RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed how he would approach the last 10 races, how he has changed since this season, going green and more. TALK ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS...
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed how he would approach the last 10 races, how he has changed since this season, going green and more.
TALK ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS THIS SEASON. "Obviously we all hope to succeed and I felt that we had the tools and the people to be able to do that. Everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing has done a very good job and obviously with the support of Hendrick Motorsports has been a little feather in our cap as well. I'm just happy to be in the position that I'm in. There's been a lot of good things as far as making the team better. We've been having better pit stops and progressed throughout the season so it's nice to see that progression and it's nice to be a part of it. I look forward to continuing it."
LOOKING AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE, HOW WOULD YOU APPROACH THE LAST 10 RACES? "I just want to get there honestly first. We're in a good position now but we still have a lot of racing to go before we get to Loudon. Those last 10 races you can use Jimmie Johnson as an example but obviously everybody else is doing the same thing. The thing is just to lead by your own example and get the job done in your own ways. If that makes you successful and that makes you a champion then so be it. I don't think you can necessarily go out and try to do everything Jimmie Johnson does or try to do what Jeff Gordon at Sonoma or try to do what Tony Stewart does at Texas. There's no pattern like that it's just a matter of being your own dictator and putting in your own performance and hopefully that's good enough to be a champion."
DO YOU THINK YOU'VE CHANGED WITH THIS MOVE? "Well I'm having a lot more fun so that's the one thing that changes me because I can carry my smile a little further throughout the day. It's been a blast to be a teammate to Tony Stewart with all the things that we've accomplished on and off the race track. In general I'm just happy to be where I am and that makes me a happier person and that I guess you can say changes you. I don't think that I use a different toothpaste now than I used to, other than that I'm pretty much the same."
ARE YOU CLOSER TO TONY STEWART THAN YOU WERE IN THE PAST? "Oh, yeah by a long shot. Tony and I have always had a lot of things in common and that made us great competitors. Having that shared bond with a teammate it lessens some of the competition but it in the end we're still competing against each other on Sunday's. I think as you age depending on your maturity you become more mature and I think that I've matured over the last six to eight years. Part of that is being around the people that you are around and I've had fun to this point this season. That's clearly the different sense of maturity I guess. I don't know. You are always a product of your own environment so if you think I'm better then it's a good environment."
DURING THE TIME IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS AT PENSKE WHEN THINGS HAVEN'T BEEN GOING WELL, DID YOU LOOSE ANY CONFIDENCE IN YOUR OWN ABILITY? "You lose confidence but that doesn't necessarily make you question your ability. There's two separate things there. Yes you have confidence in yourself and you have confidence in the people around you but that doesn't mean you question your ability as far as the physical sense of being able to drive the car and hold it on that edge and being able to drive it in deep or get to the gas sooner. So from a confidence standpoint I lost confidence in the ability to drive the car fast because the car wasn't fast enough. I could drive the car on the edge but that edge was 3/10 slower than what I needed to be and that was the difference in first and 15th. It's easy to lose that level of excitement that goes along with that level of confidence when you're not running well."
WHEN TONY MADE HIS ANNOUNCEMENT CHEVROLET WAS A BIG PART OF THAT, THEY ANNOUNCED THEY ARE GOING TO BE CUTTING BACK THEIR NATIONWIDE AND TRUCK SERIES PROGRAMS, DOES THAT WORRY YOU KNOWING YOUR TEAM GETS SUPPORT FROM THEM? "I don't know the entire financial situation on any of the bit three. My first comment in respect to all of this back when Chrysler announced something, I don't think it was bankruptcy but they announced something and the bottom line was we're here to support all the manufacturers because Chevrolet doesn't just win a race against Ford they win a race against Chrysler and Toyota and everybody else. The bottom line is we're here to support all of them and whatever we can do as drivers, team owners, sponsors to help the economy, to help the situation, to help GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota is what we need to do. I don't know financially their situation as far as what they're going to pull from and how much they're going to pull and how long this is going to last and all that stuff. That's a question for the Chevrolet people but the bottom line is as media, as drivers, as everybody else we need to help out their situation."
COULD YOU EXPLAIN THE PROCESS OF GETTING TO KNOW YOUR CREW CHIEF TO THIS POINT AND HOW MUCH OF A PART TONY (STEWART) HAS PLAYED IN THE TEAM'S SUCCESS UP TO THIS POINT? "If you want to get to know him just ask him if he wants to throw a crank bait or a rattle trap. Start talking fishing or hunting or anything like that. That's how I kind of initiated my first conversation with him we were talking about deer hunting. It was last year I think around Kansas weekend and we kind of hit it off talking about the outdoors which is as I said with respect to Tony Stewart or Tony Gibson, it's nice to have a sense of connection outside of talking about a right-front spring or a left-rear shock. He's got a lot of things in common with me which makes it more fun. We spent some time fishing up in Pocono last weekend. That progression of talking about hunting to hey what are you doing next year to lets to this to now we need to have some fun and fortunately we've been having some fun."
WHEN YOU'RE RUNNING WELL AND FINISH IN THE TOP-10 EVERY WEEK, IS IT MORE DIFFICULT TO TRY AND MAKE CHANGES TO IMPROVE OR IS IT EASIER BECAUSE YOU KNOW IF THOSE CHANGES DON'T WORK YOU HAVE A BASELINE THAT YOU CAN FALL BACK ON THAT SHOULD BE PRETTY DECENT? "In respect to the car the biggest thing is you've got a good library. That is what made you good in the first place. Now making yourself great is what you strive for that next little bit. It's just a matter from a crew chief's standpoint and a driver's standpoint of fine tuning it a little bit. Just making things just that little bit better in respect to how you drive the car and respect to the adjustments that you make. Keeping yourself in that box instead of trying to step out of it and when we say we struggle we need to try to get out of the box and try something different. When you're not struggling you stay in that box and you fine tune those things and that's what makes you even better. Just refining your adjustments and you're tuning and your communication is what takes good to great."
DO YOU THINK THE CAR NEEDS BIG CHANGES AND IF SO WHAT KIND OF THINGS WOULD YOU CHANGE? "I wouldn't say it needs big changes. Everybody has their opinion on what needs to change and whether it's more front travel, making it a little smaller body so it doesn't blow such a big hole in the air to make the racing a little bit better as far as drafting and things like that. The bottom line I still think it's putting on a pretty good show. I mean racing has been more about track position the last six or seven years than it ever had been and part of that is due to strategy and crew chiefs taking their game to the next level. The car I think is just a secondary by-product of that in respect to the criticism that it gets. Yeah, there's things I could think about to make the race car better and Tony Gibson or Tony Stewart or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. could tell you something that's totally different and it might be better or it might be worse but its NASCAR's job to collect that information and create an answer in which to react upon it if they need to."
YOU'RE ONE OF THE WITTIEST GUYS IN THE GARAGE AREA, ARE YOU READY TO GET WITTY AGAIN AND TAKE ON THE HEAD GAMES? "Whenever you guys are ready. Start setting me up and I'll play the game."
BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T HAD ANY GOOD HEAD GAMES IN THE LAST TWO OR THREE CHAMPIONSHIPS. "Let's put a game plan together. I'm good. I can't do it without you. You've got to ask the right questions."
YOU WERE PART OF PLANTING A SUGAR MAPLE TODAY AS PART OF THE GREEN INITIATIVE THING, I THINK SOME PEOPLE MIGHT BE SKEPTICAL ABOUT NASCAR BEING INVOLVED IN GREEN INITIATIVES, WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A PART OF THAT? "There's nothing to be skeptical about. It's something that we need to do. Johnny Appleseed came by a long time ago and dropped a bunch of seeds off and we need to follow his pattern. I thought about it on the way out there, it's so cool to me. I get somewhat dejected because we're all out there taking pictures of it instead of actually grabbing a shovel and planting the other 99.
"I was fine with it. I was disappointed that the root ball was already in the ground and all we had to do was cover it up. I was ready to dig the hole. The going green thing and all that stuff we have as humans fallen behind on what God created in which the trees help produce themselves. We're knocking them down faster than what the trees actually reproduce and grow themselves. So doing these things is ideal and Michigan is a great area for it. Let me rephrase that, Michigan is a great area for it because it already leads by example. There's other race tracks in other areas that we need to go to that need to have that example. Michigan I think is way ahead of the curve. This place is beautiful around here. The green grass, the trees, the water flowing through the creeks, it's all right here. Everything is kind of already done and we're just trying to lead by example with the go green initiatives. Roger Curtis and everybody here at Michigan International Speedway has done a great job in my eyes about leading that go-green drive. In all honesty I feel he was ahead of NASCAR in respect to that. NASCAR has I won't say jumped on the bandwagon but has followed some of their example here at Michigan International Speedway.
"There's several different ways of going green. We can talk about recycle and we can talk about drilling holes in tires and we can talk about planting trees and what we do with the water and things like that. Everybody has to help out. It's not just NASCAR. It's the fans and it's the people. It's you guys. Everybody has to help out in respect to this to make a difference. We have our racing for wildlife initiative with our foundation and this is just a part of it. We are wildlife. We're right there with the deer and everything else. We help manage them and we just happen to be the top of the food chain per say. What we do makes a big difference and a big impact on the rest of the world and generations to come."
-credit: gm racing