Atlanta II: Newman, Wallace - Dodge interview

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON POSSIBLE ENGINE PROBLEMS AT AMS "We haven't really seen engine problems in The Chase yet, and I think there's potential for that -- especially here." COMMENT ON THE CHASE "We're going...

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)

COMMENT ON POSSIBLE ENGINE PROBLEMS AT AMS "We haven't really seen engine problems in The Chase yet, and I think there's potential for that -- especially here."

COMMENT ON THE CHASE "We're going to approach the Final Four like we did the first 26 and the last six. We go out and do the best job we possibly can. The guys are doing a great job. We were the absolute underdogs after the first 26 races to be where we are now. It feels good. It feels especially good to get the win at Loudon. We've got to follow through. We can't just finish in the top five now. We've got to win races because the 20 and 48 are going to be tough going for their top fives."

HAS ANYBODY EVER TRIED TO GET IN YOUR HEAD? "Luckily my head is big enough and thick enough it'd be hard to break in. I'm happy those guys are going at each other like that. That's cool. There's no point (joining in). I'd rather be fishing."

DO YOU LIKE HAVING SATURDAY AS AN OFF DAY? "No, it's a waste of time. Why not just come here for Saturday and Sunday? It's just a ridiculous waste of time, especially with our schedule."

IS IT AN ADVANTAGE FOR YOU THAT YOUR CREW CHIEF MATT BORLAND IS AN ENGINEER? "You bring up an interesting point. I read somewhere about engineering in NASCAR, something that Brian France said that kind of upset me a little bit. He said something about engineering not being good for the sport. I was just curious where he stands on that and his education and if he understands how much engineering has helped our safety. Matt (crew chief Borland) is good at understanding the racecars for sure. He's a team player. He's good to communicate with. His engineering degree relative to his experience is what makes our car run as well as it does. We speak the same language and talk about the same things in the same way, hopefully. It doesn't always work out that way. Having an engineering background definitely helps."

HOW DOES BORLAND MAKE YOU A BETTER DRIVER? "A lot of what I do as far as driving is having confidence in the people that I'm working with. Like tonight at 7:30 after the track sits for four hours having the confidence to push the pedal and get things done right. We had a good shot at it tonight. We were ninth in practice and didn't have a good lap. We'll see what track conditions are like. Our draw isn't perfect, but if things work out right we'll have a good shot at it."

HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED MIND GAMES WITH A DRIVER? "Jason Leffler and I used to have heated battles back in the open wheel days. We used to go at it pretty hard. We never spun each other out or anything like that, just real hard racing. It was a deal where you could just look at a guy and know what he was thinking and know what he thought of you and vice versa. That was probably the most mental mind game playing I've ever done."

COMMENT ON MIND GAMES BETWEEN STEWART AND JOHNSON "It wasn't really mind games. I think Jimmie was a little hot about what happened, and Tony had the position and did what he had to do. He was right, and Jimmie didn't see what happened as he's done in the past, his experience first-hand versus what it is when he goes back and looks at it on tape. I don't think it was mind games. I think it was just a couple of guys running their mouth."

COMMENT ON RACING AT ATLANTA "It's fast. The track is getting pretty old and it's falling off quite a bit as far as first lap to last lap. That's all right. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's a fast track and you're on the edge."

HOW DO YOU SEE THE CHASE SHAPING UP FOR YOU? "We're a one-car team going for one position. We'll see if we get it. Winning a couple of races would be awesome and that wouldn't even guarantee us the title. Winning a couple of races would be awesome for the team as well as our championship hopes. We may see a situation where all five of us in the top five finish in the top five in the last four races. You never know. Look what happened to Kurt Busch here a year ago. He blew an engine."

HAS THE PRESSURE OF THE CHASE GOTTEN TO YOU AND MATT BORLAND? "Well, his wife just bought a '62 Studebaker so we've been busy talking about that and how to run right. We're doing all right. There's a lot of pressure in this situation. We're not happy with our performance as far as consistency throughout the entire year and to try to turn it around in 10 races is hard to do. We've done a pretty darn good job running up front when we needed to. Every once in awhile he'll calm me down on the radio, but we'll sit down and talk about it afterwards. I do the same for him."

IS THE BUSCH SERIES MORE FUN? "It's the same fun no matter what. It's all about going out and performing and beating everybody. Whether it's the Busch Series or Cup Series, it doesn't matter. Those guys are doing a great job with the Busch car and the

Cup guys are doing equally as well. We know the competition is not the same, but it's tough in both series and to go out and experience it is all we want to do."

COMMENT ON PROGRESS OF CHARGER IN 2005 "We haven't had the year we wanted to as a whole for the Dodge teams. Our Busch program is a little different as far as the aero rules and stuff. I don't think we've got the results we wanted out of the Charger this year. It'd be nice to at least say we could get things back even with the Fords and GM guys. I think Phoenix will be a good track for us, and we tested at Texas and think we have a pretty good shot down there. I think Homestead will be a grab bag for everybody."


RUSTY WALLACE (No. 3 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

COMMENT ON THE CHASE "We've had all these crashes with a few laps to go. I thought we had a good car at Charlotte. We didn't have a great car, but I thought we had an easy top-five car the way we were running throughout the race. We had to keep coming from the back to the front. We had loose lugnuts and getting up where I needed to be and crash with 12 laps to go, that was a tough one to take. When I'm making my move at the end that's when it's happening, but there's not a damn thing I could do about it. It's one of those deals and you're numb. It's happened two weeks in a row. None of us were feeling good about Talladega, but you do your best. We had a great car. We blew the engine and went all the way from the back up to fifth. Then the 41 and my teammate got together and caused a big wreck. It was the 41 again in Martinsville. We've had three out of the last four that's really hurt me in The Chase.

"I'm not a quitter. I screwed up in three and we've got four to go. These guys could have the same problems I've had. That's the way I'm looking at it. I don't look at it like I'm out of it because these guys could knock the wall down two weeks in a row. Problems happen and you have to deal with it."

HOW'S IT LOOK FOR ATLANTA? "I'm not real happy with my car with the speed. The second session I got the feel of it pretty consistent. It's one of those deals where you've got to start the race and let the track settle and see what's going to happen before I can get the final adjustments that I need. Some guys out there are screaming. Mark Martin is the class of the field right now. He's way ahead of everybody. I think I'm pretty good, but I just wasn't fast."

COMMENT ON AMS CUP SCHEDULE "We practiced from noon until one and only had a 30-minute break before the next practice session. We needed an hour. We missed the first 15 minutes of practice because we were still making changes. We didn't have time to really be prepared for the second practice session. We were slinging stuff as fast as we could. We have one more test. We're going to test at Homestead, so we didn't get to test here. By testing early we got in The Chase and a lot of guys aren't in The Chase, so I'm sticking by that decision, but I wish I could have tested here because I struggle at this place a little bit. I've run real good here, but I've always struggled in qualifying."

WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON SATURDAY? "I'm going to watch a little of the truck race and talk to a perspective new sponsor. Then my kid bought a house in Atlanta to rebuild to try to make some money on. I've never seen it yet, so I'm going over to look at it. He's got it all done, and it's for sale, so I'm going to look at it. The rest of the day, I might play nine holes of golf. I won't be going back home. I'm going to wake up late, mess around and go have a nice early dinner at my favorite Italian joint."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jason Leffler , Kurt Busch , Mark Martin