Loudon: Dodge - Newman interview

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) NOTE: In four starts at New Hampshire International Speedway, Newman has one victory, three poles (five attempts), three top fives and four top 10s. He won his first Cup race here as a rookie in 2002, and he...

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)

NOTE: In four starts at New Hampshire International Speedway, Newman has one victory, three poles (five attempts), three top fives and four top 10s. He won his first Cup race here as a rookie in 2002, and he holds the track qualifying record of 133.357 mph. Although his victory at Michigan in June has been Newman's only top-10 finish in the past seven races, a second-half surge would be nothing new for the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge. Newman won six of 13 races last season in a stretch that began at Chicago and ended at Kansas. Victories at Pocono, Michigan, Richmond and Dover were sandwiched between the Chicago and Kansas wins.

"The way we've run at times this year, it doesn't surprise me (being 10th in standings). I know we're capable of a lot more. If we just keep our noses pointed upward, not to be stuck up, but upwards toward the top of the chart then I think we'll be all right and things will take care of itself. This may be a good example of what we've got to do in the last 10 races if we're in that position."

COMMENT ON FIRE PRECAUTIONS

"I don't think NASCAR is taking the right measures and precautions to make it safe for everybody in the racecars. I think a lot of what everybody is saying is reactive instead of proactive, talking about he (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) has burns on 20 percent of his body. Well, that could be zero percent. It's the same whether it's Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Ryan Newman or whoever. I think a lot of measures can be taken to make sure drivers, make it mandatory they wear the best fire retardant clothing and underwear, no matter if it's 95 degrees in Martinsville or 35 degrees in Atlanta. I wouldn't be against it if it was mandatory to wear it (head sock), but it's not even mandatory to wear gloves right now. I think we're a couple of steps away from that situation."

ARE OPEN WHEEL RACERS MORE USED TO FIRE PROTECTIVE WARE?

"Ethanol in the open wheel cars is a much more volatile fuel, a fuel you can't see burning in the daylight, so I always wore head socks, the best of everything and multiple layers of it. As I've grown older I lost the head sock from pure laziness in the stock cars. I don't know a single driver who wears it, other than maybe Scott Pruett when he comes over here. I wear the best underwear. It's not even Nomex. It's got a percentage of Nomex, but it's called Carbonex Underex, socks and everything. I feel like I do the best I possibly can with what I know is available. I've had this for about a year now. This stuff you can take a torch to it and hold your hand behind it for two minutes and after two minutes it'll blow through. Nomex, it's like this T-shirt, it'll blow right through. The only difference is Nomex won't catch on fire. It just kinda melts. It's almost like plastic. This stuff has pros and cons to it, but the pros outweigh the cons. Start from the ground up. Something is better than nothing so make it mandatory to wear something, even if it's just a T-shirt. Some guys don't even wear that. A T-shirt can get wet and not catch on fire itself. The Nomex is sort of 80s and 90s technology. This stuff here from what I've seen is the best I've seen. I've shown a couple of other drivers what it is and what it's capable of. I've tried to do what I can, but I'm not going to tell everybody. From a drivers' standpoint it's our responsibility, but if NASCAR is a big family, it wouldn't be a bad thing to be told by our parents what to do (regarding) a safety issue."

COMMENT ON FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

"If you've got a car going 150 mph and it's on fire and you pull a fire extinguisher pin and the mechanism they use in the trunk goes off, the fuel is going to stay with you. It has its pros and cons, but I haven't seen anything implemented to make it safer. Smoke inhalation isn't bad. It's the halon that'll kill you. It was very little smoke (at Michigan). It was mostly flame. It's the halon that takes the oxygen out of the air and eliminates you from being able to breathe. It feels like you've just been punched in the chest, and the next thing you want to do is pass out. If you're on fire, that's the worst thing that can happen. The sad part of what I'm saying, everything that we're talking about is reactive instead of proactive. You guys don't come and talk about this stuff until something happens."

WHY DON'T YOU RACE IN OTHER SERIES?

"Part of my decision is the risk involved, but no matter what, you can still take the same precautions as a driver. Just so you guys know, you can wear a head sock and you can also wear a skirt on the outside of it. Basically it attaches to your helmet and it goes down. Most of the time if you take precautions for yourself no matter what car you're in and if you understand the seat and seatbelts and safety gear, it's not a bad deal to go race. The first fire I was ever in was at Michigan."

DO YOU HAVE TO GUARD AGAINST GETTING CAUGHT BY THE GUYS BEHIND YOU IN THE STANDINGS?

"Yeah. My feeling is we haven't had the greatest year at this point. We know we're capable of a lot more and we'll move forward. Other teams that aren't in this position usually and are in the top 10 and they might be worried about staying in the top 10. It's just your personal opinion. You bring the pressure on yourself no matter what position you're in."

COMMENT ON GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED RULE

"The fans drive this sport and we need to put on a show for them until the end. I think it's a step in the right direction, and that's about all we can ask for right now. It's a step in the right direction, and that's better than no step at all. I think it was after this race last year they came up with the Lucky Dog rule, and it's taken us a year to figure that one out. We'll see what it's going to be like."

COMMENT ON BAD LUCK AT CHICAGO

"The whole deal at Chicago, I thought I had a tire going down and didn't know and eventually found out it was. I wish I had come in. We were in the process of coming in when it happened, but you've just got to take that and go on. We have plenty of potential with this team, and we'll just use the potential we have and go forward. I thought I had a right rear tire going down and it ended up being the left rear tire. It was just a goofy feeling, especially at a track like that where you never get an opportunity to feel what's going on."

COMMENT ON BRICKYARD 400 AND INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

"It is what it is. It's a great racing facility. Management there isn't quite as nice as it probably was back in the 20s and 30s, but we definitely enjoy going to that racetrack. To me it's probably the biggest race of the year from a drivers' standpoint and the competition. It's bigger than Daytona. Daytona is more dependent on the vehicle and Indianapolis is more dependent on the driver."

COMMENT ON TEST AT NHIS

"We didn't do any qualifying runs in the test. We were only up here one day. I think we'll have a really good car in race trim."

IS IT POSSIBLE TO MATCH LAST SEASON'S SECOND-HALF SUCCESS?

"I think we have the potential. We haven't had the overall performances we have in the past. It seemed like last year whenever we finished it was a win or a top five. This year we've had some finishes 10th, 11th, 12th, stuff like that. I think the potential is definitely there, but I don't think it's going to be quite as easy as it was last year. I don't believe in them (streaks), but I believe there's a lot of truth to it. That might be contradicting, but I think it's more of a mental thing than a physical thing. Obviously you've got to have cars that are performing. Good breeds good and bad breeds bad. When you're doing good you tend to do better. That's the quote of the day right there. Like I said, we have potential. Potential is the key word. If you don't have potential you have nothing."

-dodge-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Ryan Newman