Penske Racing South from LMS Media Tour RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) ON STAGE ANSWER TO QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE "I think we learned some things at Homestead, and I was really happy to be up front leading some laps and running in...
Penske Racing South from LMS Media Tour
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
ON STAGE ANSWER TO QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE "I think we learned some things at Homestead, and I was really happy to be up front leading some laps and running in the top five all day. We definitely learned some things at Homestead and look forward to applying that in 2006. We felt like we finished the season off on a strong note."
COMMENT ON BEING THE SENIOR DRIVER AT PENSKE RACING SOUTH "I don't if it's a good thing or a bad thing. It's the first time in my career I've ever been a senior driver. When I drove for the Kenyon Brothers, Mel Kenyon was 61 and I was 16. I know how Earnhardt Sr. was about being called senior, so I'm not sure I want to be called Senior here."
COMMENT ON KURT BUSCH "We're both aggressive in our driving style. We're not aggressive in how we treat people. That's important to me. Kurt is a clean racecar driver, and we've never had a run-in on the racetrack that drew us to a conversation later. We look forward to racing under the same roof for Penske Racing and doing Roger well, and more importantly doing well for ourselves. It's going to be a learning curve for us -- me, Matt Borland, Roy (McCauley) and Kurt, it's going to be a learning experience. Kurt has got more experience than anybody as far as sharing information as far as an individual for one team. I don't, so it's going to be difficult for me, maybe. Maybe it'll be easy, but I see it as something I'll have to adapt to. I think it's something that will strengthen Penske Racing, and that's all you can ask for I guess."
DO YOU THINK BY WORKING TOGETHER YOU COULD GET AN EDGE WITH THE CAR SETUPS? "I think we could, but I think the most important part to be on the edge you've got to have the right tools. Last year we didn't have the right tools, I'm talking about the lack of success Dodge had as a whole, and that's very important for us to correct in 2006. Otherwise we're going to be fighting the same battle and we don't have much more blood left in us."
DID THE OLD SCHOOL MENTALITY RETARD THE PROGRESS OF THIS TEAM OVERALL? "That's a good way to put it. We want to be a two-car team and we want to share information because we think we'll be that much better, so maybe it did and maybe it didn't."
COMMENT ON SPRINT CAR DRIVERS "I've never seen a sprint car driver of any kind, pavement or dirt, that hasn't been successful in some other form of racing at some point in his career. A sprint car driver can drive pretty much anything is what I'm trying to say. From A.J. Foyt to Tony Stewart to Kenny Irwin to Mike Bliss, I've seen them be successful in other forms of racing. This package is way more similar to sprint cars or a Silver Crown car than Indy cars. I've only tested an IRL car once, but to me it's a lot easier to drive an IRL car than it is a stock car."
COMMENT ON KURT BUSCH'S PUBLIC IMAGE "I think he's similar in his mannerisms, but he doesn't come across in the same way in person as he does on TV. That's just my opinion of it. I think he's got a great attitude. He's a great person. He's very much like me in that he's sarcastic. Some sarcastic people get it and other people think it's cocky. I think that's part of it. I think we have a lot of things that are similar, and I think we have some personality things that are different. I hope that won't separate our working together in the future."
DO YOU THINK BUSCH HAS BEEN HUMBLED? "I think part of it humbled him and I think part of it aggravated him. That's my opinion. Anybody in the world can say if it was fair or not, but he's the only one who knows what really happened and how it all went down. Kurt's Kurt and Ryan's Ryan. I really don't know (the real Kurt Busch)."
WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MATT BORLAND TESTED LAST YEAR? "I won't say tested, but we struggled through that part of it. There were some times we had hard times believing each other. We'd say something and it didn't make sense. It didn't make sense because it was my fault or his fault. It just didn't make sense. That was a hard part for us. Our relationship is great. I've got a blister on my hand because we were out splitting wood together last week. That's some of the fun things we've done in the past week and a half. All in one night we went and split wood for about 45 minutes to an hour. We went back to my house and put an exhaust manifold on his '59 Corvette and drove it back to his house. We have a great relationship on and off the racetrack and look forward to continuing that. It's been a tough off season for everybody here at Penske Racing. He's seen a lot of things he never anticipated seeing as far as things happening or not happened at the shop. He's had his tough moments, and it's nice to be able to do things like that to relax."
IS SPLITTING WOOD FUN? "Splitting wood is fun. He swung about 100 times at one log before he got it split. It was good to see him get some of his frustrations out on other things. We do things like that sometimes. He's got a situation with two daughters and we've got four dogs. He's got dogs beyond that. Some parts of our personal life are different, but some are very similar."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
ON STAGE ANSWER TO QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE "That's in the past, and I'm looking to move forward. Jan. 2 was the first time I drove the Miller Lite Dodge, and it was a great feeling to get back in the car and get back in the swing of things. Moving forward and that's what we've done. We tested at Atlanta. We got called up by Goodyear to help them out. We went to Daytona and had three great days down there, and did a Nashville test this week, actually yesterday (Tuesday) to decide which Charger we were going to bring along with an Intrepid to Las Vegas to test."
COMMENT ON THE ENGINEERING CONTRIBUTION FROM THE 2 TEAM "I think I know a little of the one on one of it. These guys just have a little more detail. It's going to be a challenge for me to step up to that program. When Jimmy Fennig came to me in 2002, I had to step up to his knowledge and experience level if we wanted to be successful."
HOW HAS YOUR PERSONALITY CHANGED? "I'm a little older now. I aged pretty quick the last two months. I'm a little bit more mature and more aware of what's around me and very fortunate to do the job I do. I took it for granted. With a fresh start with Roger and understanding his way of operating as a team, it's going to be all about teamwork, getting the 2 and 12 working together. There's so many things for me to absorb. It's going to be a challenge to fit in. I just think I've been too uptight, and I haven't loosened up enough. I get too uptight when 20 of you are standing in front of me with recorders. It's just about loosening up and having more fun with it. It's easier to do when I've got those people behind me."
DO YOU THINK YOU'RE WALKING IN YOUR KIND OF PLACE WITH ALL THE ATTENTION TO DETAIL AT PENSKE RACING SOUTH? "That's what I saw here, and that was one of the big factors in making the change. The way they operate from Roger and his open door policy all the way down to everybody that's involved. The tire guy has his own computer program on when our tires are wearing and when we need to change them. It's a more in depth program where two cars are committed to win and the two teams share the information. It's definitely what I thought it could be from the outside. Now it's a matter of getting into more detail."
IS IT A BIG DEAL TO YOUR FAMILY WHO YOU'RE DRIVING FOR NOW? "In ways it is. In ways it still feels the same. We are driving in Nextel Cup racing, and I'm humbled to be here. To have the opportunity to start with Jack was great, and now I'm with Roger and a new beginning. It's overwhelming at times. The objective is to get the sponsors into victory lane. That's my job."
COMMENT ON RYAN NEWMAN AS A TEAMMATE "Ryan is a great guy. He's definitely engineering minded and when you have that you have special secrets that come up day to day and those don't need to be revealed until they're proven and until they are scienced out I guess. Rusty would go and try some things and wouldn't quite work. One was new school and one was old school. I think that's where the teamwork wasn't quite clashing. It'll be a challenge. It just won't happen overnight. I've got quite a bit to digest with my car, switching from Ford to Dodge and with the new crew chief. Once we get rolling I know the two of us will draft together at Daytona. That's not going to be a problem. We've already discussed that and you move on to the next step. Ryan and I are going to be buddy-buddy in this whole deal and help each other out. I had to first just put out on the table what was the problem. Then it was moving on from there and not have that happen again. We've had three formal meetings with his crew chief and engineer and my crew chief and engineer. Then the two of us have just shot the breeze, hanging out. He just got back from Hawaii. He was on a two-week vacation. We talked about the different things we share as hobbies. You move forward. I needed a perspective from the inside. The perspective from the outside was you had an old school guy and a new school guy. It gets back to Ryan developing some new things that were unproven with racecars. Rusty would just put 'em in his cars to try 'em out looking to get to victory lane, and it wouldn't quite match with his car. He didn't quite put the full program into it. The two just needed to share information and share 100 percent of it. I think that's where the two didn't quite get along. The whole program wasn't out on the table."
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU'VE BEEN UPTIGHT AROUND THE MEDIA? "I always tried to do the proper sponsor etiquette thing and not slip up. I was so focused on what I was drilled with from my prior team it camouflaged who I was I believe." WHAT WAS DRILLED INTO YOU? "Just being that model guy for the sponsor and making sure they were happy so the team can continue forward, which obviously needs to happen, but it can done at a looser value. I was just trying to fit in. I'm really back now. I think it's just a matter of hanging out and racing one race at a time."
IS ROUSH RACING A HARDER PLACE TO WORK THAN MOST PEOPLE REALIZE? "I think we had great success together. We had some good times and we had some hard times. You have your good seasons and you have your bad seasons. I'm looking forward to 100 percent good seasons with the Miller Lite Dodge. It's going to be fun together. I know with the new relationship I have with Roger it's already different. Rusty has been fun. I've talked with Humpy Wheeler quite a bit in his office, and I'm going to DW and talking with him. We're going to meet down at Daytona, and he's got some things he's going to share with me. I've looked at quite a few careers in NASCAR over this offseason and right now the three I've chosen to speak to are the three I probably have the most comparison to."
WHAT KIND OF ADVICE ARE PEOPLE GIVING YOU? "It's a matter of being yourself and doing it the right way. You don't need to put a smokescreen up. You take care of a list of things and you just need to know when to do that. That's been the basic core of what I've got from the three of them. Now it's just a matter of getting into more detail."
ANY CHANCE YOU'LL EVER GET IN A PENSKE INDY CAR? "I've shown that interest, maybe just for a test session, just to play and to drive a fast car with a lot of downforce on a road course."
COMMENT ON DODGE VERSUS FORD "I've felt bigger differences sometimes with chassis than with the bodies so far. It'll be a learning process for me. The Dodge is a different animal than the Ford. Right now the real test I had with it was at Atlanta at the tire test and the thing was just beyond loose. It may have been our setup. It may have been we tried some things that the tire didn't quite match the new tires. We'll balance that out over time. It's going to be a challenge to get up to speed with the Dodge."