Continued from part 1 ...
Continued from part 1
#%Q: Let me ask you one other thing. For many people who you talked about two jobs at once, so maybe for some people who haven't changed jobs in a while. Some people might say what's so difficult about having one job knowing you're going somewhere else. What are the challenges maybe that you face and Tony face and that other drivers face when they're going through that type of situation?
RYAN NEWMAN: I guess the two things that come to mind for me are responsibility and people. You have a responsibility to fulfill yourself and your obligations for the year, and you still have goals you want to achieve, whether they're personal or through the team. So that was one thing.
But the people part of it, to separate those people and the friendships and the things that you had, not to throw them away or discard them, but to keep those friendships and move on and create new friendships with other people, it's literally kind of doing two jobs and two things at once.
#%Q: Ryan, is it going to be strange at all going back to defend the Daytona 500 title in a different car, different crew and all that stuff?
RYAN NEWMAN: I think the strange moment will be going to the Daytona 500 Experience and being part of that and pulling the old car out. That will be, I guess, the cutting of the umbilical cord of sorts. Again, I really look forward to competing next year this year with Stewart Haas Racing in the U.S. Army Chevrolet. I really look forward to creating our own successes.
#%Q: It's more of a clarification point than anything else. Can you explain to me the transition of points between the 66 car to your car and where the points are going to come from for Tony and your thought process going into the race based upon that and how that actually formed from the Haas cars into your cars and now Tony's cars from last year?
RYAN NEWMAN: That's a good question (laughing).
#%Q: I've tried to figure it out. It's complicated and I've got other people trying to figure it out, too. We're trying to clarify because Tony can kind of lean on Sprint Cup champion. Does he take the worst car out of the group and you take the next worst car out of the group and that guarantees you the first six races, that sort of thing?
RYAN NEWMAN: As far as I know, this is the way it all kind of works out. The 66 becomes the 39 in points. Scott Riggs did an excellent job to get back into the top 35 after getting out of it to lock us into a spot for the first five or six races, whatever it is. Tony has the 70 points, which are outside the top 35, but he also has the most recent champion's provisional for anybody that's not locked into the top 35. So that in essence locks him into the first five or six races or whatever. That's the gist of it as far as I know.
#%Q: From the standpoint of that, does it feel almost like at least a sense of relief because it could be awkward from the standpoint that you're the defending champion at Daytona, and if the transfer of points didn't happen the way that it is that if you blew an engine you weren't even racing?
RYAN NEWMAN: Believe me, it weighed on my mind. But again, that's part of racing. I would be putting myself into that position and Tony Stewart will be putting himself in that position potentially. But either way the bottom line is that's racing and you have to go on and you have to move on. If that were to have happened, it wouldn't have been a bright moment or a happy moment. But again, that's racing.
#%Q: What kind of attraction or draw to your family and friends is that gold Daytona 500 trophy wherever you have it displayed, and do you still give it some special attention?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, it's actually sitting right on my desk on my computer in the house. It's a special piece for me. Obviously it's one of a kind, and it was kind of interesting when I got the trophy at first; I thought, man, that's a pretty cool trophy. They were like, yeah, it's gold. I figured every one of them was gold. The 50th running was pretty neat.
It's definitely special. It's a unique trophy. I'm definitely into old cars and stuff like that, and to see the old car on top of it, that's pretty neat, as well.
#%Q: We sat together last year at the Kennedy Space Center when you got your flags back from the International Space Station, and we talked a little bit about Tony, and at the time it hadn't been announced that you were going to drive for him. But everybody knew that Tony was leaving at that time, and I asked you the question, just random, you kind of gave me a story, I was too dumb to see it, though, I said, would you like to have Tony Stewart as a teammate? And I remember you laughed and you looked at me, and you said something about being far fetched, and then you looked at me again, and you said, "But I know more than you do." I said, "Well, go ahead, expand on that." You said, "No, leave it at that; I know more than you do." So you knew at that time, that there were conversations that you might be joining Tony.
You've just talked about how difficult it was finishing the year knowing you were moving on. How difficult was it maybe those couple of months over the summer that you knew you guys were putting this thing together but you had to be so tight lipped about it?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, it was tough for me because I was off of a Daytona 500 victory with a team that I had been with for seven years, and I had a situation that came where I potentially had an opportunity to move on. Tony gave me that opportunity, we talked about it, and my season was kind of dissolving, let's say, throughout the summer months. But yeah, you're right. You potentially have a good future in "Law and Order" or "CSI." I answered the way I wanted to answer, and you kind of got your answer without knowing too much.
#%Q: My question to you is you have a degree in mechanical engineering, and to the young guys that are coming up in racing right now, how has that impacted your career in terms of being able to communicate to team owners, to sponsors, to crew chiefs? How has that been able to help you out in your career in racing?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, for me it's just taken me to another level to understand the race car, the physics part of it, the gravities and the way all the things work with the race car mechanically. That makes a difference to me personally. I'm not saying it makes me smarter than everybody else, but it's made me a smarter person to the point that I tell anybody if you have the opportunity to go to college or to a university to get a further education, do it.
What you major in isn't what's going to make you the ultimately smart guy. It's the well roundedness that you come out of any kind of further education with that makes you a better person and will make you a smarter person in order to make more money and be happier in the future.
For me my actual title is vehicle structure engineering. It's a mechanical backbone, but it gave me the opportunity to be flexible in school, and then I obviously have that diploma and that education to fall back on for the rest of my career.
#%Q: And that's exactly the point of it. You've got something that a lot of guys don't have. You have an opportunity because you had the foresight to think about what am I going to do after my career, and there's just so many young guys that are out there right now racing at the local levels that are just they don't have the opportunity they have the opportunity to go to school but they have these ideas that they're going to be NASCAR racers. And I've seen it time after time again, that it's difficult for these young men right now because the dream when they were 18, 19 and 20 did not materialize for them and they have nothing to fall back on, and you have a degree.
Let's face it, I've watched you running back in the USAC deal with Stewart, and Tony Stewart is a friend of mine, and you were an outstanding race car driver then and you are now. But looking into the future, you just kind of like said, okay, I need this degree, I need to be able to further my education to be able to fall back on something, and a lot of the young guys don't do that.
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I do get a few emails through our website and the fan club and things like that where people will tell me that their son or their daughter is going to school because of the things I did in my career, and that's very gratifying, and to me it's cool to have somebody model their future off of the things that you did.
But in the end you have to create your own future, you have to do the things that make you happy, you have to do the things that are going to be beneficial for you financially and for your personal life for the long run. I would definitely say just as I did before that any kind of further education, it's just that; it's going to make you smarter, it's going to make you a more well rounded person.
#%Q: I wanted to ask you about sponsorship, and you're currently not fully being sponsored. Do you worry about that? Do you think about that, and your thoughts on where you're at with that?
RYAN NEWMAN: Is this Claire Lang formerly of XM Satellite Radio, now with Sirius?
#%Q: Yes, sir.
RYAN NEWMAN: You're not the only one to jump ship in the off season, huh?
#%Q: Let's see how we each do. My question is about sponsorship and whether you worry about being partially sponsored, whether you can do much to help further that along in the situation.
RYAN NEWMAN: I'm really excited about what the U.S. Army has done to jump on board and be a sponsor for our #39 Chevrolet. I know that the people at Stewart Haas Racing are continually working on the additional sponsorship to fulfill all 37 races. But in the meantime hopefully we can come out of the box strong. My focus is Daytona, Daytona 500, and in the end they pay me to drive the race car, and that's my ultimate responsibility. But I do stay aware of sponsorship and things that I may be obligated to later in the year.
#%Q: So you're not worried at being partially sponsored right now?
RYAN NEWMAN: I wouldn't say I'm worried. I just know it's something that the people at SHR are focusing on, and rightfully so. It's a trying time in our economy and we're trying to do the things that we can to be as successful as we can. Having correct sponsorship that will align and work correctly with Office Depot, Old Spice and the U.S. Army is important as well as making our performance and trying to make our team's dreams come true.
#%Q: You mentioned that you've been over to Rockingham. I'm just wondering, what's that place looking like these days? Do you foresee more testing over at Rockingham because of the rules? And also, where did you say you were going to test and when? Earlier I didn't catch that.
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, Rockingham is still a good place to test. It's a great racetrack. I really, really enjoyed the driving around there. It was a lot of fun, really more so racing than driving. The tires fell off so fast that as you test it as a driver it's kind of frustrating, but when you're racing it's kind of like being the local go kart track when they throw the water or powder down; it's kind of slick. Tomorrow actually we're testing in New Smyrna, Florida, both the 14 and the 39, so we're looking forward to that, as well.
#%Q: Did you get a look at I know Jimmie Johnson talked about them building the short track that's supposed to simulate Martinsville over there at Rockingham. Did you get on that, too?
RYAN NEWMAN: No, I have not tested that. I went over and looked at it. They call it "Little Rock" because it's at Rockingham, but I think Andy Hillenburg has done a great job to try to resurrect what was a great racetrack for the fans to come back and enjoy some great racing. He's done some great things there.
#%Q: I apologize if you've already answered this. What's it like this year more than any other year, the fact that there is no Preseason Thunder in the actual sense of cars on the track and getting ready for the speed weeks and stuff like that at Daytona?
RYAN NEWMAN: Realistically it's three days off that could have and should have been off in my opinion. I never thought that we needed to test. Sure, it's nice the one thing that I wish we could test for is for the fans because there are several fans that show up at Daytona and come to the racetrack and enjoy the atmosphere and the testing. For instance, some fans might not be able to afford to come for the Daytona 500 or the speed weeks or anything else, or any other race for that matter; they might just want to come to testing. I wish we could service the fans in that way, but in the end with the economy the way it is, I don't feel like we need to test as a team or NASCAR needs to test as an association. It's all good with me. We just get a couple more days off that they find something else for us to do.
HERB BRANHAM: First of all, thanks to the media for joining us today, good turnout. Ryan Newman, defending Daytona 500 champion. Best of luck, and we'll see you soon.