RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Finished 7th) -- RAYBESTOS ROOKIE PRESS CONFERENCE "It was definitely tough, but today was our punishment, I guess, from Mother Nature. It was really hot out there. The guys on the crew did an awesome job. I...
RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Finished 7th) -- RAYBESTOS ROOKIE PRESS CONFERENCE
"It was definitely tough, but today was our punishment, I guess, from Mother Nature. It was really hot out there. The guys on the crew did an awesome job. I slid through my pit one time and we recovered from that. We had good pit stops, good strategy, good fuel mileage. It was a pretty good day for the ALLTEL Ford and we came home with a top 10 and for this being a restrictor plate race as a rookie, we're pretty happy about that."
DID YOU BURN YOUR FEET?
"My heel is blistered up pretty good, so I'm shoeless."
DID THE FUEL CELL RULE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
"It made about two more pit stops. I think that was pretty much the bottom line and I think at the same point it made things a little hectic as far as breaking up the pack when everybody came down to pit lane at different times. You'd get five cars here and five cars there. We're so blind sometimes coming off turn four that when you get the wrong situation and a guy cuts out in front of you, there's a potential for a great accident there, but, I guess, the answer you're looking for is I think it was pretty much the same race. I don't think it really solved anything in my opinion, but I still think it was a pretty good race."
WAS JUNIOR JUST THAT MUCH BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE?
"We had a pretty decent race car. I don't know what everybody else was doing. There were a few cars there in the top five that definitely needed to save fuel because they were a few laps short and they needed to save it so they wanted to stay in line. That was the tough part. I didn't really have anybody behind me to help push. This isn't a handling race track like Daytona, where you can jump to the outside and roll around the top and pick a few off at a time. I tried doing that, but it just didn't work. I think I actually lost a spot there at the end."
HOW MUCH HAVE YOU LEARNED THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR BECAUSE IF IT WASN'T FOR A COUPLE OF ACCIDENTS IN THE FIRST HALF YOU MIGHT BE LEADING.
"I guess that's part of being a rookie. We've had some failures, whether it was engine related or driver related, but everybody does. You look at what happened before the start of the race today -- people do make mistakes, but it's just part of NASCAR Winston Cup racing and part of life. We've just done our best to work our way through it. It'll change around at some point and we'll have some more failures, but, hopefully, it's not for a long time."
IS THERE ONE AREA SPECIFICALLY WHERE YOU'VE GROWN THIS YEAR?
"No one area specifically, just a lot of areas. It's experience as Waltrip always says."
WHAT DID YOU SEE ON THE PACE LAP?
"I think the 6 car's steering wheel came off. That's what it looked like to me. He cut left so hard and it looked like once he cut left, I don't know if he was rubbing his tires or what -- it could have been that too -- but it looked like his steering wheel came off and he just had to go down in the gas and re-collect it and get the steering wheel back on. Then I think he took a half-lap on the bottom to make sure everything was OK and something wasn't really wrong with the steering. That was just my perspective sitting three rows back."
KIND OF SURPRISING WASN'T IT?
"Yeah, you go down the road at 55 and the steering wheel comes off and you'll see what happens. You don't expect it before the green flag comes out and it was kind of wild the way they made them do things there. Before the green flag ever dropped, he had to come down (pit road). I don't know how the rule works or if that was something he chose to do or NASCAR made him do, but it was just odd and that's about it."
SHOULD THE FUEL CELL BE TRIED AGAIN?
"I don't really care. I just wish they'd make the rules consistent and stick with them. If they're gonna run a 13-gallon fuel cell here, I hope they do at Daytona and everyplace else next year. I hope they don't go back and forth because there's a lot of work that goes into it team-wise, not just to getting a 13-gallon fuel cell but getting one that holds the most. The teams work so hard to fill that extra half-gallon and it's just an emphasis that we don't need to work on as a team. It's hard enough to have good pit stops and communication and all the other things, and the money that goes into it, but that's not my deal. I just sit behind the wheel."
DO YOU FEEL FORTUNATE TO STILL BE IN THE POINTS RACE AFTER LEAVING TALLADEGA?
"I think I can say yeah to that one. We're fortunate to be running up front and fortunate to be up there in the points. Yeah, without a doubt we feel fortunate, but at the same time we know that can be taken away at any point."