RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: Newman scored his second win in his last three starts on Sunday, his third win in the past eight starts, and he's jumped from 24th to ninth in the series standings in the past eight races. Last ...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)
NOTE: Newman scored his second win in his last three starts on Sunday, his third win in the past eight starts, and he's jumped from 24th to ninth in the series standings in the past eight races. Last year's Raybestos Rookie of the Year on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit, Newman has scored five career victories in 64 starts. He leads the circuit in 2003 with four wins and five poles. The 25-year-old South Bend, Ind., native led three times for 88 laps Sunday. He also led the most laps when he won earlier this season at Dover. Newman's wins this season came at Texas, Dover, Chicago and Pocono. He's the only Dodge driver to take the checkered flag this season in Winston Cup competition.
"I knew that we needed some caution laps and I was doing the best I could to save some fuel and yet at the same time stay out front. Those are two things that are contradictory and hard to do. The cautions played to our favor for sure. I think in hindsight we wouldn't have been able to make it if we hadn't had those cautions.
"I don't know exactly (how much gas a caution lap saves versus a green-flag lap). I think it varies from track to track, but usually it's two caution laps per green lap.
"I came off turn three and I got up to the wall and felt a vibration. My handling had gone away, and Rusty was reeling me in pretty good. I thought I had lost a right rear tire, so I just dove into the pits. Matt (crew chief Borland) had just said we were going to pit in the next two laps. I knew that it was close to our window and it wasn't going to kill us. It was strictly off my feel, knowing that it was close to a pit window.
"I think the most frustrated guy right now would be Tony Stewart. He had a super fast racecar and blew an engine, but track position is such a big part of what the cars are and what the game is right now because of the aero advantages and how close the competition is. You make all the cars alike and you've got to flow through the air you've got to have some kind of advantage. The clean air is the advantage.
"Basically it all depends on how fast the guy in second is versus how fast I am. Instead of running away, you just maintain a gap in case there is a yellow you don't burn all the extra fuel. Fortunately we were able to do that a couple of times with Junior.
"The reason we got back in the pack is because we took four tires and the rest of the guys took two. Typically the next cycle we take two and they take four and we get our track position back. It's just a matter of getting our timing right. When you're the first car in you're the sucker, so if you take four, most of the other guys are going to take two."
"I think our last stop there when we just took two tires was the biggest call of the day as far as scuffs go. We knew we were going to have a lot of laps on the left-side tires. When you've got a tire as good as the one Goodyear brought, you don't have to worry about it.
"Matt Borland was on the radio. Mike Nelson calculates the fuel and reports to Matt Borland, and Matt Borland reports to me.
"They gave me the go-ahead on that last restart that I was good with fuel, and I just put the pedal to the metal and did the best job I could which was apparently good enough.
"It's the team. They leave it up to me to be able to guide the thing with the steering wheel and the pedals, but we've been finishing races. Even at Richmond, we had a fast racecar but we didn't finish where we should have. We had a failure, and we're just trying to eliminate those failures to the best of our knowledge and it's turned out good.
"I think had we not had those cautions, those guys (who came in and topped off with fuel) would have been contenders to win the race. We didn't know at that time, but that was a gamble our team was willing to take. Typically here, I think the last couple of races here there have been five cautions. I don't know how many there had been up to that point. It was just a matter of going for the gutsy call.
"We're just going to try to do the best job we can (next week at Indy) just like we did here. Hopefully we can run as good and be competitive.
"The track demands everything, low drag, high downforce, shifting. All three corners are different, so it's demanding from the crew's standpoint and the drivers' standpoint. You need to manage all three corners and be fast and not give up anything. I've always liked the racetrack. I think it's a fun racetrack. The tires fall off more than I would like, but it's a good place to get around.
"I thought it was cool. We came up here and tested. Buddy Baker was here, and he's a good guy to teach you how to get around here.
"I was worried about him (Kurt Busch). He had a fast racecar, no doubt. We just had to do what we could to keep from barreling the nose of the car and we did that. The previous two cautions I was saving a little bit, but fuel mileage and track position ended up being the keys."