Indianapolis Motor Speedway
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed being at his “home” tracks, his win at New Hampshire last week, what an Indy win would mean and other topics.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ryan.
Q. Talk about what it would mean to win here.
RYAN NEWMAN: It's the home state. That's the biggest part, the history of the Speedway. Gasoline Alley, the bricks, all the greats that have raced in any form of motorsports at the Speedway, that to me is the history and the reason that it's so important to me to win here.
It is just another race. I don't mean that disrespectfully. From a points perspective, it's just another race. But to me I've always said it's right there tied for second of the most important or prestigious race with the Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500. Daytona is still a big one, but this is right up there.
Q. How has your excitement for this weekend changed from what happened last weekend?
RYAN NEWMAN: It was an awesome weekend in New Hampshire. I guess the unexpectedness of us qualifying 1-2, then backing it up on top of that, was amazing. Obviously a great weekend for Stewart-Haas Racing. All the effort, all the teammates, our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports from a chassis and engine perspective. That was an amazing week.
If we never duplicate that again, if we ever do, that would be amazing, but if we never do, we always have something that we could brag about.
Q. How much fuel was left in your car?
RYAN NEWMAN: I actually ran out of fuel doing the doughnuts, then I had just enough to fire back up and get to Victory Lane. So it worked out perfect.
Q. Have you been around Tony this week?
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't know if he made it to Cloud 13, but he passed Cloud 9 about halfway into that race. I know he's wound up about it. Meant a lot to him. Something he's been working towards, getting that first Outlaw victory.
I know it meant a lot for him to get that and I know he's up there trying to do good things for the sport, help out his girlfriend Jessica, their program they had the night before.
That was something I know he's going to carry with him for a long time. I know how much different races like that, open-wheel races he always wanted to win, meant to him. I know this is right there with them.
Q. Had you ever discussed it with him, how big a deal it was?
RYAN NEWMAN: He talks about it all the time. I don't know if he told you this, but he left Daytona and drove the hauler all the way back to the shop in Columbus, Indiana, after the 500. He's a racer at heart. Obviously he's my teammate and my friend and a great businessman, but he's a racer first and foremost. If there's a racetrack to be at, to watch, to race, he's there. That's the kind of teammate that I love and appreciate.
Q. (Question regarding the track.)
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't want to say it's a hairy racetrack, but it keeps you on edge. Speeds are up. The dirty air part of it, because of the speeds, lack of banking, keeps you on edge.
I like it. It's fun to drive it. I've always said, if you look at it from the air, all four corners look the same. But that's not true. Just full of things like the wind here has a huge effect on balance, traffic, things like that. It's a place you really got to be on top of it.
Q. Are more teams figuring this thing out? I hear a lot about parity. Points dictate that. Seems a lot more even this year.
RYAN NEWMAN: I think that's just the level of competition. From a performance side, our sport is really, really strong. You see guys that are winning that are back 20 plus in points. Just tells you how competitive the series is, how important it is for a top 10 or a top 5. When you get that win, it's even more important this year with the points and the way the wild card system works for the Chase. It was a huge points weekend for us and for a Chase running standpoint at New Hampshire.
Another part of it, too, is the tires have been much better and more competitive this year to the point that it's put more emphasis on the tires. That's a part of the equation, as well.
Q. Was it cool to have everybody in Victory Lane with you?
RYAN NEWMAN: It was great Saturday to get the modified win and have them there for the first Victory Lane. Then to back it up on Sunday, see all the pictures. She did really well. Both of them did really well with all the hype and everybody yelling and screaming, shooting beer and champagne and everything.
Q. (Question regarding having Tony as a teammate for Indy.)
RYAN NEWMAN: Having Tony Stewart as a teammate, he knows how to get around this racetrack no matter what kind of car he's driving. We have good information. We have a notebook now we didn't have a few years ago.
Yeah, it does. I don't think he tells me every secret that he's got. I don't tell him every secret that I've got. We have a lot of fun racing here.
Q. You've raced at Raceway Park. Are you disappointed the Nationwide Series will be leaving after this season?
RYAN NEWMAN: We talk about all the time how it's important to stay true to your roots, to enjoy the short track racing. I'm sure there's a big-picture reason for bringing the Nationwide race to the Speedway here. I don't think you should take away from the short track side of it. I raced over there last night in the Silver Crown series. To see all the fans camped out there Thursday night to enjoy the race, I want to make sure that those fans get to come over here and camp out and enjoy the way they race at the Speedway.
It's kind of a Catch-22. I don't know the ultimate answer, what's right or wrong. But I do feel short track racing is some of the best racing we have in all of NASCAR, no matter what series it is.
Q. What did the 1-2 finish mean to the team?
RYAN NEWMAN: The 1-2 finish was huge. The 1-2 start was something we took pictures with, didn't know if it was going to happen again. But to finish 1-2 on Sunday was really amazing. It was huge for us as a team to get the Army in Victory Lane, contribute to the soldiers. But then to have Tony there as the 1-2 on top of that, to do it after qualifying the way we did, dominating, leading most laps, that type of thing, that was something that we've -- we get criticized for being good qualifiers and not good racers, but it all happened on Sunday.
Q. What made it happen?
RYAN NEWMAN: Good racecar, right strategy, the right calls by Tony Gibson, good pit stops. We had 150 laps on the left side tires twice in the race. A good Goodyear tire was a contributing factor as well.
Q. (Question regarding the heat.)
RYAN NEWMAN: It's going to be hot here, no doubt. Long straightaway building a lot of heat underneath the hood. It's demanding. That's what we get paid to do, man. The strongest survive.
Q. How much of a deal is momentum?
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't think it's not only momentum, it's potential for momentum. You have to do the right things to expand good experiences into better experiences or even the same experiences. As a group, it's important for us to take what we did in New Hampshire and collectively and communication-wise make sure we keep that moving.
But that was a great weekend for us. We had an off weekend. I don't think we lost any steam in our boiler because of that. It was really good for us to get that first victory for the Army, like I said.
At this point in the season, the way the points work, that was a nice security interest for us in a lot of ways.
Q. Have you commented on the modified?
RYAN NEWMAN: I haven't commented on it. I'll say this. Penalty, no penalty, whatever it was, I was proud of the way our team performed up there. I was disappointed in what happened. Either why or how it happened I'm not sure a hundred percent. I know there was no intention on my part. What I was told, there was no intention from RCR's standpoint. We broke the rule, we accept the penalty, no matter what it is because we broke the rule. Whether it's fair or unfair, that's anybody's opinion.
But it's something that we didn't really want at all just because we go in there and we enjoy those races and we don't purposely cheat because we want to have good credibility with those guys. I think some of that is tarnished. We have the opportunity to go back and repolish those things.
But it's something I've never experienced in my career, being in a position like that.
The good thing was, it wasn't like I spun somebody out, it was my fault, we got black flagged or penalized. It was a part situation, which takes it out of my hands, depending on how you look at it.
Nobody ever wants to be a part of it. It does happen in racing. We'll all go on racing.
Q. I know you have a special sticker on your car this weekend for a fallen officer. Did you meet with the family?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, I met with the family, Terre Haute Officer Long. He was in the canine unit and lost his life in the line of duty. His wife, daughter and son are here. That's something special for us. Had the opportunity to do it for my brother-in-law in Lexington in Kentucky for the Kentucky race.
It's an opportunity for us to make a positive, to give back. We try to do a lot of good things in this sport. Sometimes it's just the littlest thing that can make the biggest difference. Turning a non-NASCAR fan into a NASCAR fan, that's one part of it. But just to give them a good experience, enjoy the weekend, our small way of saying thank you to somebody that served so well.
Q. It can be an emotional thing.
RYAN NEWMAN: It is. I got his bracelet on. I was sworn in as an honorary Terre Haute police officer. All that's cool. But just to have the family here and give them a great experience, that's our goal. Get their mind off of it if not for one day, for a weekend, let them enjoy NASCAR at its best.
Q. They'll be here all weekend?
RYAN NEWMAN: She didn't know for sure.
Q. What is your first memory of the track, maybe most cherished?
RYAN NEWMAN: My first memory is back when I was a real little kid driving past. Asked my dad, Is that the Speedway? Yeah, that's the Speedway. Getting a chance to come out here for one of the first NASCAR tests they had here. I was driving down the road with my mom. We heard them. Drove into the infield. Walked into the garage area. Got a chance to walk around. That was a really special moment, not knowing if I was ever going to make it as a driver, to be here for one of the tests at the Speedway.
Q. I saw you race last night. What is the difference?
RYAN NEWMAN: Two separate racetracks, two separate racecars. I really enjoy running those cars. We didn't have a chance to really put it on 'em last night. We were really loose. Started eighth. Worked on the car. Went back to last, drove back up to eighth. Just a lot of fun to race with those guys.
It's me going back to my roots. I won the championship back in '99 driving those cars. It's fun to go back and race those cars. Some of the guys that I raced with are still there that I enjoyed racing with, trying to be the next USAC Silver Crown champion there as well.
Q. Any tracks coming up between now and the start of the Chase that you haven't ran well in the past that you'll need to do better at?
RYAN NEWMAN: Not necessarily. There's different variables in every racetrack. We look forward to going to all of them. A place like Pocono, Michigan, Watkins Glen, we all have good notes. Just look forward to them all.
New Hampshire was huge for us from an insurance standpoint. It wasn't a lock-in deal, but it was huge for us from an insurance standpoint to make it into the Chase. We (indiscernible) to rely on a win, but I think we can better our points position and hopefully get another win or two.
Q. You have Pocono next weekend, then you mentioned Watkins Glen. All good tracks for you guys. When it comes to road course racing and Watkins Glen, it looks like it would be fun. Are you looking forward to it?
RYAN NEWMAN: I like the road courses. I really enjoy the challenge, the hustle of the racecar, the heavy braking. It's not the easiest place to pass. Everybody kind of knows that. It's a track position race. Usually a two-stop fuel race. You don't get a lot of chances to work on your racecar, similar to places like Loudon and Richmond.
It's fun to hustle those cars around the racetrack. We look forward to going well there. Stewart has always run there. We've had our moments. See if we can try to do it again.
Q. I asked Tony earlier, when does the Sprint Summer Showdown come into the back of your mind?
RYAN NEWMAN: I thought it started in New Hampshire, so I was all pumped up about it, Victory Lane speech, Sprint Summer Showdown. They said, It starts at Indy. Shoot, I have to win another race now.
That's a huge deal for our sport, incorporate the fans, a chance to get $1 million for a fan, the charity. It's a lot of money. The way they tie the fans in with the sport is really amazing.
RYAN NEWMAN: I'd say we've always heard behind every great man there's a great woman, and behind every great athlete there's typically a great mother and father. My perspective, I think my family is a lot like Tony's: they made us who we are. They taught us to be better people and to show respect. That's a big part of our sport.
Got a few opportunities to work around Tony's mom with what she did with his foundation, trying to make a difference. I think they do a lot of great things and have big hearts. I think Tony's big heart probably comes more from his mama than his daddy.
Q. (Question about giving back.)
RYAN NEWMAN: That's what we always try to do is win, try to give back, give thanks to the people that got us here. From my perspective, it's my parents. Tony's perspective, it's his parents. Everybody has a little different story.
My parents are 100% instrumental in my racing career. I'm really grateful for that.
By: team chevy