RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON NEW BUMP DRAFTING RULE "It's a joke because NASCAR's job is to control the races, not control the drivers. We've got some drivers that are ruining it for everybody, and I say ruining it...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON NEW BUMP DRAFTING RULE "It's a joke because NASCAR's job is to control the races, not control the drivers. We've got some drivers that are ruining it for everybody, and I say ruining it because the judgment call part of it is the ridiculous part of it. We've worked for four years now to try to eliminate the questionability of the yellow line rule. We've had one big question mark with Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth at Talladega. To add another judgment call to it, that's not racing. Period. You've got some guys that are ruining it because of their lack of driving ability for every other driver that's out there. All I was told is that it's going to be a judgment call based on bump drafting in the corners. That's my understanding of the rule, and that's what I base my opinion off of."
DO YOU BUMP DRAFT IN THE CORNERS? "I don't bump draft in the corners, but you still have the questionability of actually getting up and being real close to a guy to get a push in the corners. You can gain an advantage that way. If someone from NASCAR sees you do that, you loosen up the guy in front of you and he crashes but they think you touched then that's not cool. That's not what racing is about."
DO YOU THINK THE BUMP DRAFTING RULE IS TOO VAGUE? "Any judgment call in racing is not good for racing. That's the bottom line. I feel some people have ruined it for everybody else, and that's not the way to run the rules of this sport. I think it's just not very bright. You have to have experience and knowledge and whoever does that (bump drafts in the corners) doesn't. We saw it last year in the 150s. We saw it this year in the Shootout. It's not 20 percent of the drivers. It's 2 percent of the drivers out there and there's no reason to make a rule off that. Those drivers should be quarantined or however you want to put it."
WHY DON'T VETERANS GO HAVE A TALK WITH THESE GUYS? "We can't. We can't anymore. Any confrontation is wrong in NASCAR. We've seen that with Jimmy Spencer and Kurt Busch or anybody else, not necessarily contact, just confrontation. It's frowned upon by the sport. As soon as we do that we're looked at as bad boys. Kevin Harvick has done it and Greg Biffle has done it and they're looked on as bad boys. That's not good for our sponsors and that's not good for our image."
CAN'T YOU TALK TO THEM WITHOUT IT BEING A CONFRONTATION? "Because that's what it ends up in. Obviously the people that do that in the first place aren't smart enough to figure it out, so as soon as you go and approach them they think it's a confrontation. That's the general rule of thumb. I'm not saying it's the same way for everybody and that's not what's going to happen every time, but that's what you run into."
HOW VARIED IS THE ART OF BUMP DRAFTING? "Bump drafting is an art, but it is a controlled art, controlled by the drivers, not controlled by NASCAR -- or at least it should be in my eyes. The bottom line is the drivers out there who are smart know when to do it and know how to do it and know why to do it. Whatever drivers out there that are ruining it for us, that's not good for the sport because of the judgment questionability of it. Everybody can do it. You've just got to do it at the right time and the right place and for the right reasons. That's the other hard part of it. You run into situations where the spotters end up driving the cars more than the drivers do sometimes."
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO DO IT? "You just learn where to do it. You just look at my instance last year with Casey Mears at Talladega. That was questionable on my part. I was right there on him and took the air off his car. It looked like I hit him, and I did before the tri-oval, but I hit him and still had the air off his car and he got loose. That's why the judgment call is not good. It's not fair to a driver, a team, a sponsor, a championship contender to be able to take a judgment call and change the entire season three out of the four times."
WHAT'S THE SOLUTION? "The solution is to get the drivers straightened out so that the driver is smart and knows what's going on or change the rules so we don't have to deal with a situation like that. I was here in 2002 when the cars single filed out with big fuel tanks. The whole idea of small fuel tanks is everybody comes in and puts tires on and you all get back together in the same group again. It doesn't single-file out like it used to. It's a Catch-22. The fans love to see three-wide, four-deep and the drivers like to see it a little bit, but it's nice to be able to single file it out and race. That makes the sport safer. To me, that's where the changes should be made, not in a judgment situation like this."
HOW DANGEROUS IS IT? "It's dangerous. It's dangerous almost to the point that Tony described. I thought about it (talking to NASCAR about it), but when I do it usually doesn't come out right. You could be penalized for good racing, and that's the problem with the judgment part of it. I don't know the entire rule. I don't know how NASCAR presented it, but that's how it's been presented as far as what people have told me."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR KNOWS WHO IS CAUSING THE PROBLEM? "I think they do, but I think that's their way of policing it. They have the videos. They were watching the race. They know who was causing the problems (in the Shootout). That's where all this came from all of a sudden. This isn't something they brewed up over the winter and just decided to implement it on Tuesday afternoon or whenever."
WILL THIS MAKE YOU MORE CONSERVATIVE IN THE 150? "I plan on being conservative regardless because we're locked in the field. If we start up front in the 500 that's great. If we don't, it's 500 miles and it's tough to avoid the accidents, but it doesn't change my thinking of how I was going to approached the Gatorade Duel."
WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR AFTER THE BUD SHOOTOUT WHAT DID YOU THINK? "I thought it was a crazy race for all of the reasons it probably should have been, knowing it was a non-points race with a lot of money on the line, a great way to start the season. The track was really cold. The cars were very close together as far as competitiveness because the track had so much grip in it. I pretty much saw what I expected going into the race. It wasn't much different than it usually is."
WHAT DO YOU TRY TO ACCOMPLISH IN PRACTICE TODAY? "We're just going to try to get a good balance in the racecar, get a handle on it and making some changes so we know what to expect in the 500. Basically doing our homework for Sunday."