RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON NEW QUALIFYING SYSTEM "We haven't done it yet, but from a competitive standpoint we're still there to win the poles and get good pit selections and get bonus points for leading laps. That's ...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON NEW QUALIFYING SYSTEM "We haven't done it yet, but from a competitive standpoint we're still there to win the poles and get good pit selections and get bonus points for leading laps. That's still the big picture from our viewpoint. I've said before if there's a trophy there to win, we're there to try to win it. The Bud Pole Award is one of the bigger trophies of the season from my standpoint. From a physical standpoint, qualifying is going to be different because there are only so many things we can adjust on the car now. That will be the determining factor on how we're able to qualify well and race well at the same time. Maybe I'm old school, but I grew up where you either had to race your way in or qualify your way in. To me, that's the way it should be. You can't qualify without a driver and you can't qualify without a racecar, so I guess it's about 50-50. You're limited with what you can adjust on the car. Those things might be able to make the car qualify good and race good and they may not. I think we can approach it the same way we always have."
COMMENT ON AERODYNAMIC CHANGES FOR 2005 "It's actually a pretty big change for us this year because the new Dodge nose is a cross between a truck and a car nose. That's a big change from what we used to have. With all the templates we have, there's still a good bit of room for change and the change is in the nose itself. That nose is a distinct change from last year. We don't have the same rules to compare apples to apples, but we can go back and try to figure out how close it actually is. If you look at how the templates have changed in the last two years, I think right now you have a lot more templates on the car and a lot less room to make changes. Go back to 1998 and it was pretty easy to make body location changes and things like that. Now you're locked into a lot of things."
DO THE OVERALL CHANGES HELP THE DODGE TEAMS? "The Dodge teams have more changes to adjust to, but I think the ultimate thing was when NASCAR took an inch off the rear spoiler they took the rear downforce off the car and total downforce at the same time. If you look at it three weeks from now, I don't think it'll make that big a difference, but there's still plenty of room for our teams to adjust. I think you'll see the strong teams still be the top teams and be in the top 10s this year."
WILL CARS BE ABLE TO RACE SIDE BY SIDE? "Let me give you a general rule of thumb. If cars had no downforce on 'em, then they could race side by side with no problem because they're not affected by the downforce. The less downforce the cars have the more they're capable of doing that. The car creating 5,000 pounds of downforce racing side by side is going to have more effect with one car next to the other. NASCAR has the numbers from the mid 80s when stock cars where cars were making less downforce in front and the front tires wouldn't grip as well. When they got in the draft, they actually made downforce because they wouldn't lift and that's why you could race better. That's why you used to see races at Pocono where they were lined up single file all the way down the straightaway. I think in the long run if we could have cars that were creating zero downforce in clean air you'd see a lot better racing."
COMMENT ON LAST SEASON "We didn't have good consistency last year, and we didn't have great performance. Those two kind of go hand in hand. Overall we struggled through the first two thirds of last year and the last 10 races we had the dominant racecar without dominant finishes. We led the most laps in the last 10 races and that kinda opened our eyes for 2005, but 2005 starts off different and we have different things to adjust to. We'll just have to go from there."
COMMENT ON RACING AT DAYTONA "I think it's definitely a handling racetrack and a speed racetrack. It's difficult to go fast here and handle at the same time. We'll see what happens. I think we've learned a lot in the past three years and we'll have to see if we can put that learning to use."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE THE NEXT STEP? "We struggled a lot last year. We had a lot of DNFs. Some of them were our fault and some of them were not our fault. If we can end the season with zero DNFs, we'll have a heck of a lot better shot at the championship and the top 10. There are so many variables. Pit stops have grown to be so important. Pit stops are going to be more critical than they have been in the past this season. So many things come into play to make victory lane happen, let alone making the championship happen. I don't think I have to adjust my personal style. It's just everybody on the team working together and communicating well and having the performance there."
COMMENT ON NEW TIRES "I think it puts more pressure on the crew and the crew chiefs. I'm going to be out there driving the racecar and going as fast as I can, but I have to compete against the competition. If they're going faster than me, and I have a car capable of going faster, then I have to go fast enough not to get lapped. I don't think you're going to see a tire that's way softer and you're going to have to come in and pit before we need fuel. I will say I'm not a big fan of softer tires. The technology is out there to create a tire that will last 500 miles in these racecars, and we should be doing that. Goodyear has got a good strategy as far as selling more tires, but as from the safety perspective in the long run I think a tire that will last long will be better. We'd still have to come in and put fuel in the car. I don't think it would take the pit crew out of it. They'd still have an important function. I don't see a necessary need to have softer tires to make
the racing better. I don't think it does make the racing better. I think we just go through more tires."
COMMENT ON THE CHASE "I still think the point system isn't fair to the competitors. It might be a good marketing strategy in the long run to create more following for NASCAR. NASCAR is eliminating competition going into the last 10 races. If I had been 11th last year instead of 10th, I would have been a pretty upset fellow. If I had missed it by one point or whatever. As I said last year at this time, it's the same for everybody. We have adjusted to it, but my final answer is I don't think it's a perfect points system."
COMMENT ON PROGRESS OF THE CHARGER "You can get the balance back pretty easy, but you don't want to give up speed to do it. You don't want to give up downforce, you don't want to give up certain things that give you a big advantage speed wise. You can make a balanced racecar out of the package, but it's a matter of who does it the best with the most speed. I think we've learned a lot about it, maybe 70 percent of what we need to learn about it. I think the other 30 percent is how it's going to work in race conditions, and no one knows that yet. We'll have to see how it works."
IF YOU COULD CHANGE THE LENGTH OF ANY RACE ON THE CIRCUIT, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU CHANGE? "I don't think Martinsville should be 500 laps. I think you've got it sorted out after about 250. We've seen tracks like Atlanta and Charlotte have great races from lap one until the last lap. It could be a thousand-mile race. It just all depends."
DID YOU GET TRUE TESTS AT LAS VEGAS AND CALIFORNIA BECAUSE OF THE WIND? "It was really windy at California, and it was windy for the most part at Las Vegas. Everybody had to work with that, and I felt that we were a top five car at the end of both tests. It has the potential to be a great car. Whoever works with it the best, particularly with the new aero rules, is going to be the best for the first part of the season."
COMMENT ON YOUR CREW CHIEF AT LAS VEGAS "He was stressed out about me playing cards and him not. There have been times when he's out playing cards and I'm out doing appearances. It all works out. It's cool to have a great relationship with a crew chief. Matt and I have had that the past four years. I think he is the best in the business. He's low key at times, and he's high key at others when he needs to be, and I think that's what makes a great crew chief. There are times he settles me down and there
are times I settled him down. When you get along with somebody you can do that pretty easily."
WHAT'S YOUR APPROACH TO SPEEDWEEKS THIS SEASON? "We're here to win. We're still focused on doing that, but the ultimate goal is to get out of here in one piece. That's been a challenge at times."
COMMENT ON RACING IN BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT "We're going to go at it and have fun. We're going to be in the race to win. We're not going to take any stuff off anyone. I know it's a pretty tough race, and it's going to be a pretty cool night, so I think the cars are going to stick well. It's going to be all about speed."
YOU'VE WON THE MOST POLES ON THE CIRCUIT THE PAST THREE SEASONS, SO YOU SHOULD WIN THE RACE. "Well, it's not a one-lap race. We'll have to see. We've never got a pole on restrictor-plate tracks. Maybe if they held it somewhere else other than here or Talladega we'd be the favorite."