Daytona II: Dodge - Ryan Newman interview

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: Newman and his crew chief Matt Borland got an up close and personal tour of NASA on Wednesday. Newman says he would consider an aerospace career when he finishes NASCAR Winston Cup competition.

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)

NOTE: Newman and his crew chief Matt Borland got an up close and personal tour of NASA on Wednesday. Newman says he would consider an aerospace career when he finishes NASCAR Winston Cup competition. "Maybe by the time I'm 70 or so I'll give it a chance," Newman said jokingly.

"I had been to the visitors' center and rode the tour bus Christmas before last, so I had seen some of the stuff before. The biggest thing was the behind the scenes stuff. The coolest part to me was getting to sit in the commander's seat in the orbiter itself. Just getting to see what it's like from that perspective was great. They showed us where the arm and everything was, and I got to look outside at the cargo bay. The speed they run in space and the temperature it goes through. Those are some awesome numbers. It might run 30-40 or 50,000 mph through space, and that's pretty wild. They're talking about making a trip to Mars in three months instead of nine months.

"I haven't been super interested in the space program, but I guess from a driver's standpoint and an engineer's standpoint to hear the numbers and hear all the incredible things they do is very interesting. They drop the landing gear 50 feet before they hit the runway because if they dropped it sooner it would rip the landing gear clear off the orbiter. It lands at 220 knots, which is way faster than an airplane.

"I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to fly in it, but I don't think I'll ever get that opportunity. It's definitely a cool thing. It takes about two years of training just to do it, so maybe when I turn 70 or 75 I'll give it a chance."

YOU'VE GOT TWO WINS, FOUR POLES, FIVE DNF's AND YOU'RE RANKED 17TH IN THE STANDINGS AFTER THE FIRST 16 RACES. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO DIFFERENT IN THE FINAL 20 RACES? "We just need to finish all the races and get good finishes. We don't really need to do anything different. We just need to eliminate all the dysfunctional things that went on in the first 16 races. We've finished in the top five in the last four out of five races, and that one that wasn't in the top five was the fire in the car at Michigan. A lot of goofy things have happened between catching on tire, blowing a tire at Talladega, flipping at the Daytona 500, getting crashed on the first lap at California. A lot of goofy things have happened. I guess they've got to happen to somebody, but you never think it can happen to you."

YOU'RE 660 POINTS BEHIND POINTS LEADER MATT KENSETH. EVEN WITH 20 RACES LEFT, ARE YOU OUT OF 2003 TITLE CONTENTION? "If we can put some finishes together it would be a good thing. I never count us out until we're numerically out of it. It doesn't take anything to make up a ton of points. A little piece of debris on the race track and you can if up 180 points. I'll drive the same way and do the same things. We'll try to eliminate the possibility of those goofy things that have happened to us. Losing a rear gear at Richmond should have never happened to us, but it did. Part of it is my fault, part of it is freak accidents, part of it is the team deal. It's no different than it's ever been. We just need to get rid of it."

ANY APPREHENSION COMING BACK TO DAYTONA? "No. I'm not looking forward to it, but I'll drive to the best of my knowledge and the best of my ability. The driver doesn't have a whole lot to do with what's going on here. You've got to have a good race car. The whole idea of one goofball wrecking everybody at the front of the field doesn't sound like good racing."

YOU WON SIX POLES IN 2002 AND FOUR ALREADY THIS SEASON. YOU'VE NEVER WON A DAYTONA POLE. IS THAT ABOUT TO CHANGE? "I think we've put some good runs together for the pole, and I think we've missed some opportunities. Having the fuel line fall off at Rockingham didn't help. We definitely had a shot at the pole there. Things like that have happened to us this year apart from the races. I pretty much think we can win a pole wherever we go. The exception would be the superspeedways. I always tell Matt (crew chief Borland) that he has to win poles at the superspeedway. There's no other driver better than me at winning the pole at speedways like this, but it's up to the guys that build the cars and the motor men and everybody else. I think we've got as good a shot to win a road course pole as any other racer."

DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE SOPHOMORE JINX? "No, we've won two races already. You create your own luck. Blowing your tire going into turn one at Talladega is bad luck. Breaking a gear at Richmond is bad luck, but that's something we can fix. We switched over to Dodge, and we've won two races. I'm happy about that. Maybe we can double that in these next 20 races."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman