NOTE: Ryan Newman led the Dodge Chargers at Talladega, finishing fourth on Sunday -- tying his best superspeedway finish (Sept. 2003 at Talladega). Newman's third consecutive top-five finish in the Chase moved him to second in the points...
NOTE: Ryan Newman led the Dodge Chargers at Talladega, finishing fourth on Sunday -- tying his best superspeedway finish (Sept. 2003 at Talladega). Newman's third consecutive top-five finish in the Chase moved him to second in the points standings, just four points behind series leader, Tony Stewart. Newman picked up five valuable bonus points to Tony's 10 on Sunday, marking the difference in the Chase for the Nextel Cup lead after three races. Rusty Wallace finished 25th after suffering damage to his car midway through the race. He moves to third in the Chase standings, 76 points behind Stewart. Jeremy Mayfield finished 14th, moving him to eighth in the Chase standings. Mayfield sits just 36 points out of third place.
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger) -- Finished Fourth
What did this race mean to you today?
"Just keeping our head above water. It was really hard to do today. A lot of goofy circumstances and situations are all a product of this type of racing. Tony (Stewart) said he's happy we're not doing this any more this year, and I said, 'Man, I'm happy to be alive.' I had the car pretty crossed up a couple of times in the middle of the tri-oval and I thought, 'Man, this is it. I'm going to be in the third Big One of the day.' I'm just happy to finish with the ALLTEL Dodge, and I'm happy to finish, for sure, where we did.
On finishing 1-2 with Stewart, a fellow USAC driver:
"What we did today was nothing like what we did back then. But we learned a lot about car control, and you've got to have a lot of that, I guess, at least to keep the car underneath you for 500 miles and the fenders on it for 500 miles. I guess maybe one of the things that we learned racing open-wheel cars was not to rub wheels and tires. Today you'd keep your fenders on it by not doing that. That's pretty much it."
Have we reached the point on this track that something dramatic needs to be done to it?
"Yeah, we should put dirt on it... It's just so hectic and so mentally draining that it's nice to be able to take a full breath of fresh air.
"But that would be a good question for the NASCAR Scene, the little poll thing, 'Would Talladega be a better race if it was dirt?' Just an idea... I'm just throwing something out here."
Should a plate race be part of the Chase?
"It's NASCAR's schedule. Other people make those decisions besides us. I don't want to speak for anybody else than myself, but I'm an aggregate of, 'A champion is a champion at all the racetracks.' And, obviously, you need to get into the Chase off roadcourses and the short tracks and everything else, to race in the Chase. I guess, in a way, this place has been around here enough, and everybody that's racing it has enough experience that it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, I don't think."
Are these cars safe enough for you?
"I think the cars are a lot safer than they've ever been, for sure. Can the car of the future be safer? Yeah. Can we make the car that we have a lot safer? Yes. It's kind of a catch 22. The whole car of the future is a big undertaking by the teams and NASCAR. So, it's just going to be a situation that we'll all have to work towards if that's the process that NASCAR wants us to do.
"For sure, I have to say 'Thank you' to whoever invented the SAFER barriers, because they are absolutely awesome. I think that there are definitely more places in the future that we can put barriers on, not just the outside walls."
What do you do when there's an accident on the final lap of the race?
"You don't stop. You just slow down at the proper rate of speed, so you don't run over the guy in front of you and the guy behind you doesn't run over you. You just look in the mirror and look out the window with one eye on each, and stay focused. I can do it, man. That (eye) goes that way and this one goes this way."
On the closing laps of the race:
"They were definitely eventful. I don't know if they were the most eventful. But, it was a good run for the ALLTEL Dodge. I've got to thank everybody at Penske racing. A lot of hard effort went into this.
On incident with No. 41 car early in the race:
"I don't know who was to blame, if I was to blame in the deal on the front straightaway there. I know I took the air off the No. 41 and he was in a loose position. I feel sorry for the guys that were involved, as well as I saw that Scott Riggs took a heck of a lick.
On his three strong Chase performances:
"Well, those are three good finishes, for sure. We just need to keep that up. That's what we needed to do, and we saw plenty of opportunities today to lose that opportunity. But, we'll just try to keep going."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger) -- Finished Seventh
"We had a really good car. We never could get the lead. We got to second and third, but we'd get boxed out. The car was good. It ran good, I thought. But, we need a little more somewhere. It was just the same old racing here today, though."
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) -- Finished 12th
"We had a really good car out there today. My hat's off to the Texaco/Havoline team. They built an awesome car for me this weekend. We ran up front all day today, but we just got pushed out at the end. And without any drafting help out there, there's just nothing you can do."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) -- Finished 13th
On his best finish in a superspeedway race:
"Yeah, that's a good job by all of the guys at Evernham Motorsports, building the cars, building the engines. It was a good result for us. These tracks have been tough on us, and that was a good result. We dodged some wrecks, and I think we were in the right spot all day long with the wrecks, and we were able to survive."
On finding drafting partners:
"There just isn't any. There isn't any. I was very surprised. I thought there would at least be one, but there isn't any. It makes it tough when you have to do it all your own. If I was able to get up there and get a top five and do things like that, we'd have a lot more friends, a lot more guys wanting to go with us. But we haven't been able to do that yet.
On following Tony Stewart to second, midway through the race:
"Yeah, I tried getting in there. I thought there would be a good spot, and I just got left out. I should have jumped up a little sooner. I think I would have held my position at that time if I would've. I screwed up there. But that's racing. It's tough. You've got to learn a lot at these tracks, and I'm getting closer to being better at it."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) -- Finished 14th
You said that New Hampshire and Talladega were two races that you had to get by:
"We made it. That's why I'm not feeling too bad about it. I'm a little disappointed in the way we ran. The car just wasn't really fast all weekend. We didn't qualify good. We didn't run good in practice. We didn't run good in the race. But, we'll get it figured out. But, we made it through, and that's the main thing. Finishing is what counts, and we finished.
"Now we go to Kansas. We've got our two bad races behind us, and they ended up pretty good. So, it could've been worse. I'm pretty excited about it."
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) -- Finished 25th
"It wasn't a good day, that's for sure. We had a good run going. The car ran great early. We caught from the back of the pack right up to the top 10 really quick. And I'm cruising along there, and everything just felt really good. And then all of a sudden I look and I see the No. 41 spinning across the start/finish line right in front of me. That just ruined my day. I'm so lucky that I didn't hit him head on. I was able to go down, but it tore the quarter panels up. It bent the quarter panels down on top of the left-rear tires, and it kept smoking so bad that we kept having to pit to fix it. So, it was a loss in the points today, but hey, there's always next week and after that, we'll see if we can pop back up.
"The points are really important, but it could have been a lot worse. We could have finished in the 40s. A lot of the Chase guys had problems, Biffle, Johnson, and stuff like that. And some of them had really good luck. It's just racing. I'm glad to be out of here. This is my last time at this joint. You're just always waiting for the big one, and it happened three or four times today."
"I don't think I'm in much of a hole, compared to some of the guys behind me. I'm not a quitter."
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger) -- Finished 38th (Accident)
"I was on the outside of the No. 25 and the No. 12 just got in the back of me a little bit, right in the center of the tri-oval and just caused a big crash.
"If he got in the back of me it was really light. But, it doesn't take much there. Even if you get close up and take the air off the spoiler in the tri-oval, it'll get you loose. So, you've got to be careful.
"It's obvious that anytime you can lead laps at a place like this, you've got a really good race car. It's just unfortunate where we're at right now.
"It was a combination of a couple things. The way these races are, they kind of force you to block. The No. 25 ran me up the hill because he didn't want me to go around on the outside of him. At the same time that kind of put us up in the marbles up there. At the same time, the No. 12 got into the back of me just a little bit, just got me loose, spun me out and it started a big chain effect."