RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway to discuss trying to make the Chase, what it means to be outside the Chase, possible championship favorites and more. RYAN, WHAT HAS TO...
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway to discuss trying to make the Chase, what it means to be outside the Chase, possible championship favorites and more.
RYAN, WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN ON SATURDAY NIGHT FOR YOU TO MAKE THE CHASE? "I don't even know. All I know is that I'm going to try my hardest; I don't know what the math is. I know we're like 117 points, call it 118; I don't know what all has to happen but I know that I'm just going to do my best, try my hardest and where we end up is where we end up. Just like I said last week I can't expect to make it up in two races, I can't expect to make it up in one race, I try my best and if the math works and success happens so be it. We'll celebrate afterwards."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A CAR CAPABLE OF FINISHING IN THE TOP-FIVE? "Oh I think we have a good car, a top-10 car for sure. Our history here at this racetrack has been pretty good here the last few races. You never know what is going to happen from my standpoint, from Clint's standpoint, or from any other guy's standpoint. You could run over a piece of debris and change your entire night in the first run. Just go out there and do business as usual and see what happens."
LOOKING AT THE SPEED CHARTS AND THEN YOU'RE SET UP IN THE GARAGE NEXT TO CLINT. I SAW YOU SITTING NEXT TO EACH OTHER; DO YOU AT ALL TRY TO PLAY A LITTLE MIND GAME WITH HIM?"No. I don't want to get inside Clint's head. That's scary enough racing next to him let alone getting inside his head. (LAUGHS-SAYS JOKINGLY) He's a friend. He's a good guy. He's a hard racer. I just feel happy to be doing what I'm doing and racing against these guys and having some fun."
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS WHERE YOUR TEAM IS THIS YEAR VERSUS A YEAR AGO? "I think we've had some strengths that we've expanded upon from last year. Our teamwork and our racecars I feel are better. We've had some really poor luck at some racetracks--restrictor plates in general with three DNFs in those three races. Just having one of those races back would change everything going into Richmond. I think we've made some gains, but obviously we have a few things to learn from."
YOU WON ONE RACE THIS SEASON, IS THAT ANY SORT OF CONSOLATION IF YOU DON'T MAKE IT TO THE CHASE? "Winning a race is obviously a good thing all the way around. Looking at it, there are a few guys that haven't won a race that are locked into the Chase. It just goes to show that you don't have to win a race to be locked into the Chase and have a shot at the championship, but it was a great Phoenix for us."
DO YOU GO INTO THIS RACE A BIT MORE RELAXED BECAUSE YOU KNOW A LOT OF THINGS NEED TO HAPPEN TO GET IN VERSUS MAYBE CLINT WHO HAS IT ALL TO LOSE? "It's just another race really. There is a lot of hype around it. There is some strategy that can be worked and played, but it is just another race. Like I said, I can't expect my team or myself or any part of this to be made up in one event. It can be mathematically and physically it can be, but ultimately we'll know about 12:30 Sunday morning what happened."
IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE EXCITEMENT LEVEL FROM THAT YEAR  TO THIS YEAR? "I'm just excited to be here doing what I love. It's not a job even though it is and I feel like it at some points. It's just a great opportunity and something I love to do and that's it. To even be in this position is nice. There are guys that are racing, have raced their heart out all year long and they're 20th in points right now. So just to be in this position is a blessing in itself."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SEPT. 11TH AND RACING ON SEPT. 11TH FOR THE ARMY? "Well, it's obviously a special day with what happened nine years before and what happened. It changed our world and changed our country. To have the U.S. Army on my chest and all the things that soldiers have done in the last nine years to help give us an opportunity to be here nine years later and race and do what we love to do as NASCAR people and NASCAR fans is truly a blessing as well. I just look forward to try to put the U.S. Army Chevrolet in victory lane."
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THAT ALL HAPPENED? "Honestly, I had a radio in my shower. I was showering at my old lake house when I heard it happened. I didn't know if I had the wrong station, like you know how sometimes you get a morning talk show and you don't know what they're talking about when you first turn it on. I came out and watched it on TV and it was obviously devastating. Unique place I guess to hear news like that."
HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN TRYING AT ALL WHAT TONY HAS BEEN DOING? DOES IT JUST NOT WORK, OR HAVEN'T YOU REALLY TRIED IT? "If you go back and look at our performance the last two or three months, we've been similar to him. We've had the misfortune at Michigan which changed our chance toward this weekend. Being caught up in some of that stuff last weekend really hurt our opportunities as well. It seems like we've had a very unlucky year and that happens at times. We've had, I feel, pretty good race cars. Not the best racecars, not the fastest racecars every lap, but better racecars I feel in general compared to last year."
YOU'VE WON AT LOUDON BEFORE. WITH US GOING THERE NEXT WEEKEND, I'M CURIOUS, WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO GETTING AROUND THAT TRACK? "Loudon is unique. It's not flat, it feels flat and it almost feels off camber, but a lot of car control, a lot of modulating of the throttle and getting your entry, middle and exit timing right just to be able to get all three of them. Just the way the cars drive at that race track; I mean, it's very much a driver's racetrack, but to me it was also the birthplace of track position. It's a place where we spend a lot of effort and put a lot of time into qualifying."
DRIVERS EITHER SEEM TO LOVE LOUDON, OR THEY SEEM TO DISPISE THAT PLACE." "I've always said it's never been my favorite track even though I've had some great successes there. Won my first race there and have had a blast in the modifieds. I've always liked banked racetracks the best; just my personal preference. Loudon is far from that."
WILL YOU RUN A MODIFIED NEXT WEEK? "Yeah."
ARE YOU GOING THREE FOR THREE? "I'm going to try to do three for three this year, but it is Bono's year. Bono is having a heck of a year, so we're going to try to finish it off for him at Loudon in a Modified.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THAT? "The modified? Their cars are a blast to run. I wish we had an opportunity to race those types of cars in front of our fans--you know the Sprint Cup drivers. Just the way they draft, the way they race, I love it. It's kind of where I grew up racing, in reference to a lower center of gravity, offset chassis, lot of horse power, lot of tires. It goes back to my roots, but I really like the racecars and it's a great racetrack for them."
WITH SO MUCH FOCUS PUT ON THE CHASE CONTENDERS FROM HERE; IF YOU DON'T MAKE IT DOES IT GIVE YOU MORE SATISFACTION TO WIN ONE OF THOSE RACES? "Well I mean if you don't make it in, obviously you want to get the most points in the Chase to say that if we were in it, we would have won the Championship. Just to say that, even though it wins you nothing. That's just my mentality--to go out there and do the best job I can no matter if it's Kansas or Richmond or going into Daytona next year. Just have fun racing."
DOES YOUR FOCUS EVER SHIFT TO PREPARING FOR 2011? "It does some, but ultimately we still have our responsibilities to our sponsors for this year. It's not over. You think about what you can do to make your team and your situation better for the next year, but ultimately you're living in the moment in racing, so you focus on that."
WHAT ABOUT HELPING YOUR TEAMMATE IN THE CHASE? IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU WILL DO WITH THAT? "Well there is times when you can help him, and more importantly there are times that you can hurt him. So make sure you don't do the latter and do the best to your ability with respect to helping him out."
THIS YEAR THE CHASE SEEMS PRETTY WELL-BLENDED, YOU CAN'T REALLY PICK OUT ONE FAVORITE? DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION ON THAT? "Statistically yeah there is no favorite. You look at a couple years ago and it was Edwards, Busch and Johnson. You just never know. That's why we enjoy our sport because there are times like this year when it's more vague than it's ever been. We'll see who wins."
-source: gm racing