RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 29 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS met with media and discussed the length of the Coca-Cola 600, the progress of Stewart-Haas Racing, what he and Tony Stewart have in common, and more. CAN YOU CARRY YOUR MOMENTUM FROM THE ALL-STAR RACE TO...
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 29 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS met with media and discussed the length of the Coca-Cola 600, the progress of Stewart-Haas Racing, what he and Tony Stewart have in common, and more.
CAN YOU CARRY YOUR MOMENTUM FROM THE ALL-STAR RACE TO THE 600? "I hope so. We had a really fast U.S. Army Chevrolet. We had a couple of problems on the race track and had to come in and work on the race car. The last 20-lap segment, we started last and drove up to ninth; then Jimmie (Johnson) spun out and we restarted eighth and within two laps we were leading the thing. So it was a great run. We just ended up in the right place at the wrong time, the right place being out front and the wrong time being three-wide off of Turn 4 and Jeff (Gordon) got loose and it kind of squashed our day, basically. It just bent the car up a little bit suspension-wise and body-wise and the right-rear tire was rubbing. We tried to restart it and it didn't drive right and it was filling the cockpit full of smoke and thought it was best at that point to go back to the garage."
TALK ABOUT YOUR STRUGGLES IN PAST COCA-COLA 600 RACES "I wouldn't say we've struggled here. I would just say that getting 400 laps in is much more difficult than getting one good lap in. We've had fast race cars. We got caught up one time coming off Turn 4, there was a crash in front of me, and I could go back and tell you all the things that have happened to us here racing, but that's racing. That's part of it. Sometimes you're lucky. Sometimes you get the stats that say that you're a better racer than a qualifier, but I'm happy to have my qualifying record here and to be still working on that first Cup win is fine with me. I know we've been close and I know that we have a team and an organization now that's capable of doing that and I look forward to the opportunity this weekend."
COMING INTO THE 600, HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WITH YOUR RUN AT THE ALL-STAR? CAN YOU WIN? "I'm confident that we have the equipment. I'm confident we have the people. But at the same time it's just like we talked about, it's racing. Anything can take you out. It doesn't have to be your mistake. So we just have to keep our nose clean for 400 laps and 600 miles and I think Tony proved that we're capable of winning. And be it a 100 laps or 400 laps, we just have to be there in the end. It's an entirely different type of race than the last 10-lap sprint. So we'll do what we have to to be there for that last lap."
TONY STEWART ENJOYS YOU AS A TEAMMATE FOR MANY REASONS LIKE YOUR ENGINEERING DEGREE AND YOUR OUTDOORSMAN SIDE. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT HIM, BOTH ON AND OFF THE TRACK? "Just the things we have in common. I know out there that like to fish and like to hunt and do things with old cars. That's out there. But for me, if I was looking for the ideal teammate, it would be Tony Stewart because of the things that we like, whether it's rehabbing our baby deer, enjoying old cars, enjoying the open wheel side of things that we came from. He owns cars and I talk to him about his owning cars. So we have a lot of things in common. I don't have any ownership, but I still have a very big love of those race cars. He's much more business savvy than I ever thought he was. I know he's got a lot of great people around him, but at the same time, he's much more involved than I ever thought or considered him to be. I always thought of him as a race car driver. That's all I ever knew him as. So it's nice to see that he's got great ethics and he's got a lot of respect for the people around him and the opportunity that he gives his employees. He's a very giving man."
WOULD THIS RACE LOSE ANY OF ITS PRESTIGE OR MEANING IF IT WERE SHORTER? "I don't think the distance of the race makes the excitement of the race. I think the racing itself breeds the excitement. It could be 300 miles or it could be 700 miles. I don't think it would make any difference as long as the racing is good. The fans come here to watch the racing. I guess there's like a race show in my mind of the racing itself or the quality of racing in reference to the time of the race. If we do the same thing for 1000 miles on a given day, race-wise, and it's great, exciting racing, eventually that excitement's not going to be exciting at the 900th mile. It's not going to be the same as it you just had that short race that bred a lot of different action and you had the excitement of a good race and victory. So I think there is a balance there between the type of racing that you have at a given race track and the opportunity to have a longer race; for instance here, we're starting in the day and going into the night. That is a rationale to have a little bit longer race so that the track changes and you're going to see different guys up front and different things like that. It's truly the distance and the amount of time you can keep the fans captivated in my eyes."
WITH YOUR ENGINEERING BACKGROUND, CAN YOU GIVE US AN UPDATE ON TALLADEGA AND THE CAR AND WHATEVER THEY'VE DONE OR MIGHT DO, AND THE TIRE IN INDIANAPOLIS? ARE YOU GOING BACK NEXT WEEK? "I haven't heard anything at all about Talladega as far as roof flaps or the cars or what we can do to keep them on the ground from the safety standpoint. I haven't had any discussions with anybody with reference to that. Indianapolis, actually Tony (Stewart) is going to go back next week when they go up there and then we'll go up for the multi-car test, I guess you'd call it, later in the month. So this next test is going to be very pivotal of can they can get a tire that goes a fuel run and then does it drive good and will it be racing? In the end, the racing's got to be good and obviously, we don't need to be throwing cautions for tires. So it's kind of wait until after next week and see, really. There is no new news right now."
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIKE FIRING THE 50 CALIBER SNIPER EQUIPMENT AND HOW PROFICIENT WERE YOU AT THAT? "It was really neat. I never expected it to be as powerful as it was. I've shot a 50-caliber muzzle loader and that's very powerful compared to a shotgun just depending on how much powder you put in it. But that 50-caliber there that we shot at Ft. Bragg, after they told me that the muzzle brake takes out 75 percent of the kickback, I really realized what it was capable of and it was pretty cool because they had a scope set up, and the scope you could actually watch the bullet catch on fire as it flew through the air before it hit the car we were shooting at. So to answer your question, I challenged myself by cranking off 10 rounds in a row, I think it held 10 rounds, and aimed for the left front wheel of an old Dodge Dynasty, which was ironic because I was switching from Dodge to Chevrolet. I hit nine out of the 10. The guy was watching it the whole time through the scope and said I hit nine out of 10. You're cranking one, two, three, and your scope is so fine that it's hard to find the scope after the smoke clears and the grass and everything else because we were laying down shooting. It was pretty fun and pretty impressive."
ON YOUR IMPRESSIVE QUALIFYING RECORD HERE, HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING FOR A 600-MILE RACE? WHAT DOES THE POLE TRANSLATE INTO, IF ANYTHING? "The pole can give you an opportunity to have an accident-free or an opportunity to be non-aggressive; I guess you could say, in the first 100 miles of the race, which is pretty big. If you have track position and a decent car at the start of the race, it can give you the opportunity to get out and get away. If you have that same car in the back of the pack, there is an opportunity you can go a lap down just the way the air works. So having that track position is very beneficial and obviously we're here today to try and win that pole. Do they still give a check for it or not? I remember I got like $47,000 grand one year for one lap. That was pretty good money for one lap."
WHEN YOU JOINED TONY STEWART'S TEAM, ALL THE TALK WAS THAT IT WAS GOING TO TAKE A WHILE, IT WOULD TAKE A WHILE. DEEP DOWN INSIDE DID YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE SUCCESS NOW? HOW AMAZING THAT YOU ARE 8TH AND TONY IS 2ND IN POINTS JUST A THIRD OF THE WAY THROUGH THE SEASON? "Well we had a defined backbone. Everything was there. I wasn't like we built a building or like we had to figure out where we were going to put the set-up plate and things like that. Gene Haas and Joe Custer and those guys did a great job of getting all those things done. The backbone was there. We just had to branch out. Our new branches were new people. We had to build new cars and we had to bring in some different situations, whether it's just how the teams work together and things like that, communication-wise, to try to make things better from where they were. And I felt that starting out of the box, being Daytona, we should be able to have a chance to win that race. We had a tough go at Daytona, but Tony finished in the top 10 (which) kind of proved that. I think that moving us has just been a product of our hard work and going from 36th in points to eighth is just a product of effort and hard work and the team doing what it should be doing, which is working together and moving forward."
-credit: gm racing