RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RACE THIS WEEKEND IN RICHMOND? "I look forward to it. It's a track, based off the stats, that we've done well in the past. It's short-track racing; if anybody doesn't like racing...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RACE THIS WEEKEND IN RICHMOND? "I look forward to it. It's a track, based off the stats, that we've done well in the past. It's short-track racing; if anybody doesn't like racing in Richmond, you're not much of a racer. For that reason, we enjoy coming here and enjoy racing."
WHAT HAPPENED IN TALLADEGA THAT MADE YOU GUYS RACEY? "I think there was a time just before halfway that we did all get single file. It was 40 cars single file and that was the start of it. Then I saw some things happen; Denny Hamlin was probably the one that stood out the most as far as making things happen. Taking the car and pushing him to the front then passing that car and running in the top two most of the day. He mixed some things up and showed some guys on what could be done.
"There was a lot of racing because at least on my part, I know for sure that we were concerned about losing the draft and getting a lap down. That didn't happen (at Talladega) last fall. Whether that's a factor of our performance of the restrictor plate package or what, I'm not sure. I think the racing improved due to the fact that we had to stay with the lead draft to keep our speed. If you were out of that draft, it was over a second a lap. So it's hard to risk that in that situation. So I thought the racing was better than it was last fall. In fact they even came on the radio and said, 'This looks like this is going to be a boring deal. NASCAR should think about what they're doing.' Not more than three laps later, we're back at it running three or four wide again."
DOES THE PRESSURE GROW AS THE SEASON INCREASES AND A DRIVER HASN'T WON? "After 81 races when we didn't win -- yes the pressure grows. To me, that pressure isn't destructive pressure; it's just internal pressure to keep trying to achieve that goal. It's not like you can try any harder to get the job done. You're doing that each and every lap -- each and every week. From a team standpoint, you try and fix what maybe needs to be fixed -- whether it's a pit stop that's hurting them -- whether it's the car and they're not leading laps and putting themselves in position. It's not a trial and error process. It's a methodical answer that you're trying to achieve based upon what you're lacking. Tony (Stewart) is having some bad luck, we saw that at Talladega. Jeff's (Gordon) been hit or miss. That's part of racing, that's part of this new car it seems."
WHAT'S YOUR PREVIEW OF DARLINGTON? "It's a tough answer. I think that the racing won't be very good the first couple times around. It's going to be fun driving the car. It's going to be fun to hustle the car because it's going to be so fast. That part I think as drivers we'll enjoy. Granted, Darlington wasn't the best race track we went to as far as racing side-by-side, three-wide action and things like that. It was a fun drivers' track and what you saw in the end was a pretty good race. I don't think it will be as good just because of the new pavement. I don't think that we've gone to any race track with new asphalt and said, 'Man, this is awesome'. I think they did an excellent job here in Richmond after they repaved it versus the old sealer that we use to do each and every time and then it took 1,000 laps before the end of the race on Saturday night or Sunday, it got to be a good race. They did an excellent job in repaving. (Darlington) left everything exactly how it was with the except for the character of the bumps which was their goal to take those out. The way you drive the track, the way you hustle the car -- I feel Goodyear has a good combination. We put emphasis there on the tire in two different tests. We did one test, came back and weren't happy. We came back for the second test and felt like we had a tire that's going to live and be racey and the drivers won't complain about. We'll see is the bottom line. I think it's going to be a mixed emotions type of deal. Track position is going to be extremely important. With the speed, it's going to be that much more difficult to pass with a car that is very similar to your competition."
DID TONY'S COMMENTS ABOUT HIS CONTRACT STATUS LIGHT A FIRE FOR YOUR UPCOMING CONTRACT TALKS? "Tony's (Stewart) opened up, or is in the process of opening up, potentially more doors. I wouldn't say that my phone hasn't rang off the hook. I'm in a different situation. I'm not dissatisfied where I'm at. I just haven't signed up. We'll create correct process and get the final answer when the time comes."
HAVE THE DRIVER'S BEEN TOLD TO SHUT-UP ABOUT THE TIRES OR ARE THE TIRES BETTER? "I don't know all of the facts. But the facts that I do know from the Atlanta test, Goodyear went back and we feel that Goodyear didn't have the idea style test. They didn't have the cars to compare to. The bottom line was that when we went to Darlington, we sat down after we ran the car the first day and said 'This is really fast and we need to slow the cars down a little bit'. Not because we're worried about the speed, but because the tires can only handle so much. With the new car, there is more emphasis with the right-side tires because it's a higher center of gravity - the offset's gone - the cars are pushing on the right-side tires more. So we sat down and talked about it at the end of the second day and said, 'Hey, this isn't going to cut it. We need to do something'. So we (driver's, crew chiefs, Goodyear) -- which never happened before at any other Goodyear tire test -- (Goodyear) come over to talk to you, (Goodyear) come over to talk to (that) team, and at the end of the day -- you maybe get an idea based on what (Goodyear) decided. Now it's more of a group decision so that they're taking input from the drivers more. The crew chiefs are there; they can listen. Crew chiefs know more about the tires than typically the drivers do. So they know what they can do to make a tire live. They know what they have to do to make a tire that's sensitive live. I feel that by no means Goodyear has said, 'Shut-up drivers, we're tired of listening to you. You're bad for our name'. It's not at all like that. I just think that there is a better process in place."
-credit: dodge motorsports