NASCAR Media Conference
September 5, 2013
RYAN NEWMAN: To me, everything is like an ordinary race weekend. Once the checkered flag drops, it all changes. We have to do the same thing that we chose and want to do back in Daytona for the 500, at Phoenix and Vegas, everything else. That is the same task at hand. That's to win the race.
Again, for so many of us, winning answers so many things. A few of us, some people can win and still not make it in. In my position, if I win, I'm in. I can run 2nd and still not make it. It's just a matter of going out there and seeing how everything falls.
I mean, I finished 21st in Bristol, went out of the wild card spot to into the wild card spot. Anything can happen in a short track race. I think the guys that we're all racing, even if you look back at Atlanta, I looked at the pylon after the race, guy trying to make the Chase, guy trying to make the Chase, had to get to like 6th or something to get out of that group for guys that are battling for that tight spot.
Anything can happen. I think it's just an ordinary race up until that point.
Q. If you get in, how competitive do you think you can be?
RYAN NEWMAN: That was the question and answer to myself before Atlanta. If we can't do what we need to in these two races, we won't be able to achieve anything in 10 races.
These last two races, Atlanta, I think we did a good job there, kept ourselves in the hunt. I think we can be competitive. We've proven we can win. Everybody says you have to be a winner to be a champion. I don't know that's necessarily the case, but obviously it does help.
I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say, Yeah, I think we can win it, I know we can win it. I think we can be a true contender and shake some things up.
Q. Tony said the other day they didn't want to talk about him being out for the season because they didn't want to put any distraction.
RYAN NEWMAN: (Laughter).
Q. I know. I know.
RYAN NEWMAN: Two U‑turns, going back in the same direction, right (laughter)?
Q. Has trying to figure out what you're doing next year been a distraction while everything else is going on as well?
RYAN NEWMAN: I think no matter what, trying to figure out anybody's future is somewhat of a distraction. When it compares to living in the present, trying to figure out and perform like we need to perform for the Chase. I think it takes a pretty good mind to separate all those things.
I think if you look at somebody like me and Kurt, I think we've done well managing that. I think in the end it is a big challenge, but that's what we enjoy, is challenges. We're out there competing against 42 other people to try to win a race. Don't expect anything to be easy.
They say the more challenging it is, the more rewarding it is, so...
Q. How much of this is the mental game?
RYAN NEWMAN: I still say in our sport, just like I said when I drove the Army car, it's a 33% deal. There's mental, physical and emotional. They all weigh evenly. Some at times more than others, but in the end they all weigh evenly.
I think there will be a part of racing here in Richmond that is mental, physical and emotional. Emotion may be the first lap or the last lap, but in the end there will be a 33‑and‑a‑third balance of all three.
Q. If you could have one race back from earlier this year, which would it be?
RYAN NEWMAN: Two of the first three were DNF's. You pick the engine failure, the blown tire, either one of those were 40‑ish‑place finishes. That was tough. 30 points we couldn't get back, if you take a top‑10 finish. That was huge.
So many guys in our position could say the exact same thing. There's several races like that. You go back to when we had the ball rolling, then we had Loudon and everything kind of blew up, then we came back and won Indy. Loudon we got crashed running 6th on a restart in our last fuel window. We ended up 36th there.
So many of us could say the exact same thing, exact same story. We just all have one race to make it happen.
Q. Did you watch Tuesday with Tony?
RYAN NEWMAN: No.
Q. Fans have been hard on him. He's been bothered by it, people feeling like he lied to you or deceived you. Do you feel that?
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't think Tony lied to me. I don't think anybody lied to me. I don't have any of that feeling or emotion. I don't think any of that matters because the plans they made are for 2014 and I'm not part of that. I knew that going in.
I don't think there were any hidden agendas on Tony's behalf. I had a good relationship with him and been up front with him. My communication has been mostly with him in my whole relationship at Stewart‑Haas Racing. No surprise.
Q. No hard feelings?
RYAN NEWMAN: No hard feelings. I know a lot of things became tough for Tony once he was injured. That all kind of happened at the same time. Kind of like what we do in our business, you have to get through the tough times.
Q. This week did you do a lot of things not making your car go fast?
RYAN NEWMAN: I spent some time this week working on next year, which I can't really talk anything about. I also spent a lot of time around my farm. It was the first week we've had no rain. I was actually able to do some of the things I wanted to get done.
To me that helps balance out some of the mental sanity of dealing with next year, dealing with this year. I think everybody has to have that in some shape or form.
Q. You said you're not ready to say anything about next year.
RYAN NEWMAN: I'm ready to say it (laughter).
Q. Just not allowed?
RYAN NEWMAN: It's not that I'm not allowed. It's just not the right time.
Q. Are you able to feel there is a peace of mind with the other stuff?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, you know, I've actually watched and heard and saw some of like Kurt's comments about how he's focused on the race, he's focused on other things during the week. I've been the same way.
With our history, you look at our age, when we started in the Cup Series, we've gone through the same growing pains, the same highs, some of the same lows. In the end, I mean, I'm focused on what I need to focus on when I need to focus on it. That could change any minute depending on the next phone call.
Q. When do you think you can say something about next year?
RYAN NEWMAN: Shortly (laughter).
Q. How does this track play to your strengths?
RYAN NEWMAN: It's easy to say that when you've won at a place, you feel like you can do it again. I think our series and sport is so competitive, there's no guarantee to that.
I mean, I won here 10 years ago on a track before they repaved it, they tared it, it was coming up. The cars were three generations old at that point. A lot of things have changed. The wall is still in the same spot. The way you drive the racetrack is similar.
There's guys now that are great at driving here. You look at some of the guys that really stand out here, it's a very challenging racetrack. You look at Denny, Kevin, those guys can dominate this place.
Not to say that I can't, I've been good here, but I don't have the stats they do. I've won here. Kevin has won here. Denny obviously has won here. Just because you have doesn't mean you will again.
Q. There's so many guys so close to get in the Chase this year, how do you feel the race will take place this weekend? Do you think guys will be more aggressive than usual here?
RYAN NEWMAN: I think it all depends on how things go. All it would take would be an hour rain delay and it drives people nuts. I think that totally changes the tempo, the emotion that goes into the start of the race. I've seen that happen in the last few years at different racetracks. What happened to these people? Did everybody have too much sugar in the rain delay or what? That can change everything.
I don't know. I think there's a little bit of potential for everything. I think there's a chance it could be calm, a chance it could be caution after caution after caution, a chance that could be the exact same scenario in the entire same race twice. It could be a couple long runs, then four cautions in a row, or vice versa.
I sound like I'm rambling, but it really could be anything.
Q. What would happen if you found yourself in a situation where the only way you're going to make the Chase, running the second‑to‑the‑last lap, you have to take out the guy running first for the win.
RYAN NEWMAN: Guy or girl.
Q. Would you take out the girl?
RYAN NEWMAN: She's taken (laughter).
Q. What do you anticipate you would do?
RYAN NEWMAN: It all depends. Everything is a situation. If that guy roughs you up to get to where you are, maybe. If that person is the one that caused you mischief earlier in the season, maybe. If that person is somebody you extremely respect, know they wouldn't do that to you, maybe not.
It's so situational.
Q. Considering some of the struggles that the organization had earlier in the season, does this feel like a small victory to be in a position to make the Chase or once things started rolling for you would you have hoped it wouldn't be this close?
RYAN NEWMAN: I've been stuck in this spot so many times in my career over the last five or six years, I'm kind of used to it. I've made it. I've missed it. I know the highs and lows of both of them.
Yeah, it's a little bit of a reward knowing how we started with two DNF's in the first three races. To finish 5th in Daytona, two DNF's, then struggle with some tires at Martinsville, rebounded after losing my job, so to speak, with a win and a track record and pole at Indy. There's been highs and lows throughout the season. That can happen four different times Saturday night.
Q. What is the responsibility you have to do everything you can to make the Chase to your team? At the end of the day it's about making the Chase, is it not? Don't you have a responsibility to the team to be eligible for the championship? Are you going to suddenly sprout morals?
RYAN NEWMAN: My responsibilities to my team is the same responsibilities my team has to me. If they expect me to go out there and hit somebody, then why wouldn't I expect them to go and grab somebody and trip somebody on pit road. There's no rule against it. Why wouldn't it? It's not the way we operate. It's not responsible. I mean, yeah, as a driver we take on the majority of that responsibility in racing. But, I mean, if we're pitted next to somebody, block them in. Have the 14 block them in, have the 10 block them in.
Q. That stuff happens.
RYAN NEWMAN: It does happen. But that's not where my mind is, to answer your question. I don't feel that's part of the responsibility.
My responsibility is to go out there and do the best job I can, not do the best job I can knowing the rest of my team, organization, is going to sacrifice their night to make mine better.
Q. If you're in a situation, you have to make an aggressive move, are you comfortable making an aggressive move knowing there may be some contact?
RYAN NEWMAN: You can be comfortable making that move and take the assumption in the next 10 races they're going to get you back. Is that move really worth it at that point if you're going to take yourself out of running for a championship later by getting yourself into the Chase.
Q. How do you balance when to be aggressive or not?
RYAN NEWMAN: It goes back to what I said before about being situational. There's going to be that feeling and emotion for myself, my crew chief, for the pit crew guys, other drivers on restarts. Some drivers have more respect for guys that are racing to get into a championship. It's all situational.
I kind of say the same word over and over, but I really feel the same.
Q. What went through your mind when Kasey went out and you knew things were flipping at the back end of the points, you went from wild card in, wild card out? Was that frustrating?
RYAN NEWMAN: I never asked the first word about points. I knew we had a good car and had a good shot at winning. Then I had a couple bad restarts which took us out of the running.
In the end I knew Kasey was in that crash and that changed our situation. I also knew that Martin had to come in for a pit stop late in the race, unscheduled pit stop under caution. That put him I think 18th or something at the time. He came back from that and fought back. Probably wouldn't if it had stayed green. We were running 2nds chasing down Logano. That would have changed everything coming into Richmond.
RYAN NEWMAN: I equated it, and I'm not really good at other sports, comparing to other sports, but to me what we're going through in the Chase is like watching golf on TV. You have a leaderboard, you can see it, some people can't see it, but you know you have to perform and do your best. If you just do your best, you're good enough to beat the other guys, you will.
When you have that leaderboard, you can watch who is doing good, who is not. Sometimes we see it, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we see it under green because somebody's engine blows. It all changes. Again, it's all situational.
Q. Would you like to see the tracks change in the Chase every year?
RYAN NEWMAN: To me Talladega doesn't belong in the Chase just because of the type of racing that we have there. You can criticize and say what you want, but it's not the same kind of racing that we have in the other nine races, and for that matter the other 32 races throughout the season.
Does it add a sense of energy or different type of excitement? Absolutely. Is it fair for the racer? All depends on who you are. But I don't know that is the best thing.
Moving races around or tracks around, in and out, geography, all those things, you could probably argue those things till you're blue in the face. I don't think there's anything bad with the way it is, and it probably could be better.
Q. Would you be against a road course in the Chase?
RYAN NEWMAN: There's control. All depends on how fast the racecar you have is. That's the tough part of it. I've been jumping to the back of the field instead of trying to jump to the front of the field because I didn't feel I had a car that could lead a bunch. You have to lead a bunch in order to stay out of trouble, and there's still no guarantee.
I'd usually opt to watch the crash and try to avoid it. I feel a road course is a better option. I've said several times, going to Birmingham, to race that road course, even though I've never seen it or been there, would keep everything else the same as far as the geography, the market, put a road course in the Chase.
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