NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Talladega Superspeedway Ryan Newman Morning Press Conference Quotes RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger) -- On Project HALO and the Ryan Newman Foundation's efforts in the Hurricane Relief efforts: "Last night,...
NASCAR Nextel Cup Series
Ryan Newman Morning Press Conference Quotes
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger) --
On Project HALO and the Ryan Newman Foundation's efforts in the Hurricane Relief efforts:
"Last night, (wife, Krissie) and a couple of her friends and employees of ours came back from Gulfport, Miss. They took a 43-foot truckload of Purina dog food down, that was donated by Purina. Just to go down there and just distribute it. And they took it to a bunch of local churches. She can tell the story a lot better than I can, and she's much more dramatic with it because she obviously experienced it. They got back last night, and they brought back 30 dogs, she said. And they brought them back to Project HALO in Charlotte, so she probably got to bed around four o'clock, based off of what time they got back.
"She said the whole experience was very dramatic, just amazing. She sent me pictures of houses with boats up inside them, and it's just amazing some of the things there were. But, she as well as Michelle Croom and Rosalie De Fini, our executive director for the foundation and her husband went down. They said that it was very successful in the fact that they went down and did their job and came back with the animals. And, in a roundabout way, I guess they had some fun with it.
"I think there's potential to do the same thing again in the future. There's so many animals down there -- and people, for that matter -- still that are just without homes, obviously, and without places to be. She said that there was just lots of animals just roaming the street. So, there's a lot of work that needs to be done, for sure, as far as the animals go. Our foundation is just a way to help out, for a good cause, obviously. To have people like Purina help us out to go down and do situations like that make it much more worthwhile."
How has Penske stepped up its restrictor plate program this year?
"Our restrictor plate program is a lot better this year. I think a lot of it is due to the new Dodge Charger itself. But, as a whole, it's actually one of the first times I've looked forward to coming to Talladega. We had a car that could have won at Daytona, and we got involved in a pit road accident there. But, just as a whole, our speedway racing this year has been a lot better. Our results haven't shown it because of the deal at Daytona on the restart, and again at Daytona on pit road, and a crash here in the spring. So, I was thinking on the way over here last night, where we finished in the spring, and then I realized that we didn't. It's just that you never know what's going to happen here at Talladega. You can run a perfect race all day and have somebody else mess it up for you. Obviously, if you're up front the risk is reduced, but there's still plenty of risk. We'll just have to see how everything plays out. We don't necessarily look forward to qualifying because of the procedures, but we look forward to the race knowing how strong we've been this year.
Is it fair to have a restrictor plate race as part of The Chase?
"I'll answer that question with a question. Do you think it's fair to have three of them in the first 26 races to get into the Chase? It's the way the schedule is. It's the way it works. Everybody's got to deal with the same cookie jar.
"The most important section of the year for 40 other teams was the first 26 races. These last 10 races don't mean as much to them. So, it's all in who you are and where you're at in the points. It's an opinionated question, and I don't really have a fair answer."
Do you feel like you've had a fair shot at winning here?
"In 2003 we ran fourth, and that was a great run for us. But in 2002 we actually blew an engine running fourth and passing for third, and the engine blew up. Those two times, for sure, we had a car that was capable of winning. And I think we'll have a good shot on Sunday."
Do you think it's fair that last week's winner came into the tech shed too high and didn't get a penalty?
"It's easy to say, 'yeah.' But I don't know the whole story. And I won't say anything until I know the whole story. But, obviously, the rumors aren't far from false. It's a very pivotal point in the season. And when you read something that says the first time the cars went through the house they were faulty, and then they were given an opportunity to come back through like they most seriously could fix themselves, it kind of leads you to question what's going on -- first of all with their cars, and second of all why is there even a procedure after the race anyway?
Do you think the controversy takes something away from the win?
"Not for them. They still have the max number of points without leading the most laps, and they took the trophy home with no penalties. So, it doesn't take anything away from their win. It takes away from the other teams."
Do you find it odd that two of the teams that were in question last weekend, were also hit with height violations earlier this year, and one other team out of that stable had its car confiscated a couple of races ago?
"Not really. If you look back to Las Vegas when they were illegal after the race, and then they were told that the Crew Chief was supposed to be suspended for four races, and they appealed that and won the appeal after the car was illegal, it makes you wonder what's going on."
Is it normal to let the shocks settle at the inspection?
"It all depends on what mood the inspectors are in. And I sway that because there are times when we'll go through and they'll let us work on the car in the house to make it right before a race or qualifying or something like that. So, there are times when they'll let you work on it, and there are times when they say, 'Go back in line and fix it.' I guess it's maybe just a grey area that they caught. I'll commend them on the fact that what they did was smart as far as what they did on the racetrack. But when they didn't meet the rules coming back to the house after the race, then it isn't fair anymore. And even if he waits an extra half-hour or whatever it was, it's still not fair. It didn't pass the first time through, and I didn't see anything in the rule book that says, 'Cars will be given three opportunities to be made legal as they come through the house. Obviously, NASCAR is going to make some kind of decision as far as shocks or the process, but it's a little late for nine other teams right now.
Do other cars get other chances?
"I can't answer that 100 percent because I'm not there after the race every time to see, especially with the new procedure this year as far as doing that. Like I said, there's plenty of times where it's kind of all dependant on the inspector's moods, as far as they'll let you work on the car -- a lot of little things, like 1/8th of an inch on the front valence or an 1/8th of an inch on the side skirts, things like that. They make a difference, that's why there's rules. But, they'll let you work on it sometimes and sometimes they won't let you work on it. Like I said, it's all mood-dependant."
On testing at Lowe's:
"I thought the track was in really good shape. And I think it has changed from last week. He said that they spent four days dragging tires around the racetrack to get some rubber in the racetrack. The track itself, there's nothing wrong with it other than being aesthetically ugly when you look at it. It looks like it has a bad case of psoriasis or something. It's fast. There's nothing bad about it. I like what he's done as far as grooving the bottom and the top of turns one and two. Again, in addition to that, making sure the bottom was grooved, which it wasn't before it was resurfaced or whatever they call it. I thought that was good because it brings it back to the old-style racing, only it's grippier. And, yes, that is a word. I don't think there's anything wrong with the racetrack. But I do believe, based off of what Humpy was saying, it was probably in better shape for the Busch cars this week than the Cup cars last week."
Isn't it the post-race height rule irrelevant if cars are allowed to settle from the heightened conditions that they performed with in the race?
"But there is no rule during the race. The rule is before the race and after the race. So, as long as you can meet those guidelines... And there's a high potential for grey area there because we're tuning on the racecars during the race. You can put eight rounds in the right-rear during the race, as long as you take six or seven of them out before you come back into the inspection after the race. It's something I'm sure that they're considering looking at."
What would your solution be to the post-race inspections?
"I think the obvious tool that the No. 48 and the No. 5 used to do what they were doing were the rear shocks. And I think that potentially there's some kind of amendment to the fourth shock rule this year, in reference to doing that. There were shock rules that were made at least twice this year, as far as keeping cars from doing that. And I think the No. 48 and the Hendrick boys have figured out a way to keep doing it, and doing it at the right time which is the grey area during the race. So, another shock rule that makes it the same for everybody -- and it was the same for everybody -- but eliminates the question of being high and the whole thing of coming through the house the first time and flunking the test and then getting an opportunity to do it again, that's got to change. Aside from that, they did a great job of making the car go fast."
As a competitor in a tight points race, how frustrating is this, and how unfair is it?
"It's been that way for 50 years, and it's getting better every year. So, all I guess the competitors can ask is that they make the proper changes to ensure that the situation doesn't happen again because it is such a hot topic and a topic that's a negative in a lot of people's eyes. As long as the rules are made to help equalize every team, as far as the legalities go, then there's no problem, no question."
Are restrictor plates the best way slow down the cars?
"From a driver's standpoint, the restrictor plates aren't the best way to create racing or safe racing. Maybe they are the way to achieve a lot of things, but they're not the best way from a driver's standpoint. Probably one of the greatest shows all year is coming, for the fans, and seeing four-wide, four-deep and the No. 8 car out front. I don't think it's a perfect situation as far as the restrictor plates. I know that there's some things that can be done. The cars can be made draggier. The horsepower can stay high, and we can lift in the corner here. You can make a different tire that's harder. You can make a different aerodynamic package that creates more drag. Obviously, teams will still work to take drag out of them. But, from a driver's standpoint, I wish we could run 220 down the straightaways and drop down to 180 in the corners and have to drive the cars so that we're not running four-wide. But, it would take a lot of work to do that. And that's why I say maybe restrictor plates are the best scenario as far as taking a lot of the same rules to every racetrack with the same cars. ... Draggier is a word, too."
About the race this weekend:
"This racetrack is a lot of fun when you've got a car that can pass. But when you're struggling to get by somebody and the guy behind you knows that and he won't help push you because he knows your car isn't as fast as the guy next to you. Then it's a really long day. And you get back in the middle of the pack, and that's where a big part of the problem usually is. I look forward to it, because I think we'll have a car that's going to be capable of winning, and I haven't been able to say that every time we've been here. You never know what's going to happen. It could be Loudon all over again as far as the violence on the racetrack because of the situation this year with the points and how close everything is. But, in saying that, our team is just going to approach it like we have every other time here and just go out and do the best job we can and try to be fast in qualifying, which I don't think we will be, and go out and have a good car for the race."
Have drivers been friendlier to each other, trying to set up drafting partners. Have any sent flowers?
"No. We sent the No. 48 and the No. 5 some shocks, though. We don't try to become any friendlier, it just kind of happens some times."
On the last stretch of races, and what can be done to carry momentum on some of the tougher racetracks for the Dodges:
"There is some validity to that. And I think that the Roush cars have kind of made us look bad. But, in turn, we haven't been running where they are on those mile-and-a-half tracks. But, looking at what Rusty has done this year. I think he was third in the points going into the 27th race. So, he's proven that he can keep it up there. He's not first, but he can keep it up there. So, maybe that's all you need to do at these mile-and-a-half tracks. But, I think we've learned a lot about our ALLTEL Dodge. But, I think we can do, definitely, a lot better than we have. We ran really good at Charlotte, and we struggled at Atlanta and Texas. And Homestead is kind of up in the air because we haven't raced there, obviously. But, we look forward to the competition. We look forward to trying. Like I said, we've made some big gains, and we'll see if they pay off. But, in saying that, after two races you've got the last three spots in the Chase are Roush cars now. So, they've got some work to do. They've got some catching to do, which I think they can still do because of the points system. But, we'll just have to see."
What's been the biggest challenge for the 1.5-mile racetracks?
"I think it was very obvious for the first half of the year that all of the Dodge struggled. You saw the Ganassi cars running good at Texas, or whatever it was. But other than that, Jeremy won a race at Michigan on fuel mileage. Kasey won a short track race. Up until our Loudon win, we didn't have much to talk about in the Dodge camp. It's obvious that the Dodges have struggled all year, and it's becoming more evident that we're not going to get any help for next year. But, in saying that, the Fords and Chevys are going to get new bodies. So, maybe they'll have the disadvantage that we've had this year, it seems."
Has the intensity of the Chase schedule cut in to your fishing plans?
"So far it has. I had a good place lined up over here. And I was going to go yesterday, and we didn't come in until last night. We tested at Charlotte on Wednesday and then at Kansas on Tuesday. I take that back, I didn't fish here, but I did fish at home yesterday and I caught two pretty nice ones."