Posted: 08 Jul 2011 01:18 PM PDT
RYAN NEWMAN, driver of the NO. 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET for Stewart-Haas Racing, met with members of the media at Kentucky Speedway and discussed applying the test session to racing this weekend at Kentucky, the lack of a caution flag at the end of the race last week in Daytona, the changes in Indy for next season and much more.
TALK ABOUT RACING HERE AT KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY AND MAYBE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU CAN APPLY FROM YESTERDAY’S TEST SESSION. “We have more than plenty opportunities to get our race car right with the practice sessions and test sessions and all of our experience in the past. I have the experience from back 10 years ago or whatever it was to race in the ARCA Series here, so I understood the race track a little bit. Most drivers had the opportunity up here multiple times to test back before testing was banned. It’s just a matter for us I think more so of racing our cars here verses driving our cars here and making sure we can put on a good show for these fans that are really excited.”
YOU’VE BEEN VERY OUTSPOKEN ON SAFETY ISSUES AND AT THE END OF LAST WEEK’S DAYTONA RACE IT SEEMED LIKE YOU WERE PUT IN A DANGEROUS SPOT WITH NO CAUTION THERE, DID YOU HAVE ANY ISSUES WITH THAT? “I really haven’t even thought about it. I was stuck to the wall and I couldn’t get the car off the wall, wide open and whatever gear I was in and then I blew a transmission out trying to get it in reverse to go back across the line. I was really focused on just getting to the line and didn’t think about if there was a yellow or not. It’s kind of a catch 22. From my standpoint what I was thinking about in that race was, which was kind of selfish, we were getting back to the lead and then the No. 24 got sideways, never totally spun out, got sideways, kept going and then the yellow came out.
“I remember going back to Talladega where I got sideways, got drilled in the door, knocked back straight, then two laps later the yellow finally came out when my tire blew. Not very good consistency there but I don’t know why you would throw a yellow when there’s one car spinning, not even spinning, going sideways and never hits anybody or anything or any debris and then at the very end you have cars going every which way and you say there wasn’t a yellow which I wasn’t aware of. I think that it’s a tough situation in all those events.
“NASCAR has to look into a lot of things while a lot of cars are going in every different direction at speed it’s very tough to make that call because of the speed the cars are going. I guess they would potentially be more criticized for throwing the yellow and locking the field into position than letting us sort it out ourselves. Like I said it’s a catch 22, it’s 50/50, as long as it works out safe then I don’t think anybody could or should be mad.”
12 DIFFERENT WINNERS THIS SEASON, IT SEEMS LIKE REALLY ONE OR TWO TEAMS HAVEN’T RISEN TO THE TOP WE’VE SEEN IN PAST YEARS, WHY DO YOU THINK FROM A PERFORMANCE STANDPOINT THERE SEEMS TO BE A LOT MORE EQUALITY IN THE GARAGE? “Not really sure. Just the uniqueness of three first-time winners in this season and we’re just barely half way. At this point I wish I wouldn’t have won any race in my career so I had a better opportunity to win a race this year. I think if you look at the stats, people like Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Jimmie (Johnson) to an extent; they’re the ones that have been the most consistent top-five, top-10 finish. You look at Regan Smith’s win at Darlington, Carl was all over his rear bumper and at the time Carl had dominated up to that point of the season, so I think there are some unique situations that have allowed those first-time winners, Regan staying out on old tires, then the whole drafting situation for David Ragan at Daytona. I think it also tells you how competitive everybody is in the garage which is not what it used to be 10 years ago.”
DO YOU THINK IT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH JUST RUNNING FOR POINTS AND BEING CONSISTENT WHEN YOU KNOW IT’S THE LAST 10 THAT REALLY COUNT? “I don’t think it has anything to do with the Chase, I think it has everything to do with trying to get a victory. I think after you get that victory you think about man, we’ve got a better shot at the Chase because of the format this year. I don’t think that Regan’s guys at Darlington just decided to go on no tires just to see if they can try to make it into the Chase; they went for no tires just to see if they could win that race. That I think is everybody’s short-term goal, the long-term goal is the championship.”
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON BECAUSE SATURDAY IS THE HALF-WAY POINT? “It’s kind of interesting how, I don’t know if it’s the transition of the race cars, or the tires, or the track or what, if you go back at least from my career standpoint, if you go back say five years ago all that was ever talked about was aero push and now it’s about track position, so I think there has been a balance shift in the race cars and the fact that we’ve got a better balance in dirty air with race cars. Now it’s shifted to the point of less grip and how we’re focusing on the track position part of it. This year, yeah it’s been unique with the first-time winners and you got a guy like Jimmie Johnson who has won five championships in a row, and he’s been to victory lane once, so it’s like is he going to win the sixth one by winning the last 10 races or what. I think the character is going to come in the next half of the season is my point because I think there is a lot of unknowns that we haven’t seen yet.”
KANSAS IS GOING TO BE RESURFACES, YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THIS PLACE, WHERE IS THE LINE BETWEEN A ROUGH ENOUGH RACE TRACK TO GIVE IT CHARACTER AND TOO ROUGH TO RACE ON AND ARE EITHER ONE OF THESE PLACES CLOSE TO THAT? “I don’t think it’s ever the roughness, or too rough or not rough enough, I think it’s more an issue of water seepage and the track actually tearing up. I know Phoenix had some issues where the track was literally tearing up just as Daytona had. Daytona I think was a little different situation with the flood down there and the way the underground worked with the water flooding of the infield. I’ve always said that we as drivers, speaking for myself in general, but we as drivers really like the older pavement, the older race tracks, the more character. This place here has a ton of character and luckily it has more character on the straightaway than it does on the corners and I say luckily because I think that will inhibit us less form racing side-by-side because of that. And then there are some tracks when they design them just right, such as Homestead, the racing was really good from the very beginning. So I think the new pavement and the combination of reworking the underground is really an important combination that has to be kind of mastered for the racing to be great from the get go.”
BEING FROM INDIANA AND WITH THE CHANGES FOR THE BRICKYEARD FOR NEXT YEAR, CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT OPENS UP FOR THE NATIONWIDE DRIVERS AND THE EXCITEMENT THERE HAS TO BE FOR THEM BEING ABLE TO COME IN A DRIVE THE BRICKYARD? “I guess if you equate it to a minor league baseball team getting to play Yankee Stadium it’s going to be the same thing. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more excitement. I’m a big fan of the short tracks; I grew up racing at IRP. That to me is a part of the sport that I think we shouldn’t let go, but at the same time there is a reason why it’s getting moved to the Brickyard. I think it’s just a fine balance of keeping our short track roots and expanded to bigger and better things. From a fan standpoint obviously it’s going to put fans in the grandstands at the speedway, maybe they will build more hype and get more hype going. It’s a tough situation with the tire deal there a couple of years ago and this helps us rebound from that and get more fans in the stands and recapture some of the things we lost, then it’s a smart thing to do.”
GOING BACK TO THE TRACK POSITION THING, THAT WAS BACK WHEN YOU WERE DOMINATE, DO YOU EVER THINK THAT MAYBE ITS GOING TO SWING BACK AND YOU WILL BE BACK IN FRONT? “I’m waiting for that cycle. The cars are so much different and we have so much more horsepower than we had back then. The tires are different. There’s a lot of things that are different. There’s a lot more newer, resurfaced race tracks on the schedule than there was back then that I remember so there’s a lot of things that are different but I do wish that sometimes. Wishes don’t always come true in NASCAR.”
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT INVESTING IN A SHORT TRACK? “Yeah, I’ve thought about it. South Bend Motor Speedway, my hometown, actually my grandfather helped build the race track so its special from that standpoint, I had the opportunity to purchase it but from my standpoint I wanted to do and stay focused in my racing career not my track ownership career so without having and aligning a bunch of good people to arrange and handle that situation I wasn’t going to. I wasn’t going to do it for myself and not do it right. I didn’t want to do it for the track and not do it right because if there was potential for somebody else to buy a track and keep a track running I had confidence in, I rather it be that way then for me to do it.”