RYAN NEWMAN Nothing Scary About This 'Monster' of a Racetrack RYAN NEWMAN Nothing Scary About This 'Monster' of a Racetrack KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Sept. 22, 2010) -- Ryan Newman's favorite Dover (Del.) International Speedway story actually has...
Nothing Scary About This 'Monster' of a Racetrack
RYAN NEWMAN Nothing Scary About This 'Monster' of a Racetrack
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Sept. 22, 2010) -- Ryan Newman's favorite Dover (Del.) International Speedway story actually has little to do with the concrete mile oval that he has deemed one of his favorite racetracks -- one where he has scored three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins and one that he will return to for Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
In fact, the story he loves to tell when he talks about Dover happened in his own backyard in Statesville, N.C. Well, to be more specific, it happened in his shop.
Back in September 2004, Newman showed no mercy to his other Sprint Cup competitors at Dover. On that autumn day, the engineering graduate from Purdue University turned in one of his most dominant performances to date.
Newman qualified on the outside pole for the 400-lap race, but by the end of lap one, he was posted as the leader. And it wasn't very often during the day that Newman gave up the point position on the track.
Newman led an astounding 325 of 400 laps, and that wasn't all. Over the final 134 laps of the race, the South Bend, Ind., native built a commanding eight-second lead over second-place on his way to winning his third Sprint Cup race at Dover and to claiming the first ever "Monster Trophy."
And that's where Newman's favorite story about Dover actually begins.
You see, the Monster Trophy is fairly big, and it could be called scary-looking with its broken-concrete look and its red beady eyes as it holds a toy car in its hand. It is quite the overwhelming centerpiece.
Newman thought the trophy was pretty cool and one of the more unique prizes he had earned. Once he got the trophy home, he put it on a shelf in his shop behind his house with the other trophies he had earned during his racing career.
He thought little about the trophy or the Monster until, one afternoon, he walked into the shop with his dog Mopar to do a little work. While Newman walked through the shop, Mopar stopped and began growling and barking just as loud and as hard as he could.
It didn't take long for Newman to realize that Mopar was barking at the Monster and its glaring red eyes. Newman still laughs as he tells the story about his dog being afraid of the Monster.
But being afraid of the Monster, or the "Monster Mile," as the Dover layout is known, is one thing Newman definitely is not. In 17 starts at the high-banked, concrete oval, Newman has four poles (spring 2003, fall 2005, spring 2006 and spring 2007), three wins (spring and fall 2003 and fall 2004), six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. Newman also has one NASCAR Nationwide Series win at the track (2005).
And while Newman and his No. 39 Haas Automation team didn't secure a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, they're definitely not afraid to shake it up a little bit and compete for the win each and every outing.
After last weekend's eighth-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Newman is looking forward to returning to his favorite track and turning in another dominant performance, like the one that earned him his first Monster Trophy back in 2004.
RYAN NEWMAN, Driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Unfortunately, the No. 39 team didn't make the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship this season. How does that change the focus for you and your team for the remaining nine races?
"Honestly, whether we are in or out of the Chase doesn't matter. We have one job, and that job is to go out there each week and try to win races. It's definitely disappointing that the No. 39 Haas Automation team didn't make the Chase, but all that means is that we don't have a chance to win the championship. It's disappointing because I know how hard these guys have worked all season long and how much heart and dedication they have when it comes to this team. We all wanted to have an opportunity to be in the mix for a championship this year and, unfortunately, that's not going to be the case. SHR still has a shot at winning a championship with Tony (Stewart), and we'll do whatever we can to help and support them over the next nine races. We're a team, and that's important for everyone to remember. For the No. 39 guys, there are still nine races to go out there to try and win. And believe me, we're going to go out there and try our hardest every week to win those races. Not making the Chase doesn't change that. I'm really happy about what our team accomplished this season. I think we've had some strengths that we've expanded upon from last year. Our teamwork and our racecars, I feel, are better. We gave it our all every lap of every race, and it just didn't happen for us in the end. Like I said, now we'll just have to go out there and try to win every single week."
You have said time and again that Dover is one of your favorite racetracks. What makes you like Dover so much?
"I've always liked Dover. It's just a track that driver's like -- well, that I like. It's absolutely one of my favorite tracks, if not my favorite. I like the banking. I like the elevation changes. The concrete provides a different type of racing for us because the track doesn't change a whole lot. Once you get your car right, you can keep it right for the rest of the race. And for me, for whatever reason, I've always adapted well to racing on concrete. To me, the characteristics of the track make it both demanding and fun. It's really unique how you drop off into the corners and then climb up the hills onto the straightaways. At Dover, the entry into the corners is the toughest part. If you don't get a good entry, you're not going to have a good middle or a good exit. You have narrow straightaways and then the track opens a lot in the corners, so there is a good bit of give-and-take. To me as a driver, it is just a track that is a lot of fun and one that I look forward to going to each year."
How physically demanding is Dover for the drivers?
"It's definitely pretty physically tough. It's not as physical as the road courses -- I think they are the most physically demanding -- but with the banking and 400 laps, you are just constantly maneuvering the racecar. You get just a short distance on the straightaways to take a quick breath and get ready to go back at it in the next corner. We talk about what it takes to be 'Army Strong' and it's mental, emotional and physical. To me, this is one of the most physical racetracks that we go to. Mentally because it's so physically tough you have to stay in shape and stay on top of things. When you hit, you hit hard here so, emotionally, you have to be ready for a lot of things. I've always enjoyed it. I've always enjoyed the speed, banking and everything else here."
TONY GIBSON, Crew Chief of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Unfortunately, the No. 39 team did not make the Chase this season. Can you talk about what that means for the team? How does it change how you approach the rest of the season? Does the thinking change? Do you start doing things differently working on stuff for next year? Do you just go out there and try to win?
"It's disappointing, but we had four DNF's early in the season. We wrecked at Daytona, we blew up the next week at California and then we had two more DNF's at the other two restrictor-plate races and it is extremely difficult to make up that amount of points in 26 races. We're just now getting caught up to where we should have been with those guys and the guys you are racing against have been so consistent. It's tough. It's not easy at all. You know, last year, we hadn't had a DNF until the last Talladega race and we had completed the most laps of anybody in the Chase along with Tony (Stewart). It's just crazy what a year will bring to you. We're proud of where we're at with four DNF's. And to even have a shot to get in -- we were one of the last to have a shot at getting in the Chase -- we were proud of that. It didn't work out like we wanted, but we gave it a heck of a run. The last month-and-a-half for us has been solid top-10 runs and that's what we needed to do. We needed to be consistent and run well. Unfortunately, (Clint) Bowyer was just as consistent. So it makes it tough, but we're proud. We're proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. Our teammate, Stewart, is in the Chase, and they just barely missed a win this past weekend at New Hampshire. I felt bad for those guys. They rolled the dice there and it looked like it was going to pay off, and then they pull the rug out from underneath you at the end, but that's just the way it goes. Sometimes you can be on the other side of those calls and you're a hero and, on the other side, you're not. But to have both cars run in the top-10 and solid all day is cool. That's what we need to do.
"Well, obviously we want to win another race or two. That's our goal. But we're also going to do whatever it takes to help our teammates with the 14 team to win this championship. Whether it's taking a setup and working on some things that they would not normally do to try to help them find something, then that's what we'll do. We tried a different setup this past weekend and it kind of bit us in qualifying a little bit. We didn't qualify how we needed to qualify. We had to start toward the back, but our car was really fast and we drove up to the front. We had an awesome racecar. We were doing something different trying to help our teammate, so that's what we will continue to do. If Darian's (Grubb) got something he wants to try, setup-wise, then we'll plug it in and roll the dice and see what comes out. We want to finish 13th in the points. We want to be that position. We don't want to lose sight of that, either, but our main goal is to help them win the championship."
So, right now, the team's focus turns to staying 13th in points?
"We want that position, and we have it right now and it's a dogfight between us and the No. 1 car. We both seem to run well on the same weekends. And when we run badly, we both seem to run badly on the same weekends. I'm sure it will be a dogfight between us and the 1 team for that spot until Homestead. I think that's kind of cool, too, because it gives us something to fight for and it gives us somebody to compete against. We've got our own little Chase deal going on with those guys. It's a lot of fun. A lot of respect goes along with that. You want to go out and do your best every week, and you want to finish as high in the points as you can. To us, finishing 13th is our Chase. That's what we have to do right now. We need to win another race or two, and I think it's very possible the way we've been running the last four or five races. We've been right there. That's what we have to try to do -- win some races and be the spoiler in the Chase, be the team that wins a race and takes it from a Chase guy. Hopefully, it's not our teammate, but if it's a win, it's a win. We owe that to Tornados, U.S. Army, Haas Automation and all the sponsors that support us, no matter what. We're working hard to get that done."
You have to feel good about going to Dover considering Ryan's record there? He has four poles, three wins, six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 17 starts and he says it is one of his favorite tracks.
"He's amazing at Dover. It's really cool to watch Ryan get around at Dover and Bristol. Those are just two places where it is really fun to watch him drive. We are excited every time we go to Dover because Ryan does have such a good track record there. I've watched him for years, and he has dominated races there, he's won there, he's fought through some tough issues like the lack of power steering and he's really just had some great runs at the track. When you've got Ryan Newman in your car going to Dover, you are pretty excited about it. You just hold your breath that something doesn't happen because it can happen easily and quickly there. It's one of his favorite tracks. We're taking a chassis that has been really good for us at both Bristol and Dover the past two years, so we're definitely looking forward to it. Dover is a track where we feel like we can steal one of these races and win it. The tracks that are left in the Chase are really good tracks for us -- except for Talladega. Other than that race, I'm pretty excited about the rest of them and getting another win or two."