Rockingham II: Ford - Saturday morning with Newman

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Taurus, will start from the pole in Sunday's Pop Secret 400.  He held another Q&A session in the North Carolina Speedway infield media center prior to Saturday's practice sessions. RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ...

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Taurus, will start from the pole in Sunday's Pop Secret 400.  He held another Q&A session in the North Carolina Speedway infield media center prior to Saturday's practice sessions.

RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus

WHAT IS THE TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY OF THIS RACE TRACK VERSUS OTHER RACE TRACKS?  "The only difference between this track and basically all the other race tracks is the difference in bumps.  All of the same principles apply with how to get the car to work and how to get the tires to work evenly so that the tire wear is the best, but the bottom line is the bumps make a difference in how the tires wear.  So we do the best we can with our shocks and everything else to make sure that we can make the car work the best for the longest."

HAVE YOU BEEN ROOKIE OF THE YEAR IN EVERY SERIES YOU'VE RACED AND WAS THERE ANY POINT WHERE YOU DOUBTED YOURSELF IN WINSTON CUP?  "The first part is true.  The second part -- two things -- looking back at last year in the seven races we ran, it opened my eyes quite a bit when we ran second at Kansas and got the pole at Charlotte.  We had another good top-five finish at Michigan.  That opened my eyes to know that I was capable of doing good and winning in the sport, but this season the only question I ever had was on the reliability part of things -- when we were losing a lot of motors.  Even when we were losing the motors, we were third at Texas, third at Talladega, I think we were fourth at someplace else, we were third at Michigan when we dropped down.  Our performances were there, we just didn't quite have the finishes.  But, overall, I've just got so much confidence in the team that I've never really doubted anything.  I just go out there and do the best job I can and whatever we get as a result is what we get."

WHAT ARE YOUR POST-SEASON PLANS?  "I don't know -- just figure out what my bed actually feels like at the house.  I don't have anything planned, other than Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I told my parents that Christmas is gonna be at my house this year, so they're coming down just so I can be at home for a little bit.  That's probably a little bit selfish of me, but I don't have anything big planned.  There's no cruise trips.  I'd like to go to Colorado for a week or something like that just for the snow because I miss the snow, but, other than that, that's about it."

HOW DO YOU GO FORWARD NEXT YEAR BECAUSE YOU'VE RAISED THE BAR FOR ROOKIES?  "That's tough.  That's something I said last week.  If Jimmie and I have the same year next year as we have this year, people won't look at us the same way because we're supposed to do better.  Obviously, there's always room to do better but as rookies now and so-called experienced drivers next year, we're not gonna be night-and-day smarter, we're just gonna be a little bit more experienced at different race tracks and different situations and working with the cars and the drivers and the traffic.  Hopefully, we can just do better.  I don't know how much better, but I didn't know how good we were gonna do this year.  We'll just have to see how things play out."

DOES YOUR INEXPERIENCE IN THIS SERIES PUT LESS PRESSURE ON YOU?  "I don't feel any pressure.  I get nervous every once in a while just like anybody else, but for the most part, no pressure at all.  I've said this before, I don't think pressure is ever a good thing.  Pressure is what you put on somebody else, you don't put pressure on yourself."

DO YOU EVER FEEL GUILT THAT YOU'VE WON AND RUSTY HASN'T THIS YEAR AND HOW MUCH DO YOU INTERACT WITH RUSTY?  "No guilt, without a doubt.  Just to think about it, it seems like a lot of times things come in streaks.  If you look at Gordon and the streak he had, and then all of a sudden he spanked our butts two weeks in a row.  Rusty's time is coming and Rusty knows that.  You can't just win that many races that many years in a row and just not win anymore.  I guess you can, but I doubt he will because he's still very competitive.  Personally, we don't interact very much, but with the cars and the teams quite a bit.  I think that the things that we do with the ALLTEL Ford have helped the performances of the Miller Lite Ford and vice versa.  I think Rusty has taught me a lot about short tracks and how to drive them and I think a lot of our success this year should be given to Rusty as far as things I've learned at places like Loudon and, hopefully, Phoenix." 

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PIT CREW CHAMPIONSHIP TODAY?  "They're definitely into it 110 percent.  Like I said yesterday, if there's an award out there we go for it and this is definitely a big award.  It's something that's big for the guys.  We talk all year about momentum and chemistry and doing good things and everybody is picking their chin up.  This is something that definitely at the end of the season is good to close out on and if we can do good or win, hopefully, that will help our performances the rest of the year."

IS THERE PRESSURE ON YOU TO PULL INTO THE PITS JUST RIGHT?  "No pressure, but if I don't do it right I'll get pressure."

IS IT A BAD THING TO POINTS RACE OR RACE CONSERVATIVELY?  TONY STEWART HAS SAID HE'S RACING TO WIN?  "I guess there's a difference between racing conservatively and racing out of control.  I think what Tony is talking about is that he's not gonna go out of control, he's not gonna go wild, he's not gonna pull out of the draft with one lap to go.  He's not gonna go up and just beat on somebody until they move out of his way.  He's gonna race the race track and the competitors a little more generously maybe.  I've said it before, the bottom line is we go out here and we do our best every week.  The championship is just the performance based on every week.  To me, that's the way it is.  We just go out there and do it the best we can and as hard as we can and where we end up on Sunday is where we end up and those are the points that we get."

HOW FRUSTRATING WAS IT TO BATTLE THROUGH YOUR PROBLEMS WHEN JIMMIE WAS ROLLING AND HOW DID YOU GET THINGS PUT BACK IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?  "It was a little frustrating, but it wasn't a lot frustrating like you might think.  I say that because our performances were there as far as how well we were running, we just didn't get the finishes and that was because of some of the mechanical failures.  So we knew that we had the potential and, still in our minds, we feel like we've lost a few races win-wise because of those mechanical failures."

HOW DID YOU TURN IT AROUND?  "I think it's just a lot of hard work from the engine company.  We found some really crazy things that were happening and I think they went back and refined the process of how they were doing things with some of the parts and, knock on wood, we haven't had the same situations again."

WHAT MAKES YOU NERVOUS?  "To me, like when you go out to qualify and you're the only one on the race track and everybody is watching you and you have to focus so hard on what you have to do -- hit your marks and everything else.  You're not necessarily getting nervous, it's just that you mentally start to fry yourself and you just need to take a deep breath and say, 'OK, I'm just gonna go out and drive these two laps like I did in practice.'  That's the kind of nervousness I'm talking about.  It's not like, 'Oh my God, I'm gonna crash' nervous or 'Oh my God, what's gonna happen?'  It's just focusing so hard that sometimes you've got to settle down and take a deep breath."

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman