RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) YOU'RE COMING BACK TO A RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACK THIS WEEKEND -- YOUR THOUGHTS ON COMING TO TALLADEGA? "The track is entirely different from the aspect that you don't have to handle very much here. Daytona...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
YOU'RE COMING BACK TO A RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACK THIS WEEKEND -- YOUR THOUGHTS ON COMING TO TALLADEGA? "The track is entirely different from the aspect that you don't have to handle very much here. Daytona was a handful to drive the cars around there. I don't think you're gonna have the handful here (at Talladega). The handful here is going to more of a mentality standpoint. I think you'll see a big group of cars like you did for a while in last fall's race. I think you'll see some cars and some drivers single-filing out and riding around for a while. I don't think it's good, but if we had to do that to make it to the end to make it a good show, that's what we'll have to do."
"I think the momentum from Daytona (500) will definitely carry over. Although that car is gone and this is a different race track. The best thing that I can bring is that if we have a good car, to have drafting help. My teammates from other cars want to work with us because they know we're capable of winning. Two top fives in the last two races is not bad when it comes to restrictor-plate races."
WHAT IS YOUR STATUS AS A 'FREE AGENT'? "I haven't signed my contact yet. We haven't really even talked about it yet. There are some options out there. Obviously, team wise - people who have gone public about wanting to start a fourth teams and other teams that are changing things -- changing driver's and crew chiefs and things like that. It seems to be starting earlier than it ever has -- at least in the last couple years. I'm sitting happy in my seat right now, but that doesn't mean that I can't be happy some place else. Whatever happens with Tony (Stewart), he's a friend of mine, and I haven't talked to him about it. I read it on Jayski. I haven't event gotten a phone call. Being the top of the free agent list hasn't gotten me anywhere yet."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO OTHER TEAMS YET? "I know that there are other options out there besides my retaining my position at Penske Racing."
DO YOU HAVE AN AGENT? "I'm my agent. I went to college for four years; it's got to pay for something."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENED (PERFORMANCE) SINCE DAYTONA? "Momentum wise, it's more of a mentality thing with the team. We know that we can get the job done -- we've accomplished that. We've really suffered in the points. We pretty much every weekend dropped places -- position wise in the points. With the exception with Texas when we lost 25 points because of the infraction -- we wouldn't have. We've had a couple engine issues that have really hurt us (Bristol and Phoenix) that put us back and hurt us points wise - two very important races of the eight. I think car wise - performance wise - we're better than average, but we're not where we want to be - we're not dominating - we're not leading the most laps. So it was nice at Phoenix to win the pole. I think we led 37 laps which is 10 percent of the race. That's not bad -- but that's not where we want to be or need to be. I think we've gotten better throughout the year with our intermediate program. Starting off at California and Vegas, we were so-so. Going back to Texas, even though we had a little bit of help the last couple laps, we finished fourth and had a competitive race car. Our lap times showed that. It took us a while during the race to get it right -- but we did. We look forward to going to Darlington and Charlotte. I think both of those tracks will be good for us.
We've always done well at them; I think that we've progressed with that package at those types of race tracks. It's been a little bit disappointing to start out on that high and get to where we are. I'd rather have started out in first (points position) and ended up 12th than go from 24th to 12th (position)."
WHAT CHANGED THAT DRIVER'S DECIDED TO JUST GET IN LINE AND DRIVE FOR A WHILE? "Two things. Not everybody is jacked-up on Mountain Dew as they used to be (laughs). I think part of it is that the cars and the packages themselves. When we go to the high side when we get in line, you get one guy that peels off, he can go down to the bottom -- he can't do anything -- he can't get back in line. He'll lose spots. In the past, you didn't have that as much. The guy who went to the bottom, he could hold his own. The way the cars draft now, it's a little bit different. Just enough difference that we can't do that and we're more apt to stay in single-file line in that situation. I remember last year -- the spring race -- I was so frustrated. I had a good car sitting back in 12th or 14th and if I made a move, I'd lose two or three spots. If I made another move, I'd lose another two or three spots. It becomes frustrating. You almost want to give up. You almost say 'let's just ride and wait until it all happens in front of me'. On top of that, everybody gets that mentality and stays in single-file line until we get to the last three or four laps -- then we get a yellow (laughs). It's things like that.
"Realistically, at this race track we don't need this long of a race. It does change things -- reliability, engines, crashes -- it adds to it. You could put on just as good race in 100 -- 150 miles and be done with it (the race). You see a lot of the same things, just not the single-file running."
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SINCE LAST FALL THAT WILL MAKE THE RACING BETTER HERE ON SUNDAY? "I don't think the racing is necessarily going to change. The cars a virtual identical as compared to how they were except for the restrictor-plate change which will change the speeds a bit. If were not going as fast, 'do I get a little crazier here'? Me, I never raced like that. I know other's do. I don't. I don't put myself in a position where it's unsafe. To the point to where we're going to crash. We get in accidents and spin around and do those things -- but I won't put myself in a position to clip somebody in the right-rear corner and send him into the fence and flip him over. It can be done. People do it. I don't do it.
DOES MICHAEL MCDOWELL'S CARSH ALLOW DRIVERS TO BE MORE DARING? "That was qualifying, that wasn't the race. He hit the wall -- flipped over 10 times -- went back across the race track. If that was racing conditions, he could have gotten t-boned on the roof -- on the door -- anything could have happened. If you look at my crash here in '03 going into Turn 1 when I blew out a left rear tire -- it took out like 26 cars or so. It was virtually an identical crash where I got loose and went up into the wall. My car didn't flip -- it almost flipped -- I had a car hit me and straightened me out. I won't drive differently because I saw Michael McDowell's crash. I don't think his crash was a good crash. I don't think that his car should have ever flipped. "Whether it was the car's fault or the wall's fault, all he did was hit the wall. Why he flipped is not ideal. That shouldn't happen. Whether the car's CG (center of gravity) is too high or the wall has an angle to it -- I don't know. I'm just saying his car shouldn't have crashed at Texas"
IS THE CENTER OF GRAVITY IN THE NEW CAR TOO HIGH? "The center of gravity in the car is higher than any race car driver, team member or crew chief would like. It makes it that more difficult to drive. It makes it that much more difficult on the right side tires because when you raise the center of gravity, you put more load on the right side tires. The left side tires don't do as much work so it puts more demand on Goodyear to have a better right side tire than left side tires because they mean less. When you raise the center of gravity, it's like a monster truck, it's prone to flipping over. It's not ideally what you want for a race car -- so 'yes' -- 'is it too high?' -- Possibly yes. Any center of gravity that's below the ground, the car will never flip. You just can't build one like that."
-credit: dodge motorsports