Ryan Newman, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS , met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway.
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK AS YOU COME INTO SPEEDWEEKS: “I’m excited as I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of people say, but from my position it’s a new situation for me in the essence that I’m going to a team that is already existing. An organization that’s obviously been around and it’s kind of a different step in my career.
Every part and every piece that goes under the race cars is built at RCR, one of a few organizations left that has that control and I think that control makes a difference when you are going to race to be a champion. Just look forward to representing Caterpillar and again Quicken Loans and WIX Filters and having some fun this year. Just getting the opportunity to start the season out with the Unlimited race. I look forward to that tomorrow night.”
TELL US THE STORY OF YOUR MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR TO GET HERE. WHEN WERE YOU COMING AND WHEN DID YOU FINALLY GET HERE? “Originally we were supposed to take off at 10:30 a.m. We had gotten verification from the pilots that the city of Statesville (North Carolina) was going to be there 24 hours a day no matter what plowing the runway making sure that we could taxi out and take off. We ended up getting a whole bunch more snow than what was ever forecasted, about five inches yesterday morning.
We had to wait because of the way the temperature was to roll the airplane out of the hanger after it stopped snowing. It was about 12:30 p.m. I think when the snow actually quit altogether. For whatever reason the trucks didn’t get dispatched and get to the airport until 1:30 p.m. and we were scheduled to take off at 3:00 p.m. which still would have gotten us here late, but closer to on time.
I showed up at the airport, I ran the speed limit down the interstate; everything was good, I mean it was slushy, it was one lane, but you could still go a good speed. I got the airport and drove out onto the tarmac; got on the taxi way and saw that it was a little bit slushy and that there was a backhoe and a dump truck that was plowing. I drove down the runway to the other end of the runway and saw that it was still snow packed.
There was not a spot on it that you could see asphalt. After I got down to the end of the runway the dump truck was stuck, backed off the end of the runway. So I helped the guy hook the chain up with the backhoe, after I broke my tow strap on my truck and pulled the dump truck out and basically just drove up and down the runway and broke the slush and ice up. I think we ended up taking off right around 4:30 p.m. yesterday.”
WAS MARTIN TRUEX, JR. WITH YOU? “It was Martin’s plane, so I flew with Martin and we had a couple of other people on the plane, but we were all good to go expect for Mother Nature had a last interruption. Then the City of Statesville didn’t help us out.”
WERE YOU REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT MISSING THE DATE WITH US? “(Laughs) After you guys knowing that I had given you pretty much the same answers the last 10 years, I figured you might be able to cut and paste a few things.”
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO TALK WITH ANOTHER NEW GUY AT RCR MIKE COUGHLIN? DO BRITISH ENGINEERS SPEAK DIFFERENTLY THAN AMERICAN ENGINEERS? “No, it’s still the same English language (laughs). No, I would say that there is maybe a little different twang in his voice compared to most of the people at the shop at RCR, but I have talked to him briefly. I’ve been having the most dialogue with Luke (Lambert, crew chief) and a few of the different engineers, but not him directly so much.”
WILL IT TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO AMONGST THE DRIVERS TO KIND OF SORT OUT WHO IS IN WHAT CAR AND TO KIND OF GET THAT ROSTER MENTALLY DOWN? “I think there is always a sense of that no matter who moves around or the season or anything else. It’s a matter of what your competition level is, how you perform compared to everybody else. That might be different at intermediate tracks versus short tracks versus superspeedways then you throw in road courses, but in the end I think it doesn’t take us very long to make that adaptation.
We saw, last year especially, with Matt Kenseth’s move that moving a driver into an existing team still gives him a great opportunity. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen every time or every season or with every driver, but that was a good example at least to say that yes it can be done. I look forward to all of this year. When it comes to drafting, testing and practicing here, it’s about two laps and we have a good handle on who is around us and who is in what car and everything else. We pay somewhat attention to what most of you guys write to know and look at a few pictures to see who is in what and what is in where.”
SOMETIMES LIKE IN FOOTBALL WHEN A PLAYER MOVES ONTO A TEAM AND THEY ARE ALL OF A SUDDEN EVERYTHING CHANGES AND THEY MIGHT BE STRUGGLING BEFORE THEN TURN INTO A SUPER STAR. HAVE YOU GIVEN THAT A THOUGHT AS FAR AS A MOVE THINKING IT MIGHT BE A BOOST FOR YOU? “Well I mean without a doubt you would hope that, but I don’t think anybody ever looks at that and says ‘man this is the path that I want to take and I hope this happens.’
I just want to go out there and have fun with this group of guys and know that we have the ultimate potential to win races and a championship and just have fun with it. That is really what it’s all about. When it comes right down to it anything you do to add stress or have a path of expectations I think is just kind of give yourself potential for misguidance. So just go out there and have fun and do your job. In the end as simple as it sounds we are still just driving a car in a circle.”
YOU LOOK AT THE YEAR (MATT) KENSETH HAD LAST YEAR, KYLE (BUSCH) HAD ONE OF HIS BEST YEARS WHEN HE MADE THE MOVE FROM HENDRICK TO GIBBS AND KURT (BUSCH) LAST YEAR AT FURNITURE ROW. IS THERE SOMETHING TO BE SAID ABOUT A NEW ENVIRONMENT THAT MAYBE REINVIGORATES A DRIVER AND HOW IT PERHAPS CAN HELP LEAD TO ALL THAT KIND OF STUFF OR IS THAT JUST A COINCIDENCE? “Yeah I mean change is good. If you had the right mentality it was probably not good for those people that came out of those seats and went someplace else. We never talked about that.
There is equal and opposites in every reaction. I just want to go out there and have fun with these guys. I know and I have seen what Luke (Lambert, crew chief) is capable of with Jeff Burton and Elliott Sadler in his past. The guys on the team that core group of guys kept with them, stayed with them and we just need to go out there and have some fun. It’s really all about and Jimmie (Johnson) is standing over there. He can talk about it a little bit more, about the chemistry and the people that you have around you that makes a world of difference. They can be a great group of guys and I can mesh correctly and I can mesh incorrectly with them.
“We don’t know that until we get a few races under our belt. As of right now I would say the testing that we have done I’m super excited about this opportunity and the opportunity that Richard Childress has given me.”
WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK FOR TOMORROW NIGHT? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT IN THE WAY OF A RACE? “That was kind of what I was talking to Luke (Lambert, crew chief) about before practice here was I really just want to get a good feel for the race car and use the experience tomorrow night to figure out what I have to do to put my car in position to win. I think that practice is still practice.
It’s not like Martinsville or Charlotte where you know who has really got a fast race car it’s more of a chess match of putting yourself in the right position to make the move and that can be a matter of the driver doing that or the crew chief doing that on a pit call or whatever. I think my race tomorrow night about half way through if I could answer your question I can give you a better answer.”
WITH MOVING OVER TO RCR DOES THAT GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE IN THE SENSE OF WITH THE NO. 3 CAR RETURNING? “Well I mean there is no RCR answer that says this is the answer we should give you guys. To me it’s about a number and it’s about a number in combination with the driver. Our sport is entirely different than other sports with respect to numbers because there are only 43 drivers let’s say that really compete.
I’m not sure if I’ve answered you or anybody else this way before, but that number was Dale Earnhardt’s number. That number was also Ricky Rudd’s number and Richard Childress’ number. Just so happens Dale Earnhardt made it the most famous. Austin Dillon now has his chance to make it the most famous, no different than Dale Earnhardt did. There is a lot of respect I think that goes both way no doubt, but I don’t want anybody to take offense in me saying that it’s just a number, but it’s just a number up to the point that somebody makes it famous and then somebody has got to have chance to out do that. It’s competition it’s fun.”
IN PREPARING FOR TOMORROW NIGHT’S RACE HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A RACE WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FORMAT IS GOING TO BE YET? “That is a good question and a good question for everybody. I think that you don’t really know until you get some experience under your belt and that is what I said to Tom (Jensen) it’s just a matter of figuring out how good your car is, how easy it is to pass, how difficult it is to pass, how many cars are left after a certain segment or whatever it is just to know what the competition is going to be like. It’s really just a ‘wing it’ race so to speak in the essence of you don’t know. You know how many laps it is, but you don’t know how the competition is going to lay out and that is why the crew chiefs and the teams are a big part of that perspective and that part of the race.”