RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Qualified 1st) WHAT IS IT ABOUT QUALIFYING?Â "I don't know.Â I guess one of the things maybe is the fact you can just drive the car real hard.Â You don't have to necessarily have the finesse of driving it ...
RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Qualified 1st)
WHAT IS IT ABOUT QUALIFYING? "I don't know. I guess one of the things maybe is the fact you can just drive the car real hard. You don't have to necessarily have the finesse of driving it really hard for so many laps. I mean, you can just go out there and run as hard as you can and I think maybe that's one of the things. But, obviously, a great team, great cars, great engines -- all of the above has to be there in order to do that."
HAS THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BEEN LOST BECAUSE OF THE SEASON YOU AND JIMMIE ARE HAVING? "It would mean a lot to win the championship, but I guess maybe an explanation for the other part is that I'm 24 years old and I've been driving cars for 20 years. I've got a ton of experience and you have to have experience to get to the Winston Cup level. You're still classified as a rookie, but you have a lot of experience. I guess if you can get all the combinations right as far as teamwork and chemistry and cars, engines, reliability and things like that, then good things happen. I made a comment last weekend and that made me kind of think about it, but I've been a rookie five times in my life so it's kind of hard to say."
WOULD WINNING ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BE AN AFTERTHOUGHT? "Winning rookie of the year would be great. Every award that's out there we go after, whether it's a pole award or a rookie award or a Winston Cup championship. It would definitely mean a lot to me. I've said this before also, but I've never failed to win a rookie of the year in all my years of driving, so it's something to me personally that I have a record of and I'd like to keep going."
HOW MUCH DO YOU LIKE THE FACT THIS TRACK HAS A NUMBER OF GROOVES? "It's just a fine balance of trying to figure out what your car wants, what the driver wants, what the tires are like and where the competitors are. You can't pass somebody if you follow their lane, so you've got to go around them. You can either pick the high side or try to root them out on the low side, it depends on where they're running. Again, it's another equation of variables as far as where your car is good, where your car is bad, where your competition is and what you need to do to either save tires or use 'em up."
HOW DO YOU LIKE NOT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT FOLLOW THE LEADER AERO-PUSH THING? "That's something I commented about after my qualifying run. This isn't a track where you have to talk about multiple grooves, you talk about good side by side -- two, three and I've even seen four-wide racing here and it's fun. As a driver you think about what you need to do to pick the fastest line and everything else, but it's definitely a good race track. You'll still get aero-push in certain instances when you cross over behind a guy and enter behind a guy, but that's part of these race cars."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON? "The bottom line is, and it's been like this all year, we go out there and we do the best job we possibly can. The points are just a reward system for how good your performance is. You can call it pressure or whatever you want, but we go out there and do the best job we can. There's nothing we can do to make it any harder, I feel, as a team on anybody else. We're out there to do the best job that we can and, in my eyes, if we do the best job we can whether we win a race or not, a good situation is we put pressure on other people because they need to try to out-perform us and I guess it's just the competitiveness of the sport."
DOES YOUR ENGINEERING BACKGROUND MAKE YOU MORE PRECISE OUT HERE? "We talk in engineering terms. That's our background, that's our language. When you're a monkey, you speak monkey I guess. We go out there and attack. To me, there's no really one race track that's any harder to drive than the other, it's about how good you are compared to everybody else. Whether it's Atlanta that's so fast or Martinsville, where your braking points and everything else make up a big difference, there are all those variables. But the bottom line is just having a better team and beating everybody else. Yes, we use our engineering background and yes we do talk about the engineering stuff."
GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF ENGINEERING SPEAK? "This race track is a good example of that because of the bumps in three and four. Some people will call it a porpoising effect, but what it really is is the car heaving. Heaving is just the car traveling up and down, but it's how you can get the car to maintain a body position and at the same time keep the grip in the tires without sacrificing body position. So things like that, the technical term of heat is one thing."
DOES THAT GIVE YOU AN ADVANTAGE HERE? "It paid off today. We'll just have to see what Sunday is like, but it just bases around the team no matter what. It's how you approach certain things. I guess there are certain things you can look at historically. This is another good example where a certain setup has worked for the last eight or 10 years, but things change, tires change, drivers change and, therefore, the setup changes. I guess how we adapt to the newer principles is what might make us, from a rookie standpoint, more of a challenge."
ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE PATRICK YOUR SHOCK SPECIALIST PAY OFF HIS BET ON SUNDAY? "Yeah, he will be dressing up. I can't say the word he's gonna dress up as, but he's gonna be in a costume. The best itself, I forget where it originated, but I guess it started at Darlington. If I won the pole, then somebody was gonna have to dress up as whatever. I think it was a cat because of the pole cat award at Darlington. With all the rain delays we had, we decided to talk about some other things. For instance, last week if we had qualified and got the pole at Atlanta, Matt was supposed to dress up like a chicken because his nickname is the chicken, according to some people. But that's just a little fun that we have with extra time that we get."
HAS THIS BEEN EASIER THAN YOU THOUGHT? "I guess easy is kind of a vague word in this kind of situation because, by all means, you know it's not easy. It's definitely difficult. I think the smoothness of the transition has been easier than I thought, but by no means is any of it easy. It's definitely difficult. To come to a place like this and be able to get the car hooked up for two laps and then you've got to change some of your principles over for race day when you're trying to make the tire live as long as you can, so it's not necessarily easy. Some things have come easier and some things have come harder, but that's part of the rookie season."
DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT WINNING AT ONE OF THESE LAST THREE TRACKS? "I guess to answer your question, we never thought we would have won at Loudon, so it doesn't really matter. I mean, we've had good experiences in the past of coming close to winning races at Phoenix. I ran second several times in the Copper World, which is obviously a different race car, different everything, but the same race track. I really enjoy this race track and we've been semi-good at Homestead. We'll just have to see how things go. This year we've learned so much. We qualified 23rd here in the spring and came back to qualify first. Hopefully, we can do better on Sunday than like we did with 14th in the spring. My point is, we've learned so much throughout the season that I don't really know. We tested twice my first year at Phoenix in 2000. We qualified 10th and finished 42nd, I think. Last year, we went and tested -- had an awesome test -- and qualified something like 25th and crashed in the race. You don't really know what to expect sometimes."
WHAT ABOUT A ROOKIE WHO IS NOT A ROOKIE ALMOST BEATING YOU FOR THE POLE (MCMURRAY)? "It doesn't matter. You could have asked Jeff Gordon that last year at Kansas when we ran second to him. We weren't a rookie yet then either. NASCAR Winston Cup drivers are drivers. They're not rookies, they're not veterans, they're drivers and they got here because they've got experience and they're talented people behind the wheel. That's the way I see it. That's my perspective."
DO YOU SENSE OTHER DRIVERS FEEL YOUR WAY OF DOING THINGS IS THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE? "I've learned that this is sport -- racing in general -- as well as NASCAR is very much follow the leader. What one person does, the other person tries to adapt and make better. But the bottom line is the whole package has to be there and the whole equation has to be right in order for it to balance out. Right now, we have a good balance. The people are great, we get along great and we have a lot of fun as you'll see on Sunday. It's just a matter of having everything right.
"Computers came along a long time ago and they're just now working their way pretty heavily into this sport, as Mr. Economaki would comment on, but the transition to the future, nobody knows what it's really gonna be. It's just when you hit on that combination, you try to adapt those principles."
DO THE GUYS OVER 35 EVEN NEED TO SHOW UP AFTER THIS LAST MONTH? "No, I can give you a rhetorical answer to that -- just look at Pocono and Indianapolis. Elliott stomped us there. It's just a matter of timing, coincidence. There's a lot more younger drivers in Winston Cup right now, therefore you see relative proportions to them winning and doing better, so it's just a matter of the population. That's it. I could give you another idea, but I proved my point the first time."