Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Taurus, took part in a Raybestos Rookie of the Year press conference in the New Hampshire International Speedway infield media center prior to practice. Newman is 12th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point ...
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Taurus, took part in a Raybestos Rookie of the Year press conference in the New Hampshire International Speedway infield media center prior to practice. Newman is 12th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings.
RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus -- WHAT DID YOU LEARN THE FIRST TIME AROUND AT THESE TRACKS?
"It's kind of amazing. The things you learn the first time around are the simple things like where is the garage area, where is the restroom, which way do I go to get here or there. Stuff like that makes it simple when you come back the second time."
WHAT ABOUT THE CHANGES TO THIS TRACK?
"The Cup races, the track widens out so you get more passing grooves typically. But, overall, as far as us being rookies versus the veterans and the way we drive, I think it's pretty much the same. Where there's a hole is where we go. Sometimes we may not know any better and we stick our nose in spots we shouldn't but we still try."
ARE YOU SURPRISED AT YOUR SUCCESS?
"We're somewhat surprised as a team. We had kind of a small advantage over Jimmie just racing those seven Cup races last year and the experience we had in the Busch Series and, more so, the ARCA races that I got to run like Pocono where he hadn't been there. We got to see a couple more tracks, I think, than he did in some areas, and he got to see a couple more race tracks than I did. He's been to Watkins Glen and I haven't, but, overall, I'm surprised a little bit at the performance that we've had consistently. Last year, we struggled a lot on the short tracks and this year we've been running really good on the short tracks."
DO YOU FEEL THERE'S PRESSURE ON YOU SINCE JIMMIE HAS WON SOME RACES?
"I don't think there's any pressure. Obviously, we're all here to win races. Whether Jimmie has won them or Rusty has won them, it doesn't really matter. It matters for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year campaign, but as long as we keep doing the best we can every day every race, that's the best you can hope for as a team."
WHAT'S THE FUN PART ABOUT BEING A ROOKIE IN WINSTON CUP?
"When you strap that helmet on and you go out there, it's just you and the race car and the competition. No offense, it's not this kind of thing (interviews), it's not going to sign autographs, it's what we love to do. It's what got us to this point and that's a lot of fun."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SOFT WALLS?
"I think it's awesome what they're doing as far as the safe walls, especially at Indy. I mean, there's a lot of technology that they've developed and they're adapting it to different race cars, which is very important also. It's disappointing for me to see that Indianapolis Motor Speedway has got it and that's one race on the entire schedule that has it. The technology is there and there are more race tracks that should have it. It's important from a driver's standpoint to know that if one race track can have it, then the rest should. Nevertheless, it's an awesome deal. I don't think any Winston Cup cars have hit that wall yet, but I think once it does, you'll see the difference it made over no safe wall at all."
FIVE YEARS AGO DID YOU GUESS YOUR FIRST RACE AT INDY WOULD BE IN A CUP CAR AND NOT AN INDY CAR? "I would have wanted it to be in a Winston Cup car, no doubt. I never had the opportunity or, more or less, the want to drive an Indy car there. I've always been dedicated to stock cars and Winston Cup and knowing that's what I wanted to drive. Seeing the first race there was awesome."
WHAT ABOUT THIS TRACK WITH THE NEW CONFIGURATION?
"That's a good question for after the race. It's gonna be tough. I got the opportunity to come up here and test and it looks like it's definitely a little different, but it's a lot of the same as far as the groove. I think the transition is pretty, I guess you could call it, humble because you don't feel it a lot but it definitely does make a difference. We'll just have to see what it's like. I watched the Busch race on TV and it looked like it was pretty good. Hamilton, Jr. had a really good car and came right through the pack, but, I think overall, it's just something we'll have to see. I don't think we have any advantage or disadvantage as of right now."