RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 STEWART-HAAS IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed looking back on his season, looking ahead to next season, what it will take to knock the No. 48 off their throne and more. HAVE...
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 STEWART-HAAS IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway and discussed looking back on his season, looking ahead to next season, what it will take to knock the No. 48 off their throne and more.
HAVE YOU HAD TIME TO LOOK BACK AND SEE HOW THE SEASON WENT? "Yeah, we've had time but honestly we don't take time to really do that because we're so focused on this year and at the same time if you spend time thinking about things we've accomplished I guess we're not thinking about the things we can accomplish. With the U.S. Army I'm extremely proud and honored to represent them and look forward to 2010. We have had a really good year. If we'd win one race it would be a great year in my eyes but we have one more shot at that here in Homestead and I feel that we'll have a competitive race car. It's the same car we had at Texas and Kansas. Just kind of a catch 22, we look forward to this race but also look forward to the end of this season. You get to do some things and kind of regroup with the team because we didn't know what to expect going into 2009. We've got a good group of guys with Tony Gibson leading them. I think we can come out of the box really strong in Daytona in 2010."
WHEN YOU START NEXT YEAR HOW MUCH FURTHER ALONG DO YOU FEEL YOU'LL BE AS FAR AS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TONY GIBSON AND WHAT YOU GUYS KNOW ABOUT EACH OTHER AND HOW YOU WILL WORK TOGETHER? "Really it's all the guys. Tony is the leader but all the guys have a huge impact. For instance, not many people know this, but going into basically this time or I guess it was December of last year or the first of January, we went to test at New Smyrna, our only off-season test and Tony Gibson had kidney stones so he didn't even get to go to our first test together. It will be interesting to see how we can do a little bit of off-season testing to kind of sharpen our pencils up for 2010. Realistically just building on the relationships that we've got and working on the race cars. I think we have great relationships we just have to use those relationships to polish up the race cars and be ready for 2010."
YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT COMING INTO THIS YEAR, HAVE YOU HAD ANY PLEASANT SURPRISES OTHER THAN PERFORMANCE? "Honestly just the teamwork, the friendships I've created, the relationship with Tony Stewart, all of the people parts of it has been a pleasant surprise because I didn't know what to expect. I didn't take time to expect because if you expect high things then you can be disappointed very easily. So I went into it with the mindset of let's just do my job, focus and work together and see what happens. We've created a lot of good chemistry. We've got our problems just like any other race team out there, except the No. 48 (laughter). Everybody has a little problem here or there but that's part of life and that's part of working as a team. Just what we can do to be better and work together better in 2010 is what we're focused on. A good run here, not even a win but a good run here will do a lot of things for our team in the off-season."
YOU HAD AN INTERESTING INTRODUCTION TO JUAN PABLO (MONTOYA) HERE A FEW YEARS AGO, TALK ABOUT THAT AND HOW YOU'VE SEEN HIM MATURE AS A DRIVER. "Honestly that was a crazy race. I got inside of him in the middle of (turns) one and two and spun coming off of turn two and we both went back to the back. I think we were almost to the end of the lead lap at the time and we went down into turn one and he turned right across my nose to go down to the bottom line and basically dumped himself but it wasn't looked upon as that way because of the previous incident that we had. He's done a great job in my opinion of adapting to a stock car. Very few drivers have been successful at doing that. There's drivers that have done it but have not been as successful from an open-wheel standpoint. I think he's learned how to points race and he's learned how to race with a bunch of guys that he struggled with at the start of his career here. I think he's done a lot of great things. Obviously he's very popular here in South Florida. The closer you get to the equator the more popular he is I think (laughter)."
WHEN YOU WERE OVER AT PENSKE YOU REALLY NEVER HAD A TEAMMATE TO WORK WITH, YOU ARE IN AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS THRIVED WITH TEAMMATES WHETHER IT'S OVER AT HENDRICK OR THE INFORMATION THAT YOU GUYS GET AND YOU'RE ABLE TO SHARE AND BUILD UPON, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PROS AND CONS OF EACH? "I did have a good teammate in Kurt Busch. We got along really well off the race track and on the race track and we were very respectful to each other and never didn't get along. But I think now having Tony Stewart and the four Hendrick teams as information sharers we have a great backbone of teamwork and I think that definitely helps. Sometimes we catch ourselves reading too many notes instead of just working on our raced car and that's a good thing to have but you have to control and filter that information in the right directions. I'm very grateful to be in a position that we are to have that information and to have Tony Stewart as a teammate and just look forward to expanding upon that next year."
IS THERE A HUGE DIFFERENCE THOUGH? "There is a huge difference in the way the teams work together therefore in the way the driver's work together compared to my Rusty (Wallace) and Ryan day's verses what I have now for sure. I mean 180 bend. I would say polar opposite but you might read into that too much."
SO MUCH OF WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS ACCOMPLISHED FLIES IN THE FACE THAT EVERYTHING NASCAR HAS DONE FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS SUCH AS CHANGING RULES AND DESIGNS TO PROMOTE CLOSE COMPETITION, THE CHASE, THERE WOULD SEEM TO BE SO FEW OPPORTUNITIES TO DEVELOP THE KIND OF ADVANTAGE THAT JOHNSON, HENDRICK, CHEVROLET ALL HAVE DEVELOPED, HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? "Just the same way. I feel it's an evolution over time of them working together and creating every little advantage together that they possibly can. You look at Jimmie and Chad's tenure together its one of the longest to my knowledge. Not the longest but one of the longest in the sport so that makes a big difference as well.
"So as much as you can create those advantages and keep those advantages together as the evolution of the sport happens the more things you have together the stronger you will be. We've seen especially with this car as the gap is narrowed between the competition levels of the cars that's gotten tighter any kind of advantage seems to be a bigger advantage than it used to be and that's a big part of it. We were talking about this a little yesterday that as technology has become involved in the sport it has gotten much more similar in competition levels because guys can build the exact same pieces and buy the exact pieces where it used to be more hand-made. It just seems like technology has changed the sport a lot. It's not ruined it by any means but changed it a lot to the point that you have to create your advantages elsewhere. It seems to be more people related than it is part related."
NOW THAT THE CARS ARE ALIKE, WHAT NOW HAS A HUGE ADVANTAGE? "To me one of the biggest parts of a driver's speed in confidence and if you don't have confidence in the people that you are working around then it doesn't matter how fast the race car is, it's not going to go fast and it's not going to be fast and you're not going to make the right decisions. You might have the fastest race car of the day and make the dumbest mistakes. So that people part of it I think is what really drives that pure overall performance to get those four championships in a row, or three championships in a row or whatever it is."
LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR AFTER THE YEAR YOU AND YOUR TEAM HAS HAD, WHAT DO YOU KIND OF SEE? "I think it's an important year for us as an organization because we've done a lot of great things with people's lesser expectations I would say. I think next year people are going to have a lot higher expectations. It's not necessarily us of ourselves but other people of us and it's important that we deliver from our standpoint and your guy's eyes because you sit there and type articles about Stewart-Haas should have done this and should have done that then the sponsors aren't going to want to come to Stewart-Haas any more. It makes a big difference and the impressions we can create based on the performances that we've had and the expectations that people think of us if that makes any sense."
HAVE YOU BECOME MORE GIVING, WHERE BEFORE YOU WOULD SORT OF PROTECT AND SORT OF BE A LOANER AND NOW THAT YOU'VE MADE THIS FRIENDSHIP WITH TONY STEWART . . . "I've been a loaner?"
YEAH, YOU HAVE BEEN A LOANER IN THE PAST AND IT WAS KIND OF THE WAY YOU RACED, BUT IT SEEMS MAYBE YOU'VE CHANGED IN FINDING THAT FRIENDSHIP AND THAT NICHE WITH TONY STEWART AND STEWART-HAAS? "I like Tony Stewart's enemies. Yeah, I agree with what you're saying but I think each year you get to do these things, you get a little more experience and you come out of your shell just a little farther. You've got to be careful that you don't stick your head out too far because you can get it whacked off. Realistically it's still been a lot of fun this year working with him (Tony Stewart) and doing the things we've done. I have created a lot more friends and I think he's created some of my friends and that's a big part of the teamwork that we're talking about and that chemistry."
YOU SAID YOU CAME INTO THE YEAR WITH NO EXPECTATIONS, IF SOMEBODY WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU BEFORE THIS SEASON STARTED YOU'LL FINISH IN THE TOP-10 IN POINTS WOULD YOU HAVE THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD SEASON? "Absolutely, going back to the competition levels of the sport and the fact that we're a new team and part of a new organization I think that's successful. Am I disappointed if we don't win? Yeah. Am I disappointed if we don't win the championship? Yes, absolutely but is it successful in some form, yes and then you have to build on those successes and those positive notes to bring more success. I think our team has done a very good job with that and at the same time at the No. 39 team we've kind of rode off the coat tails of the No. 14 team in respect to their wins. That's been big for our organization as well. As an organization we've done even better things but for our team yes, I would say that's its successful."
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO YOU ABOUT THE CHASE, MAYBE THE EMOTIONS OR WHATEVER DO YOU THINK MAYBE SOMETIMES FANS AREN'T QUITE AWARE OF? "The Chase is the reward after getting to the Chase. I think that there's way more emotions, there's way more stress levels or sense of stress in those five races getting up to Richmond. The Chase itself to me is rewarding. It's time to sit down and relax and at the same time work hard but be grateful for what you've accomplished and at the same time use that positive attitude to build on those last 10 races. To me it more, especially in our position this year, those previous five before the Chase to get everything right. I think a lot of times teams think of that in the Chase but to me it's a time to go out and have fun and use your experiences that you've gained throughout the year to go back to the tracks a second time and put it to them."
ON SUNDAY, IN ALL LIKELIHOOD, THE NO. 48 TEAM IS GOING TO WIN THEIR FOURTH STRAIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP, FROM A PROBLEM-SOLVING STANDPOINT IF YOU WERE TO DESIGN A BLUEPRINT ON HOW TO KNOCK THEM OFF THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WHAT WOULD THE KEY COMPONENTS BE? "Dynamite (laughter) over at the No. 24, No. 48 shop. They've done a great job and as much as many people dislike the fact that he's been so dominate they deserve it. They have earned it and that's a part of the sport. I don't know what it was like in the 70's when Cale Yarborough won three in a row but I assume it was probably the same way. People were tired of Cale Yarborough winning. That's okay. That's part of the sport. If and when Jimmie gets knocked off of his throne then we'll have something else to talk about but in the time he's a deserving champion. I feel it makes me a better driver to race against him."
WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE? "It's going to take a people gathering, just like I said I feel our biggest gains in the off-season will be what we can do with our people to make them stronger because I don't feel like we're getting beat by componentry, we're getting beat by people and experience and knowledge that for them has been part of the time frame of them working together. That's hard to beat. You look at Jeff Gordon and Steve Letarte and you look at what Mark (Martin) and Alan (Gustafson) have accomplished this year in their first season together, they're going to be extremely tough next year."
-credit: gm racing