Tuesday, April 1, 2003. Dodge This Teleconference Texas recap, Talladega advance RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) "(A win) doesn't make up for it (races you don't win). Those other times were lost opportunities to win the race, but...
Tuesday, April 1, 2003.
Dodge This Teleconference
Texas recap, Talladega advance
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)
"(A win) doesn't make up for it (races you don't win). Those other times were lost opportunities to win the race, but they were points paying races, so it doesn't make up for it. You can't win 'em all, so when you do win one it makes you feel good. It takes a little bit of everything to do what we do in NASCAR Winston Cup racing when it comes to winning.
"We've done a lot of work. We had to start over at ground zero where those other guys, whether it's Dodge teams from last year trying to make what they had last year work, we've got to take an approach that we had nothing to go off of when it comes to a Dodge, so we had to do what it takes. I think that's one of the biggest things, on top of the fact we're a strong team in the first place. That makes us better as of right now. We haven't been the best all season by far. We've shown spotlights of being the fastest Dodge at times.
"They're all most valuable. We go to different race tracks for different reasons. Whether it's a braking track like Greenville (Greenville-Pickens) we go to or we've gone to Nashville just to get some experience on the concrete again. Different tracks bring different things. You don't test downforce at Greenville, but you can do it at Nashville. You don't test brakes at Nashville, you do it at Greenville and vice versa, so those are a couple of good examples.
"They've pretty much got it restricted the best they can right now. NASCAR probably looks at this a lot different than the teams and drivers do, but we get limited on the race tracks we go to to test, and that's good. The places that we struggle at are typically the places we go to test, the places that need the most focus and devotions. The non Winston Cup race tracks will always be there. Those race tracks make money off of us going testing. Whether it's a Busch race track like Kentucky is, NASCAR Winston Cup racing or NASCAR is still helping fund a track that's on the Busch circuit. It's a touchy subject and NASCAR has got to be careful about how they work with it. I'm sure they are. I don't think there's ever a time they'll say there's no testing by a NASCAR Winston Cup team allowed anywhere. All it takes is somebody with a huge pocket of money to go out and build their own race track and say 'you can't tell me what to do on my own property.'
"I think just like in racing and everything else, it comes down to effort. We stress that good qualifying position, getting that good pit stall and at the same time it's a reward. You get to start up front. You get to start your Sundays the right way. We put a lot of stress on that.
"We had to take two tires at that time in my opinion, (final pit stop at Texas) and Matt had the same opinion I'm sure. If we took four and two guys took two, we'd come out in P-3. On the restart with 50 to go, that's actually like P-6 with those lapped cars. We needed to be the car up front. That was going to make better use of track position that way. That was our decision. Goodyear had a great tire there, and it didn't wear bad at all, so it was kind of piecing the puzzle together and it worked out.
"We built a new car (for Talladega) because the one we had at Daytona we pretty much destroyed, but that's pretty much it. We just went back to the drawing board and tried to figure out how the thing can go faster.
"There's an advantage to running the Busch Series and Truck Series at certain race tracks as long as they're companion events to the Cup races, but the bottom line is I don't need to do anything that will take any energy away from me or my team, whether it's mental or physical energy. That's the way I look at it, and that's the way this team is structured. I'm happy doing what I'm doing. I don't need to go out there and do all those other races.
"A lot of it (restrictor-plate racing) is just pure survival. At Daytona last year we missed the wreck, went down through the grass in the infield, and came back and challenged for fifth and fell back to seventh at the end. The first Talladega race, we were going for third past halfway in the race and we lost an engine. We go back to Daytona for the night race, and we were challenging for fifth to get the No Bull 5 deal and got hit in the left rear corner, cut a tire down and crashed. Then we go back to Talladega and we had to battle a fuel mileage race there and ended up finishing seventh. We had good performances. They weren't great by DEI standards, but it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. A lot of it is luck and fortune. Last year we were in the wrong spot at the wrong time, but that's just part of it.
"The bottom line is it all comes back to the effort and how good of a race car you have as a team and what position you put yourself in just like any other race. When you're up front, there's a better chance of missing crashes and having good fortune being able to create the strategies because when you're leading and come in, you're the guy everybody is judging off of. That's one of the biggest things. When you see these DEI cars they start up front and stay up front, and they create their own destiny because of that.
"Comparing Talladega to Martinsville, at Talladega it's not necessary to hit your marks. You just keep scrub out of the race car and keep the momentum up. At the same time, at Martinsville, you want to keep your momentum up, but you've got to hit your marks. You've got to play that curb, be as close as you can to it without hitting it, and you've got to brake at the right time and accelerate at the right time. Those things aren't there at Talladega and sometimes they're not even there at places like Michigan. There's different mentalities when it comes to it. You don't have to worry about a drafting partner at Martinsville. You don't have to worry about a lot of things, but you've got to conserve your brakes and a lot of other variables pop up. It's like Winston Cup Racing is this big long equation and every once in awhile the variables can be neglected, but when those are neglected you've got to consider some others.
"I'd say Talladega is probably the most mentally tough. There you're dealing off reflexes. You've got to keep eye on the mirror, you've got to listen to the spotter, you've got to be ready to miss a crash. Whereas at Martinsville the drivers are more like considered a machine. It's just repetitive work over and over. You accelerate-brake, accelerate-brake. That to me is more natural race car driver talent or characterisms than actually trying to avoid some of the big accidents that happen at Talladega.
"I was just kinda basing it off Martinsville, but I would say Bristol and Darlington and Talladega are close when it comes to mental concentration. The thing I was getting at, at Talladega things can be out of your control easier than at most race tracks because of the way the cars are designed and the race track itself.
"Obviously, if Kyle hit at 80 g's, then that carbon seat is doing its job for him to be able to walk away with just some broken ribs, at least to my knowledge. I'm happy with the seat we run. The design is like the carbon seat although it's made with aluminum. It encompasses the ribs and head supports, and we have great seat belts in our car and things like that. I'm really happy with what we have. After Daytona, I'm really satisfied with the results we got. That was my own personal crash test we had down there, but it'll definitely open the eyes. If it doesn't, people aren't paying attention.
"I guess it's just part of being who I am and the sport I participate in really (commenting on his competitive spirit). I couldn't say really.
"It's pretty much still a crap shoot. You go down there and approach the race the same way. It's just a matter if the wreck doesn't happen or you're fortunate enough to miss it. At those race tracks, there's really nothing you can do. You can try to avoid the crash, but usually if you try to avoid the crash that's what happens. You see someone else spinning and that starts the big traffic jam.
"They (DEI) focus on everything. They've got guys in their shops who work on restrictor plate engines only. There's probably not that many teams out there that do it that way. They focus very hard on the restrictor-plate races. There's four a year, and that's a pretty good chunk of points, but it's not everything. A lot of other teams just focus on short track cars or their intermediate program because that's the majority of what we do. But those guys have everything so refined. It's not the engine. It's not the body. It's a little bit of everything.
"(Pit stops) will be just as important as ever. The biggest thing you'll just have more pit stops. Instead of having three pit stops or whatever, you'll have twice as many almost. It makes it harder getting on pit road and using up the brakes on the car and at the same time having a forced error in the pits.
"I was just trying to keep my distance between Junior and the lapped cars in front of me and make sure nothing happened. I don't think our engine overheated at the end. I just think when I got off the race track after doing my donuts that something....what happened the hose clamps popped off the radiator and all the water leaked out of the lower radiator hose which drains the whole system. That was how we lost all the water, which made the car light. NASCAR allows you to replace the fluids you lost during the race. That's how it happened. If we would have lost 35 pounds of water, that's basically five gallons of water, the race track would have seen that or somebody would have slipped in it.
"There's two ways of looking at that. You ever watch the TV show The Weakest Link? You either take out the guy you think is going to win or you go head-to-head and try to be able to beat him. That's the way you've got to approach those races. There are cars being dominant over the drivers being dominant. You can follow Junior or Waltrip or Steve Park up through the field and once you get there you're not going to be able to pass. If you get an opportunity to pass them in traffic and you can shake them out of line, then you know you're eliminating one of the best chances as far as the winner. There are two ways of approaching it. A lot of guys will just be satisfied with going up and finishing in the top five and let the DEI cars finish 1-2. If I see it, I'll work with them when I can, but if there's a chance to shake out the best competitor out there, I'm going to do that.
"It's difficult, and that's why I said you'll see some guys that are satisfied with a top five and let the DEI cars run 1-2 again because they're strong and they're great competitors. But, it's touchy. It's a lot like last year in the Pepsi 400. I was trying to get in the top five and I probably should have settled for sixth. I ended up falling back and getting hit in the left rear corner and spin out and go from a potential top seven finish to 32nd or 35th or whatever it was. You've got to be careful. All it takes is one little wiggle by somebody else to have a bad day. That's why I said Talladega and Daytona is so tough because you've got to add those split-second decisions about how all the other cars are running all day in reference to your race car.
"Our hands are so tied when it comes to doing those things, with the templates and rules and the way NASCAR has the restrictor-plate program. You can't work with the rear suspension anymore. You can't work with some certain body things anymore because they've got you restricted so much. The bottom line is it comes down to how much horsepower you can make under the hood with the least amount of air or the amount of air they'll give you, and work with the body the best you can. The bottom line is, when you're given a set of rules, the team that works the best with them is usually the winner. They really make it tough. It's frustrating, but at the same time, if they let us do what we wanted to do, we'd end up with a 240 mph Indy Car that's supposed to resemble a stock car and we both know that doesn't happen. I'm happy they keep the rules the way they do and monitor them the way they do. It's a shame that technology has caught up to the sport at much as it has.
"That's the reward of finishing good, the points that go along with it. We just go out and do the best job we can with the tools that we have for the day. It's up to us to give ourselves every possible tool. Sometimes that doesn't happen. If you're running 12th and there's 10 laps to go and you don't think you've got a shot to win you just don't pull the thing in and say 'we just didn't have it for 'em today.' You still struggle to get that top 10.
"That's just hindsight after being crashed. I'd still try to go for the lead if I had the opportunity or somebody pulled out and I could draft up there. That didn't ever materialize. Sometimes you can pull out of line and somebody in front will see he's got some help and go. That didn't ever happen (at Daytona) and I got hit in the left rear corner.
"I focus on doing my job. What they want to call or what they want to say is up to them. If it's up to me to prove them wrong, then I guess that's what we did. The analysts make those calls, not only because it's their opinion but it's something to talk about. At the same time they want to make a good story, they want to create a little controversy. It is what it is. They say what they say. I'm not here to disprove anyone. I just go out and do my job and what happens happens."