RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 BASS PRO SHOPS/REALTREE CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the challenges of racing at Bristol, adding Danica Patrick as a new teammate at SHR next year, his goals leading into the Chase to the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and more.
TALK ABOUT WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN HERE AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY AND YOUR MINDSET FOR TOMORROW NIGHT “First thing that comes to mind is patience because it can be a track that really challenges your mentality. And obviously you have to have a good car, and good pit stops and the things that we talk about every week but here more so than most race tracks. It’s that mental stamina of controlling your emotions and controlling the race car according to your emotions and making the best of all the situations that you are in.”
RYAN WE UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE GOING TO RUN A SPECIAL PAINT SCHEME AND THE NO. 08 AT ATLANTA NEXT WEEK IN THE CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES TO HONOR A FRIEND OF YOURS THAT IS AN UP AND COMING DRIVER. WHAT DID HE DO TO MAKE SUCH A FAVORABLE IMPRESSION ON YOU? “He was a good man and it’s just as simple as that. He became a friend of mine and we actually met the Slocumb family at Atlanta Motor Speedway and I had asked Ed for a good place to go fishing in the area and he said ‘why don’t you come down to the Slocumb house?’ So I drove about 50 minutes down to the Slocumb house and fished for a little while and got a chance to meet Beau and the rest of the family and turns out he became a very good friend and we had a lot of things similar, lifestyle-wise and long story short he lost a battle with cancer.
“He was employed at Turner Motorsports and working on the trucks and it was his dream to race a truck and he had raced an ARCA car for Steve Turner there a couple times and think his best finish was 4th at Kansas if I remember right but it’s just a way to remember him and give his family an opportunity to see something that he always wanted to do and his name is going to be on the passenger side on top of the roof and just real thankful for having Realtree and Brandt to step up and sponsor the race for us and for a way to just give back to the memory of someone else. Steve Turner may have been a bigger Beau Slocumb fan than I was and never got a chance to watch Beau race much but he was a very genuine man and was raised right and that is what struck me first and foremost.”
CAN YOU SPEAK ABOUT HOW MENTALLY DEMANDING THIS TRACK IS AND HAS THE NEW CONFIGURATION CHANGED THAT AT ALL? “It isn’t quite as demanding as it used to be physically. Part of that is that the bumps and part of it is that the speed is down just a little bit. And when you are on a 16 second lap instead of a 15.70, it doesn’t sound like much but repetitively it’s not as physical, so like when I started my comments, mentally and emotionally it’s probably more challenging than it is physically. But it is still extremely physically challenging here.”
HOW MUCH DIFFERENT DO YOU DRIVE THIS TRACK IN YOUR SPRINT CUP CAR THAN YOU DO THE MODIFIED LIKE YOU WON IN ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT? “I was just looking at the Nationwide cars which are typically slower than the Cup cars which are running a 16.0 or whatever it is, and we qualified a 15.0 in the modified. So the corner speed is extremely high in the modified as compared to the Cup cars and the straightaway speed is much lower. It seems like as crazy as it sounds as with the modifieds you are actually going much faster in the corner than you are on the straightaway. The track as far as the way you drive it doesn’t change much, the way the cars and the way the tires react are a good bit different. Bias-ply tires versus the radials is the first part and the second part of that is the width and the contact surface of the tire on those Hoosiers. The bias-plys are much bigger.
“You try to set the cars up to do the same things because ideally there is an ideal line around the race track but in the end, they are different.”
WHERE WERE YOU THIS WEEK WHEN THE EARTHQUAKE HIT? “It was weird. I had some guys out to the house to work on the air conditioning and I am actually up with these guys on the eve of the house and all the sudden I felt…………and I didn’t feel the vibration but I heard…….this is an entirely wood, log house…….and I could hear the wood cracking and it didn’t crack long but it cracked and it was kind of a joke for us because we were all standing in an area that is an overhang of the house, and it was like wow. I think I made a fat joke of myself actually. And turned out it was an earthquake and didn’t expect it on this side of the Mississippi. And we got in the truck afterwards and drove down the road and one of the guys that works for me got the phone call that, ‘hey we just had an earthquake’. And then that explained the shaking of the house and the cracking but.”
HOW DO YOU THINK THE ADDITION OF A NEW TEAMMATE ON A PART TIME BASIS NEXT YEAR IS GOING TO AFFECT YOUR PROGRAM? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA OF HER SCHEDULE? “I don’t think there has been any part of the schedule announced and I don’t know that there is a true idea of what she wants to do, or the sponsor wants to do. I really don’t know how its going to affect our entire organization but obviously there is a lot of hype around it and we have seen around other areas of the sport with a lot of hype there can be much disappointment so its something that I think we are all looking forward to just the experience of working with, for me, working with her. I am sure there are times where (Tony) Stewart is going to tell her what to do and there are times where she might tell us what to do. I think there are different ways of looking at it communication-wise, marketing-wise, team-wise. The partial schedule versus a full schedule…..I don’t know how that will affect the organization.
“I think if you look where we are at with our teams and cars there are a lot of things that have to be done to present a successful team when it goes to the race track as far as building cars and putting a team together. I don’t know that there has been any announcements about who the personnel is going to be so there is a lot of work to be done but at the same time there is a lot of hype because of her to get good people and make it happen.”
YOU HAVE THE SAME EQUIPMENT THAT TONY DOES AND YOU HAVE EIGHT TOP FIVES VERSUS TWO TOP-FIVES FOR HIM, HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT DIFFERENCE? HAVE YOU SEEN ANY OF THE FRUSTRATION THAT TONY EXPRESSED LAST WEEK? “I know his frustration because if you look at last year it was just a flip flop of performance as far as top-fives for him and top-fives for me and top-10’s for that matter. But and again, we had the same equipment but it’s not just equipment, its personnel. Its attitudes, its personalities, and a lot of things that can be more powerful than a right front spring. So I understand his frustration because of his success in the past and especially the past two years, being in the Chase and not that he isn’t in the Chase right now or running for the Chase but it’s no fun, I will say for sure in being that guy that is on the bubble or close to that bubble and I am extremely happy for our team and where we are at and at the same time I can understand the emotions of being that guy in that position this time of the year.”
WITH THREE RACES TO GO BEFORE THE CHASE, WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE AND WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE REFINED FOR YOUR TEAM TO BE HITTING ON ALL FOUR CYLINDERS BEFORE GOING INTO THE CHASE? “You know it’s about strengthening our team emotionally, not that we are weak, but you have to be………Jimmie (Johnson) is standing at the back of the room and he can tell you how strong you have to be those last ten races to win it five years in a row but just that emotional strength is much stronger when it comes to the demand that you put on yourself and the demand that others put on you with the level of competition we have in the Sprint Cup Series these days. You can swap springs and change sway bars and change shocks all day long but if you are not emotionally ready to go for that ten-race stretch, then you are not going to be a contender.
“From our team standpoint if you look at the last six races, with the exception of the road course races, we have been really strong and we have had a really good average. And I am not going to say we can do that the next six races, because that is reading into the future and we are not capable of doing that but I feel we have the tools that we need and our team is clicking and our performance has been good. You know we are not out there leading the most laps every other race but when it comes to finishes and whether we are in the media center or in the top-ten, we are knocking on the door of both of them.”