Indianapolis: Dodge - Ryan Newman interview

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) IS THE BRICKYARD 400 MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHER RACES TO YOU? "Yes and no, mathematically they're all the same. It's getting to be crunch time as far as gaining and losing points. It's pretty much just another...


IS THE BRICKYARD 400 MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHER RACES TO YOU? "Yes and no, mathematically they're all the same. It's getting to be crunch time as far as gaining and losing points. It's pretty much just another race in that respect."

WHERE CAN YOU GET SOMETHING DONE ON THE TRACK? "It's usuaslly a track position type of racetrack. It's really hard to race because of the way the cars are designed, but nevertheless the track usually gets wider in the corners and there's a second groove. You can work that a little bit, but like I said, it's very important track position wise. Whenever you get that last stop you're going to be good to go."

IS QUALIFYING UP FRONT IMPORTANT? "Yes, for sure to start with. You never know what happens in the race as far as when cautions fly and things like that. You're basically at the mercy of what happens strategy-wise in the race. The qualifying itself is so important to have an early draw because the track is so temperature sensitive typically. Just going out first can make a big difference."

IS TRERE ANYTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THIS RACE BECAUSE YOU'RE FROM INDIANA? "Yes and no, I think mostly because it is what it is, a great racetrack and an historical racetrack. Just because it's two and a half hours from home doesn't mean as much."

DOES THIS TRACK MEAN ANY MORE TO PENSKE? "Yes and no, I think every race is equally important, but I think in Roger Penske's eyes it definitely holds a high value as far as respect when it comes to getting to victory lane. Whether it's in Indy cars or stock cars, I don't think it really matters. Their goals are the same, to win every race possible. It's something I think he can cherish more when he can hold that trophy at the end of the Brickyard. I think the cars are so different, I don't think you can really compare apples to apples. We've just got to go off what we do. The tires are so different that you couldn't even compare the cars."

TALK ABOUT THE SPONSOR SITUATION "I think Lowe's probably got more exposure for the $10,000 fine than they did for putting the little banner up there. It's something we were warned about in Loudon and something we've got to be constructive about. I guess with what happened we can learn a little bit better about how to refine that constructiveness. It's just a situation that Jimmie (Johnson) was trying to get around -- the Gatorade-Powerade situation. That's a difficult balance when NASCAR's got a sponsor and a driver's got a sponsor or a team's got a sponsor for that matter. How to put the two together is not the easiest equation."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU DODGED A BULLET LAST WEEK? "We got a bullet. We were just able to get home and get to the hospital and get it pulled. We just missed on a few things at the start of the race. We got the car better at the end. We just ran out of time and track position. I don't think we had a car that was capable of winning, but I think we had a car that was capable of a top 10 run."

WHERE'S THE BEST PLACE TO PASS AT THE BRICKYARD? "The best place to pass is in the pits. The place you can't pass is typically in the short chutes. It's difficult to get a good setup there. You've usually got to set a guy up in the straightaway and have someone hopefully help you draft by. (It's a one groove track) until the end of the race. It can be a two groove track at the end of the race, but the ideal groove is typically at the bottom."

WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL IMPRESSION OF THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM? "I don't particularly care for it, but it's the same for everybody. I don't like the fact that there are some parameters that can take the contenders out of the chase for the championship, but it's the same for everybody like I said so we'll just take it for what it's worth."

COMMENT ON INDY "It's the historical value, the fact that it's a competitive racetrack. Just think of all the people who have walked where you're standing right now. If you have any historical relevance personally, then you understand that part of it. I think it's a great racing facility and always will be."

WHAT WAS IT LIKE THE FIRST TIME YOU DROVE HERE? "That was pretty wild. It was the first time I could put together the difference of having people in the stands versus not because it does make a difference. You drive a little bit differently. You have to regauge yourself because of the people in the stands and the wall you see. You don't see that before because you just see the standings. It's a different feeling driving the car and bringing it on in. The straightaways aren't that wide in the first place, and the corners are so 90-degreeish that they make it harder yet. You go to a place like Michigan where it's wide all the way around, it's definitely different."

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WHERE YOU ARE IN THE TOP 10? "I wouldn't say comfortable, but it's like I said before Pocono. We could move up and we did. If we can keep doing that we'll be OK. If we have situations that prevent us from finishing races then I won't be comfortable, but obviously we want to be No. 1 going into that 27th race. If we hold our own we'll be just fine. If we focus on what's ahead of us we won't have to worry about what's behind us. This is the same amount of points as any other race. Mathematically you can do as much damage as you can good here."

HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED WITH THE POINTS SYSTEM? "It's no different than being second going into the last race. You can only do your best. I'm speaking of last year's point system. It's no different. You take it for what it's worth, and it's the same for everybody. The part I don't like is people can be eliminated. That doesn't seem right to me. Momentum is more mental than anything, but I've seen in the past all it takes is one little piece of debris to put a hole in your tire and end your day. That can kill momentum real quick."

DO YOU TEND TO BE MORE CONSERVATIVE WITH AN EIGHTH-PLACE RANKING? "It all depends on what your goals are personally, and that doesn't fit into our program. We've got a test left before the end of the top 10, and I think we've got a couple of tests after that. We're trying to match up the best scenarios as far as getting ourselves in the top 10 and then being able to accomplish the championship after that."

DOES QUALIFYING AT 10 A.M. PUT TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON THE LUCK OF THE DRAW? "Whoever put the schedule together doesn't understand the combination of weather and cars. It's not ideal at all. Whoever gets the early draw is more likely going to be a top five or top 10 qualifier than a guy that goes out next to last, depending on the weather of course. Last year I think the track picked up over a second and a half just because I went out so early. It's not fair to all the drivers."

DO YOU THINK TEAMMATES COULD AFFECT THE OUTCOME OF THE FINAL TOP 10? "I don't think multi-car teams could change what they're doing now to make it that much more effective or uneffective the last 10 races without NASCAR becoming involved and making some pivotal decisions. The potential might be there, but I don't think you'll see it happen."

HOW TEMPERATURE SENSITIVE IS THE BRICKYARD? "It's not as temperature sensitive as it was before they ground it, but it's still very temperature sensitive. Basically your car just slows down and you don't go as fast. You can feel the same things and have the same balance. You just don't have as much grip. Basically you're at the mercy of when you qualify time wise as long as it's a normal day and keeps warming up. It's more of a grip change. Places like Charlotte, it's more of a balance change. There's just less grip in the track. The balance doesn't change. Everybody just goes slower."

IS THERE A PLACE HERE YOU LIKE TO PASS? "No specific places. Some racetracks are more conducive for passing coming off and some are more conducive for passes going in. Here you're at the mercy of the guys in front of you and clean air and things like that. What you can do to get a good run on somebody going in versus coming off and the way your car is performing versus the way some other guy's car is performing. It's just a matter of timing."

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH SPONSORS IN VICTORY LANE? "Most of us with Gatorade sponsorships tried not to knock off the Powerade bottle whether we did or not. It's a conflicting situation. You've got to look at the grand scheme of things. Is it beneficial for the entire sport to have sponsors come in that wanna put programs together, but when it's conflicting like that it's kinda hard to handle. It's something we're going to have to make sure, we as teams and NASCAR, we understand the pros and cons of it. They've got to understand they're affecting some of our sponsors personally, just as much as they're affecting others. We haven't had any conflict all year (ALLTEL vs. Nextel). It's a difficult situation as far as marketing goes, but I don't see any conflict that's happened or should happen. We manage it the right way. I've have Nextel hats on, but it's not something I put on all the time. I don't wear hats mostly in general, but when the time comes I'll wear it. There's a time and place for everything. NASCAR has got rules, and we've got to abide by those rules. If we don't like it then we can voice our opinion, but maybe the way Jimmie did it wasn't the way to voice his opinion."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Roger Penske