Tuesday, May 25, 2004. Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Nextel Challenge Recap, Coca-Cola 600 Advance RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) NASCAR NEXTEL CHALLENGE RECAP, COCA-COLA 600 OUTLOOK "We're looking for one spot better in the 600.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004.
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Nextel Challenge Recap, Coca-Cola 600 Advance
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
NASCAR NEXTEL CHALLENGE RECAP, COCA-COLA 600 OUTLOOK
"We're looking for one spot better in the 600. Obviously, we had a great race car (in NASCAR NEXTEL Challenge). The entire weekend was great. The pit crew did an excellent job in the qualification situation with the 12 and a half second stop. It got us good track position for the start of the race and we held it for most of the race. We didn't give it up for any reason. The car was extremely good, especially on old tires. We just had a lot of fun. Unfortunately we led a lot of laps in a race that didn't pay to lead a lot of laps, but we led a couple that paid some money and came home with a second-place finish. It was hard earned. We went there and did the best job we absolutely could. We're there to win. The money is just a bonus. That's the way I've always looked at it. It would have been nice to win and get the million, but we can't go back in time and redo it."
COMMENT ON MOVE MATT KENSETH MADE ON YOU LATE IN THE RACE
"Matt did a very good job of racing me clean, and I felt I did a very good job of racing him clean when I was trying to hold him off. I could have done some things to him that he wouldn't have appreciated. I think No. 1 we've got a lot of respect for each other, and No. 2, we were both taking a risk of losing a victory and a million dollar bonus. It always depends on who you're racing as to how you race them. I wouldn't say it was a perfect pass for him, it was a perfect for him but nevertheless we had a great race for basically all 17 laps before he got past me."
IS RESPECT THE KEY?
"I think the degree of respect... Everybody has respect for each other, but the degree of it can determine what damage gets done I guess you could say. It's different for everybody and the bottom line is Matt and I have a good relationship on and off the racetrack."
DOES YOUR SCHEDULE GET HARDER OR EASIER AS THE SEASON PROGRESSES?
"Both. Usually as the weather gets nicer you want it to get easier, but it usually gets harder. We do some things away from the racetrack to have fun and enjoy what's going on, but it's not like we get weekends off."
WERE YOU SURE THAT MATT'S PASS WAS GOING TO BE CLEAN?
"I was ready for both really. I didn't think I had to be. I anticipated it being a good clean race at the end. The first time he was driving by I was going to do it (shake his hand), but I figured he had to go for his victory lap which he hadn't done yet. I wanted to congratulate him. He did a good job, and I wanted to make sure that in my mind I wasn't mad at him."
COMMENT ON SAFER BARRIERS
"I think they work extremely well. Just watching Ricky Rudd's car bounce off of it at the start of the Open and then watch him joking around in the infield care center afterwards, it didn't use to happen that way, and it's happening that way now for a reason and the reason is the safer barriers. It's made a definite impact on being able to walk away, No. 1, and being able to walk away less sore or less injured than drivers used to. There were some cars that potentially that took some big licks. I don't know how hard Kurt Busch hit the wall because I didn't see it first hand, but there were quite a few big accidents that happened in the safer barriers and you didn't see anybody complaining of a sore neck."
COMMENT ON DOVER'S SPECTATOR BRIDGE
"I knowing going over the turn two bridge is pretty cool to watch what's going on. I'm not a big fan of obstruction of views for drivers, but I assume that won't be the case. No. 1 it needs to be a safe situation for the fans and drivers, and No. 2, I just hope they're doing everything for the right reasons. It's really cool. It's an awesome view and an awesome feel, but it's not for everybody."
WAS IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO GET NOTICED IN MIDWEST?
"I was doing my own cold calls and trying to feel some things out. I had some friends around me helping and obviously had some contacts in racing, but I was doing most of it myself to show my intent and my initiative and my drive for what I wanted to do. I think a lot of that made a big difference with what you end up with for a ride and the people you're around. It was pretty much Penske. I think there's a lot of respect that goes along down here between teams as far as not backdooring each other. I think that was a big part of why once it started it kinda stopped."
COMMENT ON DRIVING ON THE OLDER TIRES SATURDAY NIGHT
"The tires, typically the more heat cycles that get on 'em, the harder they get and the less they stick. For me, it was just hanging on. We had track position, which was good as far as aerodynamics, but when the tires aren't as sticky or as good both from the air pressure standpoint and from grip standpoint, it makes it a little harder, and that's why I struggled a little bit those last 20 laps. I was just holding off a hard-charging Matt Kenseth with 30-lap fresher tires. My car was balanced pretty good, but you can only go so fast on old tires. At Charlotte you basically lose a tenth of a second a lap, and I don't think we were losing quite that much. You've got a guy behind you that's basically getting faster for a few laps because he's got fresher tires. Your tires are guaranteed to slow down a tenth or more a lap because you're on old tires. That's why I say it was getting harder and harder to drive. Basically it gets on top of the race track and starts sliding around and it does that because you're trying to go too fast."
COULD YOU SEE CHANGES FOR THE PHOENIX TRACK TO MAKE IT MORE RACY?
"I think Phoenix is a pretty decent racetrack. It's not one of the best racetracks we go to. Bottom line, I think if they're going to do things like that they just need to build a whole new facility in a different location whether it's L.A. or Seattle, Wash., or Denver, Colo., or some place like that. We need to get some three-quarter to mile-and-a-quarter to mile-and-a-half racetracks that are somewhat like Homestead. Just because Homestead did a decent job with what they did, doesn't mean we like to make every other racetrack like Homestead."
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE TO WATCH THE INDY 500?
"Yes and no. I'm more of a racer, and it means more to me from a racer's standpoint than it does the Indy 500. I think my personal opinion the greatest spectacle in racing isn't the great spectacle anymore, but it's still an important race in auto racing history."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN SATURDAY NIGHT THAT'LL HELP IN THE 600?
"The biggest thing is it's the same racecar. We realized what a great racecar it was, and we're going to take it back and give us an opportunity to get some feedback about how good the car is and what to expect. Strategy is not a huge deal. We learned some things about the tires and what not, but that's pretty much it. Gas mileage is very important. It's important every place we go to. You want to have great fuel mileage. That way you can be the last one out, and that way you're not typically stuck in the pits when the yellow flag comes out and you get caught two laps down. That's the biggest thing."
IS BUMP DRAFTING POSSIBLE AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY?
"If you want to start a good crash. There's a right place to do it, and there's a wrong place to do it. We've seen that. Down the backstretch when your car is straight is the best place to do it at any racetrack. Even at Daytona and Talladega it's really hairy to bump draft in the tri-oval, and those cars drive a lot straighter than the ones we use at Charlotte. Bottom line is you just don't want to try to do it in any corner whether it's a tri-oval or the mid corner of one and two."
IS IT DISAPPOINTING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENED AT INDY THIS MONTH?
"I'm not that in tune to it as Roger Penske is obviously. I don't know everything that went on. I know the car count wasn't very huge and the driver count on top of that wasn't very huge. The sport changes for a reason. They'll figure out what's going on and how to make things better. I know they went through a lot of rule changes with the engines and cars to make things safer. I think that was a big part of it. I'm sure there were plenty of racecars around from the last couple of years that would have been easily able to make it in the show. I think they're struggling for some teams in the series. I think there's quite a few unsponsored cars or at least some cars that were unsponsored until they made the show. That's one part of it. The other part of it is there's a lot of money that gets spent internally at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I'm not talking about Tony George spending it on himself."