RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed how his season has been, racing twice at Kansas Speedway, up-and-coming drivers out of Sprint Cars and much more.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR SEASON AND WHAT CHALLENGES KANSAS PROVIDES FOR DRIVERS. “Well the last few weeks have been a struggle for sure. Dover, the All-Star race was okay we didn’t have good track position but the Coca-Cola 600 was a struggle for us, just got caught u p in somebody else’s mess. Right place, wrong time, wrong place, right time call it what you want we just got caught up in a crash and that was unfortunate. It hurt us pretty good in the points. Look forward to Kansas, we’ve been in victory lane here before. The track has definitely aged, you can see that. I got a chance to go ride around in a Chevrolet Camaro yesterday and give some rides and see some of the aging in the last winter and the surface, a couple of little patches that they put down things like that that hopefully will give a little leg up on some guys.”
ON THE EVE OF THE 400TH TRUCK RACE, TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT ITS LIKE TO RACE IN THE TRUCK SERIES. “It’s a great series. It’s another outlet to give drivers, young talent an opportunity to make it to where they want in the Sprint Cup Series. For me, I got an opportunity I guess to go back and race in the Truck Series even thought I never ran in it. For me it was a lot of fun. Just like Ron said had great truck owners with Kevin and Delana (Harvick) to be able to do what we did, winning that first start in Atlanta.”
DO CARS THESE DAYS HAVE DISNTINCT PERSONALITIES? “Not like it used to be. It used to be you could take two cars to a test and you end up with two different setups to run the same lap speed it seemed like. I think you still have to do that just a little bit but it’s much more subtle than it was mostly because of templates and the aero side of it are much more similar than they used to be. We used to have a lot more liberty with the bodies and that’s okay. Its more similar than it’s ever been and I’m guessing it will become more similar even yet.”
ANY TIME YOU HAVE A FINISH LIKE LAST WEEK THE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS COME OUT OF THE WOODWORK, SEEMED LIKE THE DRIVERS JUST HAVE THE THAT’S RACING ATTITUDE, IS THAT IT? “It’s a catch 22. You can look at it from one perspective and say yeah they were playing favorite and on the other side it’s a dangerous situation when you have cars that are going to be continuing to run out of multiple restarts. Was there a right or wrong, I don’t think so but obviously it played out the way it did. Kevin was the right man in the right position that time.”
FOR GUYS LIKE YOU WHO ARE ON THE SPRINT CUP SERIES, WHAT’S THE APPEAL OF RUNNING IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES OR TRUCK SERIES? “If you’re a dancer and you like to dance it doesn’t matter what dance it is or where it is, if you’re a racer you like to race so whether it’s a dirt late model race, a Truck Series race, Nationwide, Cup, Sprint car or whatever that’s what we like to do. We also like to do it with good equipment and at the right time and at the right places. Some people don’t like to dance on a dirt floor, or some people would rather have hard wood. We like different things for different reasons. Everybody is a little different. You take myself or Tony Stewart and we’ll go play in the dirt any time. We may not go run the truck at a certain race track or a Nationwide car at a certain race track just because it doesn’t appeal to us as much.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS RACE TRACK AND NOW HAVING TO CUP RACES HERE? “If you look back at 2001 I was fortunate, this was one of my first races at Penske Racing, and we finished second. Everything has grown up so much around that and part of that is because of the fans, part of it is because of the market. It was our first big outlet in the Midwest and I think that it’s a deserving place to come here two times. There’s been a lot of growth around here. There’s great race fans that continue to come back and there’s some other places we haven’t seen that, so I think it was a good call for us to at least sample coming here twice. That doesn’t mean we have to come here twice next year. I don’t have to as I don’t like it, I just mean according to what they make the schedule up.”
IN REGARDS TO KYLE BUSCH AND THE SPEEDING TICKET, IS IT HARD SOMETIMES TO FLIP THE SWITCH OFF WHEN YOU’RE NOT RACING? “Not if you are a professional. That’s what we do. It’s like a hockey player, is it hard for them to not go fight someone in a grocery line. You know what I mean? If you’re a professional it’s not an issue.”
WHAT DO YOU DRIVE AT HOME? “I’ve got an old ’66 Chevy pickup truck. That’s my running around truck, then when it’s really hot and I need the air conditioning I’ve got a brand new Chevy Silverado. I’ve got a bunch of other old cars.”
IF YOU DROVE A HIGH PERFORMANCE VEHICLE WOULD IT BE HARD? “Oh, my cars run pretty good. I’m like anybody else, I speed. If you go down the interstate very rarely do you find somebody doing less than the speed limit. But it’s that level of respect and it’s that level of responsibility of where you fit in. You’re going to be there matching everybody else’s speed or a little bit over or a little bit under. When you’re three times the speed limit that is way past crossing the line. I’m not saying that because I’ve gone three times the speed limit but in the right place and the right time, when there’s no cars around or people or roads or anything else.”
I’m not really big on ownership...
WHO IS THE NEXT BIG DEAL COMING UP OUT OF SPRINT CARS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET A CHANCE; DO YOU SEE SOMEBODY OUT THERE THAT NEEDS TO GET A BREAK? “The first guy that comes to mind is Bryan Clauson; I think he’s done a really good job in the open-wheel series. He got a break to come and race some with Ganassi in the Nationwide Series and I don’t think it all panned out the way he wanted it to or the way Chip wanted it to, but I think he’s still a guy that can make one more trip back and if in the right situation make a big splash.”
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT OWNING A SPRINT CAR TEAM? “I’ve thought about it a little bit. I’m not really big on ownership, just the headache of dealing with people. If I had the right situation, if it was money that fell in my lap to run a deal like that, yeah that is something I would do but I wouldn’t go out of my way to try to spend money.”
SPEAKING OF COLE WHITT, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF A 19-YEAR-OLD PHENOM LIKE THAT? DO YOU LOOK BACK AND MAYBE KIND OF SEE YOURSELF IN THEM OR DO YOU THINK THIS KID NEEDS TO PAY HIS DUES BEFORE HE COMES UP, HOW DO YOU VIEW A KID LIKE THAT? “Well I view him as I’m a part of him and he’s a part of me, we grew up doing the same things. USAC Sprint Cars and Silver Crown Midgets, that’s the ladder that we climb. People climb different ladders. I know what he is thinking; I know what he’s feeling. I know he’s in a good situation obviously leading the points. He’s been strong, he’s not ruffling any feathers and raising any cane, he’s out there just doing his job and he’s leading the points. Without knowing him, I’m going to say he’s doing it in lesser materials than some other guys out there. I’m proud of him. I watched him grow up, or he’s still growing up, I watched him grow up in the USAC ranks with this family and that says a lot too. His family stood behind him and was part of his crew and that’s something that is similar from my career.”
THE STATUS OF USAC RIGHT NOW, THERE’S A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE KIND OF KICKING ON IT, THERE’S OTHER PEOPLE THAT ARE VERY PRO-USAC, YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT FROM WHEN YOU WERE THERE TO WHERE IT IS RIGHT NOW. “It’s not what it was. When I was there it was a big stepping stone for me to get where I am primarily with the TV shows, you know the Thursday night thunder, Wednesday night thunder and whatever night thunder it was they made it happen. It’s not like that anymore. They’ve split up the pavement racing with the dirt racing. I can’t say that’s right or wrong because that was kind of how it was back in the day as well but USAC has broadened their spectrum with the off-road truck and quarter midgets and things like that. I’m not saying that those things are bad but I don’t see them succeeding in the ways they should be succeeding with some of the series they have. Their car counts are much lower than they should be and obviously going back to the Silver Crown and what they tried to do with the Gold Crown cars, that was a big mistake in my opinion.”
-source: team chevy