Dodge this - Ryan Newman interview

Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, June 10, 2003 Ryan Newman and Matt Borland ...

Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Ryan Newman and Matt Borland

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)

NOTE: Newman has recorded three straight top five finishes and moved up 11 spots in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings to 16th. The 25-year-old super sophomore from South Bend, Ind., has won two races this season, but four DNF's in the first 14 events dropped Newman to 27th in the standings after Richmond. Newman leads the circuit with four poles this season and just missed winning his third straight pole last week at Pocono. He's qualified 10th or better in the past 12 events and has qualified in the top five in 11 of the past 12 races.

COMMENT ON DIRT TRACK RACING: "I really enjoy the dirt track racing, going to watch it and when I participated in it. I don't have the manpower to have a team like Danny Lasoski's. I'm not interested in running a team. I don't go back and dabble in the sport like Tony (Stewart) does, but it's not to say that I wouldn't like to. It's just that I'm focused on what I do at Penske Racing and that's pretty much it. Tony's got his fingers in other venues and if he wants to he can go back and drive a midget or one of his sprint cars or whatever. I miss it because it's great racing. That's what racing started as and it's a great sport. Really dirt track racing is almost a sport within itself. I'd say short track racing in general you have to be fast right out of the box. One of the key things to me growing up is I raced at a ton of different race tracks. Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon were all the same way. It's a situation where you have to adapt at all the different tracks if you want to be competitive, whether it's Eldora or Winchester. It's all about being able to adapt and be fast. That in my mind helps a lot in qualifying."

COMMENT ON SEASON: "Our season is kind of a continuation of last year in my opinion. As rookies last year we got to go back and experience some of the race tracks for a second time and some of the race tracks the second time is this year. For instance, California and Watkins Glen, so we're still going back and learning from things last year. Last year we had some great runs and some great cars and we'll continue to expand on that knowledge and be able to adapt new things and new ideas. Matt and everybody on the team have done a great job continuing to make us better. I think that's what's kept us in the hunt, striving for excellence and trying to do better."

COMMENT ON MATT KENSETH'S CONSISTENCY: "What that 17 car's got going on doesn't happen very often. They've been so strong. They're running good and getting good finishes. It's not like they're doing a two-tire stop at the end and coming home with a top five or a top 10. They've got good race cars every week. That's what you've got to have to win the championship. They haven't had their typical Roush engine failures like they did last year. From our perspective, we're just trying to do those things. Matt Kenseth's team right now and Matt himself is the benchmark for a lot of teams out there, trying to be in that position and trying to get those consistent top 10 and top five finishes.

COMMENT ON YOUR THREE-RACE TOP-FIVE STREAK: "In my opinion, it's been something that's coming. We've done some things to take ourselves out of races, whether it's the gear at Richmond or a blown tire and things like that. The places we've not finished good, we've been running up front. We've just not finished."

COMMENT ON YOUR QUALIFYING SUCCESS: "I think it's a team thing. I think a lot of people give me credit, and maybe they should and maybe they shouldn't, but the guys do an awesome job preparing the cars. Going to qualifying is one of those things where you've got to be fast right off the truck. You're working on the edge as far as getting the best lap times. I think our team does a good job with that. I wouldn't say it's me or one particular person. It's just like everything else. It's a team sport and the team gets results. I enjoy it because it's me versus the race track. You don't have to worry about the competition. You don't have to worry about if you got two tires or four tires or if you just took fuel. I hit my marks and do the things I like to do to go fast. That's the fun part of it. It doesn't pay a whole lot of money all the time. I guess the part of it that I enjoy, it does kick off the weekend in a great way. It gives us a good pit selection for Sunday and it cheers up the guys."

COMMENT ON YOUR DAD TRAVELING WITH YOU: "I've enjoyed it a lot. Obviously, he's been instrumental in my career, not only as a person but as a professional driver. He would do everything if he could. He's just that kind of person. From the time I grew up we went to the race track together, either as a team to race or as fans. I went to Daytona nine or 10 years straight just sitting in the standings, knowing that's what I wanted to do. It was my dream. Eventually it came true, but for him to stay involved and doing the things he does driving the coach, carrying the second gas can over the wall on Sundays and a lot of the pre-race spotting. He stays pretty busy and he enjoys it all. I've always included my father. I think Jimmie (Johnson) and Casey (Mears) are the same way. We've got a respect for what our fathers have done for our careers, not to say that other people don't, as well as the potential for what they continue to do."

DOES AN OPEN WHEEL BACKGROUND PROMOTE AGGRESSIVE DRIVING?: "I could say yes and I could say no. In my opinion in 30-lap races, you've got to get the job done quick. If you're starting 15th, you still have a chance to win. You've got to hustle the car. I think a lot of other drivers are the same way whether they grew up racing late models or street stocks or whatever. You have to hustle the car for what it's worth. You can't kill the race car and you can't thin the competition out. I guess there's two different ways of looking at it, but for me it's what I know. It's all I know from growing up in quarter midgets. It's being smooth and at the same time hustling them and trying to save the tires. It's all translates into Winston Cup Racing. I'm sure Sterling (Marlin) and Jeff (Gordon) have different ways of looking at it, but it's always been bumper-to-bumper shoving around racing. You can watch all the past highlights and see that, but I don't think it's got anything to do with open wheel drivers are anything else. I think it's got a lot to do with how the cars are and the fact it's harder to pass because of the aerodynamics of the cars and things like that have made it the touchy racing it is today."

DO YOU SEE A BENEFIT HANGING AROUND YOUNG RACERS?: "Young racers are still racers. I'm 25 and I've been racing cars for 20 years. You could classify me as a young racer, but I've got more experience than a lot of guys out there. Whether it's Rusty (Wallace) wanting to bring up somebody young or somebody else, or somebody at Penske or DEI it doesn't matter. It's always got to be the continuation of the sport. Whether it's Kyle Busch being 18 and being able to get opportunities, people always look at it in a different way, but it's good for the sport. I think sponsors build relationships with younger drivers versus older drivers. I'd never like to own a team myself, but I keep an eye on young racers. I think it's like doing homework. You've got to study your competition a little bit."

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A DRIVER TO WIN DOUBLE-DIGIT RACES IN A SEASON?: "It's possible. That was one of our goals at the start of the season. Obviously we've fallen a little short of it right now, but I think definitely it's possible. I don't see why not. It's harder than it's ever been, but I think it's always possible. You create your own luck."

COMMENT ON AERO PUSH. IS IT A PHYSICS PROBLEM?: "It is. The bottom line is you don't have aero push if you don't have aerodynamics on the cars. The aerodynamic part of it is getting rid of downforce. If you don't have downforce, you don't get the aero push. The aero push comes from getting behind another car. You don't have the downforce on yours, but you're not affecting him, so you can't catch him because your car doesn't stick as good as his. You take the downforce off of them and the car behind has just a good of opportunity to pass as the car in front. It goes back to the mechanics of the car and who has the best grip on all four tires. The bottom line is you've got to take downforce off the cars. You do it by spoilers. You do it with fenders. You do it the way the trucks are with the high windshields or whatever. You don't necessarily have to do something with the tires, but if you soften them up you get a little more stick out of the race car and the tires fall off a little more. Eight or 10 years ago these cars were making lift. Now they're making gobs of downforce. When they were making lift, you saw guys running nose to tail at places like Pocono, Charlotte, and that's hard to see today. I'd say if you want to make 'em right, it would take 50 percent, but I don't think you're ever going to see that happen. It would be like telling the IndyCar series they couldn't run wings anymore."

COMMENT ON TOYOTA ENTERING NASCAR: "I don't really know. I know one thing, they're making a big step when they come into the sport. Obviously the way they run in IRL and in other series, I think they're plenty capable of doing it. It's going to have an impact on the sport, and it's going to have an impact on the people whether it's the fans or media or whatever. I don't see any problem with it as long as it's controlled and everybody is treated fairly like has been the case this year."

COMMENT ON RACING AT MICHIGAN: "It's like everything else. You've got to have a good car. Michigan is a track where you've got a good draft down the straightaway. You've got to have good downforce in the corners, and obviously you've got to have good horsepower under the hood to pull you around the race track. It's a two-mile speedway. The bottom line is you've got to have everything and you've got to do everything else you do every other week with pit stops, track position and strategy and be there at the end. We're taking the car we won with at Dover. It's called Popeye."

COMMENT ON SHIFTING AT POCONO: "We shifted at Pocono. All you ever gain by not shifting is a little bit of time and speed because there's a little bit of drag on the race car. It's basically like going down the highway and hitting the brakes when you shift. It's no different than taking off at a stoplight. If you've got an automatic versus a guy who's got a stickshift, you can beat him through the shift. Last year we didn't shift. Executive decisions of the team (reason for shifting this year)."

IT'LL FATHER'S DAY AT MICHIGAN ON SUNDAY. WOULD A WIN BE A PERFECT FATHER'S DAY GIFT?: "I guess three or four years ago we had a midget race on Father's Day down at Salem, Ind., and I won it. I think we might be able to step up the program, and it would be really cool if we could do it on Father's Day, especially because it's close to home. He grew up in Michigan. He (father, Greg) carries the second gas can on race day, just basically helps the gas man and helps out there in the pits. He drives the motorhome to 95 percent of the tracks."

DO YOU THINK THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH LAPPED CARS ON RESTARTS?: "It doesn't make much sense to me. A guy that's a lap down is going to want a shot to win the race just as much as anybody else in the race. Just because he's a lap down doesn't mean you should take him out of the race. If you're going to do a single-file restart with the way the rules are it's pretty pointless to continue to race. You're just going to be racing with the other cars a lap down. I don't think that's the way NASCAR racing has grown up. It doesn't matter (which lane the lapped cars are in). That's part of it. It goes back to the old adage, you keep your scoreboard on the dash. You remember who does what to you. That's part of NASCAR Winston Cup Racing and there's no reason to change it."

COMMENT ON HOMESTEAD TESTING: "They said they were going to let us test on Wednesday. I guess it's like a seven-hour test or something. We can use data acquisition, so that's going to take a lot of that out. I would look forward to going and unloading and be fast right out of the box without any testing. Obviously we've got to do some things with the tires and make sure everything is working good. I'd be a little worried. Usually green race tracks like that don't hold up the best. It's usually a source of political conflict. If some people don't like it, then people are likely to criticize it. I commend them for making a change. The way the track was was conducive to racing but not great racing."

WHAT'S IT LIKE HAVING ROGER PENSKE SPOTTING FOR YOU?: "I like it. I think it's cool. I think he does a great job. He's very experienced and has a lot of knowledge when it comes to strategy, especially after dealing with the Indy cars for so long using track position. He's helped me in both driving and making some of the great calls he's always made. The bottom line is he's there to make everything better, so he does whatever has to be done whether it's spotting or whatever. If he sees something I can do better like Rockingham when he told me to run up higher for a couple of laps to see what it's like. He's there to benefit the team just like everybody else."

WOULD SOFTENING THE TIRES HELP WITH AERO PUSH?: "The bottom line is, you'd have to work the numbers. If you take a car that has zero downforce, then whether you're in traffic or you're not in traffic, you're still going to have zero downforce. That would be the best example of racing. That's what USAC midgets and sprint cars are all about. There's no downforce. You've got to drive the cars. When you have 100 percent downforce we have now, you get the aero push. When they had the five and five rule didn't everybody complain about the cars sliding around too much? It's a step in the right direction, but I don't see NASCAR making those steps in the near future. In my opinion, I haven't talked to them at all, and I haven't done any lobbying like Rusty has. You grow accustomed to your passenger car just like I grow accustom to the downforce of a Winston Cup car. If you go jump in somebody else's car you're not going to go around the corner on an off ramp as fast as you would with your own car. It's kind along the lines of that. That's a good analogy. That's all I drove growing up, so that's fine with me. I'll drive it if it's got wheels."

WOULD YOU LIKE INPUT ON SELECTING FUTURE TEAMMATE?: "I'd like to no doubt. Obviously you've got to have someone you can get along with and work good together. It's probably one of the toughest things in this sport. You've going to compete against somebody you're going to call your friend and is your competition. It's a tough thing to do, but I'd like to have input for sure. I don't think it's just limited to open wheel. I think obviously great drivers are all over whether it's like Alan Kulwicki that came from ASA or whatever. There's great race car drivers other than open wheel drivers. Growing up as a open wheel driver, my head is kind of in that basket, but I think the potential is out there for a lot of people. There's a lot more great race car drivers out there than there are seats to fill. It would be cool to have an opportunity to drive one (F-1 car). They are the most high performance race car there is in my opinion, but I don't think they're the greatest race car."

-dodge motorsports-

Matt Borland interview

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman