RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION DEMO DAY/U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS AND MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, double-file restarts, how they feel about their...
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION DEMO DAY/U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS AND MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, double-file restarts, how they feel about their new rides so far this season and more.
WHAT KIND OF RACE DO YOU THINK WE'LL SEE SUNDAY?
NEWMAN: "A dry one. I don't know. I look forward to it. It's one of my favorite race tracks. I just like it because it's different. The front straightaway can be boring when you're out front but that's a good problem to have. As a driver it's challenging because all three corners are different. Because it's challenging that way the crew chief has to compensate and the driver has to compensate. Dover is pretty symmetric and once you get one end right you've got the other end pretty close and here it's a challenge. I look forward to it."
MARTIN: "I've always thought this is one of the best places to race that we go to on the schedule. I've had a number of people disagree with that. I love it and always have loved it. This is one of my better places. I look forward to going to work every day now that I get to strap in that No. 5 car. I can't wait to get on the race track."
IF EVERYBODY SAYS THE RACING IS COMPETITIVE AND GOOD, THEN WHY THE NEED TO TRICK IT UP WITH THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTART?
NEWMAN: "We've tricked it up for the last 50 years. It's just another step to keep delivering to the fans what they want. It's something that I think will make the racing better from an excitement standpoint and that's what we're here for. We're delivering entertainment to the fans. If the fans say they want us to start the third restart in reverse and switch around to laps later and run forward we're probably going to do it. Racing is exciting. Mark (Martin) said it, I've said it. It's exciting. We're putting on pretty fun races that I've seen and I'm not just talking about for the lead. I'm talking about cars running side-by-side in the racing that we've had. You're seeing a good average number of cars on the lead lap. I think it's somewhere around 20 or something like that each race and that's competitive racing. Just delivering the fans what they want is what our job is as a series, as drivers and as sponsors."
MARTIN: "We're in competition with every other form of entertainment and that's more important and been brought to the forefront based on what has happened with the economy and everything. So that's what's it about. It's about trying to step up your game. Everybody has their game. We're competitors. From a competitor's standpoint there's winners and loser in a double-file restart. You just have to hope that balances out equally. What that means is that sometimes a double-file restart will put you in a less desirable lane that you wouldn't have had to maybe deal with. Hopefully it balances out to 50/50 over the long haul and you gain some and you lose some and the fans gain every time."
NEWMAN: "Five years ago we were talking about lucky dogs and a big change in the sport was a guy getting a free pass and now we are talking about just different restarts. It's just progression and evolution on NASCAR."
YOU BOTH WENT INTO THIS SEASON WITH NEW DEALS THAT WERE A LITTLE RISKY, WE'RE HALFWAY THROUGH THE REGULAR SEASON HOW HAVE YOUR NEW JOBS MET WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS GOING INTO THIS SEASON AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR?
NEWMAN: "Mark's (Martin) high risk was retiring. What kind of risk is that? (laughter)"
MARTIN: "The high risk was watching it from the couch instead of getting to stand in victory lane a couple of times."
NEWMAN: "Obviously we're sitting here saying we're happy in our position but I've said several times now for me there was as much risk in staying as there was in moving and it's just a matter of the making the best of your options and your opportunities. I've been very fortunate to work with Tony Stewart and the people at Stewart-Haas Racing. We've been running well. Trying to get to victory lane but running well. We've moved up in the points and at this point we're fifth. That's gratifying to know that you put a lot of things on the line to do that but you do that regardless. I would have done the same thing if I would have stayed at Penske racing. Still putting a lot on the line. You're on the line every week and you're on that edge. I'm happy where I'm at."
MARTIN: "Same here. I do get more comfortable every week. There was a lot of different emotions coming into the thing. I hoped that we might get a chance to win a race but I didn't expect to I just hoped. You've heard that. You've heard about all the stuff. Really the only thing that's really new that I could add to that is that I get more comfortable every weekend. We had our worst day at the race track last Friday where we were not fast and qualified 28th. I know those days are coming and sooner or later those days are going to come on a Sunday but certainly didn't have it last Sunday. I get more and more comfortable with my team and laughing more and having fun and feeling a little bit less pressure. I really feel like that they have my back and I've got their back. We've proved to each other that we can do this stuff. The day that we have a bad day we're all going to hold hands and say we're going to do better tomorrow. So that feels good. You know it could carry a lot of pressure to try to step in there and do the job. Everyone's expectations of Hendrick Motorsports are very, very high. I'm really happy so far that I've been able to do the job."
WITH THE RAIN IT LOOKS LIKE IT WILL PROBABLY WASH THINGS OUT TODAY, HOW DOES THAT EFFECT YOUR PREPARATION WITH THIS UNIQUE CONFIGURATION? IS IT AN ADVANTAGE, DISADVANTAGE OR ARE ALL OF YOU IN THE SAME BOAT?
NEWMAN: "I think we just lose practice time. It's just like testing. The more testing you get the strong get stronger and the guys that aren't as strong they get stronger too. It's just a sliding scale so the more time we have on the track the more time we have to work with the race cars to idealize all three corners. Losing a day is just that. We'll still have a competitive race. Maybe all 43 cars won't be quite as fast and that doesn't change the racing."
MARTIN: "I view it as the less time on the track the better. I feel like for our team, for us we usually hit the track running and the longer we run the more the competition has a chance to catch up. I'm really comfortable if we get rained out completely today then that means we'll start 12th. I feel certain we would have qualified better than that but there's nothing wrong with that starting position. We'll have practice tomorrow. Like Ryan (Newman) said it doesn't really impact the race or the competition because everyone is on the same footing. I think both of us would enjoy the opportunity to qualify. Ryan is really good at it and my car has been really fast. We'll take it. You've got to work with the weather."
THE NEXT TIME WE COME BACK TO THE NORTHEAST IS OBVIUOSLY NEW HAMPSHIRE, FOR BOTH OF YOU HOW MUCH IS YOUR PERCEPTION OF LOUDON CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
NEWMAN: "My perception hasn't changed. I think they've done a really good job with the race track and the facility. They made it more fan-friendly and raised the bar like any other place like Darlington has. I enjoy the race track. I enjoy the area. Obviously there's some good fishing up there just like there is here. If qualifying got rained out there too it wouldn't be that big of a deal."
MARTIN: "This is one of those tracks that I haven't been to in three years. No worries. Martinsville and Bristol were a couple of those as well. It's like going anywhere else, it's all about going through the corners. So we'll go up there and do there what we've done everywhere else. For me I feel no anxiety going anywhere, even to my least favorite race track. I actually looked forward to going to Martinsville even though it's my least favorite race track because the Hendrick cars run so well there and we did. My team is learning and I'm learning about the tuning tools, the Hendrick tuning tools. I feel like our cars are getting better with every race. We're learning how to make them better for me and more comfortable. We're learning how to get the car to do what I want them to do more and more all the time. With each and every week I feel that we make a little progress as far as communication and them knowing the things that I like to feel in the car and how to get to that."
A LOT OF DRIVERS DON'T LIKE COMING HERE FOR WHATEVER REASON, TO YOU WHAT MAKES THIS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES ON THE SCHEDULE?
MARTIN: "You're just talking to old stupid racer. I don't know. I love racing here. I've always run good here. This thing has huge, long corners but it's still about getting through the turns. It has huge, long corners and they're a challenge. Like Ryan (Newman) said they're three completely different deals and it requires a different mind-set and different skill-set than some other race tracks from a team standpoint and tuning tools and everything. I don't know. I mean you ask a guy that runs good every time he goes to a certain race track what his favorite raced track is and he'll say that one. This is one of the ones even though we haven't piled up a lot of wins. If you look at my average finish its probably better here than almost anywhere so we've always run good here. I like it. It's not any fun though if your car doesn't work well. I have had some poor working cars on very few occasions and gosh it's as miserable here as it is anywhere when they're like that."
JEFF BURTON CAME IN AND SAID HE WAS SHOCKED TO SEE NASCAR MADE THE DECISION ON THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS SO FAST, DO YOU GUYS SHARE THAT OPINION THERE AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE IF THE DRIVERS HAD A VOTE WE WOULD HAVE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS NOW?
NEWMAN: "As I stated before I think it's all for the fans. I think the drivers have an input and I think we as drivers have had the opportunity to give input based on the time we spent together at our town hall meeting and in between from then until now. Timing wise to me it doesn't matter whether they do it now which they have or if they waited until the beginning of next season. That doesn't matter. It's about what we do for the fans and if the fans want to see it. You're not going to make everybody happy, we've already seen that in several things. But if you can make at least the majority happy then those people might have an influence on the other ones that don't understand it or like it."
MARTIN: "From a fans standpoint I think it's timely because we're competing and that's an entertainment factor. From a competitors standpoint I would have rather mulled it over for a while. From a competitors standpoint purely I wasn't sure about it. I wasn't sure we had thought about it from that standpoint. How it impacts a restart at Indy for example. From a fans standpoint I think it's kind of good sometimes when you put somebody that's in an advantageous position and you put them in a disadvantaged position, that's what the All-Star race is all about. It's about a million bucks. I get a chance to race for a million dollars to win. I'll restart any way they want me to. You know the Cup thing with the points thing and all that stuff you tend to be a little bit more conservative."
NEWMAN: "What's it pay, five million now? Six million?"
MARTIN: "Yeah but it takes a year to get there. It's pretty serious. From my standpoint I was little bit on the conservative side of that because I personally don't want to have the day where I was running third or fourth at Indy with a great car for example and have to restart on the outside and wind up getting in line in 10th on a green-white-checker. It's going to be disappointing. So that's what I meant by hopefully it balances itself out from a competitor side. From a fans standpoint it's a win-win. It's what the All-Star race is about. It just makes it more like that. It's going to be better for the fans. It's what it's about. A lot of the rules that are made are not about the competitors you know. So from my standpoint I look at it from both sides and I understand why they brought it this weekend. It's time to go. Let's go get them. Let's go put on a show. Let's make sure that our race fans are getting, that's what we're all doing. We're trying to make sure that our fans and our sponsors get more value right now in a tough time. We're trying to give them more."
NEWMAN: "One of the things we have to keep in mind with the double-file restart is just as in the initial start the No. 2 starter must not beat the No. 1 starter to the line so you get down to a green-white-checker like Mark (Martin) says and I'm going for it. What if the No. 2 starter beats the No. 1 starter by three inches to the line, there's a judgment call that has to be made there. We just have to be careful and consider all things. That's why from a competitor standpoint we haven't talked through these things. We're potentially talking about going from running first or second to 40th all because of three inches so we have to make sure we have that communication with NASCAR. It's our responsibility as competitors as well."
HOW BIG OF A DEAL IS IT GOING TO BE WHEN HISTORICALLY AT POCONO YOU USUALLY HAVE A YELLOW IN THE LAST 25 LAPS?
NEWMAN: "That's almost a quarter of the race here."
I UNDERSTAND THAT BUT IN THE LAST 25 LAPS THERE'S USUALLY A YELLOW, WHAT TURN ARE YOU GOING TO SET UP FOR THE THIRD OR THE SECOND COMING DOWN THAT LONG STRAIGHTAWAY? NEWMAN: "All of them."
MARTIN: "I set up for all of them myself."
NEWMAN: "People ask me if I like a loose or tight race car and I say just make it perfect."
MARTIN: "I don't set up for one corner. I set up for all them. I work hard on all of them. I take what I can get but I work on all of them."
NEWMAN: "You make the car as good as you can and then as a driver you manipulate it the way you need to so if you've got to run the bottom of three or the top of one or the way you enter turn two that's what you do as a driver. That's why they put the steering wheel in there."
YOU TALKED ABOUT IT BEING BORING SOMETIMES OUT FRONT . . .
NEWMAN: "No just the front straightaway."
. . . DO YOU PREPARE MENTALLY DIFFERENT BECAUSE IT'S A LONG DAY OUT ON THE RACE TRACK?
NEWMAN: "No, not at all. You're still as a driver doing the same thing. You have to have your strategy. In your team meeting you talk about the things you need to do that day. Where you're starting and obviously where you want to finish goes without saying. Pocono is no different than Indy. It's no different from Bristol. It's no different than Infineon. You still have your challenges. Save your brakes, save your tires, two tires or four tires, all those types of things. From a driver's standpoint it's just beat the competition. It's the same as every other weekend."
-credit: gm racing