Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed the Irwin Tools Night Race, sponsor promotion, changes to BMS and other topics.
TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK HERE AT BRISTOL THIS WEEKEND “Anything can happen at Bristol. We have seen it before and we will see it again but it’s no different than any other race track. You just have to put yourself in position to be in contention at the end because you never know how it’s going to shake out. Our Outback Chevrolet was okay during practice but we need to work on it a little bit. It’s so tight and so competitive speed-wise that you don’t know how you shake out until you get those 70 and 80 lap runs.
“I have to give a big shout out to Outback Steakhouse this weekend with an awesome promotion with our race car as they are offering up a lot for the race fans this weekend. If there are 110K fans, then every one of them gets this flag and a $10 coupon to Outback. If we win the race then they are offering free Blooming Onions on Mondays for the whole month of September and Mondays only. Then 39 lucky fans will get free Outback for a year, which is pretty impressive. So, a really good partner for Stewart-Haas racing and myself to give so much to the fans and very thankful to that. But that is why it’s important for us to run well this weekend, not only because of the Chase, but because we are doing this for the fans.”
WHEN YOUR TEAM FIELDS THREE TEAMS INSTEAD OF TWO, IS THERE ANY IMPACT ON YOU? ON THE TRACK, OFF THE TRACK, PEOPLE WORKING WITH YOU, ANYTHING AT ALL? “There is always the potential every time. It has the potential to have a positive effect; it has the potential to have a negative effect. It all depends on the performance of all three cars. It’s no different than a chain which is only as strong as its weakest link and we are out there doing everything we can on the 39 side, and every team is. Its business as usual for us while we are on the race track, but it’s the debrief sessions and things like that when we get together. When things are right we can talk about the positive things, and when things are wrong we talk about what we have to do to make some positives out of it. That is the same with one, two, or three car teams. You still have the opportunity to communicate to the nth degree.”
SINCE YOU ARE AN ENGINEER I AM GOING TO ASK YOU AN ENGINEERING QUESTION. GIVEN THE INCIDENT WITH MARK MARTIN LAST WEEK AT MICHIGAN, HOW WOULD YOU REDESIGN THAT TO NOT HAPPEN AGAIN? “I have thought about that a little bit. The only thing that comes to mind off the top of my head is where Mark hit, that was the area they call the pit in, and he hit where Kasey Kahne’s pit was and I don’t know whose pit was behind it. But you could have a flare there so there is still a vertical wall and if Mark was to come through there the way he did, it would ramp him back out to the other wall instead of continuing in to that wall. So you would just put a cheese wedge of a wall there so that when someone is coming in there at that speed, it shoves them out. It’s the only thing I can think of. You don’t want to have….you could put sand barrels there but you are just going to blow sand into everyone’s pit box. Yeah, it helps but to me a flared-out wall would help. And when you see that a little bit like at Darlington where we have the tunnel flares and things like that, but it’s something we have dealt with and had no issues with it, but from a safety standpoint I would say flared walls in position like that, the back edge would put a quick fix in that in my mind.”
HOW SICK WERE YOU LAST WEEK AND HOW BIG WAS THAT EIGHTH PLACE FINISH BASED ON WHAT YOU WERE DEALING WITH? “I was sick, and had a pretty bad fever, pretty bad cold and achy bones and went to the infield care center and got changed and went to the car. I felt better getting out of the car than I did getting in. Unfortunately I still have the same bug and I was in the infield care center this morning. I am struggling with it a little bit, and with all the medicine I have gotten, there is nothing better than adrenaline. The adrenaline helps carry you through a lot. And I wish they could put it in a pill form, I am not sure if they have yet, but I am managing. It’s not the best, or the greatest, but in the car I don’t feel like I am giving anything up.”
AFTER RUNNING THE MODIFIED RACE AND PRACTICE TODAY, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHANGES TO THE TRACK AND HOW YOU WILL RACE SATURDAY NIGHT? “To me it’s the same. We don’t usually get to the top of the race track until the race itself. I don’t know that it’s going to be slicker; it’s just not been run on to get the rubber and stuff built up on it. Right now it’s slick because its powdery up there and I don’t know how much it has rained here to wash it off, but to me , everything has just kind of washed up in there and stuck into it. To me the answer still is in the tire. Just need a tire that will fall off. To me Goodyear has over-produced the performance and the tire doesn’t fall off but two or three tenths over a 70 or 80 lap run.
“You go back here to the old race track, or even when the track was redone and we had a tire that would fall off a good bit more and it came down to peddling the car and about handling. We don’t have that anymore and I think that is where the issue really lies. Bruton is doing his job to appease the fans, but in the end I think that it’s the tire that is dictating the racing. They are doing a good job with the tire, they just need to make a tire that falls off and has the durability, which is not easy to do. We talk about that at different race tracks all the time but that would definitely change the racing. When you are falling off a second or a second-and-a-half at times over an 80 lap run, you come in and put tires on and it’s going to be faster and that is the idea. But now when it’s falling off three tenths and you are 60 laps from your next fuel window, and your window is past the end of the race, you are going to stay out. Because it’s too difficult to pass and only being three-tenths off, it’s too difficult to pass. The tires re-fire too well so to me the racing is just a byproduct of the tires than it is the actual track or the banking or anything else.”