Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006 Daytona International Speedway Media Day Notes, Quotes RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON OFF SEASON TESTING: "We didn't do much. We did the Daytona test and the Las Vegas test. We're actually going to...
Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006
Daytona International Speedway
Media Day Notes, Quotes
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON OFF SEASON TESTING: "We didn't do much. We did the Daytona test and the Las Vegas test. We're actually going to go to Kentucky on Monday by ourselves to test. We've had a different off season with all the changes at Penske Racing. We didn't know which road to go down as far as the vehicles we are going to drive. Our testing was limited, but I feel like after Vegas and Daytona we were a better than average car but not the best car. I don't think we're out to lunch. I think we'll be in good shape to start the season, not ideal shape but good shape."
HOW WILL YOU APPROACH THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT? "The Shootout is a lot like an on track test session, but it's also a big race. It's important to try to win it. There's less pressure I guess based on the fact there's no points. It's a short race. We tend to beat a little harder on each other in that race than we do in the 500. It's usually a lot of fun, especially at night with the sparks flying and the cars running pretty quick. I look forward to it."
WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER A SUCCESSFUL SPEEDWEEKS? "I'd like to walk away with three trophies. That'd be good. We're here to win. Aside from that everything else is unsatisfactory."
COMMENT ON GOALS FOR THE SEASON: "Our goal is to win the championship. I've sat here the last four years and said the same thing. We've got a great group of guys. We've got a couple of different guys this year, but we've got the same core group of guys. We went through a lot of troubles last year speedwise, especially on the intermediate tracks. We look forward to being able to get back to our old ways basically compared to the competitors on those tracks."
WHAT WOULD A DAYTONA 500 VICTORY MEAN TO YOU? "Winning the 500 would be great. It would be great to start the season off that way. In one way it is the biggest race of the season. In another way it's just another race. There are different ways of looking at it. I think the best way to answer it is you never know until you experience it. I say that because most drivers say they never knew what it was like until they did it and then they say the second one is better than the first. You just never know."
HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED AS A PLATE DRIVER? "I think we started off strong in 2002. I was pretty inexperienced and I think we finished seventh in my first 500. I think I've experienced a lot of things in the past as far as the big crashes. We've had some pretty good runs. I feel last year was as strong as we've been as far as speed and competitiveness in the racecar itself, and I feel like that helped me a lot. Sometimes when you're stuck in the middle of the pack you're not experiencing the things you need to do to run up front. You learn more patience and how to work the draft with other cars and maintain the best position possible. It's pretty obvious that it's difficult to lead all the laps compared to how it used to be in restrictor-plate races."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
HOW'S IT BEEN GOING SO FAR? "Things have been good. We've been testing twice a week since January 1, short tracks, superspeedways, speedways and now the challenge between the '05 car and the '04 car. I've had a great time gelling with the new team. I've been to Milwaukee three times. It's really cold up there now. I don't recommend it this time of year. It's been a great off season, a lot of things going on, even more with my personal life and wedding planning. I've been very busy. I'm getting married the off weekend between Pocono and Indy. Eva said she wanted a summertime wedding, so that's what she'll get."
HAVE YOU BEEN HAPPY WITH ALL THE TESTING? "I'm very happy with the testing. Our first test was the short track in Lakeland. The car just has a different feel to it from my short track cars in the past. I come into Daytona and everything was relatively the same. The two teams bounced good information off one another. We went to Nashville first and chose the best '05 car out of that group and put it up against the '04 car at Vegas. That taught us quite a bit. I'm the guy on the outside. I've raced Fords all my life and coming into this program I'm just throwing in little tidbits of information. They're not weighing heavily on my decisions. I'm just trying to help because there are much more experienced people with Dodge equipment around me."
COMMENT ON LAST YEAR'S DAYTONA 500: "It was a great race for me and the team. It was a great chance to finish second again in the Great American Race. I did it my first year. It was a rain delayed deal. It was good to finish second that way and then last year to have a shot at the win in the closing laps. I had that adrenaline rush. I had the position. I went for it and I came up just a bit shy. It's great to have that opportunity to Jeff Gordon. If I have another chance to finish second that's OK. I'm a young guy with some years ahead of me. I hope I have a shot to win The Great American Race."
HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT'LL TAKE TO GEL WITH YOUR NEW CREW CHIEF ROY McCAULEY? "It Jimmy Fennig and I awhile to get that good rapport with one another. We did win right away at Bristol in March of that year we came together, so I look for some of that same thing with Roy McCauley. He's a very smart crew chief, same as Jimmy Fennig. Where the two seem to separate themselves is with the engineering background. Roy McCauley has a different way of approaching the car and it's asked me to learn more of a different language. It's a new challenge for me. I'm up to it."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SEASON? "It's new faces and the same old places. I feel like we've got a great shot at doing some great things. I'm anxious to get going, but I've enjoyed the off season, learning a new team and to bridge into where I want to go with a new atmosphere around the Miller Lite Dodge and Kurt Busch. We're going to have some fun this year. Once we've got some points up on the board, it'll definitely feel like we're going again. The stuff outside the track is in the works. It's very important to me, and I want to have some fun with it. That's what it needs to be. Racing the car has always been fun."
COMMENT ON LAST YEAR AT PHOENIX: "I'm glad to have that behind me. To have the ups and down during the off season and now to have a new team with a new atmosphere and a great place to race--. We're definitely going to have some fun. I'm happy that that's behind me. I did learn some things through it. To be able to take away something from that--. Bottom line everybody was having a good time when things got done, shaking hands and smiling. The thing to say is speed should be saved for the racetrack, and that's definitely what I took away from that. A goal I have now for the Kurt Busch Foundation is to go and meet with kids, underprivileged kids, kids with disabilities, kids in sports, kids that necessarily didn't come up with opportunities that most kids do. If I can put a smile on their face at the end of the day, that's something we're going to have a great time doing."
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR YOU TO LEAVE SPEEDWEEKS HAPPY? "I believe for Kurt Busch to leave Speedweeks happy it would be to have the Miller Lite Dodge intact. If the big wreck happens, it happens. I'm not too worried about it, but if it's intact with a top 10 finish that's a great start. I just don't look at one race as the deciding on how I'm going to take over Rusty's ride and carry on the Miller Lite legacy. We've got great expectations and we want big things to happen."
WHAT'S THE MAIN GOAL FOR THE SEASON? "The main goal is to make The Chase. That's an obvious question for 30 teams right now. Once we move into the season we'll have seven races down, 14 races down, then we'll have 21 races down. If we're in position, that's great. If we need to attack to get into The Chase then we'll have to do that. Obviously the goal is to make The Chase. If we go up or not from there, we'll see what happens."