RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger) WITH THE STRONG WIND HERE TODAY IS TESTING A WASTE OF TIME? "No, we can at least compare ourselves to everybody else. You can still learn some things. It's not ideal. The conditions are definitely ...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger)
WITH THE STRONG WIND HERE TODAY IS TESTING A WASTE OF TIME? "No, we can at least compare ourselves to everybody else. You can still learn some things. It's not ideal. The conditions are definitely less than ideal, but it's still basically a free opportunity to get some information while we're already out here. NASCAR is nice enough to let us do that with the new aero package. We're learning from it. Whoever learns the most will go into the season the strongest."
HOW WAS THE VEGAS TEST? "It was windy parts of the time and parts of the time it really wasn't. We ran out of tires early because we punctured a couple of tires and that cost us a couple of sets. We finished up early on the second day and headed for California. I headed for the poker room. Actually, I met the guys at the airport and played poker with them for a little while and got my clock cleaned there and then went over to The Palms to play in the tournament."
SO HOW DID YOU LET TONY STEWART BEAT YOU? "Well, I could always say I didn't get the cards, but Tony played well. He played a real smart game. I'm more into cards since meeting Matt (crew chief Borland). He's got a fetish for poker and so do some of the other guys on the team. We enjoy playing cards together. It's a friendly competition. I'm more of a straight up player, but I have the potential to bluff and that makes it better sometimes."
DID YOU GET ANY POINTERS FROM SOME OF THE POKER PROS THERE? "They wanted to talk racing and I wanted to talk poker, so it ended up being about 50-50. It was cool to meet Chris Ferguson there and Phil Gordon. I really enjoyed the time and opportunity. We talked more personalities than we did cards and strategy. I'll let them keep their strategy, and I'll keep mine. There's definitely a wide variation of poker players out there. It's a cool deal. It's considered a sport now, and so many people are getting involved and growing with it. From what they were saying on-line poker is a pretty good way to make a living."
WHAT'S THE STATUS OF THE CHARGER FOR THE 12 TEAM? IS EVERYTHING GOING ACCORDING TO PLAN? "It's the same type of situation. We're not going to be able to see what we've got until they drop the first green flag -- specifically at California. I don't think Daytona is going to be the true palm reading of what's going on. California is going to be the important test. Everything is going all right. We'll just have to wait and see how it races. The spoiler package has thrown everybody for a loop, which is probably a good thing. We have the added variables of a new nose and tail. Everybody has got the variable of new tires, too. The tires don't seem to be much different. It's definitely a lesser transition from last year to this year than it was from two years ago to last year. Getting downforce off the cars makes the cars race better. It makes 'em less aero dependent, so the less you've got to work with the less you've got to lose."
WILL THE NEW PACKAGE PUT MORE INTO THE DRIVERS' HANDS? "I'm hoping for that. I hope the cream rises to the top, and I hope I'm on top at the end."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON WINDY TEST CONDITIONS "The wind is so strong it's just pushing the cars. You enter the corner and the left front will be turning. The next thing you know you feel a gust of wind and it won't turn as good. Going down the straightaway you hit wind and the car will slow down and it pushes you off into turn three. You get off the gas but you're going faster than you want it to go and you miss the corner. It's been a tough test so far battling the wind and race track."
WHAT DID YOU NOTICE ABOUT THE NEW AERO PACKAGE ON THE CHARGER AT LAS VEGAS? "It's a little slower. You fall off a little faster. The cars get a little bit looser, but it's now where near where it was in Atlanta. These tracks are very similar to the way they were last year. Some will be different because of the spoiler, but California and Las Vegas aren't too far off."
HAS YOUR SCHEDULE PICKED UP SINCE LAST YEAR? "I haven't had a day off yet in January. I had a Sunday off two Sundays ago, but it was icy in Charlotte and our pilot said he didn't want to do it. That was fine with me. Now I have to do it on my way to Daytona next Wednesday night."