NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Ryan Newman January 13, 2009 An Interview With: RYAN NEWMAN HERB BRANHAM: Thanks to all the media joining us today on today's NASCAR video teleconference. Very special teleconference, very special ...
NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Ryan Newman January 13, 2009
An Interview With:
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks to all the media joining us today on today's NASCAR video teleconference. Very special teleconference, very special guest, defending Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman, driver this year of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, new team, Stewart Haas Racing.
Ryan, coming into Daytona, what's it feel like to be able to roll into the Speedway and be called the defending Daytona 500 winner?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I wish the year hadn't passed already almost because it was pretty cool. I'm ready to defend it but I'm not sure I want to give up the title because I've got a 1 in 43 chance of doing that. It was a great win last year, for myself, for Penske Racing. All the things that happened to us that night, just a dream come true, and I really look forward to coming back and defending my title with a different team, with the Stewart Haas team and U.S. Army Chevrolet and Tony Stewart, just trying to put on another show for the fans.
HERB BRANHAM: We'll go to the media for questions now for defending Daytona 500 champion, Ryan Newman.
#%Q: Can you tell me, I'm doing a feature on Live Oak Plantation, and it seems to be like somewhat of a racer's haven, and Jim Gresham said that he really enjoyed his fishing trip with you and you were super competitive. Just tell me a little bit about what you liked about the experience out there.
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, it's a great plantation, a great place to enjoy the outdoors. A couple great fishing holes he's got down there, which obviously I enjoy fishing, and some quail hunting and pheasant hunting, as well. For any outdoorsman or outdoorswoman to be able to go down there and spend some time, it's a great place. Jim is a great guy, and he was right, he were very competitive. If it wasn't the biggest fish, it was the most fish, and we definitely enjoyed our time fishing together.
#%Q: I guess I'm going to ask you what changes you've noticed or that you know are coming up at Stewart Haas Racing, how much you've been to the shop, and if anything is real different over there and what you've found as you've gotten started.
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I have kind of spent some time vacationing, which I don't typically do, just because it is vacation time. Krissie and I went to Idaho to do some snowmobiling through New Year's and came back, and I went on a little man trip, went hunting up in Illinois, and got back and doing a little bit of work this week.
But just in general, Tony Gibson, Tony Stewart, Darian Grubb, all those guys, Bobby Hutchins, are working on putting the family tree together. They've done a great job in my opinion so far. We're really looking forward to testing. Tomorrow we're going down to test in New Smyrna, Florida, with the 39 and the 14. Just look forward to getting some of the first experiences underneath our belt.
Obviously with the testing schedule this year it's a little bit different, so just want to make sure we've got everything shined up for the Daytona 500.
#%Q: I'm putting together a story on this Hot Rods and Reels tournament up in Daytona on the 15th, and I had a chance to speak with Darrell Gwynn yesterday about it and I got a little bit of information from him. He actually mentioned that you and Tony are the two best fishermen he has out there. I've since had a chance to speak with Martin Truex. He strongly disagrees. Just wanted to get your thoughts on that tournament. I know you do an awful lot of work with your foundation and you're involved with a lot of outdoor related projects. Just wanted to get your thoughts on the Hot Rods and Reels tournament and why it's so special and why it's something you participate in each year.
RYAN NEWMAN: Two things: I'll have to agree with Martin Truex there. He did win our celebrity portion of the Ryan Newman Foundation fishing tournament, so he's got that feather in his cap. Tony wasn't there to try to beat him actually, Tony was there and he did beat us both. The bottom line is Martin is one up on us right now. Darrell Gwynn's Hot Rods and Reels thing, it's a win win for me. I really enjoy fishing, but I also like helping out and making a difference. What Darrell and the foundation does for the paralyzed people and in specific some of the paralyzed kids that get to put a smile on their face for the first time in a long time, that's really neat. Usually every event he has a wheelchair giveaway, or a wheelchair is given away to somebody that's deserving of it. I believe this year the Outdoor Channel is helping out to add a little promotion for the event.
From a foundation standpoint and a charity standpoint, Darrell does a great job, and I really like being part of it.
#%Q: In the 2008 Daytona 500 you passed Tony Stewart in the last half lap or so to win the race. Pretend it's the 2009 Daytona 500 and it's you and Tony again. What do you do now that he's your boss?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, if we had to do the same thing last year and replay it, I would anticipate Tony pulling up in front of my line and I would push Tony ahead, knowing that I would be his teammate. Either way, Tony knows I'm a racer and I know he's a racer, and we'll race until the end, but we'll not sacrifice each other's performance to do that. That's the most important thing.
#%Q: Starting off with a new team, and now that you've been there a little bit, what are your realistic expectations for the year? What do you think the team can do?
RYAN NEWMAN: I am confident coming out of the box that we'll be a contender at the Daytona 500. I feel that there's going to be some things that we'll have to learn, but I think as a group, with our team, with the U.S. Army Chevrolet, that the people that we have with Tony Gibson and his group that came over from BEI and all the other people that were there from Haas racing that we'll be competitive. I feel with the Hendrick components, myself and Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson, that there's no reason that we're not.
Secondly, goal wise our goal is for both cars to make it into the chase. Once we're in the Chase, we'll determine how much of a contender we are for the championship.
#%Q: I'm just wondering if now that you've had a chance to kind of interact with Tony in his new role as owner if you've got any good Tony stories? Has he surprised you with anything, or has it been about what you expected?
RYAN NEWMAN: No, I'd say the one thing that stands out in my mind when you asked me that was Tony has kind of welcomed me into his family. And when I say family, I don't mean Stewart Haas Racing. He invited my wife Krissie and I up to his place. They did the charity hunt with Johnny Morris from Bass Pro Shops and Bill Jordan from Realtree Outdoors and gave a little girl who is ill an opportunity to shoot a deer, and she did, and it put a smile on her face. Just a situation like that, to do something good with my owner and other people is something I didn't really expect, and I'm happy to be a part of it.
#%Q: You mentioned that you're going to be testing at New Smyrna Speedway this week. How much testing have you guys been able to do in the wintertime?
RYAN NEWMAN: We tested once at the big Rockingham track, and just a one day test, just to kind of get to meet and know each other on the radio as well as person to person, and this will be, I think, our last test before the season starts. I don't think that there's a necessary need in testing to the point that we're going out there to make cars faster. I believe that as an organization and as a team we can make the cars fast in the shop, be prepared to come off the truck and without testing be competitive.
#%Q: Tony is a Daytona boy, so I've got a particular interest in him. How is the communication between you guys? I know you guys are just starting, but have you gelled yet? Do you speak the same language?
RYAN NEWMAN: Honestly that's what we're going to work on tomorrow when we go to New Smyrna. He's going to be there and we'll have the 14 and 39 cars there. For me it's important to understand what his balance feels like, and vice versa; for Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson to work together; to understand when Tony says the car is loose that it's drivable or undrivable for me and vice versa. Those are the things that we'll work on from a communication standpoint and from a teamwork standpoint within the drivers and the crew chiefs and the teams tomorrow to be prepared not just for Daytona but for California.
#%Q: And if I can get one more in, there's no Preseason Thunder testing. Does that really make a difference at this point, you know, with how these cars have progressed over the years?
RYAN NEWMAN: I'd say if we were in this situation last year, then it would be a bigger situation knowing that we are taking a brand new car to a big track for the first time. But I'm very confident in my crew and my team, and I think Tony is in his, as well. I don't think it is at all necessary for us to go down there and test Daytona. Would it be an advantage for us as a team? Yeah, it is for every team, and that's why it's not necessary.
#%Q: How much time have you been able to spend with Tony Gibson so far? Do you guys trade notes on some of the things you learned at Penske versus what he's learned at DEI and combine those and I guess get the whole relationship between the two of you guys?
RYAN NEWMAN: I got to know Tony a little bit more towards the end of the season and his wife Beth and really think a lot of him. He's very much like Tony and I and enjoys the outdoors, fishing and hunting, and that's nice so you can connect outside of the racetrack. But his experience, his personality, his understanding of the way Hendrick Motorsports works and respect for the things that we do at Stewart Haas Racing in conjunction with Hendrick Motorsports, I really look forward to working with him and the team and trying to succeed and accomplish our goals.
#%Q: How have things been with the Army sponsorship? Have you gotten to do anything with the Army yet or do you have anything planned in the near future?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, yesterday I went to Fort Bragg with some of the members of the team. That was really a treat. It was a lot of fun, shot some guns, did some simulation things. They fired a few bombs off, shotguns inside of a 20 by 20 room with rubber walls, and I was in on part of that. The coolest thing I'd say was to be in their vertical wind tunnel, which was the simulation for basically skydiving, and to be able to do that in about six minutes, to be able to do it on my own, that was pretty neat.
To be the driver for the U.S. Army Chevrolet is an honor for me, and to see some of their technology and safety and some of the things that they do to prepare their team and their organization just as we do was pretty neat.
#%Q: I wanted to ask you something about something from last week. David Stremme was on a conference call and I had asked him one thing about what are some of the things that need to improve at Penske for that organization to be in the elite, among the top four, and he talked about a lot of different things. One of the things he said was, "You had Ryan Newman who was here start off the season very well, and then he knew he was leaving. It was kind of he had done a very good job, but he knew he was on his way out and he was going to do some other things."
I asked him just to clarify if he thought you were quitting on the team, and he said, "No, I don't think Ryan gave up at all." But he says, "Just as a driver and as a team, you see toward the end of the year there's a lot of things happening." He goes on to say, "If you're going to another organization, it's in your mind that, hey, I'm leaving, I'm going to a better place they feel."
I want to ask you a couple things in regard to that; one, if you had any comment in relation to that; and two, what might you say to people who might think lack of success at the end of last year for your team would be related to you looking ahead?
RYAN NEWMAN: David's comment, to me it's kind of vague. You could read it several different ways. But I think he was just talking to the effect of I was moving on. And when you're moving on, it's hard to not necessarily be as dedicated, but for the organization and everything to click the way it was, and at the point that I decided to move on, it wasn't very successful.
The bottom line was I moved on, and I'm happy being where I am with the U.S. Army and Stewart Haas Racing. As far as the situation goes, I felt grateful to have Tony Stewart who was my future teammate to be going through the same situation and talking to him, him separating himself from Joe Gibbs Racing and the Home Depot and all the things that he did, where I was separating from Alltel and all the great successes that we had. It was difficult to separate those things. I guess it's kind of like working two jobs at the same time. Eventually you run out of sleep.
But for me it was just a difficult time to move on. My dedication to driving the race car never changed. I drove every lap as hard as I possibly could, and we just didn't have the successes, even though I was moving on at the end of the year, that I even would have hoped. My goal was still to win five of the last five races. That never changed. It's just, it didn't happen, and it's easy to look at things like that.
Continued in part 2