NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Taurus, scored his first NASCAR Winston Cup victory at New Hampshire two weekends ago, and leads the series with 13 Top-5 finishes. Newman, who received a B.S. degree in Vehicle...
NASCAR Winston Cup
Rookie Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Taurus, scored his first NASCAR Winston Cup victory at New Hampshire two weekends ago, and leads the series with 13 Top-5 finishes. Newman, who received a B.S. degree in Vehicle Structural Engineering from Purdue in 2001, is in eighth place in the standings heading into this Sunday's Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway. He finished second in last year's inaugural Winston Cup event there.
RYAN NEWMAN-12-ALLTEL Taurus
FOLLOWING YOUR FIRST CAREER WINSTON CUP VICTORY AT NEW HAMPSHIRE, HOW FAST DID THE NEXT WEEK GO?
"I kind of had a relaxing week, really. I had already had plans to go up and my visit some of my girlfriend's family up in the northeast, and just did a lot of that. That was the biggest thing."
AFTER BEING SO CLOSE TO A VICTORY FOR SO LONG, WHAT DID IT MEAN TO FINALLY WIN?
"It was just one more checkmark put on our list of goals. It was satisfying and gratifying, but it doesn't answer any questions in the world. We need to go out and keep doing it. Just one's not good enough, ever."
DID YOU GET A CHANCE TO THINK ABOUT THE VICTORY AND SAVOR THE MOMENT WHILE YOU WERE ON THE TRACK?
"A little bit. It was special. Doing the donut was cool. I liked doing that for the fans. But, overall, it was just one race of many, hopefully."
EVEN BEFORE THE WIN, YOU STILL LEAD THE SERIES IN TOP-5 FINISHES, SOMETHING ELSE TO BE PROUD OF.
"For the team, yeah, definitely, to be a rookie team and lead a stat like that is very special. But it's not something you'd expect, I guess, that's why it is special."
AS FAR AS THE ROOKIE CLASS OF 2002, JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS HAD HIGH-PROFILE SUCCESS, BUT YOU HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL, TOO. DO YOU PREFER THE LOWER PROFILE?
"It doesn't really matter. We're out there to do our best job we can, no matter what, whether we won last week or we finished last. That's just the way we approach it as a team."
ARE YOU TAKING IT ONE WEEK AT A TIME?
"It's always one week at a time. We're just here to win, that's the goal, and the closest we can come to that, that's the best we can do. We try the best and as hard as we can each week. And, it's tough. There's a lot of different variables that come up each week, but as a team, we've done pretty well."
HAS THE TEAM'S CONFIDENCE BEEN BUILDING WITH THE SUCCESS?
"Without a doubt. It's huge for the team, whether you're a team of 11 or a team of five or whatever. There's 100 people in our organization that devote their jobs, everything they do each day, to what I do on the race track, and it's probably as big, if not bigger, than some other sports."
LAST YEAR AT KANSAS, IN JUST YOUR SIXTH CAREER WINSTON CUP RACE, YOU FINISHED SECOND. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A YEAR AGO?
"We were just trying to get laps at that point, in the Busch series, ARCA and Cup. We had some success, hadn't had a ton, but we struggled at some tracks and excelled at others, so we were going through a process at trying to make ourselves good at every place, and we accomplished a lot of that this year."
WHAT ABOUT KANSAS SPEEDWAY. DOES IT HAVE CHARACTERISTICS THAT YOU LIKE OR DON'T LIKE?
"It's got some weird transitions in it, but it's a pretty decent race track and I look for it to be a better race track once the asphalt gets a little older."
DO YOU SEE THE DAY WHEN MORE DRIVERS GET ENGINEERING TRAINING, LIKE YOU DID?
"I think so, definitely. I was at an elementary school this past week. I remember when I was in elementary school and people would come in and ask if you wanted to go to college, and half of them raise their hands, half of them want to work for their father's business, and I was at this school and everyone of them raised their hand. So I think the trend is definitely coming, and it's going to affect the Winston Cup series, for sure."
DO YOU THINK FANS UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH SCIENCE GOES INTO MAKING A FAST CAR?
"I think, in general, no, but there's some fans that definitely do. It's like saying, 'Do you think football fans know how much training and hard work goes into being a linebacker?' It's probably the same thing, just a different sport."
DID YOU KNOW HOW MUCH SCIENCE WAS INVOLVED BEFORE YOU GOT INTO RACING?
"I didn't know; I had a good idea. And, it's always more than what you think it is, I'll tell you that."
WHERE DOES IS GO FROM HERE? ARE THERE STILL BIG STRIDES TO BE MADE?
"There's big strides, yeah. There's fewer big strides than there was five years ago, but I think there's definitely plenty of room for it. I think it definitely will happen as long as NASCAR allows it."
HOW MUCH HAVE YOU FOUND THROUGH SCIENCE THAT CONTRADICTS WHAT WAS CONVENTIONAL THINKING?
"Quite a bit. Quite a bit, definitely, with us. We got three engineers at the core of our team: the shock guy, the race engineer and the crew chief. And, there's always an engineering approach to things. I think that definitely helps our program."
ON ONE WAY ENGINEERING HELPS.
"The language is the biggest thing. Just being able to understand on a higher level and being able to explain on a higher level to get the higher-level result, that makes a difference."
CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE KNOWLEDGE OF SCIENCE TRANSLATED INTO A FASTER CAR?
"I won't give you an exact example. I'll tell you this: It occurs when it comes to the setup of the car as far as tire pressures, springs, shocks, things like that. There's equations that we try to fit and do our best to make things all work the same when it comes to the car working the best it can."
DOES SCIENCE ALLOW YOU TO SET UP THE CAR MORE AGGRESIVELY?
"There's no aggressiveness to it. It's all logical processes. I guess, to answer your question, the aggressiveness comes when you don't know and you're throwing stuff at it, whereas everything we do is pretty well logically thought out and there's a process to it."
THERE IS NO STANDARD?
"Not really. The tracks are so different, the weather conditions can be different, you bring different cars. There's a lot of things that you have to eliminate as variables, but overall, there's some things that we do as far as searching for the best possible answer. Remember some of the math problems, the physics problems, sometimes you only get a close answer, and that's the right one."
IS THIS STUFF FUN?
"It's fun when you're figuring it out, but when you can't figure it out, it seems like it complicates itself sometimes."
WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
"When you can't get a hold of the race track or you can't figure out what's causing what, and then you throw things at it, and it may be the wrong thing, so you've complicated the situation."
"The whole idea of testing it is to apply it, and whatever makes sense, so we do a little bit of both."
SO YOU'RE HOPING TO INSPIRE A WHOLE GENERATION OF ENGINEERS TO COME OUT HERE AND JOIN YOU GUYS, RIGHT?
"Yes and no. It would be cool, competition's great, but you don't want the competition to beat you."
A KID WHO'S GOOD IN SCIENCE OR MATH CAN ASPIRE TO BE IN WINSTON CUP.
"That's right. There's a whole world of math and physics involved in making that race car go around in a circle, and be good at it."
IS THERE STILL ROOM FOR "FEEL"?
"Oh, yeah, you gotta have it. There's no way around that. Until they start putting robots in these things to drive them, with remote controls, I guess, there's always going to be feel, no matter what."