Ryan Newman - Daytona 400 Thursday Media Visit

By Team Chevy

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the blocking controversy, tandem drafting, recent success of Penske Racing in NASCAR, and more.

YOU’VE WON HERE BEFORE. TALK ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AT THE WORLD CENTER OF RACING “I’m excited to get back after the Daytona 500 itself, after leading the most laps with our U.S. Army Chevrolet; and I’m excited just the same this week to have Bass Pro Shops and the NRA on our No. 39 Stewart-Haas car. And the tandem drafting is something I look forward to, much more so than the way it used to be, racing-wise. So we’ll see if we can have some fun and put on a good show. It’ll be interesting to see what the weather lets us do here in the next couple of days. I don’t know how much track time we’re going to get. But either way, I’m sure we can put on a good show for the fans on Saturday night.”

Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Haas Automation Chevy
Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing Haas Automation Chevy

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

WERE YOU AT ALL SURPRISED WITH THE WAY TONY STEWART RETALIATED AT SONOMA THE WAY HE DID? IN THE TV INTERVIEW, HE SAID HE WOULDN’T CARE IF IT WERE RYAN NEWMAN, HE WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON ALL THAT? “I’m not a fan at all of blocking and if you don’t block on an oval, you shouldn’t block on a road course; and there are a lot of guys who get in the bad habit of blocking on a road course, especially in Turn 7 and Turn 11 there at Infineon. It’s difficult to be able to work through some of those things when somebody does block in front of you. However his whole retaliation thing worked out, that’s not for me to talk about or say. But it is frustrating. I had guys that blocked me and (I) let them know about it and I got turned around myself twice in Turn 11. So, the blocking part is not cool at all. And it’s something that we as drivers have to address and gain a little more respect out of each other so that we’re not doing that. We can have great racing and great passing there without the blocking.”

DENNY HAMLIN SAID A WHILE AGO THAT SOME OF HIS CREW GUYS OR YOUR CREW GUYS WALKED BY AND SAID HOW YA’ DOING, TEAMMATE. DOES THIS TANDEM RACING ACTUALLY MEAN THAT YOU’VE GOT 42 POTENTIAL TEAMMATES OUT THERE? DO YOU BECOME MORE FRIENDLY JUST FOR THESE FOUR SUPERSPEEDWAY RACES THAN YOU WOULD ANY OTHER TIME? “It’s kind of ironic how some of the things work out because we always talk about how much we work with our teammates and here a teammate means a lot in the essence that it may not be your true teammate, your shop mate, but it may be a teammate of another team that helps push you or work with you in Daytona as well as Talladega and both times got involved in somebody else’s crash. I texted Denny as I was getting in my airplane leaving Talladega I said let’s try it again in Talladega. And he said all right. And in saying that, you can try all you want to try to make a plan to do that and it might not work out. Our cars do work good together. Communication-wise, we’re on top of things it seems like in the car. So it’s a difficult situation and something we’ve had to work through as teams and as drivers and crew chiefs to work with me being on somebody else’s radio frequency or vice-versa. But it’s something that makes it a lot more interesting for me here, coming to the race.”

HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL YOU HAVE? “I don’t know the exact number. I’m going to say 11. It’s not the whole garage. And at the same time, you don’t have to have somebody else’s radio frequency, it just helps. If you get somebody that you’re working with, it’s like a dance partner. You don’t need to communicate. Even just like body language in dancing, you have body language in the way you’re driving the race car so you have an idea. But it does help to be able to see the next group of cars or the next two-wide group of cars or if the track is blocked in front of you when you’re getting pushed. I think it was here in the 500 that (Jeff) Gordon was pushing me and I thought he was going to drive me right into the biggest crash in my life and we ended up missing it (laughs). But he couldn’t see. Every situation is different and the extra communication can be a benefit and it can be a hindrance.”

AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON WE’RE AT THE SIX-MONTH POINT WITH 16 RACES IN THE BOOK; YOU’VE BEEN OUT TO THE WEST COAST SEVERAL TIMES, WHAT’S THE FATIGUE FACTOR FOR YOU AND YOUR RACE TEAM? “The fatigue-factor shouldn’t be there. If we’re manned correctly and the guys are doing their jobs and we’ve torn up a couple of race cars but it hasn’t been outrageously difficult for us this year. And you know it going in what to expect of the schedule and of the season and when the breaks are and when they’re not. Other guys have had to fluctuate their schedules a little bit on Mondays and sometimes on Sundays to do different things so they can have a little bit of time to themselves sometime on Thursday morning before they fly out on Thursday afternoon. So it’s kind of up to the crew chief to make sure that they’re flexible enough to get the job done and do the things that they need to do to be 100 percent when they get to the race track.”

WE’RE TRYING TO NAIL DOWN EXAMPLES OF TANDEM RACING IN RECENT YEARS AND THE 2008 DAYTONA 500 COMES TO MIND WHEN KURT (BUSCH) PUSHED YOU AROUND THAT LAST COUPLE OF LAPS “Actually it was just the back straightaway on the last lap. He pushed me the length o the straightaway from (Turn) 2 to 3. But in saying that, Kurt and I actually did work on some to tat tandem-style drafting and pushing in practice when we tested here with the brand new race cars. Actually I should say when we tested at Talladega. So we had a little bit of experience. So we had a little bit of experience before we got to the 500 in February and it all just worked out to be there at the last lap the last second; and having that experience gave us a little bit more confidence to do what we did. We had done that with other drivers, but we had never done it as teammates before that point.”

CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE FACT THAT 30 YEARS AGO, MILITARY GUYS WITH DISABILITIES WERE NO LONGER ABLE TO SERVE; BUT TODAY, THEY ARE STILL SERVING. “I know that the Army in particular has a screening process when they’re working with new soldiers. But when they have soldiers that have experience and understand the team commitment and what it is to serve, even having a prosthetic limb, they still allow them to come back and I think there is a lot of merit in that. I’ve seen it, and you’ve probably seen it yourself, going to a place like Walter Reed, those soldiers are literally excited to get back; and after they get back moving again, after they get a bionic arm or a prosthetic limb attached to them, they’re excited to get back with their team and their command and be a part of the U.S. Army and protecting our freedom. You’re right in that the mindset has changed a little bit with technology. Back in the day I’m sure there were people that got pushed to the side even though they were willing because of their physical situation, so it’s nice to see technology help and tie that mental, physical and emotional strength together for soldiers that want to go back to battle.”

YOU SPOKE EARLIER ABOUT THE BLOCKING ISSUE. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR STANDING UP FOR THAT? YOU COULD HAVE A ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE AND NOT EVERYBODY IS GOING TO AGREE. IF THERE IS AN ISSUE, HOW DO YOU CONVINCE PEOPLE? “The best example I can give you is what we dealt with here for our first experience here in Daytona when we were working with the tandem drafting and the speed difference between the cars. There was the most respect I’ve ever seen out of all drivers in a Cup race when it came to not blocking somebody with a run because you have the opportunity to get that run back. The racing was good because of that. That same respect doesn’t carry over to road courses. So that’s what I guess as a group, us drivers have to work on; and I’m sure there were plenty of phone calls and plenty of texts and plenty of confrontations whether good or bad after that race that helps us work in that direction. But every time we go to the race track it’s a new set of circumstances; different cars, different tires and different brake packages that we work with to try to make the cars better and faster and we have to develop, I guess our respect develops last of all of those things.”

COMPARING ROAD COURSES TO OVAL TRACKS HOW DO GET THROUGH THAT MINDSET TO HAVE RESPECT? “There is a fine balance. Of all the things that we work on, it’s probably the last thing and the most underdeveloped thing that we have as a group in our garage is respect when it comes to certain drivers at certain times. Yeah, there are times when I’m blocked at Dover or Charlotte or places like and it’s much less often than it is the road course. The road course is the most you’ll ever get blocked or blocking is a part of what we do as a whole. Go back to ’79 when Donnie (Allison) ran Cale (Yarborough) down. He was blocking of sorts. You saw what happened because of it.”

THAT WAS THE LAST LAP AS OPPOSED TO LAP 50 “But it’s every lap is like a last lap. You look at the way our competition is. We race every lap like it’s the last lap. There are times when it does slow down a little bit. California and Michigan; big places, Pocono, where you can only do so much, there comes a point where you have to save your race car and save your tires and save your brakes. But on restarts, especially with the double-file restart, it’s definitely added to the excitement and definitely added to us drivers having to have a little bit more demand for respect because of the hard racing that we do. We’re literally going for everything we possibly can; and if that means somebody else’s throat, that’s part of it sometimes. Going for their throat and ripping their throat out are two different things.”

ON THE VISION ISSUES THAT COME WITH THE TANDEM DRAFTING, IS THERE A WAY THEY COULD ALLEVIATE THAT? “It’s not even so much the spoiler as it is when you’re in the car and you’ve got a car in front of your and you’re in the banking and it’s almost like their roof actually blocks it because you’re looking up and out to the left. And the way our cars work and the way you draft, typically you draft off the right side of the bumper, not the left side; so that puts you right in the center line of the guy’s car in front of you, which blocks say 20 degrees left or right. And that’s just the way the physics work out with the way the cars draft. I’m not saying that there is nothing that could be done. But what would be done would probably be more work than it’s worth.”

PENSKE RACING SEEMS TO BE IN AN UPSWING. AS A FORMER PENSKE DRIVER, WHAT HAS MADE THEM SO QUICK RECENTLY? “The OC swings in the every part of the history of our sport. Hendrick, I would say, has the least swing or at least maybe the longest swing, depending on how you look at it. But Roush, Childress, Penske; they’re all typically up and down teams that I’ve seen at least in the 10 years I’ve been a part of this sport; whereas Hendrick has been the benchmark, at least obviously the last five years, but even before that, with the competitiveness and the lack of peaks and valleys in their performance. So, no; no secrets. Sometimes it’s a part of racing. It’s a part of teamwork. It’s a part of sometimes being complacent and therefore not.”

YOU TOOK A TOUR OF THE NASCAR ARCHIVES, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? “It was really neat to see some of the old trophies. I like old things in general. But to see old historical parts of racing is cool but to see it here at Daytona with all the different spectrums of racing was pretty neat as well. I think the oldest trophy in there was 1905, which I didn’t even know they were building trophies then. And some of the cool old helmets that they had; one was Wynn’s Friction Proofing, which was a sponsor of mine back in my open-wheel days. So it was pretty cool to see an old open-faced helmet. I shouldn’t even say open-faced; it was an open-eared helmet (laughs) from back in the day that carried the same sponsor. It was something I did probably 50 years later. Just things like that. And the fact that it is open for the fans to see, is good. A lot of it is France-family-owned but either way, fans can go in and see it and gain a little bit more appreciation for the history of Daytona, be it the beach or the big oval.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Bob Heath
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Team Penske
Tags chevrolet, daytona international speedway, nascar, nscs, ryan newman, sprint cup, stewart-haas