Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 WIX Filters Chevrolet, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed the new tire this weekend, how he and the team are approaching the final four races before the Chase, next week’s race at Bristol and much more.
HOW DID PRACTICE GO FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE NEW TIRE AND DID YOU NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT? “Practice was different because it was a different tire. According to what we can up here and tested it was the same and everything felt good. I think there are no issues at all with the tires. I guess the only issue you could say is they don’t really wear out, but that’s on the safety factor right now with the new asphalt. I talked to the Goodyear guys and told them they were safe. Everything should be good.”
YOU GUYS WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW HARD IT WAS JUST TO GET THE TRACK TO TAKE RUBBER, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE SO WHEN YOU GUYS GET OUT THERE YOU HAVE MORE ROOM? “The tire machine they used in Phoenix that I guess came from Texas could be an option there. Every race track we go to its similar to that respect. If you are going to do it here, you might as well do it everywhere. I don’t think there is any reason for it to be special. It’s just the situation we’re in now. It takes heat, it takes multiple cars, and even the trucks didn’t put that much rubber on the race track compared to what we did here when we tested with 20 cars. The Cup cars really put more rubber down because of the speeds they are going into the corner.”
DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE SPEEDS? “I feel much better about the speeds now than what we were in practice at this point in June. Averaging 196 miles per hour in qualifying, that’s plenty fast. Remember when we said that the race we put on won’t be because of the speed, it will be because of the way we raced side-by-side, three and four wide and things like that. We can do that at 165 (miles per hour) verses 195 (miles per hour).
RIGHT NOW IF NOBODY ELSE WINS YOU MAY BE ABLE TO MAKE THE CHASE ON POINTS, IF SOMEONE ELSE WINS YOU MAY NOT … “Just race. Just race to win. We do what we can to win each week. We’re not going to sit here and say that we are going to settle for fourth just because it will be a good points day for us. We’re here to win and that’s our focus. This Chevrolet was good in practice. We struggled a little bit getting the lap in, but when we went it was seventh quick. We’re here to win, that’s the bottom line.”
IT WAS A YEAR AGO HERE THAT TONY (STEWART) GAVE THE QUOTE THAT HAS RECEIVED A LOT OF ATTENTION WHERE HE SAID WE WOULD JUST BASICALLY BE TAKING UP A SPOT IN THE CHASE IF WE WERE IN THERE, NOW IN YOUR SITUATION DO YOU LOOK AT WHAT TONY WAS ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH LAST YEAR? IF YOU GET IN, YOU’RE CAPABLE OF DOING ANYTHING. “Anybody is. That was an emotional moment for Tony last year, but anybody is. It’s just a matter of getting the job done and they proved they were capable of getting the job done, and they got the job done. Anybody can do it. It doesn’t matter even if you’re not in the Chase. The competition of our sport is so tough that guys that are 13th and 14th in points can still go out there and win three or four races in the Chase if they get their things right.”
WHEN YOU ARE SEARCHING FOR SPONSORS FOR NEXT YEAR IS MAKING THE CHASE IMPORTANT? “I think making the Chase is big for me personally, for our team and for our organization. We’ve made it and we’ve not made it. When we don’t make it, it’s frustrating to go through those last 10 races. In the past it hasn’t changed our perspective on the next season, but this year I think it’s a little bit different. So, yes it has weight but it doesn’t change the way I race and it doesn’t change my mentality when I get in the race car or when I get out of the race car. It’s all about my job as a driver. I’ve done it for the last 10 years in this sport and every day is the same when it comes to that.”
ANYTHING NEW FOR NEXT YEAR? “Nothing new for next year yet.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT BRISTOL NEXT WEEK? “I just hope they didn’t screw up the race track. The racing was different than what we had there in the past because of the tire to me, not because of the race track. I hope that the racing is good. I hope they didn’t take the racing away. The beating, banging and crashing is not the racing that I like. That’s what some of the fans enjoy but that’s not the racing I like. I like being able to run side-by-side. The problem we had the tire just didn’t allow us to be able to fall off so the first five laps of the run were like the last five 120 later. You had what you had. Your car didn’t fall off, your balance didn’t change, and everybody was virtually the same speed. We passed and we raced side-by-side but it made it difficult to see the guy coming from 10th on new tires to pass the guys that were in the top five. It just didn’t happen the way it used to. To me, the tires are the biggest issue when it comes to a place like that.”
ANY CONCERN THAT COMES AT THE CUTOFF FOR THE CHASE, THE UNKNOWN? “Everything is unknown until it’s happened.”
BUT YOU REALLY DON’T THAT TRACK OR WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THAT RACE. “It’s the same with any place. You’ve got as much of a chance of an engine failure at a place like Michigan as you do getting caught up in somebody else’s wreck in Bristol. So, there’s risks no matter what. There’s risks walking around the garage area. It’s part of the sport.”
WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING OR LOOKING FOR AT ATLANTA? “We ran good there last year. We got caught up in some other drama with Kasey Kahne. We look forward to going back. (Tony) Stewart has run well there, we run well there. It’s a track I’ve got a lot of poles at so I know how to get around there. Hitting it once is unique. A track that is so pivotal, and most of the tracks we go to like Michigan and Bristol and Richmond it will be the second time. Atlanta is kind of the one-off, so it does have a different feel about it. In the end we are still there to do the same job.”
THESE WEEKENDS WHERE WE ARE QUALIFYING ON FRIDAY AGAIN … “Why is that? Who really screws the schedule up that much? It’s like, why would you come here on a Saturday and do one lap and have people in the grandstands and sit for two hours before the Nationwide race starts? It doesn’t make any sense. Who came up with that? That’s the question. Is it NASCAR, is it the tracks? Is that SMI verses ISC? I’m asking you guys.”
THEY WANTED TO MAKE MORE VALUE TO THE TICKET FO RTHE FANS. “There’s no more value to the ticket by watching us run one lap. It used to be back when I started racing, that you run practice, the Nationwide race, and then you run practice again which didn’t make a whole lot of sense because the track would change a lot. The Cup guys practiced all day and they couldn’t go play golf or fish or whatever. To me, the way it is right now doesn’t make sense. We’re trying to figure out how to put people in the grandstands and we have so much dead time on Saturday’s before the Nationwide race, we could add excitement to their ticket by having practice the way it should be. I know it is at times, but the lack of consistency is not good for our sport.”