RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) RECAP BRISTOL WEEKEND "Obviously qualifying was good. The car unloaded pretty quick, and we kept working on it and working on it. A little short story, I told Matt last spring when we ran that 14.90.
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
RECAP BRISTOL WEEKEND
"Obviously qualifying was good. The car unloaded pretty quick, and we kept working on it and working on it. A little short story, I told Matt last spring when we ran that 14.90. In practice we were at 15.15, so we picked up a quarter of a second. After qualifying practice Friday morning, I said, 'Matt, we're right on target.' He said, 'What do you mean?' I said 'We ran a 15.144.' He says, 'Yeah.' I said, 'If we pick up a quarter of a second like we did last spring we'll be at 14.88.' He said, 'I like your thinking.' We didn't exactly run a 14.88, but we had enough to get the pole. We kept our nose clean on Sunday. I told Matt after the race this is the first time we've raced at Bristol and not spun out or got spun out. It was the second time we've finished on the lead lap and the second top 10 finish for us, but in general the car was really, really tight. We kept working on it. We had a really good car on a long run, but those last few cautions didn't help us out much."
COMMENT ON GOING TO TEXAS AS DEFENDING CHAMPION
"Going into Texas, I look forward going back as the defending winner, but that doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to different teams and another opportunity to win the race. I just look forward to that as well as the IROC race."
COULD YOU MOVE EFFORTLESSLY TO ANOTHER TEAM THAT'S NOT AS ENGINEERING DRIVEN AS THE 12?
"I don't know how to say easier, but it's definitely made it a clean transition. I can't say easier because I don't have anything else to compare it to. As far as going to a team that's not as much engineering based, No. 1 I don't want to think about it. No. 2, I can't answer it."
ARE WE GOING TO SEE A FUEL MILEAGE RACE AT TEXAS?
"Fuel mileage is always going to be a part of racing as long as cars are powered by fuel. When they're powered by batteries, we'll talk about charge life. Whether it's IRL, CART, NASCAR, there's always going to be a consideration for fuel mileage in a race unless the cars hold more than the race distance. If you can do something no one else can then you have an advantage."
DO YOU PREFER A FAST TRACK LIKE TEXAS?
"I'd feel more comfortable if they had the SAFER barriers up there. I like tracks that are banked and have a good speed to 'em. I like anywhere from a mile to two miles, banked racetracks. They seem like to be the best tracks you can race on and the most fun you can have because you can race on 'em. With that said, I think Texas has more potential than it did last year because of the easing of the asphalt. I think it's going to be a little bit better racing. That's probably a better question for Brendan Gaughan considering his truck record there (four straight wins). He was the last driver who's now a Cup driver to have raced on the racetrack. He raced on it since the Cup cars raced on it."
IS THERE A BIGGER POTENTIAL NOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN CAUTION?
"I think Junior opened the door for that potential as far as creating your own caution and spinning a guy out because you're getting ready to get lapped or vice versa. It's just as easy to be the leader and stay out the longest and then spin a guy out and hold the field a lap down. There's not much difference. It's basically NASCAR's judgment. I don't think it's any rougher than it ever has been, especially Bristol. Look at it this way, Harvick hasn't even gotten in a fight yet."
IS QUALIFYING MORE FUN IN SOME RESPECTS THAN THE RACE?
"It has a different variable of fun to it in qualifying. No matter what, racing is always more fun for me. It'd be like going to a local go-kart track. It's different going out there by yourself than if you go out there with friends you can beat up on and rub on and things like that. That doesn't say I want to beat and rub on the competition, but it's the racing part of it that I really like. We just so happen at the time to excel in qualifying."
DO YOU REALIZE THE BENCHMARK YOU'RE SETTING FOR QUALIFYING?
"Partially, not until they put the stats up starts versus poles. I think it was one of the Flock Brothers that was three or four starts ahead of me, second best all time to get 20 poles versus starts. It's things like that that really made me realize what the team is accomplishing because it's not just me."
IS THERE MORE CONFIDENCE GOING BACK TO A TRACK AS DEFENDING CHAMP?
"The potential is definitely there, but it's a different race, different conditions, different tires. The track is going to be a little different. If you go in with too much confidence you can just as easily settle your results before you even turn the first lap."
IS REMOVING THE GRASS IN INFIELDS NEXT SAFETY STEP?
"I think that's one. I think it's a tie for the next most important thing (safety-wise). I think he's right in the grass in the infield, whether it's the tri-oval or the backstretch at Daytona. I think the other thing that's equally important is putting up a pit wall between the pit wall and the racing surface at certain tracks. Take for instance Mike Wallace's crash in the Busch race at Daytona where he came in and hit the inside pit wall. If there had been a wall there to stop that, I think that's a definite gain for the future. It's just a matter of managing it the right way."
IS TEXAS A TRACK THAT LENDS ITSELF TO A BREAKTHROUGH WIN?
"It's just a coincidence. I think wherever we go whatever pattern it is it's just a matter of coincidence. A good driver should be able to and can adapt to any racing surface anywhere whether he's a rookie in stock cars or an experienced veteran. I guess my quote from before is I'm 25 years old and I've been driving a car for 20 years."
DOES NASCAR NEED TO STEP IN AND PENALIZE A DRIVER FOR BRINGING OUT HIS OWN CAUTION?
"The potential has always been there. That's one of the first questions I brought up about the Lucky Dog deal. Take for instance a track like Pocono and a plug wire falls off five laps into the race. You could come off turn one and spin and it's so wide you don't hit anything. You've caused your own yellow. Even you were a lap down or the first car a lap down, you've caused your own yellow. You can get that position back, get your lap back all for spinning out and not hitting anything. I guess my point is that potential has always been there. As long as there's not a rule against spinning yourself out or spinning someone else out, which there is a judgment call on, there should be no penalty for it. If there is a rule against it, then there should be a penalty and NASCAR should determine that. They've been trying to do that (get inside a driver's head) for 50 years, but I think there's a different perspective to it with what Junior did."
IS IT DISAPPOINTING SOFT WALLS AREN'T UP AT TEXAS?
"It's extremely disappointing. You've got a guy that's one of the top 50 or 500 whatever, it doesn't matter what it is, richest people in the world and he doesn't put up a SAFER barrier around his racetrack to protect the drivers that compete there. In reference to that, the fans that are there also. It's kind of disrespectful in a way, and it's disappointing from a driver's perspective and a safety perspective and a personal perspective."
DO YOU THINK DALE JR. SHOULD BE PENALIZED FOR BRINGING OUT HIS OWN CAUTION AT BRISTOL?
"It'd have to be a judgment call. No. 1, I don't think he should be penalized because there is no rule against it as we speak. For that reason, if there is no rule against it, then you can't penalize a person. At what point they do make some kind of rule, it will be a strictly judgment call. They'll have to be listening to Junior's radio and find out if he has a tire going down or a loose lug or some reason he'd spin himself out to make that judgment call. That would be very particular, especially with their point system in effect the last 10 races."
HOW CONFUSING ARE ALL THE RULES?
"It's not confusing as long as they make the situations clear, and that's the toughest thing about some of the rules. They're judgment calls whether it's an eye in the sky from somebody up in the box or it's a pit road official. They're judgment calls, and that's the hardest part of dealing with the rules we have."
ARE THERE TOO MANY RULES?
"I think the quality of the racing is hurt by the rules, but I think the politics of the sport can be influenced by the way they're upheld or withheld. I think that's the most conflicting part of the rules."
COULD DIFFERENT TECHNOLOGY HELP FREEZE THE FIELD?
"It would help it a little bit as far as sorting things our a little bit quicker. It doesn't solve some of the things that came up this weekend as far as drivers spinning themselves out."