Dodge This - Newman press conference

Tuesday, July 15, 2003 Dodge This Teleconference Ryan Newman WHAT'S IT LIKE IN A RACECAR WHEN THE TEMPERATURE IS SO HOT? "It wasn't too bad at Chicago, but Daytona was definitely tough. The heat can get to you after awhile, but the team does...

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Dodge This Teleconference

Ryan Newman

WHAT'S IT LIKE IN A RACECAR WHEN THE TEMPERATURE IS SO HOT?

"It wasn't too bad at Chicago, but Daytona was definitely tough. The heat can get to you after awhile, but the team does a good job of ducting air to me. I try to keep constant airflow. It doesn't have to be full air as long as there's airflow and fresh air gets in. I learned after Michigan that having a little oxygen to breathe is pretty nice."

DO YOU PLAY RACETRACK VIDEO GAMES?

"I used to play video games all the time. I played in college all the time even at the point where we linked up computers and raced each other. I've played a lot of Sony Play Station 2 games, but those aren't quite as math oriented as some of the other computer simulation games. I haven't used the Homestead racetrack. I don't know anything about it other than it is available to play. That would be something to get my hands on to try to utilize. Anything that we use computer wise is definitely a benefit to the team."

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO MOVE UP IN POINT STANDINGS?

"We've got to finish every lap the rest of the year and at the same time the other guys have got to have some misfortune. That should get us the lead because that's what happened to us up to this point in the year. That's the basis of it. Until we're mathematically out of the championship, we're just going to keep doing the best job we can. If we can't get first, we'll try to get second and so on."

DO YOU THINK EXPERIENCE IS KICKING IN WITH YOU AND THE TEAM?

"I have gained a lot of experience in the last year and a half with Winston Cup besides my year with the ABC schedule. I think it's made a big difference for me personally. There are things you learn at one racetrack that you can carry over to the other, and there are things that are still specific to certain racetracks. I've learned a lot, and I know the team's learned a lot and I think with all that stuff together we've been able to put better racing together as far as competitiveness. Matt and the guys on the team did an awesome job making the right calls (Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway). I guess when you make the right calls you'll have a cool head and when you don't make the right calls you're not going to have a cool head."

DO YOU HAVE TO ADJUST YOUR DRIVING STYLE TO FINISH EVERY LAP?

"I don't think so. I go there to win the races, and in order to win the races you've got to be there at the end to finish every lap. I'm not going to change anything I do. When it comes to that I don't feel that I jeopardize my finishes by making crazy moves on the racetrack. They're the same way. They don't put parts on the racecar that jeopardize our chances to win. I don't think anything is going to change. It's just a matter of putting it all together."

COMMENT ON FUEL CELL FIRES

"I don't think it's anything specifically with the cars. In my opinion the racetracks are the things that need to be fixed. I've said it before and I'll say it again until it's fixed, there's no reason we don't have soft walls at Chicago and Pocono, Kansas and every place else out there. If they can put them at Richmond and Loudon and Indy then they can put them at those other racetracks. They're running out of time, and they're running out of excuses to be able to do that. I think the soft walls would be a big attribute to not explode the fuel cells when the car backs into the wall. It would lessen the impact, more cushioning and hopefully it wouldn't get to the point where it explodes the fuel cells like it is."

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO LESSEN POTENTIAL FOR FIRE WHEN CARS COLLIDE?

"Not a whole lot, and that's the problem with it. These cars still have to carry fuel, and they have to carry a certain amount of fuel. You're going to have a bomb of some sort on board. It's just whether or not it's allowed to go off. There are some things that can be done and should be done as far as the fire extinguishers go. There's no justification for not having a fire extinguisher in the trunk so if something does happen a driver can have access to a localized fire that he can pull a pin in the fuel cell area. There's always going to be fires as long as you have fuel and oil on board."

COMMENT ON ESCAPE HATCHES

"I saw them for the first time last night on TV. To a certain extent that's fine, but they're missing the big picture. They're missing the wall and the other parts of the racetracks that are helping to cause these things. The roof hatch is part of it in reference to the fires in getting out in a hurry, but if you don't have to get out in a hurry then you don't need that hatch."

WHAT'S YOUR OPINION ON GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT?

"I didn't see if Jimmie (Johnson) and Michael (Waltrip) were racing back to the line or if Jimmie just flew on by him right before the line. I'm not sure what happened. The gentleman's agreement is just that. Like Mike Helton said in the meeting, it's something that Richard Petty and David Pearson and Cale Yarborough and Buddy Baker and those guys sat down and said this is how we're going to try to work with it. We're going to try to work with our own gentleman's rules. It's coming now where the cars are so equal and the track position is so important, if you've got a chance to pass when you come back to the line you're going to cherry pick it. Drivers are starting to do that. It happened in reference to keeping cars a lap down and it's happened in reference to guys racing back for a position. I think the only thing NASCAR can really do in my opinion is when the yellow flag comes out if you're a lap down you're still a lap down. That's going to take away an opportunity to race back to the line, so that doesn't make a difference. You'll have guys racing through accident scenes trying to get a lap back of trying to gain positions. To me it doesn't matter (if NASCAR steps in). To me, it's a Catch-22. You're going to give people an opportunity to pass people if you don't and at the same time get a lap back. If you do then you're going to take away an opportunity to get back on the lead lap, so there's going to be less cars on the lead lap if they make a rule like that."

DO YOU DO ANY SPECIAL CONDITIONING FOR 20-RACE STRETCH?

"Nothing specific. I've always thought the best physical workout you could get is driving the racecar on Sunday. You can mock that up with workouts during the week, but me personally, I'm not a huge workout buff. I don't go to the gym three times a week. That's not saying I should or shouldn't, but the biggest thing like I said before is keeping air to the driver and obviously he's got to be physically fit in the first place to be able to get the 500 miles in. It's no different now. The car is still burning the same fuel. I've only had a couple of instances with it (carbon monoxide) when we've knocked crush panels in and got a lot of exhaust fumes inside the car. For the people that don't understand, you just kind of get a headache and weezy feeling afterwards. You kinda feel sick to your stomach. It's like you want to go to sleep but you really shouldn't. I haven't experienced it in quite a while."

WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING?

"I guess the competitive drive to win no matter what the situation is. I can be running 15th with three laps to go and still figure I've got a shot to win the thing. Part of it is a racer's mentally and every racer is different. That's the basis of it. There's always next week, and you can dwell on the past, but you've got to focus on the future."

EXPLAIN THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN THE CAR

"There are different ways of doing it in my opinion. You could have a separate fire extinguisher for it or you could have it work as one. As far as I know right now there's no rules on fire extinguishers and where they have to be placed. It's up to the teams' discretion to put them where they think they're needed. They could put it on the driver or on the fuel pump or by the fuel cell. All I was getting at, maybe in the situation of Jarrett's fire or maybe Schrader's fire something that wasn't quite as huge as Bobby Labonte's, if they had the opportunity to pull a pin and extinguish a fire that was localized by the fuel cell, that might save them an extra minute or two to be able to get out of the racecar instead of having to bale out head first."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Ryan Newman , Richard Petty , Mike Helton , Buddy Baker , Cale Yarborough , David Pearson