Daytona 500: Newman - Media Day visit

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at NASCAR Media Day and discussed his baby daughter,

ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER BROOKLYN AND HOW SHE DID ON THE FLIGHT DOWN HERE? "Yeah, she did really well. I don't know if anyone knows how their first kid is supposed to be but she has been sleeping, and she has a good personality. When I smile she smiles and I would like to have that relationship with my wife (laughs). No, I am just kidding, she has been a lot of fun. She has been a lot of work, but a lot of fun. I thought we were going to have the whole ear-popping thing on the plane but she was good on the way up and good on the way down. And she slept from about 11:30 last night till about 7:30 this morning which I think is pretty good for about ten and a half weeks."

ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT THE CHARITY WORK IS FOR YOU AND FOR KRISSIE: "We have the ability to impress people and with impressions in different ways. And what we can do with our charity is to raise an understanding for our goals and obviously the funding to go along with it and the things we believe in are all for the greater good to help out in our position the animals and animal welfare and what we can do to help out an animal that has unconditional love for us is the goal for the Ryan Newman Foundation. We have some new things coming about here in this next couple months that we can talk about more and some of the things that we are working on personally and internally to make it bigger and better than it has been."

DRIVERS ARE TALKING ABOUT CHAMPIONSHIPS AND THE CHASE, BUT HOW IS WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE? "I think it changes your life because of the impression people have of you as a Daytona 500 winner. It changed my life because I have the trophy and the check and the notoriety to go along with it but I think it is the impression that people have of you as a Daytona 500 champion that changes your life more so. Obviously it's a big career builder and resume builder and I don't want it to sound like it's just another race because it's not but in the grand scheme of things it happens so quick and back then the second race of the year was at California and then that is what it's all about so coming back and talking about it is kind of nice."

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THE ARMY A GOOD PARTNER WITH NASCAR? "The Army has a job to do and that is to recruit. And their goal is to find the kids out there that they can build careers for as well as defend our country with. I am very proud to represent the Army and what it is to be Army strong and to have that mental, physical, and emotional strength of no other. It's a way to advertise and to draw and we do our education programs at the race track when kids come in on Fridays from school and we talk about our lives from a drivers perspective, a team's perspective, a journalism perspective and from the Army's perspective and what it is and the ties between NASCAR racing and the Army. We both have similar goals and we are trying to achieve our dreams and win battles but we do it through teamwork and communication and both of our strategies are pretty much the same."

RYAN IS YOUR CONTRACT UP THIS YEAR? "Is it? I don't know....no I don't think it is."

SO YOU HAVE ONE MORE AT LEAST? "I think I signed up for four when I signed up. I think, I don't remember." (laughs) "When he (Tony Stewart) says, 'let's go to Burger King', I know it's time to talk about the contract." (laughs more)

ABOUT IT BEING COMMON TO HAVE A FOUR YEAR DEAL? "You know for our situation I think it was a good deal obviously because we were starting all over with a new program and you wouldn't just want to do that for one year or two years, you would want to do that for four. And obviously I had the intention, and wouldn't have signed the contract if I didn't believe in the situation that was coming or of what we were working on, so I don't know if its unheard of, but you have guys out there with a lifetime contract and you have guys out there with one-year deals. So four years isn't too bad of a deal and at least it gives me some security and my family some security and obviously we are trying to win championships."

ABOUT THE DOLLARS INVOLVED "In all honesty when I, and I think it was (Martin) Truex and maybe a couple other guys signed their contracts that year, it was a good year to sign contracts because of the way the economy is and everything else is its not gotten better."

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT WHEN YOU HAVE TO SIGN ANOTHER ONE? "I will have to sit down and talk to Tony, because I might have to buy the Burger King meal if anything. (laughs)

WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAND, LOOKS LIKE YOU RIPPED YOUR THUMB OFF? "I did, I wish I had a really good story."

THE CATFISH GOT AWAY? "No, that would be like a saber-toothed tiger or something. I was actually screwing a screw into a board to put up for one of my deer cameras and the screw had stripped out so when I went to un-screw it, it was stripped out and it was stripped out going in and stripped out coming out so I pushed real hard on it and I had a screw this long, and bit this long and when I pushed it and it came off and the Phillips head bit went through my hand. And it actually went down to about right there so I had a radius of that, and it ended up coming down and hitting the thumb so....."

AND THAT IS YOUR......"That is just the ride-a-long thumb. This other one does all the work. (laughs) My hitch hiking thumb."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE SHOOTOUT? DALE JR SAYS YOU NEED TO LEAD, LEAD, LEAD? "I think the Daytona 500 is an extended version of the Budweiser Shootout, and the Gatorade Duels and its going to be a different race this year than it ever has been you know, the tires, the race track, the surface and the combination of all the things like the fuel cans. You know you can add in a lot of different scenarios and options and strategies that we haven't had before where it was such a demanding grip race track that we had before that four tires were the guarantee pretty much every time and now you are going to have guys doing different things and either way you always want to be out front and you want to be in that position where you are in the top-five window to be in position to win the race and I don't think anybody can expect to achieve that in the last ten laps to go from 20th to first, but I don't know it's really going to be interesting because the track and the tires has taken a lot of the mechanical skills to drive the race track out of it and what we do is going to be a little different because used to be with new tires you could drive to the front with no problems and no issues and now new tires mean nothing."

THAT IS THE VARIABLE THAT HAS BEEN PRESENTED IS THE NEW SURFACE? "Yeah, the way the equation has to balance out, with the new surface is that because of the way the speeds and the restrictor plates, and the banking. There is probably a good chance that if there was no banking here and a 2.5 mile race track that everybody could still just run about wide open, but with the parameters that we have I am glad to see that the track has a couple bumps in it because ten years from now it will have the character of having a couple bumps and the handling will become more important and those bumps will have impact on who passes and who doesn't and on places you can pass. So I don't think any driver out there likes a repaved race track but we all understand the things that are needed to put on a good show and I don't think anybody was necessarily proud of last year how we needed to have the red flag and patch the race track. So for the greater good of the sport this is the period of new asphalt."

WHAT WAS THE SCARIEST PART OF THIS RACE TRACK FOR YOU GUYS? "Coming out of (turn) two was where a lot of the accidents happened and where I got crashed last year when Elliott Sadler lost control and hit me in the right rear corner and drove me straight into the wall"

IS THERE ANY OTHER AREA YOU FELT LIKE THAT? "Well one of the hardest parts was typically coming on to pit road. We have seen a lot of accidents happen coming to pit road because you are on old tires and you come off the corner and the way the timing works out, you come off the corner and you have to be on the brake with the car straight and now you can be a little bit farther and deeper because there is more grip in the race track and more grip in the tire but there is still the importance of not flat-spotting your tires now because before you were going to change your tires regardless, but now you might not change your tires and there are different perspectives. That is why I said now there are different perspectives than we have ever had at Daytona for the importance of the way the race plays out."

IS THIS TRACK NOW GOING TO DRIVE A LOT LIKE TALLADEGA AND YOU HAVENT BEEN A BIG FAN OF RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS IN THE PAST, SO DO THE CHANGES CONCERN YOU AT ALL? "Its going to drive very similar and the track is similar."

DOES THAT CONCERN YOU AT ALL? "Does it concern me? No."

DOES IT BOTHER YOU? "I finished third with a car on my roof at Talladega so I think I have a chance to win here but (laughs) my perspective on the racing is that I don't like this as much as the short tracks and intermediate tracks as far as the racing goes but I am still here and still love what I do."

WHAT ABOUT THE NEW NOSE ON THE CAR? HOW HAS THAT FIGURED IN WITH THE NEW SURFACES? "I don't think the new nose is as big of a deal as it looks. It's a better, more appealing nose but I don't think.... I think the biggest transition we are going to have with the new nose is that it's a more rigid nose. We had more flexibility with the way the fulcrums worked and the splitter with that old nose that we are not going to have so much anymore so the importance is going to be at a place like Pocono where it's really rough and bumpy because we are going to have to keep that splitter off the race track because when the splitter used to hit the race track it kind of took the tires off the track but now when it hits its going to hit the race track so when you see the guys hit the brakes a little harder to stay off of a guy, hit the splitter, and the tires come off the ground and then hits the car on the outside of them."

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF STAYING WHERE YOU ARE OR ARE MORE DRIVERS MOVING NOW? HOW IS THE SPORT CHANGED IF AT ALL? "It seems like the sport changes every six months when we get our "silly season" thing going on and things change. I mean just look at last year with Vickers. I mean there are just some things you just never know. I am only worried about myself and I don't worry about anybody else's contract, who they are racing for, or what brand they are driving. I am just happy being where I am and happy to have the teammate that I do and things that we can achieve."

IS THE NEW 6 MAN RULE AND FUELING SYSTEM GOING TO CHANGE STRATEGIES AND IF SO, HOW? "Yes it will change because now the pit stop will focus more on the tire changes than on the fuel. So you are not going to see a guy waiting an extra two seconds waiting on fuel when the guys are done changing the tires so you will have some different fuel windows than what you have seen in the past because of the way we fuel the cars now versus the way we did."

HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOUR GUYS WITH THIS NEW NOZZLE? "I think they have practiced a lot, and other teams have practiced it a lot. It's much more of a precise requirement to hit that hole and most importantly when the car is getting jacked up or down. The fuel man needs to be pulled out before the jack gets dropped basically in order for it to keep from getting kinked and getting carried off. There is a lot of practicing that has been going on by the teams I am sure. I think a lot of teams have it science out."

SO ARE WE GOING TO SEE SHORT-PITTING? "You aren't going to see short pitting it's just.............well, I guess in the essence of short pitting yes, but like maybe four or five laps at the most and a gallon or two of fuel. But I do think that is going to add to the..........it used to be that everybody put a full tank in within a lap or two and now you might have guys four or five laps different which will be more of impactful if there is a caution, or a random caution or whatever happens to keep guys a lap down or to put them on that wave-around."

SO FOR MOST PEOPLE, WHEN THE TIRES ARE DONE YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE OFF? "It depends on the race track, and where you are on the race track and where your windows line up. And at the end on top of all that, your fuel mileage and if you are getting 50 laps to the tank and there is 150 laps to go then you are going to be real precise if you are pitting on that number. But if you have flexibility in there then you are going to do what you have to do and with the right amount of fuel in and we get to the end of the race and you get the green/white/checkered then you have lost it."

REGARDING THE 48 TEAM AND THEIR LATE SEASON ISSUES AND WAS IT FRUSTRATING THEY STILL WON? "I don't think it was frustrating. They achieved a great feat these last three years, ever since his first repeat. So for him and his team to do what they have done is downright amazing and from our side it's nice to see a hiccup every once in a while like at Texas or a crash two years ago. It's like you think he is invisible for a while and then he does get in a crash, and it's like, wow, it does happen to him too. And then last year to have the pit stop problems and to come out and have a good finish.....I guess in the end it just gets us focused. But it's all because of preparation and all because of teamwork. It's that they aren't having the issues that other teams are."

DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL BE STILL TRYING STUFF AND STILL LEARNING IN THE BUD SHOOTOUT? "Oh yeah, we are always trying stuff. Whether its strategy or things with the car, we are always trying stuff. You can never be complacent in this sport in any parameter involved."

DID THE CREW CHIEF CHANGE TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT WEAKNESSES AT HENDRICK? "I don't think you could say that because they had two teams in the Chase and two that were not far out of the Chase and if you look at a four-car team they were still fairly strong, but they weren't as strongest four car team out there but they made changes and I don't think their changes are due to weak people they are due to communication. A lot of teams change driver and crew chief combinations because they are just trying something. I don't think they will just try, I think they have a good idea of what will work."

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THE NASCAR FANBASE FOR THE ARMY SO GOOD TO RECRUIT FROM? "It's a family sport and NASCAR has always been a family sport and it's relatively non-violent and in the grand scheme of things we are putting on a show. And I think a lot of young people enjoy our race cars and our racing style or our attitude or our leadership so what the Army tries to do......and what the Army does with respect to the advertising of their logo and get that recruitment and get that understanding of technology and education and what the Army has to offer through its ties into NASCAR."

ABOUT WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE TEAM THIS YEAR AND MIGHT MAKE A DIFFERENCE "Well for the first time in a couple of years we had a good ending to the season. Our last ten races were strong. They weren't perfect by any reason but they were strong. That was the highlight of our season last year so coming off that and having some momentum mentally and physically is big for our team. I look forward to starting the season a little more than I did this time last year which is based off that performance."

-source: team chevy

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Elliott Sadler