RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS met with media and discussed the Chase, racing at Kansas, the California track, his relationship with Tony Stewart, and more. THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS YOU'VE SAID THAT OUR BEST ON THE RACE TRACK ISN'T GOOD...
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS met with media and discussed the Chase, racing at Kansas, the California track, his relationship with Tony Stewart, and more.
THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS YOU'VE SAID THAT OUR BEST ON THE RACE TRACK ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH. WHAT'S THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE IT GOOD ENOUGH? "That's kind of taken out of context. I wouldn't say that our best isn't good enough. It's just our best effort that we've put forward is not where we want to be in the end result. And that's leading the points. Our best, kind of being top 10's here lately, is not keeping up with the No. 5 (Mark Martin) and the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) top fives. We have to do better than top 10's if they're going to keep doing top fives."
WHAT'S THE THING THAT'S KEEPING YOU FROM TAKING YOUR TOP 10'S AND MAKING THEM TOP FIVES? "We just didn't get the adjustments right on the car at Dover. It was just communication. We had a car that was capable of winning and running up front. We saw that in the beginning of the race. But we fixed one part of the corner and hurt two others and that, in turn, turned us into a 10th place car. So, we're just working through that. I'm not sure that we could have fixed it, but we just didn't get it fixed on that given day."
REGARDING COMMUNICATION, IS IT THAT THIS TEAM IS SO YOUNG? IS THAT MAYBE PLAYING INTO IT A LITTLE BIT? "No, I don't think so. (Crew chief) Tony Gibson has a ton of experience and I've got a ton of experience. I don't think we have a communication problem by any means. I just mean on that given day we didn't capitalize when we could have. We had a car that was capable of running up front and leading; we just didn't tune it. Other guys got better and we stayed the same."
AFTER JIMMIE JOHNSON'S WIN AT DOVER LAST WEEK, ARE ALL THE OTHER CHASE DRIVERS THINKING, OH HERE WE GO AGAIN, ANOTHER JIMMIE JOHNSON CHAMPIONSHIP? "No, I don't really care what the No. 48 or the No. 5 or anybody else is doing. I want to win a race. That's the bottom line. And now is the time to do it. Multiple races would be great, but it doesn't really matter to me what the No. 48 or the No. 5 are doing. We just go out there and race our race and do our thing and where we end up, is where we end up. I'm extremely grateful to be in this position as I stated back before Loudon, and we'll make the best of it. Other people's performances don't have any effect on me."
WELL, ARE YOU STILL IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE? "There are eight races to go; absolutely."
SO YOU'RE NOT THINKING IT'S OVER? "I've always said no matter if it's making the Chase or winning the championship, until I'm mathematically out, I'm still in it."
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH TONY STEWART "Tony and I have had a lot of fun together. We have a lot of respect for each other. The things we do outside the race track to me are also fun. It's been a lot of eye-opening experiences and working with a bunch of different people, Tony Stewart in particular, and seeing the person he is that's won two championships. So, just being around that definitely helps me out."
ON GOING TO KNOXVILLE SATURDAY NIGHT FOR DIRT TRACK RACING "I'm looking forward to that. Tony and I are going to go up there and I think we're going to end up starting last in the Late Model race and see what we can do."
ON RACING IN CALIFORNIA "Racing-wise, nobody brags about the racing in California. It might be a fuel strategy or a situation that makes it exciting, but to me it's not a great race track when it comes to places like Richmond or Bristol where we see a lot of great racing."
WILL THE DATE CHANGE AT CALIFORNIA PUT MORE FANS IN THE STANDS? "I think there should be more fans in the stands with respect to that and I think there were some other events going on California weekend or awards that used to go on that weekend (old date) that probably aren't happening this time so hopefully that will help pull some people out that don't usually get to go."
BASED ON YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE RACING, DO YOU THINK CALIFORNIA SHOULD BE A CHASE RACE? "I don't think that the racing defines who should be in the Chase or not. If we want to talk about that, then we should bring up why isn't the Daytona 500 the last race of the year. We could talk about that until we're blue in the face."
IS IT A GOOD RELIEF FOR THE TEAMS TO GO TO CHARLOTTE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHASE? "Really, it's just nice to be home for that weekend. I really enjoy it. I like Charlotte. It's one of my favorite race tracks. So having it in the backyard is really nice. I wouldn't say it's a time where we re-group. I think there is more regrouping this coming week because the cars are already on their way out to California so there are a lot less things that you can do. So regrouping, not necessarily; but just to be home and enjoying some more time with the family is probably a good thing for everybody."
DO YOU EXPECT TO RUN BETTER AT CHARLOTTE SINCE YOU HAVE HENDRICK SUPPORT NOW? "No, we ran really good at the first race there. We were in position to win the All-Star race. We won the pole. We led some laps in the 600 and I think we have a really good car. Our program for there, I don't think it's any different the second race than it was the first race."
ON CHANGING THE BANKING AT THE CALIFORNIA TRACK BY 23 DEGREES, WOULD THAT HELP THE RACING THERE? "Is that a report, or is that how it's going to be? (laughs)."
IT WAS IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES "I think a 23-degree banking, two-mile race track would be way too fast. Either way, that ain't gonna happen (laughs)."
IS THERE ANYTHING THEY COULD DO TO RECONFIGURE IT? "Put a race track inside of it shaped like Bristol or Richmond and you'd have it. Realistically, everybody built copy race tracks. We built the copy of Michigan out in California. It's not the same thing. I guess it's just like your first kiss. The first one's always the best (laughs). I mean when they got Charlotte right or Atlanta right or whatever it was, they tried to make Atlanta a copy of Charlotte; and they built Texas. You know, make something that's different. That's why we enjoy Homestead. Homestead is an entirely different race track. It's a lot like what Atlanta used to be. And everybody, I think, really misses that."
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENED? "It's like monkey see, monkey do. And that goes with the race tracks and the owners as much as the set-ups and the cars."
ARE YOU AT ALL FAMILIAR WITH THE NO. 48 AND THE NO. 5 NEAR MISS IN INSPECTION LAST WEEK? "No."
THEY WERE WARNED. THEY WERE VERY CLOSE TO BEING OVER THE TOLERANCES OF MEASUREMENT; THE CHASSIS MEASUREMENTS. "Oh, body or something like that? I didn't know that. If you were close, does that mean you're illegal?"
THAT'S WHAT WE ARE WONDERING "I'm pretty sure that sounds like you were within the reason or within the limits, so it's okay. That's what it sounds like to me."
ON STORY TIME READING TO KIDS IN CALIFORNIA "Oh, I'll be briefed about that this week, I guess. I'm not sure about that yet. If I am, then that's cool. I'll do it."
DO YOU LIKE KIDS? "Oh, yeah. Kids are the future of everything that we have, whether it's racing or families or the Army, for instance. It's important to have a good, positive influence and I think that being an educated race car driver I have a good chance of being a positive influence on any kid."
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO BECOME A DADDY? "I don't know. You're going to have to ask my wife that."
DO YOU BECOME THE CHARACTER OR CHANGE YOUR VOICE WHEN YOU READ BOOKS TO CHILDREN? "Oh, I'm not really good at that. I'm pretty monotone; I mean there's a really good chance that they might go to sleep (laughs)."
DID YOU HAVE A FAVORITE CHILDREN'S BOOK GROWING UP? "Ah, the first thing that comes to mind is Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham. I don't know why. I've always liked ham. Never understood why they called it green eggs. Is there such a thing? Did I miss it when I was young?"
ARE YOU OKAY WITH THE NO. 5 AND THE NO. 48 BEING CLOSE TO TOLERANCE AT DOVER? "I'm doing what I want to do and that's drive the U.S. Army Chevrolet as fast as I can with these guys, Tony Gibson and everybody else, and that's just it. I'm not here to worry about what everybody else is doing or the stories or anything else. I just go out there and drive the race car."
JUAN MONTOYA WAS TALKING EARLIER ABOUT HOW IT'S KIND OF ANNOYING THAT NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY, THE NO. 5 CAR IS ALWAYS FINISHING THREE-TWO-ONE IT SEEMS LIKE. ARE YOU IMPRESSED WITH WHAT HE'S BEEN ABLE TO DO THIS SEASON? "I'm impressed with a lot of things that have happened this season. I don't see it as ridiculous or anything. It's part of racing. It happens that way. It always has and always will."
WHAT ABOUT WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO? JUST THAT HE'S MAINTAINED SUCCESS YEAR AFTER YEAR "That happens. Cale Yarborough won three in a row. Richard Petty has won seven (championships); Dale Earnhardt won seven. It's not outrageous. It's just that they're doing a good job."
WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET ABOUT KANSAS? "Kansas is interesting because it's a one-off track. It's kind of like Indy. You only come here once and being in the Chase, it's not like we have notes or that you go back to last year's history, which our team has none. So I think it's a little bit more of an even playing field when it comes to places like this that are one-offs with respect to who, potentially, can be successful."
WHAT SORT OF CHALLENGE DOES THAT POSE? "It's windy. It's windy for everybody. It's just how you adapt to all your conditions and that's no different than any other race."
-credit: gm racing