RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) "You're fighting so many variables whether it's track position or a lapped car that's racing you hard in the groove. It's a constant struggle all day. Once we got that track position, it was huge. I ...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)
"You're fighting so many variables whether it's track position or a lapped car that's racing you hard in the groove. It's a constant struggle all day. Once we got that track position, it was huge. I didn't see the end of the race behind me, but Matt Kenseth had an awesome car when he was out front and so did Jeff. Once they got behind me they were tight.
"Buddy (Baker) has helped me out a lot. I've said it before. He's always told me what not to do. Buddy told me he made mistakes when he was growing up driving or just as a person, and I don't want you to make those same mistakes. If you can avoid making those mistakes you're going to make other ones, but I'll eliminate the variables for you. He's helped me so much, in and out of the car, primarily in qualifying trim. He showed me how to get the best lap out of the car and the best line. I'd say the first year and a half or two years of my racing, Buddy came to every test we had. He helped me understand the track, the tires, everything else. Buddy is in the top 50 or whatever in the history of NASCAR, but he's got so much experience whether it's doing tire testing or other things. It's like the racing school down at Rockingham. He still gets in the race car every once in awhile and goes out with some of the slow cars. He knows what these cars feel like Their school race cars are virtually what we ran today.
"The United States Auto Club, midgets, sprint cars, silver crown cars teach you a lot about car control and teach you a lot about holding that car on the edge whether it's loose or tight. It's kind of wild. We're out there and the reason those four tires are there is basically because you're racing on air. You have to race through air to do it. Those (open wheel) guys are awesome drivers. I wish more of them got an opportunity to be where I am.
"Even when my car was out front, I was still tight. He (Earnhardt Jr.) would get a good corner and pull me and I'd get aero tight. The next corner he'd be ahead and I'd be back far enough where the air didn't make any difference and I could run up on him. I had an awesome Penske engine under the hood. I got down the straightaways and really caught up to him. I think it was as much a mental thing with me getting up to him on the entry of the corner and just working him over a little bit and making him push the edge and making him be as hard as he could on that right front tire because he was tight.
"Just because we won this race doesn't mean we've figured it out, but it was one of the tough things as far as adapting, not just the body location, but the body itself. There are some guys in Dodges out there that are struggling just because of the body location and the new nose.
"I think we just beat him (Earnhardt Jr.) That was pretty much it. He had just as good of an opportunity to work on his as we did ours. He had a better restart. He got by me, and we raced each other clean. That's a hard thing to do at a place like Texas where the speeds are so high and you have to come off of the corners so close. His car was that way.
"It's going to be a very big confidence builder for the whole team. It's more directly a confidence builder for Matt, the leader engineer Mike Nelson and the shop guys. We're primarily the guys responsible for what gets put in that race car. It's just a matter of us building another library of knowledge in reference to what we did last year with the Ford. It took us awhile to get there.
"Even if we would have finished second, I feel that (taking two tires on final pit stop) was the right decision. If we had taken four tires and three cars had taken two tires and beat us out, then we were pretty much guaranteed not to have a shot at winning the race. When Junior got by me, I kinda anticipated him checking out a little farther. When we started coming back, I was starting to get a little excited. Then when I saw the 24 catching me, I thought I was getting excited for nothing. Fortunately Jeff got aero tight behind me, and I was aero tight behind Junior. He got tight enough, and I was able to work by him. Matt did a great job on making the call, and track position was the biggest important thing today. You could have a great balanced car, but when you're running seventh here you're really 14th and you're on top of the race track."