RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 WIX FILTERS CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed track safety and driver safety equipment as well as racing at Michigan.
TALK ABOUT HEADING INTO MICHIGAN AS WE GET CLOSER TO RICHMOND AND THE START OF THE CHASE: “Our WIIX Filters Chevrolet was really good in practice. Feel like we have a good, competitive car. I have always said that I enjoy Michigan. I enjoy the area and I also enjoy the speedway and just look forward to the opportunity to be here. Looking back and looking forward from our points perspective, we are sitting eighth. We’re in a much better position than we were here at the first race just because of our win in New Hampshire, but at the same time, we strive to get that second victory and lock ourselves in just as Brad (Keselowski) did.”
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO MAKE THE CARS AREN’T JUST SAILING DOWN THERE SO FAST? “No different than turn 11. Put the wall there at the right radius so it’s not a 90 degree or a head-on hit…one thing. The second thing is reduce the distance it takes for the car to get off the track before it hits the wall. I did ride alongs around here this morning. I was riding around fans. The closer you are to the wall, the less likely you are to hit hard. You hit not as hard because of the angle that you hit. Denny (Hamlin) said it was head-on, 89 degrees let’s say, if you made the curvature match the race track, don’t give us the run-off area. We spend all year not having run-off area, so we don’t need that. Yea, there is more likely a chance to hit the wall when you get off, but that’s the risk versus reward. The better drivers can do that without hitting the wall. Just eliminating those areas and making the race track match the wall contour, or the wall contour match the race track, I guess you could say, is the biggest and most important part of that. You are still going to have, if you look at turn one, if the wall actually matched the race track, you are still going to have the opportunities for a 90 degree impact, but if you know that going it, whatever happened to the No. 11 car (Hamlin), if his throttle stuck or whatever happened, you have the opportunity to just steer left and follow the wall instead of drive straight into it, head-on. There’s obviously some things that have to happen there mentally as you are driving to adapt to the situation that you are in when you are going to crash. We always try to find the best way to crash when we get stuck in that position. But, that’s my two cents from an engineering standpoint, just make the walls contour to the race track. We should look not just at turn one, but off of turn one, you have the same situation. Make the wall match the race track. If the wall would have matched the race track, David Regan’s car wouldn’t have bounced off of the wall into the No. 00 (David Reutimann). So that part there would be eliminated and in Denny’s case, if he knew his throttle was sticking or whatever, all you have to do is go up there and ride the wall and your day is going to be over regardless. But, there’s much less likely of a chance of a head-on impact or a higher G-force impact in that case.
“The second part of that is adding the correct safer barrier to go along with that at the right distance for the right speed; for the right race cars according. When the safer barrier deal started out, there were going to be different barriers for IndyCar, different barriers for stock cars. I think they might have found a happy medium because I haven’t seen them go change the walls any place or talk about it. There are situations at a place like that where you have motorcycles; where you have road race Grand-Am cars that are a 1,000 pounds lighter. You have IndyCar that are even lighter yet but still carry a lot of speed. There’s different happy medium in the equation balance when it comes to mass versus speed and some of the way the cars crash to make it ultimately the safest it possibly can be with the technology that we have.”
HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEW HANS DEVICE? “I have heard of it. We just talked about it, actually my interior guy talked about it today, we’re going to get one just to try it on to see if it fits my head and neck because I am not exactly in the 50th percentile.”
DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING IT MIGHT DO? TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE HANS DEVICE OVER THE YEARS AND WHAT IT HAS DONE TO HELP? “Thinking about the Hans Device, it’s not so much a light weight deal as it is the way it works and the way it engages. The Hans device works off of friction. Friction between the driver and the seat belts. Once the driver slides forward, he pinches that Hans Device between the seat belts, the Hans stays, your head tries to go forward and the tether says ‘No, you can’t’ according to whatever that gap is you prefer as a driver. The weight thing because of that is not such of an issue when you talk about weight in respect to safety and safety restraints, the helmet is the most important thing to keep light, but obviously keep safe. Going into the engineering thing, this is why you spun me out, when you talk about weight in respect to a helmet, let’s just say, when you hit the wall at 30 Gs, that, whatever it is, four pound helmet weighs 30 times that. So, if you take just a little bit of weight off of that helmet and divide it by 30, a little bit of gain can be huge when it comes to that. That is what is attached to your head. That is what makes your head go forward and that is what can cause some of the spine and nerve damage. There are things that we are obviously always working on trying to make things lighter and safer and faster with respect to the safety equipment. But, I don’t necessarily think that a lighter weight Hans has anything to do with the safety perspective as it is something that they can market. My experience with the Hans has worked every time.”
CAN YOU REMEMBER A CRASH WHERE YOU FELT THE HANS WAS THE DIFFERENCE? “Honestly, I’ve never had a crash where I’ve honestly felt all of the Hans work. Back in my Talladega crash when I flipped upside down, I had some neck issues. Those neck issues weren’t fixed until Elliot Sadler hit me, spun off turn two at Daytona in the 500 and hit me in the right rear and drove me right straight into the fence. That fixed my neck. I was thankful for him because of that, but I was mad because it was the Daytona 500. I’ve never really felt the Hans all its work and I don’t mean that…I’m not bashing the Hans, but I’ve never had like a Denny Hamlin-style impact from last week to feel all of that. I’ve been unfortunate enough to have cars land on top of me. I’ve had that two different ways. I’ve had Carl (Edwards) land on top of me and I’ve had my race car land on top of me when I was at Talladega. In those two instances, the Hans was necessarily the saving grace, but it is something I definitely…I’ve had to get used to I’ll say because for instance even last week at the road course, I kept getting my right Hans clip caught in my padding basically on my head rest. It was kind of catchy and it’s something you aren’t used to and something you have to adjust to. Part of it was because it was a road course and part of it was because it was just the way it was that weekend. There are things that we deal with inside the race cars that you guys never even think about when it comes to what happens when you are watching a race. I remember, for whatever reason, it kept happening to me in turn 11. I would go to look because you are looking right instead of looking left and it would catch and you just had to shake your head loose to knock your head off the head rest because it was stuck together.”