RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) NOTE: Newman led the circuit with eight wins and 11 poles in 2003. He finished sixth in the series standings and led all drivers with 17 top-five finishes and was named SPEED Channel 2003 driver of the year, ...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
NOTE: Newman led the circuit with eight wins and 11 poles in 2003. He finished sixth in the series standings and led all drivers with 17 top-five finishes and was named SPEED Channel 2003 driver of the year, an award he received Thursday night.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WIN SUNDAY?
"You've got to be up front most of the time, especially when the big wreck happens. Hopefully nobody blows tires this year like everybody did last year, both the Busch race and the Cup race, which caused big wrecks. You've got to have a good car. I think the car here wins the race more often than the driver does. I'm not saying the driver has nothing to do with it, but it's definitely important to have a good piece, more so than Daytona."
DO DRIVERS LIKE TO DRAFT WITH YOU?
"I think people like to draft with whoever is running fast. I don't think it matters if you have a teammate or whatever. If you're in the line that's moving, that's the line you go with and that's the way it seems to be. There's definitely people you want to draft with more than others, based on their driving style and their attitude and character, but it doesn't always work out that way."
DO YOU TAKE CHANCES HERE YOU WOULDN'T TAKE IN OTHER RACES?
"I think you're forced to take more chances here because of the situations you get put in. It's not chances you take on purpose. It's just the way things happen being caught up in a great big pack of cars. It's not something you would do at other racetracks, but you're forced to do it here. I don't like it. I've always said that any racetrack that has out of bounds lines isn't a real racetrack."
DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE YELLOW LINE RULES?
"Yeah. If you force somebody below the yellow line there's a chance you'll get penalized. If you go below the yellow line to pass somebody and also pass somebody then you have a chance to be penalized. It's all judgmental."
ARE RESTARTS A PROBLEM HERE?
"It seems like restarts as well as when everybody gets bunched back up after pit stops, because the cars get bunched up it's like we forget what we're doing. Somebody tries to make a big move and somebody else has the same idea and eventually you end up four wide three rows deep and something happens. I say that and the Busch race and the Cup race here last year, both of the big wrecks were caused by tires getting blown, so we'll have to see how it works out."
DO DRIVERS MAKE A LOT OF STUPID MOVES THAT WE MIGHT NOT SEE? "There's always a bunch of stupid moves. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't. Once again it's judgmental. A stupid move could be the move that wins the race."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RACING AT TALLADEGA?
"I didn't know they had so many good fishing ponds over here so close to the racetrack. I might look forward to coming here a little more than I used to. If you've got a good car and you're out front and you can st ay there most of the day, then you can avoid those accidents. I think that's how the 8 and 15 have done so well. They've been up front when all the big wrecks have happened in the last 10 out of 13 races or whatever. You can look forward to coming to these places when you've got a good piece to work with. We're approaching being better at restrictor plate races as a team."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE NASCAR TAKE AWAY RESTRICTOR PLATES?
"Yeah, but I think they'd have to change a lot of rules to go along with it. I think if we could run an open engine it would be a lot more fun. You'd have to take out the banking, take the spoilers off. You could do a lot of things. We'd probably still hit 200 going into the corners, but if we had no downforce.... There's a lot different ways of looking at it. I'm glad it's not my job."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT POSSIBLY HAVING A BIGGER GREENHOUSE ON THE CARS? "I think the greenhouse, from a safety perspective, is a good idea. I don't know enough about it to say, but I'm guessing the biggest problem we're going to have with the whole greenhouse thing is actually fitting the cars in the trailers. It's pretty close the way it is right now. We're only missing by maybe an inch and a half on the roof. There's potential for further failures in that whole mixup of things, but I think just getting the downforce off the cars is going to be huge for racing in the next couple of years."
DO YOU THINK FANS LIKE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES?
"Fifty percent of them are Junior fans and he's won the last four here, I guess you've got 50 percent of the pull right there. I think fans like it because there's a lot of risk out there and fans like risk. They like emotion. Fans like tight racing, and plenty of fans like to see crashes. That's more often the case here for huge crashes than other racetracks."
YOU FINISHED FIFTH LAST WEEK AT MARTINSVILLE FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT TIME. WHAT THE DIFFERENCE ON THE SHORT TRACKS?
"A little bit of everything. We actually had a car that was capable of doing a lot better than that. We had some pit stop errors. We had to take two tires on the last pit stop to get some track position back and have a shot at the top five. Luckily it worked out, but we had a top five car basically."
COMMENT ON INSPECTION AT TALLADEGA
"It's a Catch-22. They could take away some rules and make inspection go faster. Then they would open it up for teams to do some goofy things. I think they're doing a good job of monitoring what's going on and making the cars as even as possible. That's probably a crew chief question. He has to deal with those things. I just hear about it."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT IN CALIFORNIA?
"We're looking forward to it. We only got about half a lap there last year and then some laps with the care torn up. I enjoy racing at Michigan. I've enjoyed California in the past. I just didn't get a chance to enjoy it last year."
COMMENT ON SEASON SO FAR
"We've made a couple of mistakes this year, and we really struggled at Las Vegas. I think since then we've learned a lot. I don't think it's too late to learn what we need to learn to be a Nextel Cup champion. I don't think we're out of the race by any means."
DO YOU THINK WE COULD SEE A FUEL MILEAGE RACE ON SUNDAY?
"I think there's always that potential. I think what you saw at Daytona was a long green flag run that let the cars get spread out a little bit, plus the 20 got with the 8 car and marched off. Other than that, I think there was some pretty decent racing. I think we're getting a little bit closer to the DEI cars, but I don't think 'caught up' is the right word. I think our chances are better than they've ever been."
DO YOU LOOK AT THE POINT STANDINGS NOW MORE THAN YOU USED TO AT THIS STAGE OF THE SEASON?
"We look at them every week but not until Sunday night or Monday do you realize what you've done. We do the best job we can on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and what happens happens. We're still there to be No. 1 for ourselves, our sponsors and the fans. Whether it's from winning the race or winning the championship or being the points leader we're there to be No. 1. We're still working for that. I don't' think you can points race. We finished fifth last week and dropped a spot in the points to 11th. You've just got to continue to keep doing the best job you possibly can."
DO YOU THINK DRIVERS WILL GO FOR BROKE AS RACE 26 APPROACHES?
"Some tempers will flare and everything else. Those are my expectations, but I really don't know what's going to happen."
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THE MISTAKES YOU'VE MADE THIS SEASON?
"Just missing the setup at Las Vegas, me hitting the cone at Darlington by half an inch or whatever it was, that's still a mistake and it could have cost us the win"
DID YOU TEST AT CALIFORNIA?
"We tested at California quite awhile ago, but the test went well. It was really, really windy and the track was dirty because it was so windy. We didn't get a perfect test in, but we learned a few things about the cars."