Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2003 Ryan Newman and Matt Borland RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) DO YOU THINK YOUR CURRENT MOMENTUM WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF YOUR CAREER? "I think it's definitely part of my career...
Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2003
Ryan Newman and Matt Borland
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)
DO YOU THINK YOUR CURRENT MOMENTUM WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF YOUR CAREER?
"I think it's definitely part of my career right now. I'll always look back on it and think what an awesome summer of '03 we had, but I hope to be able to make it better. I hope at some point to be able to do the same thing and have the same points lead that Matt Kenseth has."
WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD ON POLE DAY?
"It's the same thing as race day only you just have to do it for one lap. It takes the whole team. You've got to have a fast racecar, the driver has to hit his marks and perform to his best ability. It's still a team effort. You've still got to work on the car on qualifying practice to get the car that fast. It's just a matter of being able to put that lap down. That's something I enjoy. I might (go into a zone). I'm not sure. I just go out and do what I've got to do."
WHY HAS DOVER BEEN SO GOOD TO YOU?
"We really like the race track. I've always liked banked race tracks, and it's a great banked race track. You can race there sometimes two or three-wide in the corners. Usually you won't have it figured out by the time you come off the corner, but it's a good race track as far as passability, and it's race track where you don't typically get stuck in traffic. There's definitely some differences between the concrete and pavement as far as the bumps and what not, but it's a team sport and we've got to be able to hit everything. Being able to race on that concrete is a part of it."
WHY AREN'T OTHER DODGES WINNING, AND WHEN DO YOU EXPECT TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT RACING CONDITIONS AT DOVER?
"It's a team thing. Our team is really strong. I enjoy what I'm doing. I'm focused at it, and Matt and everybody else on that 12 team is the same way. Rusty has had a run of bad luck. Everybody said the same thing about me at the beginning of the year. Why is Rusty seventh in the points and we're 27th? He's had some bad luck. We've had some bad luck, but our team is doing an awesome job and we're just going at it.
"I know they're making some precautions, but I haven't heard of any ultimate decisions. I've heard they're making some considerations as far as getting the coaches out of Dover and going some place else with them. I was looking at the weather this morning, and I think they said at 8 p.m. there's supposed to be 134 mph wind gusts in Dover on Friday. I know NASCAR has definitely got their eye on the storm."
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PRIMARY OBJECTIVES IF YOU WERE IN BRIAN FRANCE'S SHOES RIGHT NOW?
"I don't think there's any one thing that stands out. The whole safety issue of NASCAR working with the soft walls, I think that's something that would be No. 1 on my hit list as far as things to do to get the safer walls at every track. It's going to be a big part of the safety aspect of NASCAR Winston Cup Racing. I'd make it so when the yellow comes out, the field is locked in and you don't race back. That's the way most of us grew up racing at local racetracks. If the yellow comes out, you're locked in and you don't race back to the yellow."
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
"Basically the same thing they were all season, just go out and do the best job we can. If something happens to Matt or anybody else, I think we're roughly 200 points out of second and the potential is still there for that. If something happens to Matt, either on the track or off the track or whatever, with the nine races left there's still a chance. Until we're mathematically out of it, we're just going to go out and do the best job we can to get points and win races."
WHY IS YOUR TEAM HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE THE REST?
"Teamwork. That's what the whole sport is based on, chemistry and the communication involved in teamwork. We've had to really regroup hard after the first part of our season. I think that's made the second part of our season really strong. You're wasting time if you're thinking about the past."
WHEN DO YOU START THINKING ABOUT NEXT YEAR?
"We've already started. We're already thinking about new rules, new tracks, whatever."
WAS IT IMPORTANT TO WIN ON A SHORT TRACK?
"Not a huge deal, but it was good for me, my resume and everything else. It's another racetrack. It doesn't matter whether it's a superspeedway or a short track or a road course. We go there to win. We were strong last year on short tracks. We ran second in both Richmond races last year. I knew we were capable of running well. We're run well at every racetrack we've been to. If we haven't won, we're run second or close to the top five. Our biggest weakness from the numbers standpoint is the restrictor-plate races. I think our best finish was seventh, so we just keep on going and doing the best we can."
HOW WOULD YOU CHANGE POINTS SYSTEM?
"If they want to add bonus points or whatever, that's fine. But you've got to be a little of both (consistent and winning) to be a Winston Cup champion. The bottom line is it doesn't matter what I think. NASCAR will make the decision. If you look at it from a numbers standpoint, there's no need to have bonus points. I don't think there's anything wrong with the structure of the points system right now. If they want to add bonus points, I don't think it'll affect the situation a whole lot."
IF YOU COULD DESIGN A POINTS SYSTEM FROM SCRATCH, WHAT WOULD THE BASIS PARAMETERS BE?
"I think the Winston Cup champion should be a guy who can go out and win races, be able to sit on poles and in some form dominate, win the most poles, lead the most laps, winning, the basic structure we have now. However you numerically go about it, whether it's one point or 100 points... The Winston Cup champion should be a champion in all respects. That would be the basis of doing it. Consistency is a big part of being a Winston Cup champion."
DOES IT STRIKE YOU ODD THAT TERRY LABONTE HASN'T WON IN 49 STARTS AT DOVER?
"Yes and no. I guess it is the way it is. Terry may not like the place. The teams he's been with may have struggled. They may have had engine failures two or three years in a row. Sometimes it's called racing luck, but Terry is definitely a good driver and if he hasn't won there, then he hasn't won there."
COMPARE HOURS YOU WORK TO A 40-HOUR STANDARD WORK WEEK?
"From a numbers standpoint, I can't really tell you. No Winston Cup driver works 9-5, five days a week. A Winston Cup driver's work ethics are pretty sporadic when it comes to what they do because there are so many different perspectives involved. You've got the driving part of it. You've got the sponsor-media relations part of it. You've got the fan appreciation part of it. There's different aspects whereas the typical worker might do the same thing constantly day in and day out. That's all or he or she does that day. From a time perspective, it probably all balances out or it'd be pretty close to what the common worker works during the week just based off of human physical stamina."
DOES INSTINCT OR EXPERIENCE HELP YOU MAKE THE RIGHT DECISIONS ON THE TRACK?
"All of the above. You've got to have the instinct in order to apply your ability in certain situations. You've got to have the people behind you to give you the vehicle or car or the handling to be able to pull off certain things whether it's a move or getting out of trouble, whatever it may be. No matter what, I'd say it's a combination of all the above. Different things might weigh heavier than others."
ARE YOU SURPRISED WITH YOUR SUCCESS?
"I wouldn't use the word surprised. I'm happy and I feel good about what we've done as a team, but I don't spend time thinking about how surprised I am."
COMMENT ON PIT ROAD INCIDENTS, RACING BACK TO FLAG AND ESCAPE HATCHES.
"The safety on pit road is definitely something NASCAR is trying to change and look at, but I guess the latest issue is guys trying to pass people on pit lane. That shouldn't even be considered because pit road speed is pit road speed. You shouldn't be able to get up next to another person if you're not exceeding pit road speed. The best way to think about it is a railroad yard where you have different cars coming in on different tracks, but we can't do that to keep cars from hitting each other. The best thing to do is to be able to control your car. That's what happened to Jeff. He tried to make an aggressive move at the wrong time and he almost hurt some people. Knowing that it wasn't intentional, you just kind of go on, but NASCAR is looking to try to fix those situations. To me, I don't think that's right (racing back to the flag). The idea of racing back to the yellow is something we didn't do a whole lot growing up in racing. In short track racing, if the yellow comes out you revert back to the last lap. If you're a lap down, you're a lap down. If you're on the lead lap, you're on the lead lap. If you're going to get your lap back, you'd better race your way back. You have to earn it. In my opinion, that's the way it should be, both from a racing perspective and a safety perspective. We're considering it (escape roof hatch). Again, there's safety issues involved with it. It's gone through crash test after crash test in Nebraska, but at the same time it hasn't gone through real life racing situations, so all things need to be considered. We're definitely considering that, but we haven't made any definite decisions yet."
DISCUSS DAMAGED CARS COMING BACK ON THE TRACK
"I've heard people say you shouldn't offer points for say 35th on, so if you get six or seven cars in a wreck they don't come out and slow down and cause another yellow or whatever, but all that needs to be considered by NASCAR. Not only do you need to consider the next yellow, but you also have to consider the sponsors and their TV time and all the other parts of the politics of Winston Cup Racing. There's definitely different perspectives of it. I think that's something NASCAR has to decide right from wrong when it comes to the points and when it comes to cars that come back on the racetrack from a sponsors' perspective. The fans are in the stands, and they support the sponsor. I think sometimes because of that they support the driver. The fans in the stands are the ones NASCAR has to watch out for in that situation. I think every driver out there is going to tell you driver safety is what the driver thinks about. As soon as I got the car fired (at Darlington in Southern 500), I was going off the access road to the racetrack, I told them the kill switch was hit. Basically we left it at that for the race, but we talked about it afterwards. We were all sad for the situation, but there was nothing we could do to go back and fix it. Our time machine is broke. It's not a good laugh. There's nothing to laugh about there, but we go on."