NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Coca-Cola 600
Topics: Coca-Cola 600
May 25, 2009
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our post race press conference for the Coca-Cola 600. Our race runner-up is Ryan Newman. Ryan, certainly an unusual turn of events out there today. We battled rain all day long. You got a second-place finish. Your thoughts?
RYAN NEWMAN: I mean, obviously I'm happy with the strategy and things like that with the U.S. Army Chevrolet. I feel so bad for the fans out there, I mean, just to see the grandstands that were packed yesterday, then to come back on Memorial Day, know that people couldn't make it back.
Even the fans that were here, it wasn't going to get any better. It's not going to be any better tomorrow. So I'm glad we got past 200. I'm glad we could call it an official race.
We struggled a little bit speed-wise, especially in traffic. We had a couple bad pit stops that slowed us down. Worked our way back towards the front, then just stayed out. I told them afterwards, I told David, congratulations, but I wish he wouldn't have hit the wall. If he wouldn't have hit the wall, he probably would have pitted with everybody else, I would have been up front. Either way, it was a good finish. Not at all a racing finish. It's not like I'm proud of it, but I'm glad we got a good finish today.
KERRY THARP: We'll open it up to questions for Ryan Newman.
Q. Ryan, do you think they waited too long to call this thing?
RYAN NEWMAN: I wouldn't say they waited too long. It was in the best interest of the fans to put on a show for them. Unfortunately we lost a huge part of the population with all the rain delays. You know, we sat around for another hour and a half just being hopeful and optimistic.
Bottom line was that Mother Nature didn't let it happen. We knew based off the forecast that it was going to be that way. Turned out to be that way. Now we get to go home.
KERRY THARP: We also have our third-place finisher and our top Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Robby Gordon and Joey Logano. Robby, talk about the last couple days, we battled nature, yet you got a third-place finish.
ROBBY GORDON: Thank you. I think part of it was watching the computer screen. We were sitting there 20th or 21st, and sat there and watched it. It's like, okay, well, if we pit, we're going to come back out 21st or something like that. If we stay out, we got an opportunity to finish in the top five. Didn't know how many people were going to stay out. Obviously, Ryan's crew was on their game, so was Reutimann, on theirs. We were probably a 15th-place car. Ran with Kyle for a long time on that one long run.
When you start back in the back, it's just hard to pass. We worked our way, like I said, up to 18th at one point. We were running 20th when that caution came out.
KERRY THARP: Joey, you were running up front there for most of the race. Your thoughts about your performance for that No. 20 Home Depot Toyota?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, we had a very good car. On the long run we were real good. Just a tough deal. I think we had a top five car at the end of runs there, at the beginning not as good. I killed the brakes on it probably 150 laps into the deal. You know, just had to start changing around my line a little bit. Actually it helped me, you know, not just driving the corners hard, not abusing the right front as much. It actually helped me a lot - hopefully for the future, too. That was good. Overall we learned a lot. We'll keep building on the momentum here at the 20 team. Hopefully go to Dover and do the same thing again.
KERRY THARP: We'll open it back up for questions.
Q. Ryan, you mentioned several times about the fans, hanging around for the last couple days. Tomorrow you have a meeting where NASCAR is going to open it up for you to discuss issues. What do you hope to tell them or express to them that they need to do to kind of help bring more excitement back to the sport?
RYAN NEWMAN: I don't know. I mean, obviously I don't know how the meeting is going to go. I don't know if we're going to do more listening or talking. I think to have good communication, it's got to be 50/50. There are some things with the racecars we've talked about to make the racing better. Obviously there's some issues outside of the racecars that have been talked about in the past.
I'm not really sure what the program is for that meeting. I'm not sure if it's going to be a 45-minute just listen and walk out or if it's going to be 45 minutes of questions afterwards.
It's going to be interesting. It's the first meeting, to my knowledge, that we've had in a situation like this. We've been put in a room before and talked to, but it's interesting and nice to be able to have the capability to talk and a two-way street of communication.
ROBBY GORDON: I'm going to say you guys can help us as much as anything, between talking about ratings or talking about this. Negative breeds negative. We need to get some positive thinking around here. We got some pretty good races going on. I think the first half of this race wasn't very exciting, but the All-Star Race was very exciting the other night. I think we all can overcome this thing, and it's not just about the racecars or just about this, it's about positive thinking. Unfortunately, every time you turn on the news today or read the newspaper, it's nothing but negative. Positive breeds positive.
Q. So far the first two crown jewels of the season, the Daytona 500 and this race, rain shortened. What kind of a positive do you get out of something like that? Is there anything that can be done? I'm sure there will be some fans that will ask, after the Daytona 500 a lot of fans were saying why didn't they try to complete the race. Look at what happened here. Is there a solution to things like that?
RYAN NEWMAN: I think they did than excellent job putting an effort in today and yesterday. There's different situations that NASCAR is put in. You don't start a race unless you know you can finish it. So they were boxed in last night. Today was a little different situation where they knew they could get to at least 200, 201, I guess. I don't think there was any type of premature call on the rain-shortened race today.
Daytona I'd say was a little bit more of a question. It's just part of it, man. It's Mother Nature. We don't race in the rain, period. There were times today we were racing in sprinkles. But they did a good job of keeping the cars and drivers safe. Unfortunately, like I said, turned the Coca-Cola 600 into 12 hours or 24. Either way, it's just part of racing.
ROBBY GORDON: It's unfortunate Mother Nature didn't cooperate. They obviously tried to dry it time and time again. I didn't think it would get called this early. But at the same time we've got to have cars back at the racetrack next Friday. We are here in Charlotte, but it is Monday, it's not a Sunday race. It's going to be a short week already for our guys.
RYAN NEWMAN: And there's a bunch more rain coming.
ROBBY GORDON: There's more rain coming. They've tried for a while. You know, I'll take third. Lucky for us, but unfortunate for the fans that obviously paid good money to come watch a good race. I think NASCAR did a good job trying to get the track back green again.
Q. You won your first race under somewhat similar circumstances. How satisfying was it to you at the time and how much different did it feel when you won one getting the checkered flag?
RYAN NEWMAN: I mean, there's different ways to win a race. When you win your first race, it doesn't really matter, I guess you could say. It's special all on its own. The running of the Coca-Cola 600 is special in itself. You got to be in the right place at the right time. You got to use strategy. You got to have a fast racecar. You got to do all those things right or close to right. Reutimann pulled it off. Not much more you can say about it.
ROBBY GORDON: He's been running all year, too. He had some good runs. This time he had a little bit of luck on his side.
Q. Ryan, could you talk about your sense of accomplishment, four straight top fives, what you have with that, given the fact you made the decision to make the jump to Tony's new team. Robby, what does this do for your program, not only in points, but momentum?
RYAN NEWMAN: For me personally, it's huge. A long time since I had four top fives in a row. The guys are doing a good job with Tony Gibson leading the group. Obviously everybody at Stewart-Haas. Same things I've always said, put ourselves in the right position at the right time, we'll get our win.
But you can forget the jumping ship. That's in the past. We're talking about the present and the future. I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing. I look toward to Dover.
ROBBY GORDON: For me this is a momentum builder for us. I think we've had some decent runs. We finished 15th at Richmond a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately we got caught out early at Darlington. How do you say it, success breeds success. We've been focusing really hard on our racecars. Another clean racecar we get to bring home. That will help us as far as building up ammunition to go to the racetrack with.
Q. Robby, this place has some whacky finishes. A lot of people you would not expect to win races. Taking that one step further, how important is it to our fans to bring out new fans when you do have a Reutimann winning a race that people may not be so familiar so he can tell his story to the public? For you to finish third when we haven't seen you up in the top five for a couple years, how important is it to the success of your team going forward?
ROBBY GORDON: Well, it has been almost a year since I've been in the top five. But we needed to figure out how to do that a little bit more.
For Reutimann, for Toyota, it's a big win for them. Congratulations to those guys. Like I said before, he did win today because of rain delay, but he's been running good all year. I think if you watch how that program started, they were in the 30s. They worked themselves into the 20s, worked themselves into the 10s. You put yourself in front of the door enough times when you're running top 10, you're going to pull off one of these wins like today.
Q. Joey, you were running third or fourth right there before you came in for that last pit stop on the caution. Was there any discussion with Zippy about staying out like the other guys did?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I brought it up. Who's gonna stay out, who's gonna take two tires, try to snooker all of us. Obviously, someone is going to try it. They were going to look at the weather. In the position we were, we were running fourth. Okay, you stay out, yeah, you win the race. We would have won because of the rain. But God forbid we went green again. We were going to go backwards pretty quick.
If you're sitting fourth, yeah, it's a big gamble to take. If you're sitting in a different spot, yeah, it's a little easier of a decision. You know, it definitely is the right decision. I don't regret it a bit. It is what it is. So, you know, you had to do that. We didn't really have an option there.
RYAN NEWMAN: You had an option.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, but knowing me, it would have gone green again (laughter).
ROBBY GORDON: I was bummed there were two other guys that went for the gamble.
Q. Ryan, was there a decision for you guys? Was it just a no-brainer to stay out?
RYAN NEWMAN: There was a decision. We talked about it down the back straightaway. I said, Is the rain going to stay? They said, Looks like it. It might. It's gonna rain. Just a matter of how much and what was the situation gonna be with NASCAR calling it.
We decided if everybody pitted in front of us, we were going to stay out. Then at the last second, he goes, Come in. My dad is spotting for me. He goes, They're all coming. Gibson says, Come in, we'll put four tires on. Me, I'm like, Come on, you can't chicken out on me. I stayed out. In the end, it's the right thing to do.
Like Joey said, it's a crapshoot. If it would have went back green, we would have had to come in, go back to last. Who knows if it would rain 20 laps later. Just strategy. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't.
Q. Robby, can you have maybe a different appreciation of what Michael Waltrip has been able to do to get that first win? Can you have a better appreciation of what today might mean for him?
ROBBY GORDON: Got to be huge for him. They struggled for a while with the program getting it up and going. Obviously Toyota has worked very hard with them. They built that team to be a competitive race team. So congratulations to all those guys that did all that hard work. It's got to be a big day for him.
You know, we haven't won with our team. Our best finish is second. So now we got a third. We got to figure out what we got to do to make our team better. But congratulations to those guys. They've worked hard. As I say, they burned the midnight oil. Been through a lot of stress as well. To be able to pull into Victory Lane, like I said, they've been running in the top 10 all year long, so they've been putting themselves in that position for the door to open up. Today it opened up.
Q. Joey, how much more confident and comfortable do you feel now in the car after these last few races? Yesterday was your birthday. Did you do anything to celebrate?
JOEY LOGANO: I sat in the rain. I could only play so many video games in the motorhome before I got bored. Didn't really do nothing there.
But confidence lately has gone up to the moon. I think since Darlington is really when it stepped up a ton for me. Zippy and the team, I think confidence has gone up a lot, too. I think we're going off our notes now. We're not going off last year's notes when, you know, Tony says something, have a different change for that, now it's kind of going off what I say, the previous races. I think that's kind of helping, too. Been testing, getting to know each other better. All that kind of adds to it.
But it's cool to see all the hard work you put into it. You struggle a little bit in the beginning of the season. You hear everyone, Oh, is he going to make it, this and that. To get these good, solid finishes lately has been huge for me and for the whole team.
KERRY THARP: Gentlemen, congratulations. We'll see you in a few days.
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