RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) W HAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK COMING INTO TEXAS? "I'm kind of looking forward in getting back to the intermediate tracks. We had a good car at Bristol. We had a poor car at Martinsville for a couple of short...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) W
HAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK COMING INTO TEXAS? "I'm kind of looking forward in getting back to the intermediate tracks. We had a good car at Bristol. We had a poor car at Martinsville for a couple of short track runs. I look forward to racing here. We had a good run last fall -- obviously a different car. I'm just looking forward to the track. The track has matured and aged to the point it has gotten better and better each time that we come back. It's a place that we look forward to."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF SAM HORNISH JR. AS A DRIVER? "He impressed me the most all year at Daytona. Obviously he had a good car, but it was a handful to drive. Driving those cars with that combination -- he impressed me by finishing 15th and running up front. He ran in the top-six or-seven I think for a lot of the day. He struggled a little bit at some of the other race tracks. He's conceptually learning about some things about the short tracks as far as driving and footwork that he hadn't had to experience in the past. Even in the Nationwide car you can drive differently than the Cup car. He's still learning, but his run at Daytona was the most impressive and what I would call a great run for a rookie."
HAVE THE DRIVERS GOTTEN TOGETHER AND TALKED ABOUT SAFETY CONCERNS ABOUT FLAWS IN DESIGN AT RACE TRACKS? "No. I've mentioned a few things about race tracks to people within NASCAR. Simple things that we take for granted -- just like the inside wall in Las Vegas. Places that have the crossover gates -- the idea of having half-inch steel sticking out of a concrete wall, it's like a snare or a snag for some parts of our race car. There are tracks that have different things. Pocono is probably the last race track to have Armco (barriers) on the inside. Yeah, it's not ideal. But it's not our responsibility to change it, it's our responsibility to bring it up as driver's to make it known. The biggest thing is for us to be proactive rather than reactive in situation like this. Even Jeff (Gordon) going back to Vegas, he didn't want to have to react the way he did, he'd rather have the safer barrier there and go on about his business. It's a tough situation. As drivers, we get called 'whiners' or 'complainers', everybody has a different opinion. The bottom line is, NASCAR and whoever engineer wise or safety team wise needs to address every issue and every probability of an issue that we go to."
ARE THERE ANY HERE AT TEXAS? "I'd say this is one of the best tracks with the exception of the front straightaway doesn't have a wall to protect the pit crew on the front straightaway. You go to a place like Pocono, and it does. You come to Texas and it doesn't. Typically D-shaped ovals don't have a wall on the outside of pit lane to protect cars form coming across through the grass and into pit lane. We've seen it happen here. I believe it was Steve Park in a Nationwide car a couple years ago did it. It's a situation where it's happened in the past and nothing has been done about it. It's a situation where I feel that somebody could be more proactive than reactive."
SHOULD THE COT RUN IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES? "I don't think that it needs to. I said it from the beginning. In my opinion, if the fans want to see that kind of car in that series - with those drivers - or the combination of drivers, than that should be the decision that should be made -- with the exception of the safety standpoint. If there's a safer car that could be built -- economically -- and feasibly -- for those teams so that they can have a successful series, than that's something that should and could be done. The ultimate answer is from the fans standpoint. Would they rather see a COT-Nationwide Series type of race? I feel like there is a distinct difference between how the cars drive and race."
OTHER THAN THE DISADVANTAGE FINANCIALLY, DO YOU FEEL AT A DISADVANTAGE NOT GETTING A LOT OF SEAT TIME IN THENATIONWIDE SERIES SO FAR THIS YEAR? "Absolutely. The seat time, no matter what car you're driving at a certain race track, is very important. There are two things that I've always said that that you learn; the first is the race track and what you learn from it. Race tracks change, characteristics change. For instance, two years ago, they took the bump out of 1 and 2. In the Nationwide Series, you get the opportunity to feel that first then you know how to predict things. The combination of the tires - typically the tires are identical, so you have an idea of the tire falloff and what the tires are going to feel like. So there are huge advantages seat time wise, not just pure racing in getting more experience in being a better race car driver. Getting a taste of a few things make a big difference for your potential Sunday race."
DO YOU HAVE ANY RECOURSE TO GO TO ROGER (PENSKE) AND GET MORE RACE TIME IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES? "We're working on that. Roger knows that and we've got a couple potential things in the works. We're a sixth of the way through the season now and that makes it more difficult when you can't prepare properly in the off-season. It's something that I wish we could and would and should of done, but I understand his position and the team's position."
DO YOU THINK THE TRANSITION COMING OFF TURN 2 COMING AROUND FROM A HIGHER LINE WILL BE EASIER GETTING INTO THE BACKSTRETCH? "I'd say half of the cars in qualifying trim you're going to have a bottom line -- there's nobody that's going to go to the top - even the middle, at least today. So that issue isn't going to be there today mostly because the track is going to be 'grippier'. You're going to be in qualifying trim and the car should turn better. In the race, you'll just have that line as the option line. You're going to get tighter as you go through a run at a track like this and you get tighter off of Turn 2, especially because the way the transition is. The option is to dive in the corner and come off a little bit higher, but a little bit straighter. That makes the car less tight and typically gives you the opportunity to get a better run down the back straightaway. I think it will be a progression as the weekend goes, especially even in the middle of the Cup race on, you'll see that more often."
-credit: dodge motorsports