RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) DOES YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL MATCH YOUR STRONG DOVER STATS? "I think we definitely have a lot of confidence this year. We haven't lacked in that department. I think the department we've lacked is just pure ...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
DOES YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL MATCH YOUR STRONG DOVER STATS? "I think we definitely have a lot of confidence this year. We haven't lacked in that department. I think the department we've lacked is just pure performance. We had a shot at winning the first race here (this season) to make it three in a row. We got involved in our own deal on pit road and then got involved in the big crash. We unloaded off the truck fast here again. We've always liked Dover. We've always performed well here, even back in the Busch Series. It's a good track for us. I think every track, including this one, in the next nine are going to be tracks we're capable of running in the top five if not winning at. If we can finish in the top five in the next nine races we've got the best opportunity to be the first NEXTEL Cup Champion."
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE KEYS TO YOUR SUCCESS AT DOVER? "I like banked racetracks first of all. Concrete doesn't change a lot as far as the balance or stuff. So when you get a car that's right it stays right for the day and you can usually come back the next race whether it's three months later or a year later and do the same thing all over again. Once it starts clicking it keeps clicking."
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CONCERNS YOU GOING INTO SUNDAY'S RACE? "Nothing other than the obvious. We've got a good starting spot. We should have a good pit selection as far as getting a good pit because pit road is so tight and narrow here it's difficult to get out without knocking a fender off and one of the hardest parts about this pit road coming in is that it gets so tight under caution guys will slow down 10 or 15 mph under the speed limit and then if you're eighth in line you lose so much time coming down pit road before you get to do your pit stop. If you've got just a so-so pit stop you end up coming out a second or a second and a half behind. It's really difficult in that respect. If we get a good pit selection as well as the track position we get to start with, hopefully we can keep that all day."
WHY WERE YOU OPTIMISTIC AFTER THE PROBLEMS LAST WEEK? "We found out what happened. Something broke on the engine. I was really happy because we were running so good. We legitimately had a good shot at winning that race. We've struggled this year to have a good shot to win the race, and we haven't had dominant cars like we've had in the past. I felt that the car we had, along with Kurt's was really strong, we had two dominant racecars there. I think we had a good shot at winning that race. Going into these last 10 I feel it's important to stay focused and positive. I think that's carried over, my attitude as well as the rest of the guys on the team's attitude, into Dover."
DID YOU TEST THE SHORTER SPOILER AT VEGAS? "I didn't test with the shorter spoiler. Our team was there specifically to test load sensors that Goodyear has that helps get them data as far as X, Y and Z forces of the tire. We stayed focused on helping them do that. The 16 and the 41 did the spoiler deal. We did the spoiler deal at Bristol and cut the spoiler off at a Goodyear tire test there. It definitely slowed the car down a little bit and made it a little less sticky, but it felt pretty much the same there. That's not a good track. That's probably the least sensitive track to the spoiler we test at."
DID THE TEAM NEED A PEP TALK AFTER LAST WEEK? "The guys don't need that. If they need that they can go get on Larry King Live or some kind of drama show or some soap opera. The guys are there to work. They enjoy doing what they do. We know what happened and we can make sure it doesn't happen again, so we'll just go on."
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE IN TIRE PRESSURE FROM COLD TO HOT TIRES? "I think it's right around 25 pounds the tires will change from the start of a run to the end of a run on hot tires. Basically what it does is just jacks the car up on the racetrack and makes it slide around. At the same time the hotter the tires get the less they stick usually, especially here. The balance doesn't usually change too much. It's just a matter of the grip. If you can keep your tires cooler you can usually be faster on the long runs."
IS IT DIFFERENT NOW ON THE TRACK WITH THE CHASE ON THE LINE? "Let me say it this way. You see the same problems with the same guys whether it's in the chase for the championship or before the chase for the championship or last year. Speaking in reference to Loudon, I don't think that drivers are focused on going out and taking somebody out in the last 10 because they got taken out and feel they were taken out of the chase for the championship earlier in the season. I think it's the same old situation. You'll have the same bad boys and same good boys. I don't race any differently with Mark Martin now than I did before, and I don't race any differently with Jamie McMurray than I did before. I'm just here to win and try to race as hard as I can to do that."
DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE A PENALTY WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS LIKE IT DID LAST WEEK? "Usually there is. I've never had my team give me probation. I was kind of shocked about that."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ROBBY GORDON'S TALENT AS A DRIVER? "He can drive the wheels off a racecar. He has a lot of talent as far as just pure car control and
being able to hold the car on the edge. You can run around here in 23 seconds in qualifying trim and you can run around here in 22 and a half seconds in qualifying trim. No matter, what, you can watch Robby Gordon and he knows how to hold the car on the edge, which is good, and that's what you're supposed to do, but I guess there's other parts of driving that make a driver. He has a lot of talent. I've seen him do some pretty amazing things with the racecar, be it crazy or be it pure skill. That doesn't matter I guess. It's just a matter of getting it done."
IS IT A SHAME THAT HE'S GOING TO BE REMEMBERED AS THE GUY WHO WRECKED PEOPLE? "I don't know that he'll be remembered as that, but everybody's got to have a reputation. There's always going to be a Jeffrey Dahmer. I'm not referring to Robby as that, but there's always those kinds of people in the world, whether it's in racing... That's the first name that came to my mind. Let it be known that was at 8:43 (a.m. on Saturday). My point is there's all different kinds of people and all different kinds of drivers. Robby has definitely got a lot of talent. He admitted he lost his cool, and that's the bottom line. I don't think he's going to be remembered as the guy that took out Jeremy Mayfield at Loudon in 2004. He's a great road racer. That's how I think of him."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK? "It's really hard, especially when you know somebody does something like that or when you think somebody does something like that to you on purpose, whether they do it on purpose or not. It's extremely hard to keep your emotions in check. It's no different than somebody driving down the highway and giving you the bird. You want to give it back to them. More often than not you give 'em the bird right back, but you've got to stay focused and you've got to maintain your cool because there's a lot more to lose than gain."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO GO BACK AND TALK TO THE ENGINE SHOP AFTER A RACE? "No, I don't feel like I need to. I called our lead engine guy, the president of the engine company, on Sunday night on the way to the airport just to let him know what happened and what I felt happened and my feedback. I told him I wasn't mad. I wasn't going to tear him up. I'm just letting you know what happened so you can fix it and it doesn't happen again. They were in the same position probably. I wouldn't say on suicide watch, but they were upset with what happened, whether it was their fault or someone else's fault. You've just got to go on, and I guess like I was saying earlier you don't want to have to cheer up your team. Your team should be able to cheer themselves up. If you spend more time babysitting than working, you're not getting the job done."
WILL RACERS SHOW EACH OTHER RESPECT THIS WEEKEND? "I think in the grand scheme of things, whether it's me and Jeremy or me and anybody else, we're here for the win and everything else will take care of itself. You'll have the same respect depending on what driver you're racing. We had a great race last year here. I ran him (Mayfield) hard and he ran me hard. He got me loose and I pinched him down a couple of times, but we never tried to take each other out. We just tried to play defense and offense. It was a lot of fun. Even if I hadn't won that race it would have been a lot of fun. All I can do is hope we can race clean like that again, whether it's with Jeremy or somebody else."
WITH EVERYTHING ON THE LINE, IS IT EASIER FOR A GOOD GUY TO BECOME A BAD GUY? "Yeah, the opportunity is there and it's probably more opportunity than it has been before, but I think the ultimate situation is that you don't want to be a bad guy, especially if you're gonna try to be the champion. I've voiced my opinion on the point system, and I think it's opened the door to situations like that, and I think NASCAR knows that. I still believe there might be at the most two drivers out there that drive differently because of the chase for the championship out of the 43. I think everybody else will drive and act and do everything the same. I think last weekend was just another example of that. It was no different."
IS NASCAR ENCOURAGING THAT TYPE OF RACING BY NOT PENALIZING PEOPLE? "I guess the bottom line is they need to be consistent in what they do. If what Robby did and the penalty is consistent with everything else, then that's fine. I think pretty much everybody can agree that it's not. I've had a situation happen like that before and I know I got penalized and fined and all that stuff, so I don't think they're asking for anything or going to accept a situation like that in the next nine races, but it doesn't quite make sense why there wasn't a penalty."
WHAT DO YOU MEAN NASCAR IS OPENING THE DOOR? "They're opening up the door because of the point system. They're trying to make it more competitive with the top 10 drivers in the last 10 races. In my instance, I think I was 400 and something points out in 10th, and now I'm 45 points out. It's like a dog being that much closer to the bone. If he can reach out and grab it with his teeth, he will. I think all the teams are kind of like that. If you give them just that much more opportunity, they might take a little bit extra risk to get that. I don't feel I drive that way or our team races that way or anything, but I know there's as couple of teams out there that probably will and that's why I said that
NASCAR has opened the door for more competitive, rougher type racing in these last 10 races because they gave teams an opportunity that didn't deserve that opportunity."
IF RATINGS CONTINUE TO DROP, DO YOU THINK YOU'LL BE SAYING 'I TOLD YOU SO'? "Maybe to myself, but I think the bottom line is you can't define it off of one race, just the New Hampshire race. I've never said the whole point system deal this year is a bad marketing strategy. I just said it wasn't fair to the competitors, and I got a lot of criticism for that for opening my mouth. I think in the grand scheme of things it's a good marketing strategy. From the competitors' standpoint, it's not fair to everybody and it's not equal to everybody and that's what I've complained about. The whole marketing part of it, I think it'll take care of itself. NASCAR has been growing for the last 50 years. I don't think we're at the point where we're going to see it go over the top and start going down."
COMMENT ON CHANCES OF WINNING THE NEXTEL CUP "I think we've got a good chance. I think our team has been really strong the last 10 races, specifically the last 15 races. We haven't closed the deal. We've been really strong the last two years up until about the second race to go. At Homestead we finished sixth two years ago and got crashed last year on the second lap or whatever. We've come back really strong the last 15 races of the year. We came from 21st in points at one point two years ago and 27th in points last year to come back up and finish sixth both times. If we can repeat that, we're not near as far behind as we have been in the past. We're 134-136 points behind the leader right now. There's nine races to go. We can get all those 136 points basically in one race, so and we've got nine to work with. I think our chances are good. The track we're going to are very good for our team. Talladega is going to be a crap shoot for everybody. Nobody knows if there's going to be a big crash, No. 1, and if they're going to be in it, No. 2. Places like Martinsville we used to struggle at, we finished in the top five or six the last two times there. All the other racetracks, Atlanta, we had a shot at winning in the spring. Darlington, we had a shot at winning in the spring. Kansas, we won last year. There are a lot of good tracks. Kansas we won last year. Homestead, we had a great racecar. We were faster than Bill Elliott in practice and I got crashed in the second lap of the race and he was running away with that race. I think we stand a really good chance. All we've got to do is keep our nose to the grindstone."