Indianapolis: Newman - Dodge interview

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Mobil 1/Alltel Dodge Charger) "It's special, but for all the people it's special (racing at Brickyard), so we've got to beat them at that specialty game. I look forward to another opportunity. We've been close to winning...

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Mobil 1/Alltel Dodge Charger)

"It's special, but for all the people it's special (racing at Brickyard), so we've got to beat them at that specialty game. I look forward to another opportunity. We've been close to winning here, and we've been close to getting on the pole. We've got an opportunity to come back and do what we do -- try to beat everybody else. We've got a brand new Charger, and we'll see how it runs here. We've had a quick test with it to shake it down, so I'm looking forward to another opportunity to spank some butt. Pocono prepared us a little bit, but we're not bringing back the same car. The track is definitely going to be fast with these conditions when it does try out. We'll see what it's like today when it dries out and then tomorrow for qualifying and especially for the race."

WOULD IT BE SPECIAL TO BEAT THE OTHER HOOSIERS? "Gordon is not a Hoosier. He's just not proud of being from San Francisco. Tony Stewart is tough here. He's probably got more laps than anybody here in IndyCar testing and IRL and stuff like that. It's a fun place to drive. Tony has done well here. We look forward to beating him, too."

SEVERAL DRIVERS HAVE BEEN ON A ROLL THIS YEAR. IS YOUR ROLL COMING? "We tried to get on that roll at Darlington, and then it got derailed really quick. We'll just keep doing our best and when the train comes by we'll try to get on it and ride it for as long as we can. I think there's definite potential. Our rally back at Pocono was huge. We had a pretty good finish at Loudon. We struggled on some pit stops and stuff there, but generally we've done well as a team, but not well enough to be in the victory lane column yet."

HOW DO YOU BACK UP QUALIFYING WELL? "After qualifying you've got no excuse to say you've got a fast car. You've just got to get it right for long-run laps. This track is kind of unique in that we get around 35-40 laps on a tank of fuel where at other tracks we might get around 125. It's unique in that you only have to corner so many times on a set of tires. It's just a place that's a lot of fun for me. We look forward to another opportunity to qualify well, and then from a racing standpoint you just do the best job you can. You can only go so fast, and the tires have been a definite question mark this year. We'll just go out and run 'em hard."

WITH THE NEW SURFACE COULD THIS BE A MULTI-GROOVE TRACK? "I doubt it. There's always going to be one fast groove. You've have to have a guy that's misbalanced pretty bad to be able to work around him or underneath him. The way the cars are with the aerodynamics and stuff, they're more sensitive than they've ever been. It's definitely going to be a sticky situation, but you can make an effort to pass people. Whether we can pull it off or not we'll have to wait and see."

HOW SPECIAL IS IT RACING BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA? "It's special for sure. I grew up close to home and I grew up racing quarter midgets in the Midwest and that consisted of South Bend, Columbus, Indianapolis and places up in Michigan. I've got a lot of fans from the open wheel days in midget racing, Silver Crown and Sprint Car racing around here. My favorite racetrack of all time, Winchester, is just down the street a little bit to the east. I enjoy it for a lot of reasons and it's special from that standpoint, but when we get to victory lane it'll be easier. For someone to want to go to college because Ryan Newman did or want to race cars because Ryan Newman does or look at you as an idol or somebody that's a competitor it really doesn't matter as long as they think good of you. That's cool for sure."

HOW WOULD YOU GRADE YOUR SEASON SO FAR? "We're about a B on the old grading scale. We're sixth in points and that's the biggest accomplishment from a points standpoint. We're in a lot better situation right now than we've been in years past, so that's good. We've been hot and cold at times and we've struggled to get to victory lane. We had one taken away at Darlington, but that's part of racing. When you're knocking on the door it's OK. When you're back there running 20th and you can't get to 15th, that's when it gets frustrating."

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO RUN BETTER AT THE BRICKYARD? "Well, we got crashed here last year. Vickers crashed us in the short chute between one and two. The year before we had a really fast car and the year before that we had a really fast car and I think we finished fourth. We've always been a really fast car running well here, but we've never got to victory lane. We finished fourth with a problem with the racecar in 2002 and for sure should have had a shot at winning that race."

DO YOU HAVE BREATHING ROOM WITH SIX RACES LEFT BEFORE THE CHASE? "There's no cushion for breathing. Even Tony and Greg and Jimmie don't have breathing room. They have a little cushion, but no breathing room. You just have to stay focused. Some of these tracks coming up are tracks we won't go to twice. It's important to get things right, but it's also a situation where you're not going to be able to apply things to Loudon and Charlotte and places where you're already ran. There's no defined cushion, at least in my eyes. You just have to keep doing the beat you can and if everything is going right the ultimate decision won't be made until Homestead."

DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT DOWN THE STRETCH? "You can never know what to expect in this business, whether it's from the points standpoint or the racing standpoint it doesn't matter. You have to just keep doing your best every second whether

it's qualifying, racing, pit stops or whatever. You just have to keep doing your best and hope your best is good enough to win."

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE RAIN TODAY, ESPECIALLY IF YOU CAN'T GET ON THE TRACK? "It is what it is. If it rains, then we don't practice. We'd definitely like a shot at qualifying here. We think we can qualify well, and that's important as far as pit selection. It's relatively difficult here because of a tight pit lane."

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE SEASON SO FAR? "I've learned anything can happen. We've had some goofy things happen to us and we've had some good things happen. The biggest thing about Pocono looking back is we rallied from 24th to fifth in the last 40 laps. That's a tough thing to do at a track like that where it's aero sensitive and hard to pass."

WOULD A COUPLE OF WINS BOOST THAT B TO AN A? "It might boost it to a B-plus, but the championship makes an A or A-plus."

COMMENT ON YOUR EXPERIENCE AT PURDUE "My experience at Purdue was a big learning process from a personal standpoint, learning about different classes and things I could apply to the future. I learned how to do two things at one time, go to school and race at the same time. Going to school was a great opportunity for me to learn time management and problem solving. That's the ultimate in daily life activities if you're in business. I learned a lot about that. I'm not perfect at it by any means. I don't know if anybody is, but going to school and going to Purdue was definitely a good thing for my career."

HOW HAS IT AFFECTED YOUR DRIVING? "I wouldn't say it's affected my driving, but I'd say my major has helped me be a better person on and off the racetrack, to help me communicate with the guys on the team and to help me understand you guys and communicate through my communication classes and things like that. The whole idea of education making you a well-rounded person, and that doesn't mean my belly is any bigger."

DID YOU LIVE ON CAMPUS? "Yes and then I went to Hilltop University Apartments. I never went to a bar. I never went to a single football game or basketball game. I was strictly racing and understanding how many classes I could skip and still get a passing grade. I was by far not the perfect student, but I did learn and that helped me for the future. I think people are looking at what I did as far as education and trying to apply that to their lifestyles. That's not necessarily perfect. Everybody has to be their own individual person whether it's going to be Purdue or being an engineer or being a veterinarian at IU. It doesn't matter. It's about getting an education and becoming smarter. I was interested in being an engineer and Purdue at the time was a top 10 school as far as engineering. It was two hours from home, so it got me out of the house, but it gave me an opportunity to go home on Friday afternoon to be able to spend time with my parents, work on the racecars and do family functions and things like that. It was a good match for a lot of reasons."

WILL THE NEW SURFACE MAKE A DIFFERENCE HERE? "When we tested here at the Goodyear tire test it was brand new. We had tar building up underneath the racecar. It was that fresh. It's probably changed a lot since we came here and tested. It was really grippy then and really fast. The month of May came after that and all the other NASCAR testing. We really don't know what the track is going to be like other than the fact it is super smooth and was super fast. If that's still the case, then that's fine."

HOW PRECIOUS IS PRACTICE TIME? "It's definitely precious. From our standpoint, we tested before everybody else and the track was a little bit different. These other guys tested later. We'll just have to see if we can play catch-up if we don't get to practice."

HOW TIRED ARE YOU OF THE INDIANA QUESTIONS? "I'm not super tired of it, but I get the opinion that everybody thinks because you're home it's supposed to be something special. It's special, but it's not as special as everybody seems to think it is. I look at it as a coincidence that I was born and raised in Indiana. The track is definitely special to me because of my appreciation of auto racing in the past whether it's thinking about the open wheeled roadsters back in the 60s or thinking about watching Earnhardt and Gordon coming around here. I was here at the first test. I was over at the Steak N Shake and heard the cars running. I came over here with my mom and came over here for the test. Those are some of the memories I have."

COMMENT ON GORDON GOING FOR HIS FIFTH BRICKYARD VICTORY "Some of that was racing luck. I don't take anything away from Jeff, but look at what Earnhardt did at Daytona. He won so many times there and only one 500. Richard Petty won seven of them. Some of that is racing luck, and I think Jeff will admit that to you. We look at it as an opportunity to go out and do the best job we can and hopefully that will put us in victory lane. If it puts us in the top five, that's still a good day for us, but we'd like to be in victory lane."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Richard Petty