RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) "Two weeks in a row, that's about all you can say. You can't do much about the weather. The one thing I'm glad about is that we tested here for two days. I think it'll give us a little heads up if it...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)
"Two weeks in a row, that's about all you can say. You can't do much about the weather. The one thing I'm glad about is that we tested here for two days. I think it'll give us a little heads up if it does keep on raining for a good start of the race. We've got some laps on the track when it was green when we came here and tested, and that's how it'll be Sunday morning if it keeps on raining.
"For me not much. The one thing I will say, the Dodges do fly better than the Fords. It's more of a change for the team. The guys worked their tails off to change over 34 cars at Penske Racing. I guess at the same time we lose a little bit of our time to do development work like we like to do in the offseason. That was one of the things we didn't like about it, but performance-wise on the race track, the car seems really good. The team has been working good together. We'll just keep plugging away and see what happens, but we've got to get a change of luck here.
"To me it's understanding as well as a communication thing. As long as I can understand what they're talking about, as long as they can understand what I'm talking about, overall we're no different than anybody else. We just speak a little differently and have some different terms. Hopefully that makes us better, but there are other guys out there that are just as smart or maybe smarter than don't have an engineering degree.
"That was by far the hardest I've ever hit. Just counting off the top of my head, I've been upside down probably four other times driving midgets and champ cars and sprint cars. I flipped six times once at IRP, got up and got out of the car a little dizzy. We were at place called Macon, Ill, a little quarter-mile dirt track. I hit an inside marker tire, flipped the car over, flipped the back over, stripped the torsion arms out, tightened those up and went back out and finished the race.
"I flipped once at Springfield on the dirt mile in the Silver Crown car. I missed the line, hit the wall and flipped. A guy hit the wall because of me, and that was a pretty big deal, but we got the backup car out and finished the race. Like I said, that was the hardest I've hit, not only just the wall in general but doing a flip and hitting the ground. I told somebody before that wall is 18 inches thick, but the diameter of the earth is a lot thicker than that.
"They've got the little black box. They know how hard we hit. I don't know whether it came apart too fast or not, it's up to them, but in my opinion they're being awful picky about it. The only thing that came out of that race car is the rear end. That was because the tire came off and it caught the tire. If what you're saying is true, to me, the most important part was that after all that I was able to walk away. The seats belts, everything there was almost near perfect. The seat stretched the way it should have. I think at the peak point of any place it stretched it was two inches. I think my headrest moved an inch. I think after taking a ride like that, I don't think anybody could make it much better than that. Obviously, we keep working on everything to make it better. As far as coming apart, the only thing that came apart was the rear end housing. That was the only thing that left the race car. If that wouldn't have left, the driveshaft wouldn't have left. After that, that's just the way it is. They need to be a little more picky about the truck series because Geoff Bodine's did more than ours did.
"It's by far tougher on them than it is for me in situations like that. On me, it's like getting bucked off a horse. You juse want to get back on another one and go after it again. That's the way I kind of approached everything, but at the same time you want to sit back and think about what could have happened. The oil tank had a pretty big leak and I could have got oil on me and burned. The car could have caught on fire and I couldn't have got out. So many things could have been bad about that wreck. I was just thankful to walk away. As long as we did everything as a team to keep from whatever happening then I think it eases my mind as well as my family's mind. It definitely makes you think about the safety of the sport.
"It takes more time to get a mess cleaned up at a place like Daytona than it would here or at a Michigan or place like that. It's easier to stop cars at different race tracks. They could stop a race at 198 at Michigan or they could stop a race at 499 at Bristol. It's easier to do some of those things, where at Daytona it seems harder to do a clean up. If they want to lay down the rules, that's fine. I think the biggest situation comes from the fans. I'd say after my wreck at Daytona last summer when they threw the seat cushions and everything else out, I think the fans need to be informed of that more than anyone else because they're the ones paying to see the race.
"I got up Monday morning, and naturally I was a little sore. I had bruises on both of my shoulders and the instep of my left heel from hitting the steering column. I had bruises across my forehead. My head kind of whiplashed inside the helmet. Nothing hurt bad. I use the analogy if you've ever hit your thumb with a hammer it's not the first day. The first day is always the worst, but it was like the second day what I was feeling. My girlfriend Chrissie and I went over to the shop and looked at the race car. We did the things we always do on Mondays and then went to Atlanta on Tuesday morning and tested on Tuesday and Wednesday. The most I was sore was probably Tuesday afternoon. I was probably more tired than I was sore after 11 days at Daytona and going to a test after that.
"It doesn't change the plans. Obviously we've got more work to do because we lost a race car. We lost a lot of points. To me it's no different than if you're in a high school or grade school fight and you get knocked down. Obviously you get up a little mad and you go after the guy a little harder. That's the way we're going to have to approach it. I said before, in my opinion, I think Tony Stewart would have had a harder time with that championship last year if he had finished the 500. Look at Tony's finishes the first part of the season to the second part of the season. Usually it takes him until the second part of the season to get going. Last year after Daytona, he got going a little quicker. I don't necessarily compare myself to him, but I think that situation will occur with our team.
"We were going to have a meeting after Daytona but that never happened with reference to what happened to the 2 car in Daytona. I know Matt (crew chief Borland) had a meeting with the guys this morning to kind of boost the morale back up. Every crew out there at some point has made that mistake or a mistake like that. The timing probably wasn't real good, but it could have been worse. We'll go on. You're right, they're not like Penske-like mistakes. I think that's the most disappointing and I don't know if self-degrading is a word, but situation that happens like that. You just have to go on. It's not like I'm going to turn around and be a bum tomorrow.
"I think Rockingham is an awesome race track from a driver's standpoint and from a fan's standpoint. A fan's standpoint sitting in the stands as opposed to sitting at home and watching on TV. My opinion is whatever they do to make the racing as good if not better than it is at Rockingham. I think that's a very tough task for them, but that's not including any of the politics of the sport. Obviously Rockingham hasn't been developed like Bristol has. Rockingham hasn't been developed like Kansas City has. One is the driver's perspective and one is the political perspective. I'll give you my perspective from the driver's standpoint and the racing part of it. This is an awesome race track. I'll always say that a real race track is one you don't have to go to and figure out if there is a passing groove or if we can run the outside lane to make it any better. It's not that kind of race track. A lot of drivers will tell you they can come from the back here with a good race car and pass. Whereas at other race tracks, you get stuck in the back with a good race car. I think this is a race track that hasn't had the development it deserves. If it was up to me, and if I was a race track promoter, I'd build a race track like this at a different venue, provided the market was right just because I think this is a good race track.
"The biggest thing if you want throttle response, you get rid of the restrictor plate. Then if you get rid of the restrictor plate, you have too much speed. They're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place with technology and the horsepower we have. It is the way it is. When you get to terminal velocity, you're not going to have throttle response. That's just the way it's going to be. As long as we're racing at terminal velocity at those race tracks, it's going to be like that. When they open us up so we can go 220 in the straightaways and 160 in the corners, and we've got an average of 185 or whatever that is, then we'll have throttle response.
"I'm not going to agree or disagree, but I will say that not every Chevrolet out there has the same team, not every Chevrolet out there has the same level of intelligence and not every Chevrolet out there is going to cheat the same way. There may have been one or two, but there may have been the same with every other manufacturer. The thing I'm happy to say is that we didn't cheat and we don't cheat. It showed.
"Here's a guy who can't stand to be called a veteran driver but wants to celebrate 600 starts. I'm happy for Rusty to have had a successful career and get to the point where he can make his 600th start doing it in his home state. It's just another number."