RYAN NEWMAN., NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVEROLET met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed his spring victory at NHMS, fuel mileage, the Talladega rule changes and other topics.
RYAN YOU WON HERE IN THE SPRING, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR RACE THIS WEEKEND, I AM SURE YOU ARE LOOKING TO GET TO VICTORY LANE AGAIN: “I’d be lying if I didn’t say we were excited about coming back, we are bringing the same racecar. That does not mean we are going to come back and do the same things we did at the first race, but I feel like we will have a good opportunity. New Hampshire has always been a good race track for me personally and our team is really strong at short tracks. I do not know exactly what the weather is going to be like here for us today or tomorrow but if we do get some more rain and then we do not get to practice as much as we are supposed to then obviously that plays into our hand as well for people not being able to work on their cars to improve them to be as good as ours was the first race. I look forward to it, I missed my trip yesterday into here after modified qualifying but hopefully I’ll be back again.
WHAT IS THE FEELING ACROSS THE SHOP AFTER STEWART’S WIN LAST WEEK AND IS THERE BENEFIT TO YOUR TEAM SPECIFICALLY FROM TONY HAVING WON LAST WEEK? “I have not been to the shop because of the race on Monday, but obviously it is a good feeling, we had at least a third place car going at least there towards the end, if we had, had enough fuel. We had a car that was as good as (Tony) Stewart’s, he just had a little bit better fuel mileage. I think it was a great feeling knowing that we had two cars that were capable of winning and when Tony (Stewart) won the first race of the year, first race of the Chase that was obviously good timing of all things. If we had of ran one-two that would have been the best situation but even though we finished eighth, we had a better car than that. As I said then it was disappointing for us to finish where we did because that was the worst we ran all day long was the last lap. Just really proud of everybody at Stewart-Hass to start the Chase on a good note.
AS A DRIVER, WHAT ARE THE MOMENTS LIKE, WHAT IS THE DECISION PROCESS LIKE DURING A FUEL MILEAGE RACE? “I guess it is a different kind of team work because I’m relying on what Tony Gibson, my crew chief, and race engineer, what they are saying I need to do, what they are telling me what I need to save and I have to put that number whether it’s in gallons or laps into my head and figure out what I have to do in the racecar to be able to save enough fuel to make it to the end. He wants me to have enough fuel for a green-white-checkered and I am not worried about that. There is a happy medium of good team work that goes on and the performance of the driver who has to actually do what his crew chief is asking him. It is not easy to do, there is no fuel gage, there is no speedometer there is no way of exactly knowing what you are doing other than what you are doing with the pedals and the steering wheel. It is an added challenge that I enjoy part of it. I enjoy it more so when we have better fuel mileage than other people. It is a fun part of what we do at times. I don’t want every race to be like that but, I think it does add an extra level of excitement for the fans the suspense of “is he going to run out, and when and will somebody else, before him or after him” those types of things.
WHAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN SAVING FUEL MILEAGE, IS IT THE DRIVER? “Genetics” (laughs) the car balance is one thing, knowing what you have to do to conserve that energy, is the other part of it, track position is a big factor of it to. There were times at Chicago that I was getting drafts off of guys on the straight-aways just to try to save some fuel. There is several ways and different perimeters that give you the opportunity to save fuel. It is a matter of figuring out how much you actually are saving as a driver and having the performance to get to victory lane and or get the best possible finish you can.”
THE NEW TALLADEGA RULES, CAN YOU PREDICT HOW THEY WILL CHANGE THE RACING AND WHAT YOU EXPECT TO SEE FROM THEM? “I think the speed is not so much of an issue. It is very difficult to do what we do, with the tandem drafts and getting our cars lined up bumper-to-bumper and not crashing each other or the entire field, it is obviously going to be faster from that stand point. I don’t know that 5-10 horse-power over 415 or whatever it is is going to be the answer to cars being able to bust out of line and pass somebody. I don’t think that is necessarily the case. I do know that the biggest change of the two changes was the pop off valve deal. Just trying to get the cars not push as long, basically is NASCAR’s objective there. Whether they want it or the fans want is I don’t know. To me it is something that we’ll consider but that 8lbs is a decent change but the actually ambient weather conditions can be a bigger change than what that change was. In other words if it is a 60 degree day vs. an 85 degree day that plays a big factor in how effective that change is. We will not know how much we can tandem draft distance wise until we get the ambient conditions and obviously the horse-power is going to add a little extra heat, the pressure release value is going to take a little bit of time away from our push from a water pressure stand point but we will do what we have to do to win.”
WHAT DO YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE FIRST RACE IN THE CHASE? “It was a good race for Stewart-Hass; it was a good race for us. I think it kind of showed us to that there are no guarantees. You look at, and I am not soloing him out but if you look at somebody like Jeff Gordon, who won Atlanta, takes a mile-and a –half race track and goes to another mile-and a -half race track and gets lapped in the chase first race of the chase, you know that just shows how razor edge these cars are as far as the balance and happiness of the driver and respect to the speed and that there are no guarantees just because we are good at one mile-and a –half race track does not mean that we are good at all of them. That is a big part of the chase is those style of race tracks. Just because Stewart-Hass race well at Chicago does not mean we are going to run well at Kansas or Charlotte or Homestead.
WHAT ABOUT RECOVERING FROM A BAD FIRST RACE? “There is still time to recover. It is a quarter of the schedule left, 9 races of the 36, so there is still a lot of time to recover. You do not want to have to recover obviously but there is still plenty of time to have good races and for somebody else to have bad ones. Just because you have one bad race in the chase, as we have seen in the past, that historically that means something but it doesn’t mean everything.”
DO YOU THINK THIS YEAR’S CHAMPION COULD BE DETERMINED BY WHO FIGURES OUT THE FUEL MILEAGE GAMBLE THE BEST? “Let me answer your question this way. I can’t predict the future, but what I want to say is, you got me pretty good because you’re predicting the future in so many different ways. Yes fuel mileage is going to be a part of who the champion is because it already has been. The second part of it is, everybody’s fuel mileage is a little bit different. I might have a fuel mileage situation, and like last week, Tony Stewart didn’t. Jeff Gordon might have a fuel mileage situation and Jimmie Johnson doesn’t because of the mechanics and the performance of their race cars. There are situations that I could be on the line and somebody else isn’t. Yes, there is always that potential and it already has been an affect and it probably will be again. I commend Goodyear on the reasoning for that because we have better tires this year and that is putting more pressure on the fuel mileage situation than it is coming in for tires because somebody blew one out and the fuel mileage is no longer an issue.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE WHEN IT COMES TO THE MODIFIED AFTER WHAT HAPPENED HERE IN JULY? “I don’t feel like I have something to prove, I have emotionally I want to go out there and prove to the fans that what happened was an accident, was a mistake on the engine guys part. I am here to have fun regardless , but yea there is a part of me that says yea we need to go back and redeem ourselves because that is something you cannot take back but you can try to polish up the rust and make it look like it’s not there.”
IS IT FAIR THAT NASCAR CHANGES THE RULES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE “PLAYOFF’S”? “If they don’t change it in the middle of the race, then we are fine with it. As long as we know that going in, then it’s the same game for all of us. If they said yea, we are changing the rules in the middle of the race and now field goals are worth 3.5 after we have gotten two field goals, then yea that is something. Otherwise everybody knows it going in, our situation is a little bit different than their situation as to how we keep score.”