NASCAR Media Conference
October 27, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today's NASCAR Cam Video Teleconference. We're leading up to Sunday's Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Super Speedway, Talladega, Alabama. That will be his seventh race in the 2009 chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Our guest today, he's at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39, U.S. Army Chevrolet.
Brian's seventh in the series points going into Talladega. He's had a lot of good runs there in the past. Four top 5s, seven Top 10s in 15 starts.
Ryan, we're going to start off today, we've been each week on our teleconference we've been gathering some questions from our fans via NASCAR's Twitter account. And we have a fan in Fort Worth Texas, Micah, she wants to know that after all the great success of Stewart-Haas Racing this year, would Ryan Newman perhaps one day want to jump into the driver/owner ranks and give it a try?
RYAN NEWMAN: That's a good question. But, honestly, that's not one of my goals. I think Tony's done a great job and Gene Haas as well as far as laying ground work and everything else in the shop. Done a great job. I don't know that you could ever try to repeat that or duplicate that. Other people have tried even before Tony.
So I don't think that that is something that I'm interested in. I know that there are -- it's kind of like when things are on a grand scale, when they're good they're great. But when they're bad, they're really bad. And I don't have any will to have those potential bad headaches.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Ryan, I'm wondering, what can NASCAR do to fix the problem at Talladega? The drivers obviously don't like driving in packs, but that's due to restricter plates. But at the same time NASCAR doesn't want the cars flying into the stands anymore. So is there anything in your view that they can do to fix that issue?
RYAN NEWMAN: I know they've made one big step and that's to reduce the restricter plate size to slow the cars down so we're less likely to get airborne.
I know the Speedway has made improvements with respect to catch fans and things like that. But ultimately we don't want to get to that situation.
Realistically, the drivers, as NASCAR has evolved to restricter plate tracks, have changed the way we drive. There will be times when we single-file out and there will be times when we're four-wide/four-deep for the whole pack at times.
So it's just a matter of excitement and strategy and the timing of those things in conjunction with what lap we're on and what there is to expect before the end of the race, because I didn't expect the last race there to be two cars, two groups of two cars pushing each other and may the best two-team win. I never thought that would be a Talladega race. Realistically, you never know what to expect. But I know the restricter plate change is a big thing.
And as I said, as NASCAR has evolved, you never know what you're going to get with the drivers and how their styles change.
Q. If I could jump ahead a week to Texas and ask you about the double-file restarts. Seems like it's been a wonderful thing, and it seems like in most of the races we've seen restarts within about 25 to 30 laps or so. So how has that kind of ramped up the intensity for you guys on the racetrack when that happens and looking ahead to next week, does that just give things a greater potential for a more exciting finish?
RYAN NEWMAN: The double-file starts are more advantageous at bigger racetracks, especially the wider ones. I saw for the first time at Martinsville this last weekend that the double-file restarts really didn't make much difference. You could put cars that were more of equal competition levels side by side. We ran side by side, at least what seemed to be side by side for longer.
When you have that on a one-lane racetrack, it's hard to get three-wide. But you get to Texas and you can get three and sometimes four-wide in the corners.
So I look forward to it. I think it's been a great addition to the excitement of racing that NASCAR's involved with the double-file restarts. And Texas will be a great place for it.
Q. Along the same lines, I was looking ahead to actually Phoenix. It seems to be actually a favorite of a lot of drivers: Flat mile track. Just your thoughts on the second trip out to Phoenix and maybe how it's different from the first trip.
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, again, just like Martinsville will have the first for double-file restarts at that racetrack. So it will be interesting to see how that plays out. And Phoenix is a little different from Martinsville in the fact that you have a little bit more room to get three-wide at times.
I look forward to it. It's a driver's racetrack. We've always said that because it's unique. It's different from one end to the other. And, therefore, the crew chief can only get one end perfect, it seems, and the other one the driver has to adapt to.
I look forward to going there. It's one of my favorite racetracks. I know Tony does the same. Those restarts will be interesting there as well.
Q. Ryan, Mark Martin recently described preparation, compared Earnhardt, Sr. and Jimmie Johnson. He said Jimmie is technical and he writes things down. Earnhardt didn't take notes, just piled into the thing and drove it like an animal, that's his quote. You're probably the most analytical of drivers, with your degree and everything, how would you describe your approach and how do you think you fit in between a studious Jimmie and jump in there, pile in there car, Dale Earnhardt, Sr.?
RYAN NEWMAN: It's like any other sport. Every driver has their little way of doing things, whether it's Senior's style or Jimmie Johnson style or Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart style or Labonte style, everybody's different. And you have to do what fits you to be the best you can be, to be the most successful in your own mind, to put it down on paper the way it's going to be or how you are trying to project what it is you want to do. And some guys are off the cuff and some guys have to lay it out. And everybody's different, is my point.
So to me I wouldn't compare myself to either. I kind of do my own thing. I have an engineering degree as a background, but I wouldn't say that distinctively drives what I do inside the race car or out of it.
Q. Ryan, I see at Charlotte you were asked about your expectations for this season. And I think you said you weren't really sure how it was going to turn out. It's turned out obviously pretty well. I'm curious what your expectations are for next season.
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, the one thing that I would say for sure is I feel like we should be able to expand upon this season, 2009, and take the relationships that we've built and start building better and faster race cars and things like that, because of the things that we've learned together as a team and what Tony Gibson and I have learned, what he's learned about the way I like to drive a car and the way I learned from things from him and how he likes to adjust on the race car.
So just being able to sharpen our pencil, per se, and shine things up a little bit, put a little polish on them and just be better than we are in all respects, from the pit crew side, from the team side, mechanically and performance-wise, what we can do to be better, we should be able to capitalize on that, what we experienced in 2009 to 2010.
Q. Ryan, I have a question about the Car of Tomorrow. I'm not suggesting like a total overhaul, but are there some changes you think that could be made possibly over the offseason that would make it a better race car at some of the tracks where it hasn't been so great?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I think that there's different ways of looking at that. From a mechanical standpoint, there are things we could do to make the car ride different or be able to adjust to it differently.
I haven't been a big fan of the bump stops, but they are a way we tune the race car and they are a way we can create advantages. So they are one thing that's as it's a disadvantage, it's an advantage to be able to have over other teams in what you're doing to make the car ride better. Ideally, we'd not like to have bump starts, we'd have four shocks, go off and make it more simple. When you make it more complex, makes the more understanding teams be more successful.
So the second part of it are the aerodynamics of the car: I don't know if they're ideal. I'm not a huge fan of the wing. I think that we'd get more side drafting, have a little bit better side-by-side racing if we had a spoiler on the back of it. I think you'll see a lot of the things we'd ideally have liked to have seen in the Car of Tomorrow for the Cup Series and the Car of Tomorrow for the Nationwide Series in the future based on things that both NASCAR and the teams have learned.
Q. Ryan, if NASCAR asked you if you had any changes inside your mind for the chase, is there something on your mind that you would say: Yeah, let's change this about the chase?
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't know. I mean, I want it to be as realistic racing and not a fabricated point system or fabricated championship trail in other people's eyes. There's a lot of historical significance in the way we race and the way that we award points. And that's been a successful pattern for the last 50 plus years.
So ideally, to answer your question, there's nothing that stands out in my mind. I've always said I'd like to have points awarded for qualifying but that's separate from the chase. And I still feel that we spend an entire day getting our starting positions. And if you have the opportunity to go 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for the top 5 qualifiers, I think that would be good. And I think that would, secondly, change the points before you ever start the race, which is a big hype as well, especially in the chase format.
Q. Also, Ryan, this Thursday at Michigan International Speedway, they have asked people to bring their dogs to the track dressed in Halloween costumes and the winner's going to receive a book signed by you; did I hear about that correctly?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yes. Actually, I'm involved in voting for the winner. It's cool what Robert Curtis and everybody has done up at Michigan International Speedway. They're very much into the outdoors and going green and things along those lines. And incorporating animals with the fans and with NASCAR racing is something that we're a definitely big fan of, with our foundation, and obviously involved in NASCAR.
So I think that that's pretty cool, and I'm proud to be a part of it. And the second part of that is we've got a new book that is coming out in February. Hopefully we can do it again next year, with a brand new book to offer to the fans.
Q. Last month in Atlanta you did pretty good with a Top 10 finish. And it was the first night race at Atlanta. I wanted your overall impression how you thought about the night racing in Atlanta?
RYAN NEWMAN: I liked it. I've always liked night racing, whether it was in open wheel racing or NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. I think it's more exciting for the drivers. It's more exciting for the fans. And it's cooler, which makes it more tolerable for us, for sure.
But just the way the light reflects off the cars, I think all the racetracks have done a great job with the lighting to make it realistic and safe for driving and it's a lot of fun. I think night races are typically better.
I'm not saying I want them all to be night races but there's a reason why a lot of races have switched into night races.
Q. Following up on that, do you think that we should have more night racing in NASCAR than is currently in the schedule?
RYAN NEWMAN: I think there's a good balance. Places like Indianapolis, I think, are always going to be day races. I don't think that they'll realistically put lights up around Indianapolis Motor Speedway; that's just my opinion. But I think there's a fine balance to have. And I'd say 60/40 night races/day races would be just about right if I had to do the math.
Q. Ryan, Goodyear recently tested a wider tire. I wanted to see if you heard anything about it good, bad, indifferent, and how do you think it will possibly change the racing?
RYAN NEWMAN: I'm not sure. I know that they have plans of that. I know a lot of other series have wider tires as well as taller tires, not just in overall circumference but in wheel diameter.
So there's some things they're looking into. But I don't think that that's something that's necessary for the sport. I don't think we should, per se, reinvent the wheel when we have things that we could shine up right now in respect to certain racetracks and put on great shows for the fans. Ultimately, it's the show for the fans that we're working on. And I don't think a different wheel/tire combination is the ideal way to solve that situation.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Ryan.
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