Newman - NASCAR teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Atlanta, this weekend you're going to possibly set a pole record with the Buddy Baker situation and tiebreak that. Where does that fit in your career? How much do you actually place emphasis on your career on poles or...

Continued from part 1

Q: Atlanta, this weekend you're going to possibly set a pole record with the Buddy Baker situation and tiebreak that. Where does that fit in your career? How much do you actually place emphasis on your career on poles or is this something you naturally do well?

RYAN NEWMAN: I think Buddy Baker is one of the 50 greatest NASCAR drivers in the history of our sport. If there was ever a record I could beat him or tie him in, that would be a big reward mentally for me.

You know, having the opportunity this week with a car that we ran in California actually, which I feel is a very good car, to go there and have the opportunity to break that record, or to stand alone in that record is pretty cool.

If I live out the rest of my career tied with Buddy Baker, I'm still fine with that. But obviously I'd like to beat it, too.

Q: I think fans' expectations of the spoiler coming are pretty darn high. Do you think it's actually going to change the racing all that much?

RYAN NEWMAN: I believe it will. I think the biggest thing that we're going to see with this spoiler, this is speculation from my standpoint, is the way the spoiler is designed, there's going to be a lot more surface area of that spoiler on the quarter panels. I think the side drafting on the straightaway is going to be even bigger than it was with the old style car. I don't think we have but 50% of that side drafting down the straightaway on the current car with the wing on it.

I think the fans will see more racing, even on the straightaways, if that makes sense. You'll see more side-by-side, back and forth, nose-to-head, with the competitor down the straightaways, which I think will make places like Michigan and California, some of the tracks that are bigger, notorious for being a little boring through the middle of the race more exciting throughout the entire race.

Q: How big of a curve ball is this, getting a change like this mid-season or partial season?

RYAN NEWMAN: I mean, it's not that huge, I don't think. I think that NASCAR has been working on the aero balance part of it so the cars will drive similar. We don't want to put Goodyear in a position where the cars are driving different where we're having a tire situation after working so hard to get back to a good, safe, consistent tire. I think that it's not gonna be night and day. There might be a couple clouds in the sky, but we'll be fine.

Q: Looking ahead a little bit to Darlington, what are the characteristics of that track that give drivers such headaches?

RYAN NEWMAN: It's the only racetrack that we go to in the entire - including road courses - where you accelerate into the turn. You let off on the straightaway going into turn one, then you accelerate up the hill. It's unique all to its own at Darlington to have that characteristic.

You know, that stands out. You know, it used to be very unique. It was in a small group with Rockingham, when we had Rockingham, because the asphalt was similar, the tire was exact. You had to race the racetrack. I think it's changed a little bit. You have to race the racetrack at Darlington still only because it's so narrow, not necessarily because the grip changes so much.

Used to be easy when you came out behind somebody that came out on fresh tires to try to chase or run them down or at least keep up with them and crash your car. I don't think you have that anymore because of the tire and the asphalt combination we have there.

Q: The words and phrases that perhaps invoke fear in drivers, particularly young drivers, where do you think the term 'Darlington stripe' falls as far as that category goes?

RYAN NEWMAN: Nowhere for me personally. It's a tough one to answer. I think some people and drivers are entirely intimidated going to that racetrack. Some drivers absolutely hate it. But it's one of my favorites if not my favorite. I always said it was my favorite when it was the old asphalt. I don't even consider it, to answer your question.

Q: As an engineer, we'd expect you to be somewhat of an analytical driver. Jimmie Johnson writes down notes after every race. Do you think analytical drivers like Jimmie is the kind of driver who can end up surpassing the 48 team and a jump-in-the-car type of driver?

RYAN NEWMAN: That's a good question. I don't know how exactly to answer that. I think a driver has to be very well-rounded. It doesn't have to be an engineer. Doesn't have to be, you know, a perfect driver. He has to be well-rounded with respect to all visibilities from the physical, mental and emotional standpoint to drive that racecar to the highest capabilities possible.

The other part of that is it's way beyond the driver. It's part of the team. If you look at what Kevin Harvick has done this year with the same organization, but obviously with faster racecars, if he was taking notes, just started taking notes this year, you could call him -- you could blame his excellence this year in taking notes.

But I think everybody is different. Some people have to take notes. Some people don't. Some people can remember phone numbers, some people can't. Some people can't put a name with a face. Everybody's different is my point. You know, I guess we're still trying to find collectively as a group that equation to beat Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the 48 team.

Q: Do you think the naturally articulate people like yourself have the ability to give better details to a crew chief and maybe that's a helpful trait to have?

RYAN NEWMAN: I think, absolutely. The more information you can give to a crew chief, the better, from a feedback standpoint to make the racecar better or make the improvements or the correct adjustments.

I do my best. I know everybody tries to do their best. It's how successful you are, who you're working with, the team that you have behind you that makes you successful. You know, they are the benchmark.

Q: You mentioned earlier about the side drafting with the spoiler. What kind of a skill is that for a driver to learn that side drafting? Is this something like a racing 101 type of thing or is this kind of using a postgraduate course? What are the challenges in understanding that or is that an easy thing to pick up?

RYAN NEWMAN: It's a pretty easy thing to pick up. It's a pretty easy thing to do physically. The hardest part of it is, you know, it's not the in-line difference in speed as much as it is the lateral difference in speed. If you get a car you're trying to get as close as you can with your right front fender to his left rear quarter panel, he moves left or right a little bit, you're putting both of yourselves in jeopardy. That's the toughest part of side drafting, in my opinion. You know, just getting that run or having somebody help push you a little bit. That's not so big a deal as it is physically putting your right front fender, which is the most demanding fender I would say in respect to aerodynamics, right vulnerable to somebody else's left rear quarter panel.

We don't see it as much as we used to because that side drafting isn't as important. We used to see guys running into each other in the straightaways trying to slow somebody else down so they didn't get past them as quick.

Q: So it's as much about understanding who the driver is that you're coming up on and understanding their tendencies as much as really the whole aspect of side drafting?

RYAN NEWMAN: Correct, yeah. It's more important to know who you're dealing with and who you're working with or who's working against you than it is to actually know the maneuver itself.

Q: You have the seven Atlanta poles, which ties the record. You have a Truck win at Atlanta. The Cup win hasn't happened. What might be the one critical factor that has eluded you at Atlanta?

RYAN NEWMAN: I've had winning racecars halfway through the race before and had tires go out of balance and power steering go out, things like that. I've been in position; just haven't been able to follow through.

You know, it's all about the entire package, just like it is for everybody else on any given weekend. I've always says it's much easier to go out there and be the quickest car on one lap than it is to be the best car on average over 500 miles. The longer you're doing something, the harder it is to maintain that level of excellence.

I've been very successful there in qualifying, fortunately. I've had some unsuccessful moments in racing. So, you know, you just take it with what you can. It's all about hard work and effort.

Q: You're racing for the Wildlife Project has been really building up. You helped the Michigan Waterloo Recreation Area with some work. I know you love fishing. When I bring up the idea how much you helped Michigan, I'm thinking, have you ever gone ice fishing?

RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, actually just this past year out -- we were snowmobiling with some friends out in Utah. They had a pond up there. We went ice fishing for a little bit and caught a few trout. That was a lot of fun.

But actually that was the second time in my life I went ice fishing. First time was with my grandfather when I was five or six years old. I remember we didn't catch anything all morning. Bored our own holes. Decided to get some lunch at 11:30 or 12:00 when it was cold as could be. Came back. We left the lines in the water. I think one of us or both the us caught one without even being there. We caught fish the rest of the afternoon. That was a lot of fun. That was my first experience. I guess about 25 years later I got my second experience.

Q: I asked that question to Elliott Sadler. He said, You'd never catch me driving my truck out on a lake.

RYAN NEWMAN: That would be driving a truck on a lake, not ice fishing.

Q: Ryan, we were talking about a follow-up on the qualifying. How much do you feel the speed if you're so used to it? You're so good there. How much do you feel that speed or are you conditioned to it?

RYAN NEWMAN: I don't think you necessarily feel the speed as much as you actually know the input you've given the racecar to make it go faster. I've always said, you know, from 140 miles an hour on up, I don't think that you actually feel speed until something happens to you or you hit something. Case in point, flying an airplane. Nobody knows when they're on a commercial flight they're doing over 500 miles an hour until you hit turbulence, then that turbulence is pretty noticeable.

When you're running 200 miles an hour at Atlanta, I don't think you necessarily feel that actual extra one or two or sometimes three miles an hour. What you feel is the input you give in the car to make it go faster, getting back to the throttle a little sooner, getting into the corner a little bit harder, carrying a little more mid-corner speed. Those are the things that you feel that actually make you feel what you've done to pick up speed over a given mile-and-a-half.

Q: As speeds get faster and faster, are you cognizant of the fact that you actually have to do so much more to get to that point on the qualifying?

RYAN NEWMAN: Well, that's the thing. It's really not that much more. It's just a little bit here and there. It's not like you're closing your eyes and holding on for an extra three seconds. I mean, it's a matter of 10, 15 feet max that makes the biggest differences. That 10, 15 feet at 200 miles an hour is literally a millisecond. It's just a matter of picking your game up a little bit everywhere to be able to get the grip out of it and match that grip to your racecar to get everything you can for a given lap.

Q: Thanks a million.

RYAN NEWMAN: You're welcome, times a billion (laughter).

HERB BRANHAM: Ryan, thanks very much for joining us today. Best of luck at Atlanta and the rest of the way.

RYAN NEWMAN: Thanks, everybody.

HERB BRANHAM:-source: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Elliott Sadler , Chad Knaus , Buddy Baker