Rusty Wallace, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman Part 2 of 2 Wallace: For me to win this race, I'm going to have to keep plugging and have a good handling car. We had a lot of horsepower today, that was one thing I was able to look at all day long....
Rusty Wallace, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman
Part 2 of 2
Wallace: For me to win this race, I'm going to have to keep plugging and have a good handling car. We had a lot of horsepower today, that was one thing I was able to look at all day long. I mean, the last 30 laps with Elliott, he would be right on my rear end coming off the corner, but by the time we'd get down to Turn 1, I had almost a car and a half on him, almost two car lengths. I would pull him in the straightaways. But he just had those four fresh tires versus my two, and I just couldn't hold him off. You've got to keep putting yourself in position. I've had a great record here, and I like coming here. Pays a lot of damn money here, too. That's one reason I like it. (Laughter)
Q: Rusty, you were around when Bill was winning four races in a row back in '92. Have you ever seen him as dominant on a racetrack as he was today all the time?
Wallace: Oh, yeah, we've seen him back in the '80s just really flying. He hasn't lost anything, I don't think. He's got a crew chief and a team that's really behind him. They're well oiled, they're working great, their pits stops are fast, and Evernham is doing a great job running the company. That's probably one of the number-one teams out there. Quite honestly, I was really surprised they weren't doing better last year. But they've got together this year and a lot of poles, a lot of good runs, wins, led a lot of laps. They're on it right now.
Q: Rusty, for all the success that Roger (Penske) has had up here in the Indy 500, how important it is for you to get him into victory lane for this race?
Wallace: It's real important to do that. When I was sitting here leading with 10 to go, I'm thinking, 'Maybe I'll finally bring the boss a win home, because so we've tried for so long.' Got awful close, but he was real happy for the second-place finish and the fourth-place finish that we got as a team and whole. I know that everybody saw Team Penske out there, and they're real good. But, you know, just for him, I would like to win it for him. I think it would be pretty special, as many wins as he's had in the Indy 500, to finally get a stock car win would be cool.
Green: Matt joined us right away. Any more questions for Matt Kenseth?
Q: I would like to hear your thoughts on the heat. We heard from the other two guys. Did you have any problems?
Kenseth: It was hot, but I think we all expected it to be hot. When I get hot or tired in the car, it's the night before that I don't expect it to be hot. Like Martinsville this spring, I expected it to be 60 and woke up and it was 85. Those are the days when you're kind of not ready for it. But if you're prepared for it and drink a lot of fluids and, like Rusty says, get a good night's sleep the night before and the guys do a good job venting everything in the car. For me it was a just consistent heat all day, and it kept getting a little bit hotter and hotter all day, and I never got to a point in the middle of the race where I was thinking about saying, 'Man, it's hot, I wish it would cool off.' It just got a little worse all day. I was glad it was 400 instead of 500, though. (Laughter)
Green: Matt, thanks for your time. Congratulations. We'll continue on with questions.
Q: Rusty, about every week you address the aero push. Last week Elliott got out front in Pocono and took off, he did the same thing today. He could possibly do that at Michigan. What do we do to correct that?
Wallace: The only thing you can do to correct it, you've got to get all the downforce off the back or get more downforce on the front. There's no way you're going to be able to get any more in the front. We can't physically do that unless we take the air dam and put it on the ground. And then if you do that, you've got to change all the springs and stiffen everything up, and that's still not going to work. So I think probably the quickest fix for it is to take the rear spoiler off, and then Goodyear has agreed to go back in and soften the tires up if NASCAR agrees to do that. And then I think you're going to have good racing back. Then I think you'll see a lot of tire wear, you'll see a lot more passing instead of the problem we're having right now. Right now the tires are so good, they won't wear out. They'll just keep running and running and running. When you lose that air to the front end, that front just takes off, and that's it.
Q: Rusty, Friday night, you talked a lot about golf. If today wasn't a hole in one, you've got a pretty good under-par game here. Talk about the championship because you're getting a little closer.
Wallace: A super-big setback last week at Pocono when I had that first-lap crash. But it's like everything I lost last week, I gained back this week. Talk about a teeter-totter. It's unreal. The 40 car had problems, and we needed him to have some problems to get back in the game. I haven't looked at the point standings yet, I don't know where we're at. But I know in order to win the thing, you've got to worry about it every single race. Every week you need to worry about it and need to lead a lap. I haven't been real good at that part. But you need to be consistent, that's for sure.
Q: For both of you, not age so much, but experience. Is this a kind of track that, you know, a more experienced driver -- some tracks, I guess, are different but is this a track where age and time pay off with little things along the way or experience.
Newman: I think Rusty's point earlier, if you have the desire and confidence and team behind you, it doesn't matter. You can pretty much do anything if you want to as long as you have an ego. A lot of NASCAR Winston Cup racing is a big Lance Armstrong story. If you put your mind to it, you can do pretty much what you want to.
Green: Rusty, any comment on that?
Wallace: Basically the same thing Ryan said, I guess, except that -- I think that these guys -- I can't talk for anybody else, but for Ryan, I can speak for him and say that if the driver has got the natural talent to drive -- there's some drivers that's took a long time to get good behind the seat. He's just got natural talent. He's kind of like my son, Steve, you put him in any type of car and he wins or wrecks. He's just on it. And Ryan has just got it together. You give them good equipment, you give them good, strong motors and give them a good, fast pit crew, it doesn't take a driver like him to spool up, especially with the constantly changing rules. Tracks change and rules change. Him and I have went to racetracks for the first time together, so I don't have any advantage whatsoever.
Q: Rusty, talking about Bill's driving style over the years, when he got by you over there, did it seem maybe a little more over to you even than if it had been somebody else, knowing here's a guy who historically when he's had a good car is almost flawless, just doesn't make mistakes, where maybe if somebody else you could hope for a mistake, say this guy isn't going to mess up.
Wallace: If anybody is going to pass me -- when he passed me, I got a grin on me because I remember so vivid when all the media was just blasting Earnhardt and blasting Elliott, time to retire, you guys are washed up. They have one bad year, and he's gone. When Earnhardt came back and won the 500 and won Atlanta and was kicking everybody's butt, that was making me feel good, you know. Then Bill, Bill went from like, 'This is a struggle' to all of a sudden, great, he's the guy to beat right now. When he passed me, I was like that's okay. If I get passed by anybody, I would rather it be Ryan or him. That was it.
Q: Ryan, as an Indiana boy, if you had gotten your first career victory here, would the celebration in South Bend probably have been about as big as it is for Dingus day?
Newman: There's more than Pollacks in Indiana. (Laughter) You know, it's just something that I can't really speak about. It would be really cool and be great. There's so many other things and wouldn't just be about being in Indiana or being the Brickyard 400. It's just about winning for Roger Penske and Don Miller and Rusty. All those things would be great, too. We finished fourth. I hope we don't have to wait to get our first win until next year.
Green: We've got one more question back here. Then we'll wind this thing down so we can get these guys out of here and cooled off.
Q: Can you tell me how close your two cars are? This year it seems like you guys are a lot, lot closer than you have been in the past.
Wallace: I would say today's setup was pretty doggone close. There are a lot of things that happen during the race that I don't know exactly what Ryan is doing, and everything happens so fast. After a pit stop is over, we talk to the guys, say what did you do that time or what did you do for tire pressure. I just kept having to throw everything at it to loosen it up. But the bodies are the same, the frames are the same, the engines are the same. They're owned by the same car owner. They're about as close as I can expect right now.
Newman: Pretty much the same thing. Just like Rusty said, all it takes is a pound or two pounds of air in one corner of the race car to make the cars drive different. So you have to compensate with a spring or a shock or something else or a sway bar. We do a lot of things principle-wise that are the same, whether it's making the car a certain way or how we tie the front of the car down with shocks and things like that. But like Rusty said, everything mechanically in the car typically is a hundred percent the same for both he and I. It's just, you know, I guess, specific parts when it comes to the suspension to balance the car out that gets a little bit different.
Q: Rusty, earlier in the season you were getting top 10's but weren't challenging all the time for wins. You're starting to do that more often now. What's the change? Is it just getting used to some of these setups or team improvement or something else?
Wallace: I can't really say it's any of that, it's just circumstances. We had a great run going in the Daytona 500 and got in that wreck with five laps to go. And I thought we had a shot to win that thing. We had a good run in the Firecracker 400 in Daytona, good run at Loudon, good run today. A lot of great runs going on, but just no wins. I'm really dying to win real bad. I've won 16 consecutive years right now in a row. I'd like to at least win 18 and say I tied Richard Petty's record of the longest winning streak in NASCAR history. That would be cool. That's what I am gunning for.
Q: Rusty, having run here nine times now, the track looked a little racier today than it has in years past with the stock cars. What was it like out there? Were you almost two grooves?
Wallace: No, I don't think you ever get two grooves. You'll pass a car up off of Turn 3, get underneath a guy there, get underneath a guy going into Turne 1 and going between (Turn) 2. I think the diamond cutting gave a little bit more grip to the tires. It showed that in qualifying. But I don't know, I'll tell you what, once that track started rubbering up, I don't know what Ryan's car did, but my car got major tight halfway through, halfway part of the race. I did outlandish things to try to loosen it up, and it wasn't affecting it. Finally I just had to get nuts with it. For me to take four rounds of wedge out of it at one time and put four pounds of air in right-rear tire at one time, that's kind of nuts for me, but we were doing it.
Green: Is there a final question for Rusty or Ryan?
Q: After watching what Elliott did today, would you put a vote in either way about going to Dodge at this point? Do you think Dodge has a stronger program? Will you have a say in Roger's decision at the end of the year?
Wallace: Yeah, we'll definitely have a say in the decision what happens, that's for sure. There's no news right now whatsoever. There's many offers out there, all over, because everybody knows our contract is up at the end of the year with Ford. We're in negotiations with them right now. The way it's looking right now, I plan on being there still.
Q: With Ford?
Wallace: For Ford right now the way it's looking, I plan on being with Ford right now.
Green: Rusty, Ryan, great runs. Thank you very much for joining us.
Wallace, Kenseth, Newman press conference, part I