RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) Wins 7th pole of season, breaks tie with Jeff Gordon, sets track record. "Totally the track (track record lap of 97.043 mph). Obviously the car had to be right, but the track, just being so much smoother, ...
(No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
Wins 7th pole of season, breaks tie with Jeff Gordon, sets track record.
"Totally the track (track record lap of 97.043 mph). Obviously the car had to be right, but the track, just being so much smoother, allows the cars to grip off the corners as well as the concrete being farther down the straightaway. It used to be the hardest part of this track was the transition both getting in from the asphalt to the concrete and then as well the concrete to the asphalt on the exit getting the power down. The fresh concrete is definitely grippy on top of the fact that there's more of it.
"Track position isn't everything, but it's a good start. We said earlier, and I don't know why, but you can't benefit from the pit selection until you use the track position. We've got to start off strong and run good and the track position will be the best starting point of our weekend and then the pit selection will hopefully take over after the first pit stop. It's a good start to the entire weekend, and we'll just try to keep it up.
"The crew chiefs are looking for tire wear and the drivers are looking for good places to pass. I said before the walls are in the same location. The curbs are in the same location. The curb is a little bit different, but you're still working with the same basic layout of the racetrack. There's more grip there, so the cars are going to go faster. You're still going to have cars that are better balanced than other racecars. You'll have faster cars and slower cars. It's just a matter of how easy it is to get around somebody.
"Without a doubt, we're looking for places to make up major ground because we need that right now. Just one step at a time. The points the last five races haven't gone the way we wanted them to with the exception of Dover, but we're not out of the championship by any means. We're not in a good position, but we'll just keep our nose to the grindstone, stay focused and do our best job.
"I think it's really the same last year as it is this year (importance of teammate). Putting the first 26 races compared to the last five, teammates are somebody who are supposed to help you out, but in the end they're still a competitor. They want to win just as badly as you do or at least they should. You have to stay focused as far as what's going on around you. Hopefully your team understands as well as the entire organization understands. Who's got the better opportunity to do better or who's got the better opportunity to do worse in some instances. Basically, just have respect in all cases whether it's the last five races or the next five races or the previous 26. Points as a whole. Race to race, I don't think it makes any difference now as to how it is now versus how it was. Look at what happened in Charlotte. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our teammate was one of the ones involved in getting the whole deal started so sometimes you can avoid things and sometimes you can't.
"We used to struggle a lot here, mostly because I didn't know how to drive the place. We could get around it fast, but I didn't know how to drive it on a consistent basis. We had a real bad habit of burning up brakes, and that's usually the driver's fault. I think the new track is going to lead to a little less braking because you can carry more corner speed. I think we'll do well here. I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to win, but I think we've got a shot at doing a little bit better. I think we've finished in the top five once or twice here.
"The best way to put that is it depends where I'm at. Nobody likes racing at Daytona or Talladega unless you're out front. It's kind of the same situation here. It's not the best racing, door handle to door handle type racing we see at other racetracks, but you can race side by side and you can do some passing. It just takes a little bit more time and sometimes it's a little bit harder. Sometimes you've got to use your front bumper or your rear bumper or your door. I won't say I like it. I tolerate it because it's what we do, but I'd much rather go to a place like Charlotte or Michigan or Atlanta and get some real racing done.
"Rookie drivers should be treated just like any other driver. If it's me that's being reckless and causing accidents, then treat it that way. If it's Brendan Gaughan or Kasey Kahne or Vickers or Rusty Wallace it doesn't matter. We should all be treated equally whether we're rookies or not. Every rookie driver that's in the NEXTEL Cup Series has usually been racing longer than 10 years and has usually one or more track championship under his belt. I don't think any rookie should be treated differently because they're a rookie.
"The bottom line is, I don't want to use go for broke, but basically we've got to do the best job we can each and every lap. We weren't race any differently if we were first. We are ninth and our goal is to lead the most laps and especially the last one.
"Usually for me it's more of a banked racetrack where you can go through the corners side by side on a repetitive basis, sometimes three or four wide, not including restrictor-plate tracks in that equation, but again, like I said, places like Michigan where you can see three or four grooves in the corners, cars car run side by side, you can take a car that's in the back that's fast, just like Mark Martin did in the fall race, came from the back and came up to finish second. That's difficult to do at a place like this in one fuel run. I guess that's what I'm referring do. Obviously this is a racetrack and they've done a great job resurfacing it. I don't think it's the raciest track we have on the circuit. That's a good answer I thought.
"If we were sitting in February of '04 I would say, yeah, I expected to have more (poles). We've been through a lot this year. We've learned a lot and we've got a lot more to learn. Having seven right now is a big thing in my box of egotism as far as bragging rights. It just makes me feel good to know we've got the most, nothing against what Gordon's done. He's obviously a great racecar driver, but to have the most at this point makes me feel good."