RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Qualified 3rd) "We picked up three-tenths from practice, which was a pretty good gain. I didn't have the exact lap that I wanted to just as far as the way the car felt. We were definitely on the loose side of...
RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Qualified 3rd)
"We picked up three-tenths from practice, which was a pretty good gain. I didn't have the exact lap that I wanted to just as far as the way the car felt. We were definitely on the loose side of things, but I knew it was gonna be a pretty decent lap. I was hoping we could hold onto the pole because it would three-for-three here for me, but I guess that's being a little greedy. It was just a good qualifying run and a good start for the ALLTEL Ford. It gives us a good opportunity to pick a good pit for Sunday's race and, hopefully, stay up front all day."
ARE YOU GETTING TIRED OF BEING SO CLOSE TO THE POLE AND GETTING NIPPED NEAR THE END? "Yes and no. It's great to be able to qualify the way we have been because that says a lot about the time, but at the same time it would be nice to get those two or three-thousandth's of a second here and there. Today we got beat by three-hundreths, which is pretty big for us it seems, but it's an honor to be able to compete in the Winston Cup Series being 24 years old and being here at Darlington. I look forward to coming here to Darlington. Like I said, I'm looking forward to the race on Sunday."
HOW GRATIFYING IS IT TO BE HANGING UP IN THE TOP PART OF THE STANDING? "I'd like to not refer to it as hanging, but it's just really good to be up there in the points. Several people have asked me what we plan on doing these next few races and I said, 'The same thing we started doing at the beginning of the year before Daytona' and that's just keeping the mentality of doing the best job we can and work hard and don't make the same mistake twice. That's got us second in points and we need to keep that mentality and focus on the same things that we have been doing and, like I said, just try to do them a little bit better."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR SUCCESS HERE? "I think the biggest benefit is that I just like the track. There are several drivers here you could talk to that don't necessarily like the race track. As a driver, when you like the race track, you definitely excel a little bit more, especially when there's speed involved. When you get the advantage of that over other people and then when other people don't like the place, then they're not as fast as they would be if they were qualifying at Atlanta for instance. That's a big part of it, but I've always looked forward to this race track. It's very similar to Winchester Speedway and you've really got to drive a race car around here and that's what it's all about."
SO YOU LIKE THE TRACK BEFORE YOU'RE GOOD ON IT OR DO YOU HAVE TO BE GOOD ON IT BEFORE YOU LIKE IT? "I guess it all depends. If you were to ask Steve Park about road courses before he won, he probably wouldn't have given you the same answer as he did afterwards. It's always good to like the track. If you don't like the track, your expectations aren't quite as high. It's kind of a catch-22, I guess. It's definitely good to like every race track because it'll make you a better race car driver. That's the way I've always looked at it."
ARE YOU MATCHING OR SURPASSING YOUR EXPECTATIONS COMING INTO THIS YEAR? "I think we're matching our expectations and we're on the top side of that just being second in points and having the finishes that we've had. I thought at the beginning of the year we were capable of running and finishing in the top 10 in Winston Cup points. Obviously, we're a little better than top 10, we're in the top five. I'm happy to be in the position that I am knowing the things we've done, the places we've run and the places we're going. It is gratifying for me to know how much the guys have worked back at the shop -- in the engine shop to make these engines last 400 or 500 miles on race day, in addition to practice and the qualifying laps. There's a lot more things going on than I think of, I guess."