Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:38 am
2012 Daytona 500 Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Ryan Newman
Posted by: newsla on Feb 17, 2012 - 06:35 AM
2012 Daytona 500 Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Ryan Newman
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 US ARMY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed Tony Stewart and the 2011 Championship, new teammate Danica Patrick, his previous Daytona 500 win and other topics. Full transcript:
WHEN WAS YOUR LAST TRAFFIC TICKET?
“A few years, it has probably been, yea Watkins Glen 2008.”
HOW MANY HAVE I EVER HAD?
“My mom sent me my personal file down from Indiana and I had more than I thought I had, but I would say probably eight total. No, I had one a police office pulled me over and I was driving a 1953 Plymouth, and I was smart enough to know that the 1953 Plymouth did not have to have seat belts, and he pulled me over for speeding and he said, I can give you a speeding ticket or I can give you a seat belt ticket, I said well I don’t have to have seat belts, he said yes you do, I said no I don’t, I can give you a speeding ticket or a seat belt ticket, so I got a speeding ticket.”
WHY DID YOU THINK NOT A SEAT BELT TICKET?
“Because it was not the point, I was not going to let him lie; legally he could not give me a seat belt ticket. I was 18 years old on my way back from college after dropping my girlfriend off, I was a little mad especially since I was going 45 in a 35.”
HOW HAS BEING A FATHER CHANGED YOU AS A PERSON AND AT THE RACE TRACK?
“It only changes my responsibilities away from the race car, it doesn’t change my responsibilities in the race car or to the race team or to my owners or whatever. With respect to that, that is all the same. What I do when I get back to the bus, what I do at the house, my responsibilities I have making bottles, changing dippers, empting diaper genies, you name it that is different no doubt. It is not so much the responsibilities are different, because we have one, and all the other things are not responsibilities are not responsibilities they are hobbies.”
DOES IT BOTHER YOUR WIFE THAT YOU ARE A RACE CAR DRIVER?
“No, she is happy I enjoy what I do. She knows that it is risky, and she knows as well as I do, what we do on the racetrack is less risky than driving down the interstate or any kind of side road.”
THROUGH ALL THE RULE CHANGES OVER THE PAST DECADE, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE NASCAR HAS MADE?
“The safer barriers in conjunction with the seats and all the things there with respect to making the driver safer, has been far and above the most technological thing that we have had an impact on for the good. We have changed tire compounds, and we have changed chassis and things like that, but the combination of just all the things put together for driver safety, I think has been huge. If you look at where we were ten years ago, with guys like Blaze Alexander and Kenny Irwin, and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and there was more, Tony Roper and a couple of other guys, if you look at all that, that happened in that short time period and what has not happened in the last ten years. That is a pretty amazing feat.”
YOU HAVE STUDIED ENGINEERING THE MECHANICAL PART OF IT; DID YOU SEE THAT COMING BEFORE?
“The technology has always been here; it was just applying it. They just applied Styrofoam that people carried into the race track in coolers for the last forty years to the walls. It sounds a little barbaric but it is that simple.”
ONE OF THE GUYS WHO GOT A LOT OF ATTENTION IN THE OFF SEASON IS KASEY KAHNE, MOVING TO A DIFFERENT TEAM, WHAT YOU SEE AS HIS POTENTIAL FOR THIS YEAR?
“It is no different than anyone else. Kasey is a heck of a race car driver but his potential does not lie within himself it lies within his team and what he is capable of from a confident standpoint and from a team standpoint. He is as strong as his weakest link, every driver is.”
DO YOU SEE KASEY KAHNE AS A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER?
“Everyone is a championship contender at this point.”
WHAT DID YOU GUYS AS AN ORGANIZATION, LEARN FROM LAST SEASON?
“I am not sure, to me it is still baffling, what we did on our side with the No. 39 car and what the things the No. 14 car was struggling with and then the success that they had afterward to me it is still mind boggling to have the success that they had with the troubles that they were having. I don’t know; something things you don’t totally understand.”
DO YOU THINK IT WAS TONY WANTING TO TRY HARDER?
“No, I don’t think it had anything to do with that. I really don’t, I think things just clicked for them. There was no rocket science to it. Part of it is chemistry, part of it is effort, part of it is performance, call it what you want. What they did and what they achieved is amazing, and it made for an awesome championship story and an awesome Chase and all those things but I don’t think he would want to redo it the way he did it. Changing crew chiefs and having the trouble that he did before the Chase and all that. If he said, would you want to do it that way again, he would say no I’d try to do it a different way. That’s my point.”
“Tony likes playing mind games, but he was not playing mind games in Michigan when he got out of the race car. That was true mild depression, call it what you want. He was not happy at the place that he was. That was the same Tony Stewart that said don’t count us out, after Martinsville or whatever it was, same guy, but his mindset was totally different. His confidence was 180 degrees different from where he was back in Michigan.”
YOU WERE THAT CLOSE TO THE SITUATION AND YOU STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW IT HAPPENED?
“He doesn’t understand it. He will tell you. When I got to him in the car at Homestead, I was the second one to get to him in Homestead; he looked at me and said I still don’t believe it. I don’t even know how that happened.”
MY PERCEPTION IS THAT THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING INSIDE THE RACE TEAM THAT SOMEONE FOUND AND YOU GUYS KNOW IT BUT CAN’T SAY IT:
“No, I think we were doing a good job on the cars. I think we were doing a lot of things right. We struggled on the team standpoint of capitalizing. We had some good cars, just like Loudon, led 80 laps of the 300 and ended up finishing twenty-fifth with a blown right front tire. That is bad luck. At Chicago we should have finished third and ended up finishing eighth running out of fuel, which a lot of guys did but either way, there were no secrets to his success, it was just a matter of dedication and hard work and that is the same for the last five that Jimmie (Johnson) had. The things that Tony and Darian (Grubb) fought to be able to fight through that and personal feelings aside, and win a championship, like I said if you told me that is what I have to do, I don’t know that I would do that with Tony Gibson. It worked. Sometimes the moons all line up and the stars drop out of the sky.”
DANICA WAS TALKING EARLIER HOW HER AND TONY CAN CUT UP A LITTLE BIT, THEY CAN BE VERY MUCH THE SAME ABOUT BEING FUNNY WITH EACH OTHER. THEY ARE BOTH VERY COMPETITIVE BUT VERY DIFFERENT, YOU BEING IN THAT, SEEING THEM INTERACT, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THEIR RELATIONSHIP?
“I would say, no different than Danica or Stewart, we try to make the best of every situation we are in. Whether it is two laps down or a media situation, we don’t necessary want to be in but we have to. That is the part that she is talking about. Just having fun and being yourself. We all get to this point in our careers because we are more successful than other people and that is by tolerating certain things and certain situations and working through it and that is all she was talking about.”
IS IT STILL THAT LAID BACK ATTITUDE AT TIMES BUT KNOW WHEN TO BE SERIOUS?
“Well, you have to know when to separate it without a doubt. Knowing to put the jokes aside and give the correct answers and not the smart mouth ones. That is just a matter of personality.”
A YEAR AGO EVERYONE WAS ASKING ABOUT YOUR CONTRACT SITUATION, IS THIS THE LAST YEAR OF YOUR CONTRACT WITH STEWART-HAAS?
“2012, is the last year for my contract. HAVE YOU STARTED NEGOTIATIONS? Not yet. WHAT IS YOUR PREFERENCE AND TIMELINE?” Whenever they want to talk about it, we will talk about it. I would have preferred to have got it taken care of in the off season. I saw how much Carl (Edwards) took away from, at least the hype of racing, there were more questions about his contract then there was how many passes he had that week. I don’t want to have that in my situation. I am happy where I am at, there is no issues, it is just we will talk about it when we talk about it. It might be over a pizza one night, you just never know.”
IN A TIME WHERE A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE HAVING PROBLEMS WITH SPONSORS, YOUR TEAM SEEMS TO BE ABLE TO ATTRACT NEW ONES. DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF DYNAMICS IN WORKING WITH THAT OR DO THEY CHOOSE YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE CLEAN CUT AND THAT SORT OF THING OR TELL US WHY YOU THINK YOU ARE ABLE TO ATTRACT NEW SPONSORS?
“Well there are several factors of it. Obviously I like to think that I am a major part of it because they are representing me, but within the organization, after winning the championship, having someone like Tony Stewart who is not only a great champion but a great driver and a great personality, obviously having Danica jump on board to be a part of our team. All those things are great for publicity, so people like Quicken Loans and Outback, Wix Filters, all those people want to be a part of what we are doing. Part of it is me obviously that is why they are sponsoring me, and I know, I am not gullible to the fact that Tony Stewart steps up to the plate and helps me out with some of that stuff. When it comes to him offering up some of his services to the sponsors, and I do things for Office Depot and other people like that too. I think Stewart-Haas has done a good job first of all of marketing and getting and reaching out to people. Not just recycle people but new people in the sport.”
HOW MUCH OF THE DAYTONA 500 IS LUCK VS. SKILL?
“What lap?, WINNING THE RACE: I have always said there is always luck in racing. You can create the destiny of your own luck. That luck can be good luck or bad luck. You have to prepare yourself to get out of the bad luck and into the good luck. When I won, part of it was lucky, part of it was the timing of things, part of it was Kurt (Busch) driving his tail off to get behind me coming off turn two, that was skill and for me it was luck. It is all a matter of opinion. You can ask forty-two other guys out there, they might have thought I got lucky when I won. For me I thought it was skill.”
DO YOU HAVE A 1 IN 43 SHOT OR ARE YOUR ODDS BETTER THAN THAT?
“I always say that it is 1 in 43 because that is still pretty good when it comes to winning a five million dollar lottery. What is it a million and a half to win? So even at that”
DANICA PATRICK IS GOING TO COME IN HERE AND STRUGGLE AT PHOENIX AND OTHER TRACKS THAT IS ON HER SCHEDULE: “Hang on, I have a bet with my buddy, he bet me that I would not say this, he came up with a quote. It is not a matter of winning or losing there is more income than outcome, hang on it was really good. No, it is not a matter of winning or losing as long as the outcome is income. That is what it is. I cannot reveal who. We actually created a name to dedicate the quote to because we made up the quote, but that name is not appropriate.”
WHAT’S THE BET?
“What did he bet me, he bet me that I wouldn’t do it but I forget which is good enough because it didn’t have to be any money.”
YOU MENTIONED ONE IN FORTY-THREE LAST YEAR:
“I always do and I finished like twentieth.”
TREVOR BAYNE IN HIS FIRST RACE WINS THE DAYTONA 500, IS THAT A PRETTY REMARKABLE THING?
“It was remarkable, but if you look at the history, do the math, take the averages, the Wood Brothers have done this for forty-three years, so. They should be able to help a kid that has never done it to be successful at it. If Trevor Bayne was lined up with at the time let’s just say TRG Racing or whatever, then no, that would have been way more unexpected. Trevor did an awesome job, he proved himself all week long.”
WOULD YOU BE SURPRISED IF DANICA PATRICK WON THE DAYTONA 500?
“I think of all, not taking this away from her, with her experience the way the track is the way the cars work. The way you have to drive the cars, she has a better chance now then four years ago when the track was the old pavement. Having to drive the cars and understand how the cars drove then versus how they do now, it is a matter more now of drafting or tandem drafting. I don’t want to say the skills, but ultimately the skills are much less needed now with respect to driving the car, you have a better opportunity now putting yourself in position than you did back then when you had to have actually manage your car and tires throughout a fuel run.”
“I just look in the mirror and hope they are all behind me. The rest of it doesn’t matter. Yes, I still want to know who is in what car, I still know that Kyle ( Busch) is in the No. 18 and that Kurt ( Busch) is not in the No. 22 anymore, so things do change but I am still racing that car and I am racing that driver so I have to respect that driver a certain way. Everybody gets different respect according to who they are. I think most drivers will tell you that. I will have that figured out about eight laps into practice.”
KURT (BUSCH) WAS TALKING ABOUT, AFTER THE FIRST PRACTICE IN THE YEAR HE LOOKS AT THE NUMBER AND SPONSOR “Right and you hope there was not a glitch in the computer.” THE WAY SPONSORS ARE NOW; I WOULD THINK IT WOULD BE MORE CONFUSING, YOU CAN’T SEE THE NUMBER FROM BEHIND... “We are not that smart” BUT YOU LOOKING A CARL EDWARDS IS GOING TO HAVE FIFTEEN DIFFERENT SPONSORS THIS YEAR, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP TRACK OF IT?
“Use a number” CAN YOU SEE THE NUMBER IF YOU ARE BEHIND THEM? “Yea, it’s on the tail light.”
DID YOU EVER THINK YOU WOULD BE RACING WITH SOMEONE WHO HAD BEEN IN A SWIMSUIT AD?
“Luckily in a two piece but yea, Stewart in a swim suit ad?” “That had nothing to do with it for me, Carl (Edwards) has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated or whatever it was, so I mean, you wouldn’t want to see Danica do that?”
IS RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS GOTTEN TO THE POINT THAT IT IS SO MUCH TO LEARN HOW TO DRAFT THAN IT WAS EVEN THREE, FOUR, FIVE YEARS AGO?
“I wouldn’t say it is easier in the draft, the cars are so much closer together now that it is harder to gain a little advantage. Back in the day it was easier to get a draft or get a toe than it is now, but you cannot race from the past, you have to race the way it is now. Unless we want to redefine the race cars we are speculating. My point is it is what it is, you can’t fix it, and you have to deal with it.”
THAT ALSO MEANS THAT SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE, CAN STILL BE SUCCESSFUL:
“Not necessarily, I said it is a little tougher now to get an advantage. Five years ago the track was different and so were the cars and the tires. No matter what we all show up and try to race, sometimes you have a guy that has never raced a race wins and sometimes it takes a guy like Dale Sr. what twenty years to win.”
WOULD YOU RATHER RACE IN A TWO CAR DRAFT OR A PACK?
“I would rather race in a two car draft. Because I have the opportunity to make my car better with his car and his car better with my car, where as when we are in a pack we are at the mercy of the speed of the pack and we saw last year and I would speculate why fans do not like the tandem drafting, we did not see near as many big crashes. When there are thirty cars of the forty-three in one big pack and something happens up front, you wipe out twenty cars. Fans love it, whether it is right or wrong, they love it. I like being the front car of the two car draft; I don’t like being the second car. The only good thing to being the second car is you are the last one to the scene of the crash.”
DO YOU TRY TO CONVINCE THE FANS THAT YOU KNOW THAT TANDEM DRAFTING IS BETTER?
“There are no convincing fans. Way to opinionated. It is pointless. Play with the rules you are dealt with.”