MATT BORLAND (Crew Chief No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) Ryan Newman was third fastest in Saturday morning's practice in a backup Dodge Charger. How's the car? "It's an old car. The last time we raced it was in Phoenix in '01. I think Rusty ran...
MATT BORLAND (Crew Chief No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
Ryan Newman was third fastest in Saturday morning's practice in a backup Dodge Charger. How's the car?
"It's an old car. The last time we raced it was in Phoenix in '01. I think Rusty ran it last in 1997. It's not bad, but we'll see how it is in traffic tomorrow. That'll be the big question. It's probably not going to be real easy coming from the back of pack to the front tomorrow. Tires are falling off enough, so it's going to be hard to stay out under caution and get to the front. We struggled here in the spring. We just missed it setup wise, so hopefully we've hit something here that will work."
Newman won his circuit-leading eighth pole of the season yesterday and wrapped up his fourth straight Bud Pole Award. Why is he such a good qualifier? "He's good. The car's got to be good. It's got to be prepared well, and he gets that little extra out of the car every time. That just comes down to talent. Pit selection (based on qualifying) is big and track position is big, so I think teams put a lot of emphasis on qualifying. If you start on the pole there's a good chance of leading that first lap so you get the five bonus points out of the way. I wish they would give bonus points for qualifying. That would be good."
What do you have to do to win the 2005 title? "Win three races. We haven't been able to do that yet, but we've got three chances left, so we'll keep trying. There's another year next year. We find solutions every week to try, but nothing has seemed to work this year. That doesn't mean you quit trying. It's a challenge. We don't have the best package right now."
The three Ganassi Dodges finished in the top five here in April. What did that mean? "I'm not sure. They hit on something that race and the conditions were right I think. That's the way it's been for a lot of the Dodge teams. Kasey Kahne was awesome at Indy. He really hasn't done a lot other than that, but he for sure was one of the best cars there. We were awful at Indy, yet we were good at Charlotte."
How can you be so fast for one lap and it not hold up in the race? "It's a totally different animal. Traffic plays a huge role in it. Everything changes in the race. It's just a different animal."
Newman has been labeled by some as a clean air driver. Do you buy that? "I think everyone in this garage is nothing but a clean air driver. You'd be hard-pressed to find a
driver that's happy in traffic. I think setups and packages are better than others, and if you get the right package you can be pretty good."
For a crew chief is it more difficult making The Chase or performing well in the last 10 races? "For us it was more pressure getting there. For the team that's sitting first it's more pressure now. Once we got into it we really had nothing to lose. We can go for broke the next three races and finish no worse than where we started. We can be a little more liberal with things we try and see what happens. We've been going for broke all year, but very little has been working."
You're tied with Carl Edwards for fourth, but his stock is going up and the 12 team's seems to be falling. What's that all about? "Carl Edwards has consistently been running better and two of the last three tracks left are where the Roush cars have been very dominant. We have been very un-dominant this year at those tracks. On the flat intermediate tracks (Roush cars excel). Two years ago those were our best tracks. It's just a matter of finding the right combinations and we just haven't hit it yet."
Are you having any fun with The Chase? "Not a lot. In one way I'm ready for the season to be over and in another way I'm not. I'm not sure what I'll do in the offseason (besides work). I might play some poker and relax a little and get recharged for 2006."