli and get to know him a little bit better. To give back to people that make a big difference to us. Dodge has helped us out a ton between the wind tunnel testing and everything else they do to help our Alltel Dodge go faster."
STATISTICS SHOW THAT THE TOP-12 LEAVING THIS RACE AT BRISTOL USUALLY MAKE THE CHASE. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET OFF TO A REAL FAST START? "It might change a little bit. It typically only changes from the bottom -- from ninth to 12th. We're happy to be in our position -- we'd like to be first. It's been a good start to the season and that momentum and those finishes kind of help play out and keep going. You see a guy like Carl Edwards struggle the last couple weeks for various reasons -- he's sitting outside looking in. He's obviously a great competitor -- I think he'll be in the Chase. It's much easier to be in the top-five and have a race to give then to know that you can't afford to screw up or mess up or have a bad pit stop or anything. You may not make it in -- it's easier to work your way down a little bit then to work your way up."
IS THERE MORE PRESSURE BEING ON THE OUTSIDE? "I wouldn't say there's pressure from being 15th in points right now would cause you to make mistakes. It's just that difficult to beat the other guys in the higher positions. You're going to get to a point where you're going to finish 10th and not gain any points. This situation like that where you really have to be winning races -15 races into the season -- to make up that difference if you're sitting 15th in points to be able to make it in the Chase. If you're sitting sixth around 15 races in, you've got six races to give and that's a big difference."
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE COT NOW THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW LAST TIME WE WERE HERE IN THE SPRING? "The biggest thing is that we don't have anything to compare it to anymore. The old car is gone. There is no 'man this thing feels horrible.' We compare it to going to our Vegas or Charlotte car -- you just can't do that anymore. We don't have anything to compare it to so there's no point in complaining. It doesn't drive as good. It doesn't feel like the old car did. It's like that for a reason. That's the way partially it was designed. We've made some big gains with the car. We've learned a lot of suspension things -- items that have changes because of the way we have to drive the cars -- because of the suspension travels. They're harder to drive -- that's OK. It's a little job security for us drivers. Other than that -- there's still going to be a winner so we'll just go out and do what we have do. It's going to be interesting when go to place like Michigan and Charlotte and get 43 cars on the track. To me, it's all about the fans. If the fans like the racing in this car -- that's the bottom line. If we're complaining about the cars - or the tires - or the wing - or the fact that we can't see out of it- or that it has bigger windshield going into Turn 3 at Phoenix and we can't see because of the sun -- it doesn't matter."
-credit: dodge motorsport