RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) -- Wins Pole "We ran our fastest lap today in qualifying when conditions were a little worse, so we kept working on the car and had to make it better than a sixth-place car like it was in practice. We...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) -- Wins Pole
"We ran our fastest lap today in qualifying when conditions were a little worse, so we kept working on the car and had to make it better than a sixth-place car like it was in practice. We did that, and I've got to thank Matt (crew chief Borland) and everybody at Penske Racing. They put a lot of effort into what we did today."
CAN YOU FIX WHATEVER'S BEEN WRONG THIS SEASON?
"We can fix the performance, and that's what we have to do. Obviously we're down, but we're not out from a mathematical standpoint. We've got a lot of work to do. It's going to take some misfortune by other teams to give us an opportunity when it comes Richmond time. We'll just have to keep our nose to the grindstone and stay focused. Today was a good example of that. We have a better grasp on performance when it comes to these flatter tracks it seems, but when you get to the mile and a half and two-mile tracks, that's where we're struggling a little more. We just have to put all our data points together and collect everything and keep working on it. It'll come. We've been on top before. We can be on top again."
HOPE DIFFICULT HAS IT BEEN FOR YOU THIS SEASON?
"It's been very difficult, frustrating. After our 2003 season winning 14 poles and eight races we figured we could go into 2004 winning 14 races and 20 poles, but it just never happened. You can get greedy. You can get selfish. You can get all those things, but nevertheless you have to perform. That's what our answer and objective is today, to try to get that performance back at all the other racetracks we've been struggling at. The road course was great and Daytona was great. Those make up six of the 36 races, so we've got some more work to do in other areas and that's why we're mid-pack in points."
WHY THE DIFFERENCE IN QUALIFYING?
"This year and last year we started to put more emphasis, and I guess it was the product of the schedule and impound procedure, where you put more emphasis on race trim than qualifying trim. Now the schedule has changed back and the performance has been lacking in race trim. We've put more emphasis on race trim in qualifying practice or the practice leading up to qualifying and that's been a doublehitter for us because we still haven't fixed the race trim part in some instances, yet we're still not able to qualify well to at least get track position and start the race off in a good way. At Chicago, if we had been a couple of tenths faster we would have gotten the Lucky Dog and that would have changed our entire day. We still would have finished out of the top 15, but we wouldn't have been 36th and in all those other incidents. That emphasis we put on race trim in qualifying practice has changed our qualifying efforts and results."
WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD AT NHIS?
"Things have just clicked for us here. We've got a good balanced packaged, good speed, good Penske-Jasper Engine horsepower. Things just click right for us here. That used to happen in Charlotte. That used to happen in Dover. Now it does on occasion, but it just has always worked here. Bob Bahre has always harassed me because I said this is my least favorite track. I told him it doesn't mean I don't like it. I just don't like it as much as the others. Our results are really good here. I like it for that reason, and I like it for other reasons. It's always been a good place for Penske Racing. Let's put it that way."
WHY DO SOME TEAMS STRUGGLE ON THE MILE AND A HALF TRACKS?
"I think the faster you go the more on edge you get when it comes to balance, when it comes to aerodynamics and those things you're a little bit farther off at those types of racetracks. You go to Martinsville and you can pretty much take the body off and run the same speed. You go to Charlotte and Atlanta and you can't do that. You can't come close. Everything is escalated when the speeds rise, and that's why it's a little bit tougher. I think that's why you go to a place like Indianapolis and see a bigger gap between first and 36th in qualifying than you would at a place like this where everybody is still doing the same thing. They're still trying just as hard."
CAN THIS BE A SUCCESSFUL SEASON IF YOU DON'T MAKE THE CHASE?
"It all depends. We're only halfway through. The question was asked to me this week, and yes, absolutely. You can win five of the 10 races in The Chase and be 18th in points and make it up to 11th, not because you made it to 11th, but because you made something out of your season. It's not a goal setting year. It's not winning a championship and winning the most races and poles and things like that, but it can be successful. It can be successful for yourself, your sponsors and your career."
CAN YOU MAKE A RUN AT THE TOP 10 IN THESE LAST EIGHT RACES?
"I think we can make a run. We really have to turn it around on the mile and a half stuff. Indy is going to be a little difficult for us based on the way we tested there, but we're learning on those things. It's just a matter of where we round that corner, and hopefully it's a nice, sharp corner, to make ourselves better. The second part of that, it's more than just Matt Kenseth out of the Chase. Last year it was Matt Kenseth out of The Chase. Now you've got Gordon on the bubble and Biffle and Edwards and myself and a couple of other guys. I don't want to take away anything away from anybody personally, but you've got a few more names that have been in The Chase or the top 10 in the past that aren't there right now, so it's not just us."
"It was a great team effort. Our car kept getting faster all day to the point where our fastest lap was in qualifying and the track was hotter. It was a good lap for our Alltel Dodge, and we'll keep working on it and try to have a good racecar for Sunday. Staying up front is the big thing, but starting up front is the best way to start that process. We were fifth in practice and had some room to improve, and we did that. It was a pretty good lap based on the fact we picked up. This is the same car we had here last September when we won the race. It's been tweaked on, and we'll see it it's better this time around. I don't think the track has changed that much. I feel it didn't get any better. I think we made the improvements on the car, not the track getting any better. That's a good thing knowing we were fifth in practice. After last weekend any place is an improvement. We just need to get going again, and this is a good place for that. Confidence is so important in everything we do, and we have confidence here."