Dodge Wins at New Hampshire RYAN NEWMAN , NO. 12 MOBIL1/alltel DODGE CHARGER, STARTED 13TH, FINISHED FIRST TELL US ABOUT THE RACE WITH TONY AT THE END? "I never expected to have a second shot at Tony, first of all because it's Tony and second...
Dodge Wins at New Hampshire
RYAN NEWMAN , NO. 12 MOBIL1/alltel DODGE CHARGER, STARTED 13TH, FINISHED FIRST
TELL US ABOUT THE RACE WITH TONY AT THE END? "I never expected to have a second shot at Tony, first of all because it's Tony and second of all, because of track position. I see the boss man standing back there in the background, Bob Bahre, and I have to thank him for an awesome racing facility and the best racing I think we've seen here, side by side. Obviously, we've seen some guys getting into each other but that was short-track racing. We've seen some of the best racing in my opinion at New Hampshire International Raceway.
"Confidence was big as far as having clean air and being able to be faster than everybody else. But when Tony got by me I thought I was done. But he just never walked away and I got back underneath him coming off of two and he had to check up a little bit because the wall was there. We raced clean, we raced hard, we had fun. My first comment out of the car was 'Man, that it felt like the old open-wheel days when we used to do that all the time'."
WHAT KIND OF MOMENTUM DOES THIS GIVE YOU GOING INTO DOVER?
"It's big, but we have to deliver. We can sit third now and be 10th after next weekend. So, we have to keep the momentum up and we have to perform. Dover is definitely a good place for our team to do that. We need to improve upon our first race there this year. That definitely was not the kind of race that we wanted. But, we know that we learned some things and hopefully we can apply that to going back there." DO YOU REMEMBER ANY EPIC BATTLES WITH TONY LIKE THE ONE TODAY?
"I don't remember one for the win, but I remember one, and you were probably there at IRP, when I ran, I think, fourth and he ran fifth. We ran just like, he was on the inside of me for almost every corner for the last 30 or 40 laps. We never really passed each other then, but it was good, clean racing. I think the open-wheel definitely, open-wheel racing definitely taught us to race clean."
DID TONY TRY TO STEAL YOUR LINE WHEN HE GOT AROUND YOU?
"His car was going away, and at the right time for me. His car was way faster than mine and he got by me because he was faster. I got back by him because at that point I was faster. At the close the laps worked out right. It was good racing and demonstrates what we can do at this racetrack."
WHEN KURT CRASHED, DID IT CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY?
"No, because there were eight other guys out there that we had to compete against for the championship. Just to beat one guy, you have to beat all eight in the Championship. You have to race for the win of the race, to get the best position that you can if you can't win it. Today we were lucky enough to get a win."
WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY TODAY?
"We were going to try to win the race, that was pretty much it. It was 50-50 on that pit stop. That's why you saw 50 percent of the cars pit and 50 percent not pit. It worked out for us, it was a bit risky because of the situation. As far as we'd happen to come in under green and the caution come out after that, we'd be a lap or maybe two laps down depending on what happened. But, the way it worked out it was just fine." HOW BIG OF DEAL IS THIS WIN?
"It's a big deal for me. For the 250 employees back at Penske Racing and Engine Company, that's what makes the difference. Those guys are turning wrenches day in and day out making cars go faster. It's just a great day for us in respect to that. It built a lot of momentum and lot of character and a lot of drive for those guys. It's not that they're going to work any harder, it's just that they're going to have a smile on their face. And that makes a difference when they walk through the hallways and rub shoulders with each other."
IS IT GRATIFYING TO KNOW THAT STEWART WASN'T REALLY HAPPY ABOUT FINISHING SECOND?
"Tony is a hard racer. I'll give him that. If I got beat the way that he got beat, not because it was bad, I wouldn't be real happy about it, either."
WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD AT THE END?
"I would have thought that him having a really fast car at the start of the race and being able to check out. Knowing that he had fresher tires on and got the track position and knew he had a better shot of just checking out. I don't think he was happy with his car balance and that why I was able to get my car in. Having him in front helped me a little bit, at that point, because he was a sitting duck as far him making a mistake. I don't think he made a mistake, he just wasn't real happy with his car."
DID YOU WORRY ABOUT SOMETHING HAPPENING?
"I was definitely worried, but if I had sat there and told the guys that we had a car that would have won but we finished second because I didn't want to crash. That's a tough one to swallow after not doing it for 34 weeks and not having a car that would get there. It's kind of a catch-22 but it worked out for me."
IS THIS A MONKEY OFF YOUR BACKI?
""That's two monkeys right there. But yes, it feels good. It felt so good just to be able to run the Busch race and win those races that we did there. It builds confidence as a driver and it builds confidence in this team."
COMMENT ON ALL THE ACTICIVITIES THAT HAPPENED IN TODAY'S RACE?
"I didn't see it all happen. I saw the helmet land on the backstretch and it kind of told a little story. I figured that when we got sent down pit road for the red flag that it was not just for debris. It was definitely -- this track is tight racing and it's good racing and it breeds kind of similar actions to what we saw at Richmond. It's just part of racing. It's a pivotal time of the year now, guys are in sometimes good position and sometimes bad position as far as their jobs, so you never know what the actual reasoning is at the end of everything.
ARE THE OFF-TRACK ACTIONS AND RETALIATIONS A DETRIMENT TO THE SPORT?
"We're all talking about it, so I guess it's good. I remember a win at Michigan and the headlines were 'Jimmy Spencer Punches Kurt Busch', so if getting to victory lane means talking about all the controversy with other people, we'll take it."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE POINTS SYSTEM?
"I'll tell you, by far, it's not perfect. I don't mean by far, like it's not even close, I just mean it's not perfect. That's my opinion from a competitor's side. You'd think I'd sit up here and just smile ear to ear at the point gains that we got. But, maybe I'm a little too historically appreciative of all the races I've run throughout my career as far as racing goes. I've never had a system like that, that's tough for some people to adapt to, whether you're a driver or a crew chief or somebody in the media. It's kind of a catch-22. It is the way it is. That's the points system everybody has to work with. If we're in the position to take the most benefit out of it or from it, then so be it."
WERE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT BEING CONSERVATIVE OR GOING FOR THE WIN?
"You see it more so out of Tony, but we're not conservative drivers when we have a shot to win. He can be as mad at himself as he is at me right now, but we both know that we had fun out there racing. We'll go to Dover and talk about it. I'll probably laugh a little more than he will but it was great racing and something we haven't seen a lot of this year in all the races throughout this schedule."
WERE YOU AWARE OF TONY'S TIRE SITUATION AND DID THAT AFFECT ANY MOVES YOU MADE?
"I heard about it on the radio, that he had a right-front tire rub and that it was smoking a little bit. But, he made the call, obviously, because he's at the wheel, to not come in. Usually those situations get better especially when you've got a guy on the pit box or up top that can see what's going on -- whether it's a big tire rub or a tire rub that's going to cause failure or a tire rub that's going to just be a slight tire rub. It didn't change our thinking. We still had to race our race. I knew Tony was going to be a tough competitor but at the end, we were just happy to be able to hold him off."
YOU MADE YOUR LAST STOP BEFORE THE OTHER LEADERS -- WHAT WAS THE THINKING ON THAT?
"Well, we had to come in. The other guys had pitted sooner previous times and we had a situation where we were all about fuel. It was just this guy's (Matt Borland) call because of that report. The race that he called, it worked out just right for us. I've got to commend Goodyear on the tires they brought here. The tire wear was awesome. They were consistent, they refired good, they started the race good. That's something that's been a little bit inconsistent all year, so I have to commend them on a great tire."
DID YOU SEE THAT PASS COMING AT THE END?
"I was aware that I had positioning on him getting into three. That's what you do. He kind of checked up. I had the momentum and he had to check up so much that he lost his momentum in the middle to run back underneath. I was up by two car lengths coming out of two on the white flag lap I thought I was in pretty good shape. It was a good move by him, or at least a good try. I think it showed some of his desperation as far as not being happy with his car balance."
COULD THE BREAKTHROUGH HAVE HAPPENED IN A BETTER WAY?
"We're happy that we're in victory lane, and whether it's beating Tony Stewart or whomever, that's a different part of it. Obviously, beating Tony and his team, especially when they won the first race here in such dominating style, and to come back and beat them, knowing what they had proven, that was big. Matt and everybody on our team did a great job of bringing a car that was fast. It was actually the car we had in the spring, we just made it go faster. That's part of what we have to do for these last 10 races is take what we learned this last summer and apply it to the last 10 races."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY TONY WAS SO DEJECTED WHEN HE FINISHED SECOND AND STILL LEADS THE POINTS?
"For the same reason we're happy. He's here to win. He's a hard-nosed racer. I like that about him, that's he's very competitive. Like I said, the biggest advantage for our team winning this race is our team. It's not because I'm super happy that I'm going to drive the car any faster next week. It's about the 250 people smiling from ear to ear who bust their knuckles back in North Carolina working on these cars. He knows how important that is and that's why he's upset about it."
MATT BORLAND , CREW CHIEF, NO. 12 MOBIL1/alltel DODGE CHARGER
WHAT WAS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON TONY AND RYAN BATTLING IT OUT AT THE END THERE?
"It was pretty exciting. I thought we were in a little bit trouble with 25 laps left on that set of tires. Both guys did a great job racing each other and putting on a heck of a show and racing each other clean. But, it was really a fun race to watch from the box."