Daytona 500: Newman - Media Day visit

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES DAYTONA MEDIA DAY DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY February 5, 2009 RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed his Daytona 500 win from last year,...

February 5, 2009

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed his Daytona 500 win from last year, not racing in the Shootout, the top-35 rule and much more.

ON HOW HE FEELS HE WILL RUN BEING WITH A NEW TEAM FOR 2009 "I think with our resources from a mechanical standpoint and our resources from a personnel standpoint that we will be competitive right out of the box and we'll be competitive throughout the season. I feel we should without any doubt have an opportunity to be in the Chase. That opportunity is up to us to succeed."

ALL THE TEAMS ARE SAYING THE SAME THING SO WHAT MAKES YOUR TEAM DIFFERENT? "Because of the people. I mean if you take the mechanical resource part of it, it can be exactly the same. You can see that within the own mother ship with Hendrick, the No. 5 car last year didn't do what the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon), No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) did so that's not just a satellite team situation it's a personnel situation."

YOU'VE WON A LOT OF DIFFERENT RACES THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT ITS LIKE TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500? IS THAT A DIFFERENT FEELING FROM WINNING ANOTHER RACE? "It is. I mean it's the ultimate in my opinion. To me it was, I stated it before and people have asked me how long did it take to sink in and it didn't. It happened as soon as I crossed the start/finish line. I knew what I had achieved as a person. I knew the effort that it took by all the people around me throughout my racing career to help me get to that point. The people that bought my first uniform owned a Pizza King in South Bend, Indiana gave us I think it was $400 dollars, those people. The people that bought me a right rear midget tire for Christmas. Just the people that gave us credit cards to use for gas to get back and forth to Phoenix. All those people I feel were part of the team that got me to victory lane that day and that's what was really special. That was special that race because of the importance of that race verses Loudon or Charlotte or Pocono or whatever."

IS THERE ANY OTHER WIN THAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR MIND? "The All-Star race was really special because that was the race we weren't expected to win which was kind of like Daytona. We weren't even in the race to begin with. We beat everybody at the home field on a given night and we did it because of the pride and the money not because of the points and there's a lot to be said about that."

IF YOU GUYS DON'T TEST WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE TO THE POINT WHERE YOU NEED TO BE, WHAT TELLS YOU YOU'RE GOOD? "It's kind of unique because it kind of got to a point where teams had to have test teams and teams had to have a separate group of people to do these things and now we're not testing and as I felt always before, 90 percent of your performance was based on the work that got done in the shop not the work that got done during a test, the work that was done by a test team. It was getting to a point as drivers we weren't even going to a test, the test team drivers were doing it. Then you get a mixture of feedback and a combination of questions that go along with what was he feeling? Is Ryan going to feel the same thing? I feel that it's back to old school racing. You run what you brung. You show up, you have your stuff ready and the guy that is most ready will probably win."

HOW MUCH IS SIMULATION THE SAME? "Well simulation is just another tool for homework. It's the modern day calculator for race teams. What we do with our simulations is just another way of preparing for the race. It's another way of getting ready and doing the homework for the next test or the next quiz. Its just practice for qualifying in my opinion."

YOU SAID THE DIFFERENCE WAS THE PEOPLE, YOU WERE WORKING WITH ROGER PENSKE AND ALL . . . "You can have the best people in the world and if you don't have the chemistry and the relationships to go along with it then you have I won't say nothing but then you don't have what you want. I look forward to starting that opportunity all over again. I kind of halfway quoted somebody, I don't remember the exact quote but the bottom line is it's impossible to start a new beginning but you can begin to start a new ending. I feel that is what I have in my career to be able to build on the things that I haven't accomplished and try to achieve those things with a group of people that is searching for the same thing."

HOW MUCH OF A HANDICAP IS IT NOT BEING IN THE SHOOTOUT? "Well it's only half because Tony is in it. To me personally it's only half of a handicap but I think that I have the confidence, the car and the people. We can unload in race trim on Wednesday or whatever it is and be ready to be a Gatorade Duel winner on Thursday."

DOES IT BOTHER YOU WITH BEING THE LAST YEAR'S DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION THAT YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO RACE IN THE SHOOTOUT? "I'm not happy with the way they organized the Shootout. If we're going back to last year we made this statement that we're going back to racing old school and some of the old school things, going back to the old school fans. I don't see that in the formation of the new Shootout. To me, it's a thank you pat on the back to the manufacturers out there which in the end doesn't make it the ideal race in my opinion."

HOW IS THIS ECONOMY AFFECTING YOUR TEAM AND AFFECTING THE SPORT AND HOW WORRIED ARE YOU ABOUT IT? "I hear everybody complain and I mean everybody complain about how bad the economy is and I don't think it's that bad. I think it's just not as good as it was. I think that everybody from an organizational standpoint whether its NASCAR, Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick or Roush whatever has to keep their pencil sharp and put themselves in a position to where they can be strong for the future. I think the economy is going to have more of an effect six months from now than it will now. If the economy is as bad as everyone says it is then realistically we are living off of our reserves whether it's financially or whatever and we'll have to see who has the biggest stockpile of reserves. I'm no economic adviser but that's just my gut hunch about it."

HAS THAT AFFECTED PEOPLE? "I think it's mentally affected everybody more than it has physically. Maybe this is my opinion but when we go to the gas station and we can't get a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk then the economy is really hurting. Now gas is half of what it was last fall when the economy was good and there's no shortage of milk. I mean how bad is it really? That's just my gut feel. And I'm probably a little naïve from the standpoint that I think NASCAR spoils you a little bit. Spoils me personally, you know my lifestyle is not the same as somebody that is greeting at Wal-Mart but in the end I don't think the economy is that bad. The cream is always going to rise to the top and I just think it separates it off from the weak individual. It's like a minor plague I guess."

ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS ABOUT THE DRUG POLICY? "I don't have concerns about that but I know a friend of mine was questioned after he was tested and come to find out it was because he eats poppy seed bagels every morning. Who would have thought that? No matter what the banned substances are I don't worry about that. I don't take substances to have to worry about that personally. What I would be worried about is what you could combine not just over the counter but food-wise to set off the system. I'm glad that NASCAR is doing it and I hope they continue to refine it to the point that the entire garage can be drug-free and eventually because of that the entire grandstand will be drug-free. I've never drank in my life and I've never done anything to become high in my life so I'm a little different than your average driver or person."

EARLIER DID YOU CALL HENDRICK THE MOTHER SHIP? "Well I was referring to not from our standpoint but from a big group stand point. Roush is another mother ship, there's different ways of looking at it."

HOW MUCH STRONGER ARE THEY WITH MARK MARTIN ON BOARD, IS IT A YANKEE'S TYPE LINE UP NOW? "No, I wouldn't say that. I think Mark brings different things to the table from the experience standpoint that another driver may not have or could have but in the end as I've said before it's not just about Mark Martin it wasn't just about Casey Mears and it wasn't just about Kyle Busch it was about the people that surround him and as an organization you can only be so strong. You look at what they did last year it was still pretty amazing."

SO MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN THE CAR AND DIFFERENT SPONSORS THIS YEAR, DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE A MENTAL NOTE OF WHO IS IN WHAT CAR? "No because you're still racing the cars and you are partially racing the driver's but you still have to put yourself in the position to go around them."

DON'T YOU RACE SOME PEOPLE DIFFERENTLY THAN OTHERS? "You figure that out as a driver pretty quick. You're only responsible for knowing 42 other people so that's not the rocket science part of it. Because of the economy or the sponsors or whatever doesn't change the way you race people or change the way that you think about racing people."

WITH ALL THE CHANGES FROM LAST YEAR DO YOU APPROACH THIS YEAR'S RACE ANY DIFFERENTLY? "I feel that going into this year that I'm trying to achieve the same things that I did last year. It's like I don't even take into account what I did last year. I'm still as dedicated and have the same drive that I had last year having not won it. I don't see it changing me or the way I driver the race or race anybody else I just see the perception of me change because I have won the race."

YOU TALKED ABOUT THAT YOU CAN HAVE THE BEST EQUIPMENT AND THE BEST PEOPLE, WHEN YOU START A NEW TEAM WITH A NEW OWNER AND A NEW CREW HOW SOON CAN YOU GUYS BUILD THAT CHEMISTRY? "You don't know that. It happens. It happened with me in 2001 basically with Matt Borland and Michael Nelson and that group of guys. It just happens. There's no boiling the water and waiting for it to mix. There's none of that. It just happens. I don't see it being anything special other than it just happening. It's tough to explain. Without sounding like a nerd, a long equation you've got this formula and you have so many variables that are mixed up in that formula and you have the car and the people and the chemistry and getting to the race track, there's a million plus variables out there and if you just miss one of them you have to compensate with the other. Chemistry is the one thing that stands, that no matter what your people are or who your people are or how smart they are, no matter how good your car turns left and goes forward if you don't have that chemistry you're not going to have the right calls. It's like having the best gun in the world and not being able to aim it correctly. That's what that chemistry does for you."

WHEN CAMERAS ARE RIDING WITH YOU CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT YOU FEEL THAT THE CAMERAS CAN'T? "It's tough. That's a good question. I guess the sense of speed from 140 miles per hour on up you don't feel a change. The sense of closeness, it's no different than being on the interstate. What you really have to put in perspective is being on the edge. I would expect anybody that's been to war or anything like that knows what it's like to be on edge and knows what it's like to be close, knows what it's like to have a shell whistle past your head or something like that. You have to know that edge. That's what separates what we do at 180 miles per hour with the people that are running 105 miles per hour at a local short track. It's everything to the next degree, to the highest degree."

YOU'RE A FAIRLY SMART GUY RIGHT OR WRONG, HAVE YOU TRIED FIGURING OUT THE WHOLE TOP-35 SITUATION THIS YEAR, WHO IS IN AND WHO IS OUT? "No, it gets crazier every year and honestly I shoot myself in my own foot by saying it I wish it wasn't the top-35. I think you could take the top-10, 15 or 20 and then make everybody else race their way in. We're here to race."

EVEN IF IT INVOLVED YOU HAVING TO RACE YOUR WAY IN? "Absolutely. That's why I said I'm kind of shooting myself in my own foot. We're here to race. You should be here to race your way into the race. That's how it all starts. That's how it's always started and part of that has been taken away. There's still a group of people that are racing their way in but I don't think that you should be locked in. I'm guessing if you ask Tony Stewart the same question he would say the same thing in reference to the champions provisional. He rather race his way into a race and be deserving of it than to be locked in because of what he achieved in the past."

IT'S NOT JUST THAT IT'S PEOPLE SELLING POINTS, SELLING THE TOP-35 POSITIONS. "It's become a business. You saw what Bill Davis and Penske did here in the last week. It's just things you wouldn't expect. People talk about how bad the economy is, it must not be that bad."

IS THERE A NEED TO HAVE THE SPONSOR'S PROTECTED WHEN IT COMES TO QUALIFYING? "That's why I said you do 10, 15, 20 or whatever but 35 you're only allowing eight people to race their way in. There would be much more drama and much more excitement if there were 23 of them racing their way in."


HAS ANYBODY ASKED ABOUT THE HAND YET? "No, do you want to know? I have a big fireplace in my house and I built the heat exchanger. So I have a pipe that pushes air out of my subfloor in my house. It goes up into the fireplace because fireplaces are very inefficient. I just built a heat exchanger which is just bumper pipe, two and one half inch bumper pipe and it blows air out into the house. I have a screen in the front of the fire place that's got some vertical bars, those pipes were just a little off-set so I hadn't put all the braces in yet and I put a pipe inside the bumper pipe and was pushing it to bend it to straighten it out to get them perfectly lined up. Well that pipe slid in, that's a two and half inch pipe right there. I just missed this part of my hand."


ITS JUST THE COORDINATION WAS OFF. "But in the end I have 370 degree air coming out of my fire place in my house."

JUST DON'T GET TOO CLOSE TO IT. "It's not as hot as you think."

WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO WATCH THE SHOOTOUT? ARE YOU GOING TO WATCH FROM TONY'S (STEWART) BOX? "It will be somewhere around Tony's box or his trailer or whatever. It will probably be on pit lane with checking out his tires and things like that."

IS IT BOTHERSOME THAT YOU WON'T BE RACING? "It would be bothersome if I thought the way the system was, was based off of racing. But people getting into it because the seat that they're in is not the way I think it's supposed to be. You don't change teams and end up with Derek Jeter's number and end up in the All-Star game. You don't do it."

WHAT WILL YOU WATCH FOR AND TRY TO LEARN? "I feel like I can learn half as much as I did before. We'll have the information from Tony's (Stewart) car and obviously the Hendrick cars but I want to be able to feel it firsthand. You know Wednesday is going to be very important for us from a race trim standpoint and a people standpoint making sure that we're competitive."

WHEN YOU CAME TO NASCAR YOU DIDN'T NECESSARILY BEHAVE LIKE A SHY ROOKIE ON THE TRACK, YOU DIDN'T LET ANYBODY PUSH YOU AROUND AND INTIMIDATE YOU. WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT SCOTT SPEED? "I think Scott did a really good job last year racing. He was very respectful, he did a good job. In reference to the give and take part of racing which is something I didn't learn off the bat, Tony and I even had our differences on that. We weren't raised that way, we never knew the concept of it at least I didn't and he out teached me. I think Scott did a good job last year. I don't see him being any different this year than last year."

AS THE NEW CAR HAS EVOLVED, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THOSE WITH DIRT EXPERIENCE HAVE AN ADVANTAGE BEING ABLE TO DIAL IT IN? "I think the dirt experience helps a little bit but anybody that's driven a race car a lot and has been competitive and has won has driven a car that is loose. So anybody that has done that is probably here. To me Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch are some of the best at doing it. Ironically they are the three that won the most races last year. Obviously you have to have the equipment, that's the most important part of being able to drive that car loose because it's got to be fast. You can be loose and still be slow. I experienced that last year. The bottom line is I feel like it definitely helps but no matter who you are or no matter where you come from there's always those drivers that make it to the top that can drive a car loose. Clint Bowyer for instance came from dirt Late Models, its dirt but he can run a car loose. Jeff Gordon, he came from open-wheel racing and he doesn't like to run a car as loose as Jimmie Johnson does. It's a known fact. It's a personal preference in reference to the ability at the same time."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing