Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, June 19,2007 RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 alltel Dodge Avenger) COMMENT ON RACING THE COT ON A ROAD COURSE "I think it's going to be very similar to the way it's been in the past based on testing....
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, June 19,2007
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 alltel Dodge Avenger)
COMMENT ON RACING THE COT ON A ROAD COURSE "I think it's going to be very similar to the way it's been in the past based on testing. In my opinion, the COT has been better on the road course as far as testing goes compared to the COT on the short track. So, I don't think it's going to be that much different. I think the biggest reason why is the COT is a non off set car. Left to right it's straight up so it's more conducive to road-course racing."
YOU FINISHED SECOND AT INFINION LAST YEAR. ARE YOU A ROAD RACER? "We've done our good share of it. I enjoy it. It's fun to drive the cars. It's more fun to drive a road race car than it is to race a road race car because it seems like any time you have somebody in front of you you're falling behind in nine of the 11 corners because there's only two good passing zones. It's not like an oval as far as having the opportunity to pass the guy four times a lap."
DOES NASCAR NEED THESE TWO ROAD RACES? "Do they need them? No. Are they in a good market? Yes. Would it be nice to have a couple more? Maybe so, but in the end it is the way it's been for a long time and there's nothing really wrong with it."
WILL THE COT BE MORE DURABLE ON A ROAD COURSE? "There's nothing really different on the COT that will make it more durable or robust. I think the biggest question from a road course perspective is the curbs and the front splinter. As you're braking and catch a curb, does it launch or does it pull it back. We've tested our COT twice now at VIR and I didn't have any problems with any curbs or anything until I got off course. Not to say I'm going to get off course, but there's potential to do it and having a problem as well."
IS IT AS DIFFICULT TO RETRIEVE MOMENTUM AS IT IS TO ACHIEVE IT? "To me it's kind of one in the same. We've done a good job this year turning our good performances later in the year into good results. That builds momentum and along with momentum comes the mentality that you can accomplish it. To honestly answer your question I'd say achieving it and retrieving it are one in the same."
COMMENT ON MAKING THE CHASE "I think we have a really good opportunity to get in The Chase. At this point last year I thought we had a mathematical chance to make it, but I didn't think we were going to with our performances. This year with our recent performances and even the problems we had at Michigan blowing that tire, we still had a top-seven racecar. We ran on the racetrack and would have finished seventh or eighth or so. That's a lot of hope. I'm looking forward to these next races and our COT program, on top of that, has been very strong -- not necessarily with results in the first part, but I think with results in the second part. I think we're one of the top COT teams, and with the stretch of races of that before The Chase, I think we'll have a good shot before, during and after."
COMMENT ON NASCAR'S SUIT AGAINST AT&T "I know our situation as far as alltel being grandfathered in. I'm not worried about that. The sell of alltel didn't change, the company name didn't change any personnel to my knowledge. There's no issue in respect to that. I under AT&T and Cingular's situation and their changing of names and what not, but I think at the same time NASCAR has to be ultimately considerate of who's supporting the series and why we do that we do from a NASCAR perspective, not necessarily from a Nextel Cup perspective. For me, something may be affected in the future. If it does, we'll follow suit with what we need to do. Outside of that it's business as usual as far as alltel and our Penske team."
HOW MUCH DOES THE CHASE EXPANSION TO 12 TEAMS HELP YOU? "I think we're in a good position. Obviously we could be in a better position. I think our performances have been good these last six or seven races. You can only do so much with cutting a tire on the racetrack because of debris, but if we just keep our performance up and keep those strings of top fives and top 10s going, the points will take care of themselves. Whether we're 12th with 26 races over or we're seventh, we'll be in the hunt."
HOW MUCH MORE DEMANDING IS A ROAD COURSE RACE? "They're more demanding both physically and mentally. Last year the toughest race at I had physically was Sonoma because of the heat. I was uncomfortable in the race car. I had a Charlie Horse and some burns on my butt afterwards. That's one tough part of it, but mentally keeping the race car on the racetrack, knowing what you have to do because you get basically two opportunities to pit the car, maybe three this year because of the strategy with the fuel cell, but I'm not sure yet, with either way you've got to stay on top of your game. You've got to keep it on the racetrack. You can't afford to give up any track position whatsoever throughout the entire race. That keeps it mentally demanding."
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REBOUND FROM A ROAD RACE? "Sometimes a day, sometimes two days. It all depends on how bad you are. Dehydration is a big part of it. If you can stay hydrated it takes a lot less time to rebound. Last year when I was burned a little bit it took four, five or six days."
WHY ARE THE PENSKE DODGES AHEAD OF THE OTHERS? "That's a good question, but the answer I can give you is going to be vague just because I think we've done a good job doing the best we can with everything we've got to work with. Our people are doing a good job. Our pit stops have been really good. That may be one part of it that I can honestly answer, but the rest of it is just doing hard work and doing the best we can. Obviously our best has put us 15th in points right now. We are the best Dodge team in the points and we're close to our teammate Kurt Busch. Outside of that, we're 15th. We're not first or second."
HOW DO YOU HANDLE ALL THE BAD LUCK YOU'VE HAD THIS SEASON? "I really don't look back at any of the races we've had this year outside of Phoenix when we had a really tough situation on pit road. We've actually blown something and we've been involved in a couple of accidents. We had a tire at Michigan. Outside of that it's not like we've been our own worst enemy. We've just got to keep focused and keep doing what we're trying to do to capitalize from a points standpoint as well as getting the alltel Dodge in victory lane."
ARE YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO BE? "Yeah, I have no reason not to be Roger has given me great resources. I'm happy where I'm at. I think with the quality rides that are open that they're looking for some drivers to put in there, and I think there is somewhat of a driver shortage right now in the Cup Series. It doesn't surprise me, but I'll approach any situation the way I feel I need to."
WHY IS THERE A DRIVER SHORTAGE? "I think sometimes it's just the way it all cycles out. That's the way it is right now. There are good drivers out there, don't get me wrong, but I don't think there are long term drivers. Drivers like Ron Hornaday and Rick Crawford and Dennis Setzer in the truck series are great drivers. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying teams that are looking for the next marketable asset for their team that they can have the next 10-15 years, there's a shortage for some reason. I can pinpoint one thing."
TAKE US FOR A LAP AROUND INFINEON RACEWAY "There are basically three heavy braking zones, turn five, turn six is what I call it and then turn 11. The biggest part of the racetrack is just having good braking and the second most important part is getting through the esses on the backstretch and carrying so much speed down through there. There are a lot of lefts and rights, but one of the hardest parts of the racetrack is the crest in what I call turn three, up over the hill to the right and not getting off the racetrack on the left-hand side. That part is for sure without a doubt (the most difficult)."
ARE THE CHALLENGES IN CUP HARDER NOW THAN WHEN YOU STARTED? "I wouldn't say that. I think there are more teams capable of winning. NASCAR has done their job in leveling the playing field. Outside of that, the cars are definitely harder to drive than they used to be. That in turn makes it harder for the next generation of drivers to come into the sport as well."
IS THERE A SIMPLE WAY TO QUANTIFY YOUR IMPROVEMENT THIS SEASON? "I can't really quantify it. I can just tell you from a team standpoint the guys are doing a good job of preparing the race cars The cars are faster, which makes my job easier. I think the most important part is just from a mental standpoint. My confidence in driving the car, Michael Nelson's confidence in my reports about what the car is doing and the changes we've made to make the car faster have been the biggest thing. My confidence to be able to hit my marks and drive the car the way I want to drive it for that extra tenth of a second is really big. I think the third part of that is the two teams are really working good together. They've never worked better together, I can tell you that, and I think there's still room for the two teams to grow working together. That's been a big part of our improvement as well."
COMMENT ON EARNING RESPECT "Honestly I don't think there's a defining paying your respects or paying your dues. What comes around goes around in this sport. We've all seem that. I don't think any driver has not been a part of that. You obviously have to earn your respect or however you want to word it to get to where we are now in the Cup Series. I think most drivers out there, 90 percent of them, have a lot of respect for that. Outside of that it's just drive it like you stole it and do what you have to do to try to win. Obviously you have to have a level of respect for everybody else because you want the same."