NASCAR/Nextel Teleconference with Dodge driver Ryan Newman Tuesday, June 1,2004. Ray Cooper RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) WHAT'S YOUR SECRET AT DOVER? "First of all I like the racetrack, which never hurts. Second of all,...
NASCAR/Nextel Teleconference with Dodge driver Ryan Newman
Tuesday, June 1,2004. Ray Cooper
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
WHAT'S YOUR SECRET AT DOVER?
"First of all I like the racetrack, which never hurts. Second of all, Matt and the guys on the team do a great job of putting a great racecar underneath me. It's just a combination of everything, just like any other team that gets to victory lane. It takes a little bit of everything and not just good but great situations, whether it's pit stops that are strategies or whatever else to get that win. I like the racetrack. It's typically a pretty good race. Cars are able to pass instead of beating on each other and get by. That to be is a good recipe for good racing. I've enjoyed it and done well there."
COMMENT ON RACES COMING UP AT POCONO AND MICHIGAN
"The last two seasons our summers have been our strong point. We start off really bad and then get really, really good in the summer and kind of average out the last 10 races or so. We're going to do our best to even that out and do our very best obviously every weekend and try to eliminate some of those bad runs, which we have in the past but we've had some other things pop up like this past weekend. We look forward to Michigan obviously. It's close to home for me. I enjoy Dover, and I also enjoy Pocono. As far as road courses go, we've been to four races there and haven't finished out of the top 10 yet. We'll just see what we can do to rack up some points there."
IS AN ALL-STAR RACE LIKE HAVING THE WEEK OFF?
"The race itself is a lot of fun. It's kind of like a break because it's on Saturday night and it's close to home. We spend basically three weeks here close to home. But as far as points and everything else goes, I race the same. I don't try any harder or any less harder whether there's points or not points. That's pretty much it."
DID YOU TEST AT DOVER LAST YEAR? IS IT VITAL TO TEST THERE?
"No, we didn't test there last year. We tested there my rookie year (2002) if I remember right. I know we tested there in the Busch car in 2001. I don't recall testing there in 2002, but I've adapted to the track pretty well. I understand what it takes to get around there. It's a track that's usually plenty racy. There are a couple of grooves you can work with. It's fast. It's physically demanding and mentally demanding to hit your marks. I've enjoyed it and the team has enjoyed it."
IS THE COMPETITION DIFFERENT THIS YEAR? WHY HAVE FEWER DRIVERS WON THIS SEASON?
"I think some of it is coincidence. Some of it is a couple of teams hitting things right. Jimmie Johnson's got two wins, Kenseth two wins plus the Challenge race. Junior's got two wins, so a lot of guys have hit it right a couple of times. We've been close a couple of times, but we haven't made it to victory lane yet. Competition wise, I don't think it's much different if at all different from last year. I couldn't even tell you if it was more or less competitive because it's that close. I just go out and race for the win."
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE SOUVENIR BUSINESS TO THE DRIVER?
"For me, it's not a huge income thing compared to everything else. Obviously it's a good source of income, but to me the bottom line is it's a way to communicate with the fans. I make it a point to at least 15 times a year go out to the souvenir rig and sign autographs for the fans. Typically I do it in the bigger markets because it has more of an impact, but that's part of racing. It's a cool part of racing. It really allows the egotistical people to furthermore enjoy what they do and how they can rub their fantasy league stuff in other people's faces. It's something I enjoy."
DOES DOMINATING AT DOVER LAST YEAR ADD TO YOUR CONFIDENCE?
"The bottom line is we've proven we can get around the racetrack and we can win there. Now the determining factor is we've got to go back and repeat. We've got no excuse. We've been the fastest car on Friday and we've been the best car on Sunday. The bottom line is to go back and do our best job like we did last year and let things happen the way they're going to happen. If we get beat, we get beat. If not, we'll go to victory lane just like before. Sometimes you have to work real hard and sometimes things come easy. More often than not you have to work real hard. Dover has been a good track for us in the past. We've qualified well there, and we've raced well there. We can't say that at every racetrack."
DO YOU GIVE ADVICE AND RECEIVE ADVICE FROM YOUR TEAMMATES?
"Let me answer it this way. I think the bottom line is we're at where we're at in our career because we don't need advice. We get advice sometimes and we take advice, but the bottom line is we don't need it. We're hired for our driving abilities, whether it's me, Rusty or Brendan. I don't think someone would have put us in this position if they felt like we needed advice on a lot of things."
COMMENT ON CONTACT WITH JOHN ANDRETTI IN COCA-COLA 600
"The one time I didn't hit him. I just took the air off his spoiler in the middle of one and two as soon as he passed me. I didn't realize how loose he was. The second time coming off turn four, I went in high and started coming off low and he drifted up in front of me. I just got into the back of him and again took the air off his spoiler. He got around and caught his bumper with the wall. It was just a racing deal. It was just tough, hard racing."
DO YOU THINK THE CUP SERIES SHOULD HAVE A TIRE LIMIT?
"I think there could be, but I think it's fine the way it is. There's a lot of other ways to cut the cost of this sport, and there are a lot of other ways to bring money into this sport. I think it's fine the way it is right now as far as tires go. Let me say it this way. We had a tire last year at a ton of tracks that would last forever, and they decided that wasn't a good way to do it because we should build tires that wear out. I think that's the only series I've ever heard say that, so no, to limit tires would be kind of hypocritical at this point."
DOES YOUR ENGINEERING DEGREE MAKE IT EASIER TO TACKLE A TRACK LIKE POCONO?
"I wouldn't say easier, but I think the whole idea of an engineer is somebody that can apply their knowledge in the form of a science to a given thing, whether it's a racecar or strategy or whatever. Knowing it's a little more difficult, hopefully we have a little advantage as far as applying what we know to those three specific corners. It's definitely doable to get the car to handle in all three corners, so we focus on getting the best out of all three. Typically I just shift once on the front straightaway and then downshift going into turn one. That's what a lot of people have done for the past three or four years to my knowledge, so nothing outrageous."
ARE YOU GOING TO FOCUS ON ANYTHING DIFFERENT AT DOVER ON SUNDAY?
"We're going to do everything we can to maximize points and the potential for a win. We'll give it 100 percent and trying our best and not making mistakes we've made in the past. That's all I can ask from a driver's standpoint of myself or the team. Just doing those things and hopefully it'll end us in victory lane like it has in the past."
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO LIMIT COSTS?
"There's the official this and official that of NASCAR. I think there's a potential for NASCAR to throw the teams some money, especially teams that they eliminate their sponsors from because of the name they have. That's one way there that can be of assistance to teams and make the sport grow. That's to have a quality car count no matter what, and they can eliminate some headaches with field fillers and what not. That to me would be the best place to start."
DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE OK TO CUT BACK ON NUMBER OF CARS STARTING A RACE?
"I'm not saying that. Here's an example. Mobile One is the official oil of NASCAR. Valvoline is the official oil of Daytona International Speedway. You do the math on that one. I'm not even relating it to the ALLTEL-Nextel situation. The thought of double dipping sponsors to benefit NASCAR and ISC and other places like that is just... I know that's not the only example. There are some sponsors out there that could have supported a team, for instance, the Crown Royal deal going to IROC and not being allowed in NASCAR. I'm not saying that it should be, but I'm guessing that's not the only time it's happened."
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT CUP CAR SHOULD LOOK LIKE?
"There are a ton of things I could think of if I actually sat down and did it. Obviously, moving the driver farther to the right, away from the left side of the car, not necessarily in the center of the car but farther to the right. Making the car bigger and everything else might be OK, but there are plenty of things we could do with materials that will make the cars a lot safer with different types of foam and different types of metal. Even the addition of some carbon fiber in some areas is one thing, but there are plenty of other things. Like I've said before, the absence of a mechanical fuel pump would be beneficial from the safety standpoint as well as a feasibility standpoint. Using different types of extinguishing materials instead of Halon in the cars basically not to contaminate a driver's lungs. Plenty of things can be done. There are a lot of new rules they have created and a lot of them are good ones because they eliminate guys who are cheating, but some of them are totally question marks. I think drivers should have an impact, but I can't say they should have more of an impact. There's going to be a time here in the near future when I'm going to go down and check out what they have as far as the new car, and I'm going to make some recommendations. I want to do that, but you can't just base everything off of one driver or one team."
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL EVER DESIGN A CAR?
"I can't say no and I can't say yes. I think I have some ability to do that, not that it's what I want to do. I'm focused on what I have to do as a driver at this point, and until that changes, I can't give you a straight answer."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR DRIVERS SHOULD HAVE A WAY TO SPEAK AS A GROUP?
"I don't feel that that's necessary nor would it be beneficial. I think everybody has an opinion and they should be able to voice it to John Darby or Mike Helton or any official in NASCAR. I know in the past there was a drivers' union that attempted to make some changes and it dramatically failed. I don't think that's necessary. I think we're people and not packs of wolves."
TALK ABOUT THE EVENT LAST WEEK YOU DID TO RAISE MONEY FOR A LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER
"The biggest point of the whole fund raising situation was to raise some money for these North Carolina animal shelters to keep from euphonizing dogs that can potentially be adopted. Krissie and I and a few people here at Penske all pitched in to put a program together to raise some money. We had a bake sale, we had some raffle items and we had some auction items that people bid on. Every autograph that a driver signed was a dollar apiece, and plenty of people offered five items and more than a dollar per item just to donate to the cause. It was a good deal for the area around here as far as the dogs and put a few things in perspective as far as what racecar drivers are capable of. I don't know the exact amount, but from what I've been told it was over $5,000."