RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION IMPALA SS met with media and discussed double file restarts, racing at IMS, his relationship with owner and teammate, Tony Stewart, last year's tire issues, and more. COMPARING THIS YEAR TO LAST YEAR AT INDY...
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION IMPALA SS met with media and discussed double file restarts, racing at IMS, his relationship with owner and teammate, Tony Stewart, last year's tire issues, and more.
COMPARING THIS YEAR TO LAST YEAR AT INDY "Typically, I've had pretty good cars here. I was just looking at the notes last night. I think we qualified third and we had a good car, we just blew a tire on our first run there and got behind the entire race. I really enjoy the race track here at Indy. It's a lot of fun. It's a great place to be out front with the clean air because it's flat. But just the history and the prestige of this speedway is what everybody really enjoys."
"I don't think they'll be as bad as they have in the past. There, for a while there, when we came here before the new car, we used to have the rumble strips. And now the rumble strips are gone because of the splitters. That opens up another two or three feet on the inside, which opens up another two or three feet on the outside, which I think will give us the opportunity for two lanes. The best lane is the low lane. But when you get a car that's a little loose on the inside of you, you can control him a little bit more as long as he can control his car. So, it'll be interesting for sure."
DO YOU NOTICE THE FANS WHEN YOU ARE GOING AROUND THIS TRACK? "It's really different going down the back straightaway versus the front straightaway and the wall of people is different in (Turn) 1 than it is in (Turn) 3. And it really changes on Sunday compared to Saturday. And you kind of have to adapt if you're looking at those things. If you don't look at those things, then it doesn't change anything. Whatever you use as your reference points is what you have to keep considerate of in reference to how you drive the car.
DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FANS STANDING CLOSE AND WATCHING? "You don't think about it, no. It's nice that the fans can be relatively safe and that close here, compared to other race tracks; where they're not at all. It's a different place to watch a race because of that; because of the grandstands on the inside, the guys on the front stretch on the outside really don't have much of a view. That's different from a lot of other race tracks we go to. It's a place where you want to see a lot of excitement, so everybody can see a lot of excitement because so much of the race track is blind to the fans."
ON THE INDY ROADSTERS I have always enjoyed watching the Indy roadsters and some of the clips and pictures I've seen, are some of the best racing. But the cars themselves are absolutely beautiful. They are the most beautiful race car I think, ever built. Seeing some of those cars in the museum, the history of the sport, and guys like Parnelli Jones, AJ Fort and all the great drivers that drove those roadsters. To me, that was when Indianapolis was in its prime.
HOW WOULD THESE CARS (CURRENT) HAVE HANDLED IF THE TRACK WAS ALL BRICKS? "Well some of the race tracks feel like bricks at times (laughs), but it would be interesting. I'd hate to hit a brick with a splitter and figure out where it ended up. But I'm pretty sure it would destroy it; both the splitter and that brick."
RACING ASIDE, WHAT IS IT LIKE TO KNOW YOU ARE IN INDIANA AGAIN? "Oh, it's neat. I have a lot of friends in the area. We ran IRP last night and was a lot of fun. I got to see a lot of faces that we only get to see once a year. Those are the faces that I used to see all the time, so it's nice to come back and reacquaint and I enjoy the area and just simple things like going down to the Mug & Bun and getting a root beer; stuff like that that you don't to do at Pocono or different race tracks across the United States.
"I think I know my way around Indianapolis better than I know my way around Charlotte.
THIS TRACK WAS BUILT FOR INDY CARS. IS THE RACING GOOD FOR STOCK CARS? "I think it's good. I don't think that it's the best track that we race at for excitement and passing and things like that. In general, I think it's good. It's a track position race track. It's the fastest and flattest race track that we go to. That combination makes for more difficult racing and track position, therefore, it more important."
DOES NASCAR NEED TO BE HERE? "Yeah, I think this is a great place for NASCAR. The history of auto racing is 100 years old in a round-about way today or this year, and I think it's a good race track and a very appreciative fan base that enjoys NASCAR racing here in Indianapolis."
COMPARING THE INDY TRACK TO THE POCONO TRACK "Pocono's Turn 2 is very similar to all four corners here. But all four corners here are asimilar when you're here. So you have to adjust and keep working the car at Pocono so that it gets all three corners the best of your ability and hopefully you have a fast car at the end of that. So there are similarities, but not very many."
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WATKINS GLEN AND SONOMA "Oh, I think the racing is better at Watkins Glen. They both have potential for fuel mileage races and Sonoma, I think, has fewer passing zones. I think there are one or two more passing zones at Watkins Glen, which make for better racing. I enjoy the course better at Watkins Glen, but they're both good road course races in my opinion."
HOW HARD OR AWKWARD CAN IT BE BETWEEN AN OWNER/DRIVER, LIKE KEVIN HARVICK, WHEN ONE MAY BE LOOKING TO LEAVE? "Knowing Kevin, he's had a very unlucky year. I know what that feels like at times. I've felt that way at times this year. But it's tough to deal with. He's a proven champion in the Nationwide Series. He's a proven Daytona 500 and All-Star race winner and that makes it that much tougher when you have to go through things like that. But it's part of racing. You have to swallow your pride and have a little humility. If you want to keep fighting that battle, keeping fighting that battle; otherwise, go to a different battleground."
IF ONE DIDN'T LEAVE, COULD THAT DAMAGE THE RELATIONSHIP FOREVER? "Oh, I don't think so. It all depends on the relationship that those two people had in the first place. It's no different than getting in a fight with your wife (laughs). You can have a good relationship after that."
GIVEN THE MAYFIELD / DRUG SITUATION, DOES THAT GIVE YOU ANY DOUBT ABOUT ADOPTING THE RANDOM DRUG TESTING POLICY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, OR SHAKEN YOU CONFIDENCE THAT WHEN YOU'RE TESTED, YOU WILL GET AN ACCURATE RESULT? "No. The drug testing policy I think is a great thing. Aside from all the turmoil and situations that Jeremy is in, whatever you want to describe it as, it's still a good thing for the safety of the sport; and that includes the drivers as well as the fans. Outside of that, it's had its hiccups, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's NASCAR's fault."
ON LAST YEAR'S TIRE ISSUES "I don't think it will be any different from some of the other race tracks, where we do have one competition caution to assess the situation, which I still don't feel is the right way of doing things. I don't think you should have to consider that. But I don't think that there is going to be the tire problems at all that we had last year. There are still potentials for tire failures and part of that is going to be the set-up of the car more so than the tire itself this year. Going back to the first time I was here in 2000, this track has always been one of the roughest tracks for tires just because of what we try to put the tire through on the flat race track to make it cut."
WILL YOU KNOW BY THE END OF THE DAY WHAT THESE TIRES WILL DO DURING THE RACE? "I'd have to go back to testing for us because we're going to be in qualifying trim today, so I'm not going to be able to tell you if it's going to make a 30-lap run with no problems. But I think in general it's going to be a good tire. I think it's a good tire in two respects. It's going to be safe because it doesn't blow out and give us the problems we had last year. And secondly, it's a nice feeling tire, grip-wise, I think will allow for better racing when the drivers can control the cars a little bit better."
ARE ANY OF TONY STEWART'S BUSINESS VENTURES A PET TO HIM OR A FAVORITE? "No part of it's a pet to him. No, I don't think he has a favorite. I think that he enjoys all of them in a different way. It's kind of like me and my old cars. People ask me what's my favorite old car and I don't have one. I like them all for different reasons. And the bottom line is that I think he likes all his different things for different reasons. He enjoys the track ownership. He enjoys promoting. He enjoys his Open Wheel cars, and World of Outlaws, with the wing and without the wing, he enjoys it all. And it gives him opportunities for different flavors on a given night to go enjoy the things he does enjoy."
THERE ARE PROBABLY HUNDREDS & HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WHO MAKE A LIVING BECAUSE OF HIM AND HIS BUSINESSES. DO YOU THINK HE ENJOYS THAT OR UNDERSTANDS THE MAGNITUDE OF THAT? "I think he does, yeah. He's a pretty sharp businessman. And I've realized that after getting to know him a little bit better this year. There is no baffle there."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD RACE AT INDY? "I think it's important for the fans in this area. There are a ton of fans, whether they be open-wheel fans or fendered fans that enjoy NASCAR racing at this race track. It's our duty to put entertainment together for them."
OF THE SHORT TRACKS ON THE CIRCUIT, WHICH IS THE EASIEST ONE FOR YOU TO LOSE YOUR MIND AND LOSE YOUR EMOTIONS? "Bristol comes to mind first just because of the speed and the fact that it's like a baby superspeedway. If something happens in front of you, it may not be your fault, but you can get caught up in somebody else's wreck. So you have to be really on your toes at Bristol and that seems to be where frustrations can rise and flame-up quicker than any other race track."
WHEN YOU LEAVE BRISTOL OR MARTINSVILLE, WHO IS THE DRIVER YOU HAVE THE MOST RESPECT FOR? "Usually, 99 percent of the time it's Mark Martin. Tony (Stewart) and I have a great relationship and respect for that, but Mark is very much a gentleman when it comes to giving and taking. You have to have that to survive sometimes."
DO YOU THINK THE RACING IS GOING TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE NOW WHEN WE HIT THE SHORT TRACK SWING WITH DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS? "I think the double-file restarts are going to be a good thing for the tracks. I think they've been great across the board. It's been a learning curve in some of the places like Infineon. Loudon, to me, was a little different because it's not a place you can go three wide. At Richmond and places like that you can go three-wide for a little bit and make some ground. It's a good thing, the double file restarts, at any race track."
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO APOLOGIZED TO SOMEONE OVER AN INCIDENT AT A SHORT TRACK RACE AND THEY'VE FORGOTTEN THE INCIDENT EVEN HAPPENED? "Oh, yeah, that's happened. And I've seen guys just fluff it off and then come back and get you the next week too. In Chicago, I took the air off of (Clint) Bowyer and he came on back to the race and revved his motor up and stuff and I'm like, dude, I didn't even touch you. He goes, well you were real close. I'm like I know, but I didn't touch you. And it wasn't even a short track but you can still get those frustrations. Short tracks just exaggerate that."
HOW DOES THE RACING AT INDY IMPACT THE SCHEDULE? "Well I think from what everybody is talking about, the biggest impact for the race is going to be the weather (laughs). The schedule is different with the qualifying and practice situations, which to me, are a good thing. We're practicing more in line with our race times instead of early in the morning and then we're racing in the afternoon. And so in respect to that, it's a good thing. We never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT QUALIFYING IN THE EARLY MORNING? "Last year it was decent because it was cloudy. This year, we'll have to see what the weather is going to be like, what our draw is, and what the cloud cover is going to be like. And the clouds can make a huge difference here. It's no different than a lot of race tracks with respect to sometimes you get a good draw and sometimes you get a bad draw. Indianapolis is a place where you want to have a good draw."
HOW WILL THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS PLAY OUT HERE? "They're going to be interesting. The track is usually defined by one groove on the bottom. But there is a second groove there at times and I think the double-file restarts will make for better racing because you're going to put cars in position to run side-by-side more often, which will make for better enjoyment for the fans."
IS YOUR PRIMARY FOCUS RIGHT NOW MAKING SURE YOU STAY IN THE TOP 12? "Oh, absolutely. Our ultimate goal is to win the championship and you can only do that by being in the top 12 at the end of the first 26 races. So that being said, we just have to stay focused on that and put ourselves in a position to capitalize on those last ten."
-credit: gm racing