Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, Aug. 16,2005 Watkins Glen Recap, Michigan Advance RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger) NOTE: Newman, a 27-year-old driver from South Bend, Ind., ranks eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup ...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, Aug. 16,2005
Watkins Glen Recap, Michigan Advance
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Newman, a 27-year-old driver from South Bend, Ind., ranks eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings heading into Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway. He's 53 points ahead of 10th-place Carl Edwards and 46 points behind sixth-place Kurt Busch Newman has competed in eight races at MIS, scoring two victories (August 2003 and June 2004) and four top-five finishes. Newman leads the circuit with five poles in 2005, including the June pole at MIS.
OPENING COMMENTS "We had so much rain delay (at Watkins Glen) and had very limited laps in the Cup car before the race. Because of the rain we never even got a chance to qualify. I enjoyed running the Busch race and built up a little confidence for myself as far as knowing what to expect from the racetrack. I tried to make an attempt to knock Tony Stewart off his pedestal. I think we would have had a shot at him Sunday. I know I never got a chance to see Robby Gordon race because he came from the back, but we started seventh and maybe in the first eight or 10 laps we were up to fourth and going for third. We had a fast car, and we proved that at the end. We just had fourth gear at the end, but we actually caught some guys. We just couldn't pass anybody because of the shifting situation. The restarts killed us, and we would have finished a couple of spots ahead of where we did if it hadn't been for the last restart. It wasn't a lot of fun, but we made the best of it and knew we had a fast racecar. That was the highlight of my Sunday, knowing we had a car as fast as it was."
WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK FOR MICHIGAN? "Hopefully better for sure (than the 15th-place finish in June). We need to get our train back on the track as far as this point situation goes. We're definitely going to put our effort into qualifying like we did in the spring race. You never know what to expect in the race, but Michigan is definitely the best track we go to as far as racing. Tony had a shot at winning the first race there. I think he ended up finishing second, but it's going to be a fast race and I think Tony is going to have a good shot at winning it."
WILL YOU APPROACH MICHIGAN AND THE LAST FOUR RACES BEFORE THE CHASE DIFFERENTLY? "I'm not going to drive any differently or approach it any differently. I think the only thing it is is to be aware of who you're racing and who you're going to be teammates with. We talk about it each year, especially in The Chase. You just can't put yourself in a bad position when it comes to those things. You just might want to play it a tick safer because you don't know the mentality of the person you're racing next to or who they might be a teammate of."
DO YOU THINK THE CHASE IS WORKING OUT THIS YEAR? "I don't know. That's more of a question for people behind the scenes and NASCAR fans I guess. I don't see it much different than it was last year. Tony is off to a pretty decent lead and he's got a pretty big lead on 10th. It's going to depend on how big of a roll Tony is on in these last four races to see where the points cutoff is and to see if there'll be any drama for the Richmond race."
ARE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CHASE DISTRACTING? "It's not distracting. Part of my job is answering your questions, but at the same time you answer the same question for everybody. The bottom line is it's a fair question and I'll give you a fair answer. It's just that sometimes you don't know what to expect about what's going to happen on the racetrack."
DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF CONFIDENCE GOING TO MICHIGAN? "I definitely have a lot of confidence going there. It's a fun racetrack to drive and a fun racetrack to race, but it's a relatively easy track to get around. You could have a guy that's got really good equipment and may not be the best driver and he could be your nemesis all day. That's not what you want. You want a guy with experience knowing what he's doing. You have to be aware what's going on because of that, but we hope we can go there and get things rolling again."
IS THERE FRUSTRATION WITH THE POINTS SYSTEM? "I won't say I'm frustrated with it. That's the way it is and that's the way it's been in the past. It makes you wonder, but you can wonder all you want. It's probably not going to change. You just have to go out and get more top fives and beat the guys who don't have as many."
WHAT WOULD BE THE FIRST CHANGE IN POINTS SYSTEM YOU'D MAKE? "I would award points for qualifying, whether it's an impound race or not. I think it would be cool to get points for qualifying. It would build a little drama before the race actually gets going the points would change. I'm not saying that to be selfish from my qualifying history. I think it would give the media an opportunity to make something out of qualifying if the points changed before the race even started."
ARE THERE SOME THINGS YOU'D LIKE TO DO MORE OFTEN IF YOU HAD MORE FREE TIME? "Like sleep? My wife and I are going up to do an appearance for one of my sponsors. I'm going to go fishing in Canada and do an appearance up there, so we get to do some unique things and that's going to be fun this weekend. Because I'm doing the Busch race I'm not going to get to do my usual fishing while I'm at Michigan. That's OK because hopefully we'll have a good race on Saturday."
WHAT'S THE MOOD IN GARAGE WITH EARLY DRIVER SIGNINGS? "I think there is some concern, but I don't know what the exact concern is other than the change we're seeing with contracts being signed and drivers and teams and their relationships. There is some kind of concern, but on a scale of 1 to 10 I don't know where that level lies to give you a fair answer."
HOW MUCH CAN A BUSCH PROGRAM HELP A CUP DRIVER? "At Chicago we had a really good Busch car on Saturday and a good Cup car to start the race off on Sunday. The biggest thing there is I knew what to expect of the racetrack. We got up front and we led some laps early. I passed Jimmie Johnson and five points can make a difference in winning the championship or making The Chase for that matter. Things like that and just have more seat time and experience at the track and learning things about the cars and applying that for Sunday has been a big benefit for me this year."
ONLY FIVE GUYS IN THE TOP 10 HAVE WON RACES. IS THAT JUST A SIGN OF THE TIMES? "I think part of that is just the dominance of what Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle have done this year. If it wasn't for Mark Martin spinning out at Darlington (there would be another winner in the top 10). We've only had one Dodge in victory lane this year and that was Kasey Kahne at Richmond. We've talked on and off about the struggles Dodge has had this season, and it goes without saying. Because of the way Dodge has performed in the past and how little things have changed, I think the little changes has made the difference in the teams this year and the results we've got."
WHY ARE MORE DODGES IN TOP 10 THAN EVER BEFORE? "That could just be consistency. I guess that's a good stat."
WHY IS MICHIGAN THE BEST TRACK FOR RACING? "It's wide. From a driver's standpoint you get to draft and bump draft on the straightaways. You can get off line and go three or four-wide in the corners. It's relatively not bumpy and that makes it good for racing."
THREE FORMER CHAMPIONS MIGHT NOT MAKE THE CHASE. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE COMPETITION? "It says the competition is either really tough or they're struggling. I think it's more of the latter, but the competition is still really tough. With the way Tony Stewart has been running, it's not surprising at all (that only four drivers are within 400 points of the leader). Again, that can change. It's changed for Jimmie Johnson and it's changed for Greg Biffle recently."