Phoenix International Raceway April 10, 2010 An interview with: RYAN NEWMAN, Driver TONY GIBSON, Crew chief THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the Infield Media Center by today's winner of the Subway Fresh Fit 600, driver of the No. 39 ...
Phoenix International Raceway
April 10, 2010
An interview with:
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver
TONY GIBSON, Crew chief
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the Infield Media Center by today's winner of the Subway Fresh Fit 600, driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet, Ryan Newman. Interesting fact is that in all of NASCAR's history the 39 car has been driven in 286 races, including tonight's race. Tonight is the first time the 39 has ever made it to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.
So, Ryan, tell us about your run.
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't know if I have enough words. But the last restart, didn't really know what to expect. The inside, from what I had seen, hadn't been the ideal lane all day. I'm not sure if Jeff didn't get a great restart. I didn't feel I did, but it was just the right place at the right time.
Two tires paid off, clean air, and track picked up so much grip as we went there, and it was just right time, right place. And gotta thank Tornados and Chevrolet and the U.S. Army and Haas Automation and Coca-Cola and Kraft and Gillette and all the people that have stood by us.
It was a long time coming for me personally, 77 races, but to see Tony Stewart win so many races last year and be so close but not get that victory, this is really awesome for us and our team.
Q: I will verify that Jeff Gordon said on Pit Road he spun the tires on the restart and he was kicking himself afterwards. Maybe that explains what happened at the end. But could you talk about that and the restart?
RYAN NEWMAN: I did the best I could. I knew from what my car had done every restart is a push down on 1 and 2. I got a good start and hooked the apron just right. Got a good run to the green, which is so difficult here.
I was talking to, of all people, Kyle Busch about it before the race. I mean, this is one of the longest straightaways we have before the green flag from Turn 4. Most tracks are D-shaped and you can kind of see, but here it's really hard to gauge, at least when you're mid-pack, what to expect on a restart.
So I had one opportunity earlier in the race when I was on two tires and it didn't pan out at all. And to go back later in the race and be on two tires with more laps then left still be able to pull it off was amazing.
Q: Can you talk about the decision to go for four -- for two and how much you and Tony discussed it and who made the final call?
RYAN NEWMAN: Gibson wanted to put four on it. I said, Put two on me. I didn't want to get jumped by a bunch of guys that did two. As it turned out, I don't know where the first guy was that finished on four tires. I don't know if he was even in the top five. He made the ultimate call.
I was the one that suggested two tires but he made the ultimate call on of two tires on Pit Road. And it was ultimately the right call. I think like the top five, we're two-tire car, so it was all good from my standpoint.
Q: I think you said it was an emotional one because it's been so long. What's it been like for you? For a while you were winning races and you were one of the people that fans were mad at because you were winning every week. How does that -- when you're a driver, how is that going through that experience, trading that experience?
RYAN NEWMAN: It was tough. It was tough last year, I'm not going to kid you, when I come to a new organization and it's the same organization for Tony Stewart and he won all those races. Looking back at it, we were close, but we gave some of our races away and we know that. We knew what we needed to do to make our team better.
And I feel that we've done that. We proved that tonight. So it was a long time coming for me. The emotional part when I first started in the series, it just came easy. I was with a great team. Had great crew chief, great pit stops, all those things just kind of came easy to me, and then as it -- I got towards 2005, got to struggling a little bit. I got a win here or there, but it was not dominant like we were back in 2002 and 2003. And to come to this new organization and achieve the things that we did was great last year.
But, as I said all year long, I wanted to get that first victory for our team and for No. 39 and these guys at Stewart-Haas Racing who had never been to any victory in any series, and we did that today.
Q: Ryan, obviously some people are going to say you stole this one. Kyle was way in front when that last caution came out. However, you were running near the front almost all race. And can just the fact that you did win it, can that just change everything around for you guys just the momentum of that? Just going to victory lane again and regardless of how you do it, just the fact that you got there, can that be a difference that can propel you guys the rest of the year?
RYAN NEWMAN: I thought Kyle stole one last night, so he's just even now. It's racing, man. It's racing all the way up until the checkered flag falls. You never know what happens.
That's why fans love the sport and the strategy and the drama and what's going to happen and how teams play it out. Four tires, two tires, no tires. I'm surprised that there wasn't a guy that went out there with no tires just to see. There was 24 cars in the lead lap, it's like why wouldn't you? Some guys just don't take that risk, and I was glad that they didn't tonight.
Q: Can you talk about Tony a little bit? Car chief for several guys, Cup champions and everybody and gets his first win as a crew chief?
RYAN NEWMAN: We were just talking about you. It's not your first win as a crew chief, is it?
TONY STEWART: Cup series.
RYAN NEWMAN: Congratulations. Honestly, I didn't know that. But it's such a great team effort. And we've had our struggles. We've had some poor pit stops. We've made the wrong calls. We've done lots of things wrong. And we've done lots of things right. But we just didn't put it all together on a given night. And tonight it happened. Martinsville we were close. We just didn't get the restart we wanted.
It was a great team effort for Tony and his calling the two tires and the guys did a great job on the pits tonight. It took everybody. It took a good race car, and all the people behind us at Stewart-Haas.
THE MODERATOR: We'll also introduce tonight's winning crew chief, Tony Gibson.
Tony, give us your thoughts of how tonight's race unfolded and your view from on top of the box.
TONY GIBSON: We had a decent car. We knew yesterday that the car was pretty good. We didn't think it was a winning car, but it was a decent top 10 car.
So we tried to work on it and not -- tried to keep up with the racetrack. And that was my biggest concern was not being able to keep up with the racetrack. But me and Ryan did a good job communicating. His feedback was awesome. And that's half the battle. When you get the right information and we work together like we've been working the last couple of weeks, things just kind of flow good.
So for me it was just talking to Ryan and figuring out when we need to do with the car, make sure we made the right adjustments because you don't get many times to pit here. You get a lot of green flag runs. So we -- tonight we worked together real good like we did last week. We made the right adjustments and here we are.
Q: Tony, everyone talks about for crew chiefs the thousand things that you have to think about to make the right decision. It seems like in the last few weeks or this season with double file restarts, multiple green-white-checkered flags, how people are deciding to take two tires with two laps left in the race. The number of things you have to contemplate has grown considerably. Could you talk about that? Is that too much running around in somebody's head at any one time?
TONY GIBSON: It is. You gotta think it could be three green-white-checkereds. What worried me tonight was taking on two and having a quick caution and letting the guys that took on four gain on us.
So that plays in your head the whole time you're trying to make a decision whether two or four. Because if we would have got another green-white-checkered, those guys on four would have closed up on us and I don't know what would have happened then.
But we were fortunate to get a good restart and get out there and win the race. But there's a lot of things to think about. If you're lined in the wrong line, like Martinsville, we had a shot to win the race there but we were just in the wrong line. If that line doesn't go and our guy slides up into the side of you, your day's over.
So it's really hard. It's difficult to make a decision and you just hope and pray it comes out the one you make.
Q: Do you focus -- would you say you focus on best scenario or worst-case scenario?
TONY GIBSON: We work on worst case scenario because with our luck and the way things go, we have to think that way. So that's just the way we have to think. So we think worst-case scenario what could happen and that's what we base our decisions.
RYAN NEWMAN: Usually when we have no luck, it's a better day. Any kind of luck is usually bad luck for us.
TONY GIBSON: We said that don't give us any luck and we'll see how it comes out because most of the time it is bad.
Q: I was wondering, as the laps were going down, what were you thinking before that caution became a fact?
RYAN NEWMAN: I didn't know, I thought a top five for us was going to be a good day, two top fives in a row wasn't something we had since May or June of last year.
So I would say I was satisfied. But I wouldn't be satisfied with that. I was happy that we were competitive, more competitive than we had been here last year and we made improvements as a team and as an organization, and that gives us an opportunity to win a race. Fortunately the yellow came out and we proved that.
Q: Tony, Ryan has talked about his emotions. You kind of broke down the race from a strategic standpoint, what were your emotions when it became pretty clear what he was doing and that you were going to take the checkers?
TONY GIBSON: Well, for me, I didn't really get excited, because like I said before, we've been in this position and something's happened. So I didn't get excited until I saw the car come off the corner and headed to the flag. That's when I got excited. I knew we had it.
So I didn't get excited and didn't get nervous at all, because like I said, I know how quick things can turn around. You can have an issue and not finish the deal. But I got excited when I saw the front of the car come off Turn 4, then I knew we had it.
Q: Is this as excited as you get?
TONY GIBSON: Well, no (laughter). No, don't get me wrong. I'm excited. But it's one thing Alan Kulwicki told us. We won the race -- I think it was in Rockingham. We beat Bill Elliott there a long time ago, we were all cheering and happy. He looked at us and said: That's what you all get to do; you get paid to win.
So it's exciting for me. I know tomorrow I'll be pumped up and screaming and hollering, but just trying to soak it all in right now.
TONY STEWART: We've been making good money for a long time not winning, so we're really happy.
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah.
Q: Who said, Thank you, God, that's friggin' awesome, I appreciate the hell out of that?
RYAN NEWMAN: I did. Thank you, guys.
Q: It just sounded so subdued. It didn't sound like you. And as far as you, Gibson, the guys that have stuck by you were with you with DEI and then you brought the whole crew over here. What was it like for them to finally get to victory lane?
TONY GIBSON: It was pretty big. A lot of those guys were in tears, because most of us have been together for nine years. And we won with Dale, Jr. and it had been a long stretch since we'd won a race. So we'd come close. But didn't make it happen. So it was pretty exciting for those guys.
And I'm more happy and more proud for those guys than for myself. Because I feel like those guys have followed me wherever I've gone. So I feel like I owe it to them to see those guys and hopping up and jumping up and down it just brings back memories.
Q: Tony, you kind of answered it. But can you tell us about getting your first win as a crew chief. I assume you thought it would have come earlier?
TONY GIBSON: Yeah, I thought like two years ago we were going to make it happen here this same race. But it didn't. Then we had four good shots last year with Ryan to win it and I thought it was going to happen and didn't make it happen. So we kind of let him down. So I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen.
But I knew if we just kept the faith and we worked hard together that our friendship is really strong, and we worked really good together and our communication is getting better. If we're having a problem, me and Ryan, if we're not communicating right or we feel like there's something we need to work on, we'll call each other up, we'll go sit down and talk about it.
I think that's one of the biggest things that's helped us over the last couple of months is building our relationship as friends outside of racing. And I think me and him can sit down and yell at one another and tell each other what we think and get over it and go on. So I think that's a big part of our success.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations and thank you for your time.