Martinsville II: Pole winner interview

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY IMPALA SS, POLE SITTER: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING UP FRONT ON SUNDAY? "It's the place to be, no doubt and it's the place to finish, obviously that's what we want. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the guys did...

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY IMPALA SS, POLE SITTER:

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING UP FRONT ON SUNDAY?

"It's the place to be, no doubt and it's the place to finish, obviously that's what we want. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the guys did a great job with this race car. It hasn't actually been run since our first race here in the spring. It's nice to get it back out and they've shined it up a little bit and bottom line is it was a really good lap. It kind of helped to go out a little bit later to see Mark (Martin) and Jeff (Gordon) -- see what the track had in it and watch them to see where there might be some gains to be made. Just kind of ran my lap and it's equally as important here to charge the corner as to not overcharge the corner. I just got everything I could."

WHAT ARE YOU ABLE TO SEE OR LEARN FROM WATCHING OTHER DRIVERS?

"You can use that lap tracker and see where guys are coming off the corner compared to rolling the center and see if there's any time to be had from rolling the center. Who got off the corner really good. If Jeff (Gordon) got off turn four better than two or things like that. The track is pretty symmetrical so if he didn't or if he didn't get off of two as good as he got off of four then there might be some speed in two to run that 56 instead of the 61. Just to watch it and listen to see if anybody is complaining. We had a good practice session -- I ran the 71, I think is what I ran in practice when I was behind the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) car. It was kind of a misread as to how good our car was in practice compared to what we were capable of in qualifying. It's just being observant and paying attention to the things that might make a difference is the biggest thing."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR SEASON HAS IMPROVED SINCE THE SPRING RACE AT MARTINSVILLE AND HAVE YOU BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO COMING BACK?

"I definitely look forward to coming back to Martinsville. I've always said that for me and for whatever reason at short tracks the driver has a little more of an impact on the end result then some of the bigger race tracks and I like that. I like that part of it and I think that Clay (Campbell, track owner) and everybody has done a great job with this speedway to accommodate everybody and make it a nicer race track. Each time you come back it seems to be a little nicer. That was a big step for us in the spring to get that top-10 finish. We've had some ups and downs since then, but whether it's your first year together as a team or your first year as a driver or just the first part of the year, it's nice to come back to these race tracks a second time and apply the things that you've learned, where you made your gains and do your homework. You're homework is based off the past problem solving that you've had."

DID YOU FEEL LIKE THE SPRING RACE AT MARTINSVILLE WAS A TURNING POINT FOR STEWART-HAAS RACING?

"That was a statement that I made to Bobby Hutchens in the truck less than an hour ago, when qualifying had already started. This was the place that to me was a turning point for our organization, getting the two cars good finishing positions and showing what we were capable of to everybody. Whether it was Martinsville or Charlotte or any place else, it doesn't really matter. It awards just as many points here as it does at any other race track. There was no real us trying to make a statement, it was just that we made a statement."

WHO WERE NON-TEAMMATE DRIVERS THAT HELPED YOU OUT EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?

"Buddy Baker was pretty much the guy. He was on the team as a mentor but at the same time he was a guys who had been there and done that and I could go to him and not have to worry about him being biased. It wasn't like I was racing against him the next day or that next practice session. He taught me more so sometimes the things not to do than the things to do. To me, that made a big difference and a big impact. If I could not make some of those same mistakes that he did that cost him a shot at a victory and to make an addition to his resume, those were things that were going to help my resume. He was really big in that. I never really had a Mark Martin to go to; Rusty's (Wallace) and my situation goes without saying. I guess one of the first people that I went to was Dale Jarrett at Daytona and I think we ran the qualifier and I went to him after the race and he told me good job, and we just talked a little bit. But it wasn't like I went to Dale Jarrett or went to his bus. That was just more because of my personality and people's personality of me; probably a combination of the two. Honestly, at the same time, not to sound overly confident, but we didn't really need a whole lot of advice. We came out of the box really strong as a team with the No. 02 car and then the No. 12 car.

ARE YOU MORE STANDOFFISH?

"No, racing is a funny sport in respect to that. I guess it's probably like golf or some other sport where you don't tell your secrets unless somebody asks and then what you want to tell them is up to you. Buddy Baker always said it's your story; tell it how you want to. You can lead them down the right path or you can lead them down the wrong path. I've never done that. I've always been honest with somebody when they ask me a question, but I'm not the first one to go offer advice either."

THIS IS THE FIRST QUALIFYING SESSION WHERE THERE ARE ONLY THREE CHASERS IN THE TOP 12 ON THE STARTING GRID. JIMMIE JOHNSON IS STARTING 15TH. DOES THIS GIVE YOU ANY HOPE THAT THIS RACE MIGHT SHAKE UP THE STANDINGS A LITTLE BIT?

"I think there is potential of that. Short track racing has that potential. I think without a doubt that Jimmie and Tony (Stewart) will be right back up there, which is what they always do in very little time. I think it's a little different situation today. You look at the No. 48 (Johnson) and I know he spent a lot of time in race trim and very little time in qualifying trim. So those factors weigh into it because of the small rain delay and abbreviated practice session that we had. Tony didn't even do a qualifying run in practice."

HAVING NOT WON THIS SEASON, WOULD A WIN ON SUNDAY BE ANY MORE SPECIAL TO YOU THAN IF YOU'D WON TWO OR THREE WEEKS AGO?

"No, I kinda know what you're getting at. If we win the championship and don't win a race then it doesn't make any difference to me. I know that winning is a big part of our sport and I want to win just as badly, if not worse, than anybody else. But here, versus any other race track? No, it doesn't make any difference. We've been trying so hard each and every week; sometimes too hard. This is a great place for it. I know (crew chief) Tony Gibson is a great fan of Martinsville and short track racing and he's got a great understanding of the race car here and that makes a big difference obviously for me; and to come off the truck as good as we did and work as well as we do together.

SOME PEOPLE WOULD CONSIDER BEING 8TH IN POINTS TO BE PHENOMENAL. OBVIOUSLY YOU WANT MORE. WHAT HAVE YOU AND TONY GIBSON LOOKED AT THAT YOU CAN IMPROVE ON FOR 2010?

"I really can't answer the whole question because I personally haven't thought about what we need to do for 2010. I know some things that we're looking at and what we can do to be a better team and what we can do to pick up our speed on pit road and what we can do with our race cars to make them faster with less drag and those types of things. They're already in the process of building Daytona cars. That's part of it. A lot of teams are. But we're still trying to get that first win and focusing on this year. They guys back in the shop are doing their things as well. I know one thing, we're still with our noses to the grindstone and working as hard as we can."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Dale Jarrett , Buddy Baker , Mark Martin