RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus -- RAYBESTOS ROOKIE AND POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE "That was the part I was worried about (the qualifying run) with Andretti following us is that we didn't back it up the way we did in practice. We ran ...
RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus -- RAYBESTOS ROOKIE AND POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE
"That was the part I was worried about (the qualifying run) with Andretti following us is that we didn't back it up the way we did in practice. We ran something like an .07 and qualified with a .13 and, knowing John was as fast as he was, I was a little worried about that. He had a good qualifying lap as well, but the ALLTEL Ford unloaded pretty fast. We worked on it a little bit and I got real comfortable. I've got a lot of laps at this race track in primarily different race cars, but the walls are in the same spot and the pavement is still the same. I'm just happy for everybody at Penske Racing to have a good qualifying run."
HAS YOUR OPEN-WHEEL EXPERIENCE AT THIS TRACK HELPED YOU? "Well, without a doubt, anytime you can get laps at any kind of race track, whether it's riding a bicycle, you still gain some kind of knowledge as far as where bumps are at and everything. I'm in a good situation as far as being with the team that I am and happy to have the performances that we've been having."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BREAK THE ROOKIE RECORD FOR POLES?
"It's a cool deal for the team as well as me. Just like anything on race day, it's a team sport. This is as much their reward as it is mine. It goes down in history, I guess, more as mine but I don't know that part of the history. I don't think Davey (Allison) raced all the races that year. But I'm just happy to break that record. Like I said last week, anytime there is an award out there, we go for it and I'm happy to accomplish that this year."
WHAT KIND OF WEATHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SUNDAY?
"To me, it doesn't really matter. It seems the hotter and greasier it gets, the more the setup makes a difference. That's one good side of it and the other side is that if you're not the fastest car, you don't look forward to that. I think last year here it was 97 degrees and we didn't get the finish we wanted to. Our performance was poor all day, but, hopefully, we can better that this year. The weather is gonna be the same for everybody, so it doesn't really matter to us."
THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD TRACK FOR RUSTY. DOES IT HELP KNOWING THE TEAM IS GOOD HERE?
"That's one piece of the puzzle, but, overall, we still have to perform as a team. It's just one of those things where, no matter what, we work as hard as we can whether Rusty's had good experiences or bad experiences. Teamwork in a situation like this works either way." YOU'VE HAD TWO BAD FINISHES HERE.
"We brought the same car both times, this is a different one. That's about all I can tell you. We struggled the first race. We had a brake problem at the same time we had somebody's windshield tear-off laying smack square sticky side down on our grille and it cooked the motor down. Last year, we got caught, believe it or not, Spencer and Busch got into it. I ended up t-boning Kurt Busch as he spun and that ended our day. We've not had performances as well as finishes here yet, so, hopefully, we can turn that around." IS THE CHAMPIONSHIP STILL POSSIBLE?
"I'm a math kind of guy. As long as there's mathematically a chance, we're still in it."
DO YOU HAVE MORE INPUT IN THE CAR?
"I would say two percent more. Our relationship has not changed much at all. The only difference is that I've got a little bit better feel as far as having experience and laps to be able to give more feedback and I can compare things a little differently. Before, I could tell them loose or tight, but now I can tell them what I might be thinking that's making it loose or tight and we can go from there. That makes up the two percent really. He runs his show and I run my show and we've been doing pretty good at it."
WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT WINNING THE POLE?
"It's just like anything else, beating everybody. To me, it's just about the competition and knowing that you're the best on a given day at a given time doing what I like to do."
HAVE YOU EXCEEDED ALL EXPECTATIONS?
"We haven't exceeded all expectations. That went out the window when we had so many engine failures, but, as a whole, the performances have exceeded some of our expectations, whether it's the poles, the one win met our requirements I guess you could say. But the top 10s and top fives are the good things that have exceeded our expectations in some ways, but in some ways not. You can run in the top five one week, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to do it every week."
WHAT ABOUT FROM A POINTS STANDPOINT?
"At the start of the season, I told everybody that there was no reason we shouldn't be in the top 10 in Winston Cup points. I didn't say top seven or top six, I said top 10 and when we fell back to 17th for a while, I told the guys on the crew. I said, 'There's no reason why we can't finish in the top five in points this year.' That was after seeing our performances up to that point, so, as long as we got everything corrected like we have had reliability-wise, we've pretty much met our expectations there." HAVE YOU AND JIMMIE JOHNSON RAISED THE BAR FOR ROOKIES NOW? "Nothing is impossible. When the checkered flag waves at Homestead we'll sit down and talk about all that stuff before the banquet. But, to me, we're just gonna keep doing the things we've been doing. We have had a great season, both Jimmie and I, but there are no limitations. Look at Jamie McMurray. He wins in his second start. Next year, he could be the greatest thing since sliced bread, so we'll see."
WHAT ABOUT TONY STEWART?
"Stewart is Stewart. You look at his records. He's usually the top performer in the second half of the season, most of the time. He got a bad start at Daytona and I think that lit his fire right away to come back and not let that happen this year."