RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) NOTE: Newman became the third driver to sign a seat in the DuPont Monster Bridge Friday morning. "I figured when they put the seats up here they did it for money and that's when they said Jeff (Gordon)...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Newman became the third driver to sign a seat in the DuPont Monster Bridge Friday morning.
"I figured when they put the seats up here they did it for money and that's when they said Jeff (Gordon) signed the deal. I knew he hadn't won a race here (since bridge was built). I think it's a cool deal to sign the seat. Everybody doesn't get an opportunity to do that. To win here last fall was awesome. We led 325 laps of the 400 and had a real fun day. It was definitely a lot more fun than the June race for us. We'll have to see (if they need to add more No. 12 seats). If they had built the bridge a couple of years ago they would have. We'll have to see if we can keep doing what we have been doing here."
WHAT WILL YOU DO TODAY IF IT RAINS OUT EVERYTHING?
"I was sleeping. I can't go back now. Mopar is here. There's no way you can tell with him (what breed he is). He's part hound and lab or something. He's like a big turtle dog."
IS A RAINY DAY AT THE RACETRACK A WASTED DAY?
"It's not a wasted day. I caught up on a little bit of sleep this morning. I know Kenseth will be over at the casino. The guys on the crew are probably inside playing poker because they have to be here. I'll just relax a little bit."
IS THIS A PLACE WHERE IT WILL MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE TO MISS A DAY OF PRACTICE?
"Not usually. This track is so unique you usually have to come here knowing what you're doing because it's concrete, because of the banking, because of the way the straightaways are. If you've got it right in the past it's easy to get it right again -- usually. We've got new aero rules and new tires and things like that we've had to work around this year. By June if we don't have it figured out we're in trouble. Little practice or no practice at all is not a big deal here."
COMMENT ON STRENGTH OF HENDRICK AND ROUSH TEAMS THIS YEAR "We're fourth in points now. We've tried to separate them a little bit. The last three races have been good for us as far as results and finishes. We're just going to try to carry that on. We always do. It's just a matter of getting it done."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT DOVER?
"It's a very unique racetrack and you've got to have a really fast race car that works good on the bottom. Typically the track widens out quite a bit for the Cup race. The Busch race usually it's quite a bit harder to pass. The Cup race there's heavier cars that slide around more it seems like. It's just a matter of getting it right to get through the corners because the straightaways in reference to the corners are relatively short. You have to have a car that corners really good here."
WILL YOU BE UPSET IF THEY DON'T QUALIFY TODAY?
"Not really. We definitely would have liked a shot to qualify here. We've always qualified well here with the exception of one time when I crashed, but we'll come back in September."
CAN YOU CONTINUE YOUR TOP FIVE STREAK?
"I won't say we've got a handle of everything. I think we've got a handle on a lot of things we didn't have a handle on before. We've got a good string of races coming up that we've always performed well at. This is usually the point in the season, for whatever reason, that our candle is lit. We'll have to see if it happens again this year. It'd definitely be nice if it does. Here, Michigan, usually we're really strong in June. That could change and we don't want it to."
COMMENT ON NASCAR'S SUBSTANCE ABUSE POLICY
"I definitely think it should be in our sport. We're athletes. We're professional athletes. I guess the thing that has been considered in the past is there actual advantages to the substances. I don't use 'em and have never thought about using 'em. Is it an advantage? I don't know. At the same time, is it harmful to the user? That's probably more of the issue in my eyes. It definitely should be looked at."
SHOULD THERE BE MANDATORY TESTING?
"Yes, anything as far as performance enhancing drugs, good or bad. Alcohol is obviously bad. Some steroids are out there that are potentially good. That's my point. It should be tested because we're professional athletes."
DOES SHANE HMIEL DESERVE ANOTHER CHANCE?
"In my opinion, no. Does the court system work like that? No. Plenty of people are out there that are multiple offenders and are still carrying on doing what they're doing and leading a normal life. I don't think that's fair, but that's my opinion. I don't know how it's being done now, if every athlete is being tested in basketball, NFL and I guess you can't talk about hockey anymore, I don't know how they're doing it. I'm not saying that's the right way, but if you're going to find out, you should test everybody. We only have 150 drivers at the most. It's not like the NFL where you've got 30 teams of 60."
YOU WOULDN'T MIND BEING TESTED?
"As long as the testing process doesn't have a negative effect on me then there's no reason why I would object to it. I'll take the loss of time to know I'm not racing against somebody that's potentially going to have a negative effect on my career."
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON'T GET ON THE TRACK TODAY?
"From what I understand it's going to be about the same way tomorrow. What we've got here is the same thing we had in Charlotte and it took two days to get blown through. This isn't the first time it's happened. We had the hurricane deal here two years ago. Friday was canceled. We practiced on Saturday and raced on Sunday."
HOW DOES IT FEEL BEING RANKED FOURTH IN POINTS?
"It feels good, but if you look at the big picture we came from seventh to fourth in one race so we could very easily from fourth back to seventh or eighth in one race. We have to continue on. If we were sitting fourth and there was 400 points back to fifth it would be different. We just have to keep our nose to the grindstone. Our goal every week is to come out and win the race or get a top five. We've got three top fives in a row, and we want to keep doing that. That's the tough part, actually doing it. It makes me know we're capable of doing it. It's very important to us to be able to get that part done. That's making or breaking the season, that 26th race."
CAN YOU GET ENOUGH CUSHION TO GET LOCKED IN THE CHASE BEFORE THE 26TH RACE?
"You can get enough cushion. The only way you can experience in the last three or four races, or the only way we would do it, if we had a 300 or 400 point lead and knew we were still going to be first going into the Chase. You look at what happened last year. Even in Kurt's instance with Jimmie, if Jimmie wasn't leading he would have been 10 points behind instead of five points behind at the end of the last race. Five points can obviously make a difference."
DID YOU HAVE THIS TRACK FIGURED OUT RIGHT AWAY?
"Yes, I've always liked this track. It's a lot of fun. It's a fun place to drive. It's not the best, raciest track we have as far as passing and things like that, but it's an absolute blast to drive. When we came up here and tested the Busch car in 2001 we were fast and enjoyed it. We came back and sat on the pole and had a shot at winning the race."
DO YOU THINK WE'RE SEEING SO MANY CAUTIONS NOW BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE ARE DRIVING OVER THEIR HEADS?
"I think there's a small percentage of that. The cars, and we talked about this before the season, the cars are just flat out harder to drive. As far as the spoiler and everything else, and to me that's fine. Make them harder to drive. I think that's why Greg Biffle said what he said as far as the drivers out there versus the quality of the cars. Biffle said there's more quality rides than quality drivers. I'm not going to go out on a limb and say it's true, but I'm going to say
that's part of the reason. The cars are harder to drive and we're seeing more cautions. How many guys spun out by themselves at Charlotte in the 600? And myself included in the All-Star race. I just spun out by myself. The cars are just harder to control. There's no question about that. I watched the replays and (one driver) pretty much didn't see a yellow car in the middle of the night."
COMMENT ON RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DRIVER AND CREW CHIEF
"It all depends on how you look at it. I don't know if there is a best way. It all depends on the two people you have, the crew chief and the driver that are communicating. In some instances the driver likes to call the shots. In some instances the crew chief likes to call the shots. In our instance, we like to talk about it and use the best shots that make the most sense and make the car go fast. If I have an idea and Matt thinks it's great, then we use it. If Matt has an idea and we think it's great, then we use it. That's just our approach. That to me seems to be the right way of doing it, but that doesn't mean it's the only way to do it."
COULD YOU WORK WITH A LOT OF DIFFERENT CREW CHIEFS?
"Nobody has really talked about it the last year and a half, but the whole thing of chemistry is a big part of the communication. There are multiple people out there that I'm capable of working with, but I really enjoy working with Matt Borland and the success we've had. We get along great on and off the racetrack. I couldn't ask for anything more, therefore I wouldn't. I was reading an article last night in the paper about Dale Jarrett's situation. I think he's had seven crew chiefs in the last two and a half or three years. That's a big topic to talk about. The driver has to get along with the crew chief, and the crew chief has to get along with the driver. It's an easy situation to point fingers."