Continued from part 1 Q: Tony, when you look at where these teams are right now, you're not guaranteed a spot in the top-35 for next year. How important was it to get a guy who is a great qualifier in that second car? TONY STEWART: "Well,...
Continued from part 1
Q: Tony, when you look at where these teams are right now, you're not guaranteed a spot in the top-35 for next year. How important was it to get a guy who is a great qualifier in that second car?
TONY STEWART: "Well, that wasn't as big a factor as just knowing that we've got somebody that's as passionate about our program as we are and somebody that we know is going to be competitive every week. That's something that Ryan's already proved in his career in the Cup Series.
"You know, obviously we're working really hard to keep Scott (Riggs, driver of the No. 66 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet) in the top-35 right now, and that would ensure that Ryan doesn't have to do what he does best, that's going out and getting front rows and poles and everything. We're trying to work really hard the rest of the season to accomplish that so we don't put that pressure on Ryan. That's something that's really big to the organization right now, that we do everything we can to keep that 66 car in the top-35 in points. Let him worry about going out and racing, not worrying about going out and qualifying the first five weeks."
Q: Can you address how you told Tony about this? And what do you think about the No. 4?
RYAN NEWMAN: "We sat down at the shop, we talked about it, signed the paperwork. I told Tony, 'The bottom line is, I'm here to have fun. I want to have fun with you.' I know he wants to have fun doing this. That's what racing hasn't been a whole lot of for me lately due to the fact we had success in '02, '03, part of '04, and since then it hasn't been as successful. Therefore, some of the fun is gone with that. I look forward to having fun again.
"The No. 4; I know what that means to Tony Stewart. I have numbers that mean more to me than the No. 4 does. But I'm here at Stewart Haas Racing and I respect the No. 4 and his decision. He told me it was his first go-kart number. That means a lot to me because I have some of my first race cars with the No. 43 on them, which obviously are notorious here. I look forward to representing that number with this team."
Q: What about the sense of humor, Tony?
TONY STEWART: "We don't have senses of humor. Very dull, quiet people, both of us (laughter).
"No, the thing is, there's going to be a lot of work involved in what we're doing here, but at the same time, I mean, we've got a teammate now and we've got an organization that realizes that . . . the first couple times we walked in the shop, everybody was pretty tense around there. But the more you go around there, the more you laugh and joke around with the guys, the more relaxed they are, the more you see the intensity on their faces going forward.
"To see somebody like Ryan and me around there each day I think will be something those guys will like. Ryan likes to fish. I like to fish. We both raise baby deer. We have a lot of common interests. I think this is something we're both going to have a lot of fun doing.
"The competition side will probably be rougher with us going fishing than anything. It's probably going to be the toughest part of it. The first time he gets me in a boat and gets me out about 50 feet and says, 'All right, we're fishing for paychecks today.' I'm swimming back. If I drown, you guys will know what happened.
"But we're going to have a lot of fun with this. That's something that is important. As hectic and busy and tedious as the schedule keeps getting each year -- it grows, it's not gotten easier, it's got harder every year -- to have somebody like Ryan on board that you know you're going to have fun with, that makes you look forward to going and having fun every day."
Q: Ryan, two names I'd like to know how they influenced this decision: Matt Borland and Krissie Newman.
RYAN NEWMAN: "Good question, especially since she's sitting in the audience.
"Matt Borland, I talked to him a couple times on and off. He's still a great friend of mine. Obviously a super technical person. Has obviously a huge influence at Stewart Haas with respect to the race cars. He was, off the record, a good person to talk to. You know, I appreciated his input.
"Krissie Newman obviously was my sounding board at the house. She would elbow me somewhere between 12 and five in the morning at some points just to wake me up and talk about what I wasn't doing. She was typically more stressed out and high-strung about me making my decision and having a lot of input with that decision. So she was very helpful to me. No different than my parents who helped push me through college, she helped push me through this situation, and I'm very grateful for that."
Q: Ryan, how much did the removal of Don Miller from the day-to-day workings at Penske change your perception of the company or devotion to the company?
RYAN NEWMAN: "Don Miller is a great friend. Always has and always will be. That did change some of the things. That didn't change my ultimate decision. It had influence on it, without a doubt. When people are a big part of what makes the race car go fast, again how much fun you can have in doing so, I definitely missed him from Penske Racing. But, you know, we still have our ties with old cars. Just definitely enjoy his friendship still.
"But, yeah, it made a difference, but it wasn't the ultimate reason by any means."
Q: You both have talked about the importance of people. Both of you will be looking for crew chiefs. Can you just talk a little bit about what you're looking for, Ryan? Tony, are you closer to finding someone?
RYAN NEWMAN: "For me, you know, I can kind of speak on Tony's behalf as much as he does mine, it's about us having crew chiefs that get along together, and as a group. Between the drivers, crew chiefs, race engineers, they have a common chemistry.
"So, you know, a lot of that is up to Tony and the people at Stewart Haas to make those decisions. Obviously I want to have the input to have somebody I can personally get along with. We'll address that situation as it comes."
TONY STEWART: "Yeah, I agree. I mean, that's kind of where we're at right now. We're working to not get just one crew chief, we're working to get a pair of crew chiefs that, like Ryan said, are going to work well together. It helps us work together better as drivers and keeps the organization just that much more intact.
"I've seen multi-car organizations that the crew chiefs were in different directions with each other, and they don't utilize the opportunity of what a two-car team is all about in the right way.
"We're going to rely on Ryan's input as much as anybody's, you know, to make this decision. It's got to be people that we're both comfortable with on both sides. I mean, he has to be comfortable with who is going to be my crew chief. I have to be comfortable with who his crew chief is going to be. I think that's going to make us that much stronger. This gives us a unique opportunity to do that.
"I don't think there's a lot of teams and organizations that have had a scenario where they get to go out at the same time and go after two crew chiefs. So, you know, maybe this is something that will even be that much better for us."
Q: Ryan, with drivers commonly seen at leaders of the team, what is your role or how do you foresee your role changing or developing with this team in the sense of this is a team that certainly has a lot of room to grow? Are there certain things you're going to have to do more of as a driver than what you've had to do? How are you going to have to change with the change of job?
RYAN NEWMAN: "That's a good question. And I think a lot of it's unknown. I think the more successful the organization and the team is, the less the driver has to have that input or give that quarterback leadership, let's say. You know, it's going to take some time from a building standpoint, from a personnel standpoint, to be where we want to be as far as the Chase goes and championship-contending teams and organizations.
"I want to have that influence. I want to have that communication. I want to be successful with Tony and with the organization doing so. It's just a matter of the right time and the right place, just like anything else in the world."
Q: Won't that be the beginning of this process?
RYAN NEWMAN: "This is the beginning of the process. Just like Tony said, there are going to be people that, hopefully after Tony announces I'm here, will want to come and be part of the organization. That is one of the first. This is the concrete for the foundation, let's say, for building a perfect team, a perfect organization."
Q: Ryan, when did you sign this? How long does it go until? Did you get any ownership? Do you have any guarantee that Matt Borland will be back next year?
RYAN NEWMAN: "Did you write that on paper so I can answer it (laughter)?
"When did I sign? Recently."
TONY STEWART: "It was under the four days (laughter)."
RYAN NEWMAN: "I'm not sure I was coherent when I did it (laughter).
"I signed it just recently. We have had discussions for the last little bit. But obviously I had a lot of discussions with a lot of other organizations the last little bit. I mean, I couldn't tell you a day that I decided and all that stuff.
"I forget the other four questions (laughter)."
Q: Any ownership involved?
RYAN NEWMAN: "Any ownership involved? Not on my part."
Q: Matt Borland.
RYAN NEWMAN: "I do not know the status of Matt Borland's contract/agreement, where he stands with the team. That would be a good question for Matt."
Q: How many years?
RYAN NEWMAN: "How many years? I'm 30 (laughter)."
TONY STEWART: "Going to the media center is a hell of a lot more fun now. It's a multi-year agreement."
RYAN NEWMAN: "Multi-year agreement."
Q: Does this change your relationship at all on the track for this year? Ryan, if you see the 20 come up, are you going to be a little easier on him passing you or anything?
RYAN NEWMAN: "I don't think we've ever been like that, have we?"
TONY STEWART: "No, not really (laughter)."
RYAN NEWMAN: "Obviously we're not going to work against each other, but we're not in a position to work for each other either. It's the right time, right place, give-and-take type situation. No different than it ever has been."
TONY STEWART: "It's business as usual. It's just about respect out there. We've always had respect for each other, even though we drove for different teams. Now that we're going to be on the same side next year, that respect won't change. It will still be there."
Q: Any chance you could go over to Haas this year for the final 10 races? How deep does your history go together? Did you both drive for the same owner in USAC?
RYAN NEWMAN: "I'm contracted and fulfilling my contract with Penske Racing to do what I've been contracted to do for the rest of the year, and that's drive the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge, try to get in victory lane, win races, do all those things.
"As far as previous ownership, I think there's only one person that I'm aware of we both drove for, that was Steve Chrisman. That was in USAC sprint car."
TONY STEWART: "He drove all that stuff after I tore it all up and had gone to another team. He got to drive all the bent stuff (laughter)."
Q: Ryan, this will be your first opportunity to drive for Chevrolet. This organization has the connection with Hendrick Motorsports. How do you feel about the first-time ever with Chevrolet and the fact that you're not just going to drive for a new two-car team, you're going to drive for a team that has a strong relationship with a very successful organization?
RYAN NEWMAN: "Yeah, the Chevrolet part of it I'm excited about. Obviously Tony is super excited about it. It's a new deal for me. I look forward to putting the Chevrolet in victory lane.
"With the tie to Hendrick, that's obviously assumed to be a good thing. That's part of the reason I feel it's going to be successful and I look forward to driving what currently even now is a Hendrick car at Stewart Haas Racing."