Ryan Newman, No. 31 Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge Chevrolet SS me with media and discussed his sponsors, the track & tire conditions during practice, changes in the qualifying procedure, and more.
TALK ABOUT YOUR SPONSORS AND HOW IT ENDED UP ON THE RACE CAR TODAY... “It’s a fairly simple deal. Just get a perfect bracket, which I think is like one in two hundred million, trillion odds; but it’s a great opportunity to engage with the fans, not just in our sport, but with college basketball. If you nail the bracket, it’s a billion dollars.
HAVING A SPONSOR LIKE THAT WHERE YOU GET SOME GREAT CROSSOVER HAS GOT TO BE A BIG PLUS... “Yeah, geographically they’re in southern Michigan, which is really close to my home which is in the heart of basketball country. I think it’s a no-brainer for them or for any kind of fan out there, whether you’re basketball fan or a racing fan.
Who doesn’t want the opportunity at a billion dollars? Even if you just plain old get lucky, you get lucky! So, go register.”
WHAT THE HECK HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN PRACTICE, AND WHY HAVEN’T YOU CRASHED YET? “I don’t know (laughs). I guess the starter would be that we had a 15-minute penalty from Vegas, so we sat there an watched a few guys crash. But it’s a big transition, I think, for us this weekend; not only with the new rules package, but with the new tires that we have here (and) getting a grasp on that. It seems like the cars are really, really sensitive to some changes just because the cars are so stiff now because of the rigidity of how we’re running them. Once you lose it, you really lose it; which is kind of what we’ve seen. More aerodynamic-related at other race tracks; but here, more mechanical-related.”
SO MARBLING-UP IS NOT A GOOD THING, RIGHT? “Marbling-up is not a good thing as far as the race track and giving us the ability to use all of the race track. When it marbles-up and you get up into the marbles, it takes two or three laps sometimes to get back going again. And that’s sometimes 20 or 30 positions. You want to have the confidence in the race track and your race car to be able to put it anywhere so that you can pass at any time. And obviously the track is pretty narrow. So, giving us the ability to move around is a good thing.”
WAS THERE JUST NO GRIP THIS MORNING? “Oh, there’s a lot of grip. Once you lose that grip, it’s kind of gone. That’s a full slide. You have to run it right there on the edge to kind of feel it.”
DO YOU HAVE A BRACKET FILLED-OUT? “Not yet. It’s on the ‘to-do list’”.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO TO COMPENSATE FOR THE MARBLING-UP? “I don’t know that it’s going to be like that in the race. I think if they blow the race track off and we go straight to the top and doing our thing like we have done here in the past, it won’t be an issue. But as of right now, it’s laying a lot of marbles and we’re running the bottom to the middle; so the top third of the race track really is marbled-up. So, I don’t know that it’s going to be an issue, but it has potential more so I think now, than last year.”
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR TRIP ON WEDNESDAY TO SOUTH CAROLING? “Oh, at the National Wildlife Turkey Federation? We just went down and kind of got a chance to meet some people with the National Wildlife Turkey Federation. I’m a big outdoorsman and am really avid about saving the habitat and saving the hunt with their program as well as just in general. The love of animals, which goes along with managing them; I don’t want to get into that issue, but in the end we had a good trip down there. I got to meet the CEO and a few other people at two of their properties, and saw some of their ideas for the future and how to incorporate the youth out there to be better outdoorsmen and better for the environment. So, we had a good trip, my wife and Angie Skinner, and I.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY METHOD TO YOUR MADNESS IN FILLING OUT YOUR BRACKET? “That’s the thing is that with my analytical mind it’s easy for me to overthink it. So I don’t know if I’m going to take the overthink approach or the under think approach.”
ON THE QUALIFYING CHANGES RELATIVE TO COOL DOWN LAPS... “I think that’s the right call. It’s what we talked about as drivers from a safety standpoint and that was for two reasons. From a safety standpoint as well as giving us the opportunity to put on a better show for the fans with the drama building up with more opportunities because we can cool the car down so fast that to go out there and bog the race track down with slow race cars was not safe. So I think they made the right call, for sure; especially going into this race track.”
ON THE NEW FORMAT AND WINNING MEANING SO MUCH, COULD WE GO BACK TO SOME OF THE PHYSICAL STUFF THAT WE’VE SEEN HERE AT THE END OF RACES AT BRISTOL? “Physical stuff inside the race track or outside the race track?”
WELL IT USUALLY SPILLS OVER IF IT STARTS INSIDE... “No, I don’t see it as that, to that extent. At least from my standpoint, I don’t have any plans to be anymore violent so to speak than I have in the past. I don’t know how you can read into that. But, ultimately we have to manage our race car. We have to manage our race. We have to have something there at the end. So, you can beat on guys, but you’re going to probably get beat back on. So, there is a balance there. It all depends on where you’re at and who you’re around.”
IF YOU’RE RUNNING SECOND GOING INTO TURN 1 ON THE LAST LAP, WILL IT BE TEMPTING? “No, I’ll wait until Turn 3.”
BUT IT WILL BE TEMPTING, RIGHT? “It’s always tempting, even on the first lap.”