Sears Point: Dodge - Newman Friday interview

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: Newman had finished fifth, first and fifth in his last three starts prior to Michigan and moved from 27th to 16th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings. A fire resulted inside the cockpit of his...

RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: Newman had finished fifth, first and fifth in his last three starts prior to Michigan and moved from 27th to 16th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings. A fire resulted inside the cockpit of his ALLTEL Dodge at Michigan after a blown engine, and Newman ended up 41st last week. It was his sixth finish of 38th or lower this season, but Newman has two wins and ranks 17th in the series standings heading into Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350. Newman finished ninth at Infineon last season and second in the road course race at Watkins Glen.

"After all the oxygen and stuff in the infield care center last Sunday, I had a breathing treatment there, too. It kind of helps dilate the lungs and breathing passages. My biggest feeling, and I think the doctors understood it once I described everything to them because they weren't real familiar with the halon was that to make sure I got all of it out of my lungs. I wanted to make sure it didn't saturate in my lungs. I don't know a whole lot about it, but I know that stuff out of the fire extinguisher can't be good for you. The burns were like a super bad sunburn that blistered up. I haven't done anything to it except keep ointment on it and keep it moisturized. Other than that, I just wanted to get the nasty taste out of my mouth and oxygen in my lungs. I was fine on Monday. On Sunday night I drank a Pepsi, and it still tasted like the fire extinguisher. That kind of tells you how bad it was because I'd had some things to drink before that. When it gets in your system it's hard to get out."

WHY WAS THE FIRE SO BAD INSIDE THE CAR?

"The shifter boot basically disintegrated. A lot of the fire came up through there. That's what fed a lot of it. There were some other places where the fire was getting through, but the shifter boot was the biggest thing. I don't think it was made of the proper material or the best material, so we've done some research and we're doing something different there."

HOW DID YOU PUT OUT THE FIRE?

"I've seen fire in engines before. Oil fires will put themselves out from lack of chemistry from what the oil is made of. The main reason it burns is because of what's in the oil. It's not like fuel that continues to burn. I was going to wait for the fire to go out. It kept getting worse and worse, and once it got in the car I decided to pull the fire pin. It's right next to my seat. One of the other problems I had was the spray nozzle was pointed in three directions - toward my feet, the center of my body and toward my upper body. I wanted to put the fire out and at the same time I didn't want to catch on fire. I was kind of between a rock and a hard place. I had to take the nozzle itself and point it toward the fire and all at the same time I was probably running between 100-120 mph. At that point, I wasn't able to totally focus on what I was doing. I was lucky I didn't get hit by another car or something else bad happen. I think all at the same time, my spotter, John Erickson, was telling me what to do. I told him afterwards that I didn't hear a word he said, but I think what he said registered and helped me telepathically get to where I was and what I was doing. Once I got stopped, it was just a matter of getting out. The hardest part was staying conscious after not being able to breathe because of the fire extinguisher."

HOW LONG DID IT LAST?

"I saw the smoke down the back straightaway. I just anticipated taking it to the pits and pulling in the garage and being done for the day. I saw the fire and I kept going. I thought it would go out or once I got stopped they would put it out. It just kept getting worse and once it got inside that's when I decided to pull the pin."

DID YOU THINK THE BAD LUCK WAS BEHIND YOU?

"We'll be all right. We'll just keep doing our best. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. It's never over with. It's just a matter of how sporadic it is. It hasn't been sporadic for us this year."

DO YOU LIKE THIS TRACK?

"It's not bad. It's hard to pass on, but it's fun to bring the cars out here. I'm a racer. It doesn't matter if it's an oval, dirt, short track, jroad course, whatever. We come to try to win and if we can't win, we'll try to finish as high as we can."

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Series NASCAR Cup