It is the Second Straight Win and Third Overall for Stewart-Haas Racing This Season
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 1, 2012) – Stewart-Haas Racing stole the show from what looked to be a storybook day for Hendrick Motorsports at Martinsville Speedway for the 63rd Annual Goody’s Fast Relief 500. Ryan Newman, No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet, took advantage of a late race melee that took out the top three cars on the second-to-last restart during a green-white-checkered finish brought about when a car stopped on the backstretch and was unable to make it to pit road. It was also SHR’s 8th win in the last 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
Newman held off AJ Allmendinger (Dodge) and Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, on the final restart and second green-white-checkered finish to score his 16th career win, but first at the 0.526-mile Virginia short track. Earnhardt Jr. came home in third position and is now second in the overall point standings just six markers back of the lead after race number six of the 2012 season.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 MyLowes Chevrolet, finished 12th after he and teammate Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, dominated most of the race and were clearly the class of the field at the very end of the event. Gordon came home 14th after he and Johnson were involved in a crash while leading and suffering contact when the third place car made a move going into turn one that caused them all to spin. Johnson falls to 10th in points while Gordon moves up to 21st.
Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet rallied for a 7th place finish after battling an ill-handling race car for most of the day.
Other Team Chevy finishers in the top-20 were: Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet was 16th; Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser is Back Chevrolet was 19th; and Jaime McMurray, No. 1 Belkin Chevrolet was 20th.
The Series moves to Texas Motor Speedway on April 14, 2012.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPTS:
RYAN NEWMAN AND CREW CHIEF, TONY GIBSON, NO. 39 OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE CHEVROLET – WINNERS
KERRY THARP: Let’s roll into our post event press conference for the 63rd Annual Goody’s Fast Relief 500. Our race winner today is Ryan Newman. He drove the No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet for Stewart Haas Racing. He is joined by his crew chief Tony Gibson.
This is your 16th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win; your first win in 2012 and your first win here at Martinsville Speedway, so congratulations on that. I know you’ve got a new sponsor on the race car, and for this race here today and that’s got to feel good for that, and also getting into the victory column so early in the 2012 season. Congratulations.
RYAN NEWMAN: Thank you. No doubt an impressive day for us; for me to take us out of the game and we ended up going a lap down because of my speeding penalty, and the guys did an awesome job in giving us the car to make the changes.
We were not a dominant race car today but we put ourselves in contention. The way the strategy and everything worked out, coming in for two tires and Clint kind of clearing out turn one for us, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
We have been in that position here and been in the wrong place at the wrong time and it’s nice to be able to at least balance it out and get Outback in victory lane. That was really special for us, their first race with the team and if we get in the Top 10, we get free Bloomin’ Onions if you go to Outback and mention my name. Not sure, they might be rethinking that after this week.
KERRY THARP: Tony Gibson, congratulations on the win here today. Certainly a comeback victory for the 39 car. Talk about how that thing happened out there today.
TONY GIBSON: It’s like he said, feast or famine on pit road. You try to get everything you can get because every spot that you can gain on pit road means a lot on the racetrack.
We are all in this deal together, and there’s been times when we have given him bad pits stops and stuff like that. So that stuff is going to happen. That happens to everybody. What’s good is we fight back and Ryan never gives up; our team never gives up. So we had to fight back and get a lap back, and put ourselves in contention.
We had a solid Top 5 car today. We didn’t have a winning car. We had a Top 5 car, and you know, at the end you had to take some sort of tires, whether it was two or rights, or lefts, or four.
And like Ryan said, if we are sitting there running sixth and the other guys are behind us are going to come, so we’ve got to take something. Other guys took less. He said, it’s up to you. We threw rights on, figuring it would help take off a little quicker. Like I said, the guys had a great stop. Clint cleared out the way for us and Ryan did the rest. He drove a great race all day long, never gave up, and like I told you a million times, you put him somewhere near the front with ten to go, look out, he’s going to have a shot to win it.
We are pleased for Outback and everybody at Stewart Haas Racing for everybody to get a victory early and we need a couple more of them to really lock ourselves into the Chase deal and consider ourselves a good contender and so that’s what we have got to do.
Like you said a million times, we have got to learn from what we did today and apply that for the next up and coming weeks and we have got to get a couple more wins here pretty quick.
KERRY THARP: Ryan, certainly getting that grandfather clock has to be pretty cool. That has to be one of the coolest trophies in all of sports.
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, it’s something I look forward to. I even told Stewart after the race, I looked in the house and I’ve got a place for it. I’ve got a big old log cabin at home and it needs a grandfather clock and I was that’s just a byproduct of this race. I wanted to win this race but that grandfather clock is awesome and I’m proud to be able to take it home.
Q. Clint maintained after the race that you would have done the exact same thing if given the opportunity; but also AJ was in here after the race and was raving about how well and clean you raced him on those last two laps. Which one would it have been?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, if I was in Clint’s position, I would have tried not crashing the guys and won the race. I mean, I was trying to do the same thing to him as he did to the 24, and he actually whether he was trying to block me or he was just trying to get his run on the 24, he pulled down and my little bump, I think it was a pretty good shot, propelled him up next to the 24.
Whether he hit turn one faster than he wanted to or not, he still has got three pedals on the car and a steering wheel; it’s his job to control it. I don’t know if he hit the curb or if he ran out of room or the 24 pinched him down. It doesn’t matter.
The good thing is, we came out on the inside on the right side, and it was just a matter of racing AJ clean on that next restart. I felt like I wasn’t racing AJ on that restart. I felt like I was racing Junior behind me because I didn’t want the same thing to happen, because I’ve seen it happen so many times here. It was really important for me to not spin my tires and get a good start and race AJ and try to eliminate the 88 from the race for the win.
Q. There’s some people who are not too happy with Reutimann for bringing out that caution, but I was curious what you thought when you saw him stopped on the track?
RYAN NEWMAN: Unless we know from his mouth what happened why he stopped over there
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, he’s been around racing a long time. I don’t know why he did what he did or if he was stuck in that position. It worked out for us. We were going to be a sixth place car at best at that point. Whether no matter what happened, it’s not the first time somebody stopped on a straightaway with a few laps to go and forced us into a green-white-checker restart at the end of the race.
We’ll take what we can get. Like I said, we’ve lost them that way hands down several times here and it’s nice to be able to win one.
Q. The last few weeks since Bristol fans have been clamoring with short track racing with beating and banging; do you think what we saw at the end is what they were looking for?
RYAN NEWMAN: I thought it was a good race. A lot of green flag running, most I’ve ever seen here at Martinsville. It was a good race and the tires didn’t fall off and we didn’t lose the drive that we typically do here.
Goodyear did bring a great, durable tire but also made it hard to pass at the same time, because usually you’re working on your forward drive, working on your forward drive. And it’s not that we didn’t but it was more important to rotate the center than it was to get the forward bite, and that was our weakness. That was our weakness the whole race was rotating the center.
Q. Any time there’s anything like this, there’s a lot of people attempt to go make scapegoats of the other, whether in this case it was what I’m saying, at the end of the race, when you hit first of all, when you hit Bowyer, it was a good ways before the actual accident happened.
RYAN NEWMAN: Oh, yeah, it was the start/finish line.
Q. Later on after three cars wrecked, his view was like, oh my God, I got belted from behind and I couldn’t help it. When you hit him was it just something because he didn’t or were you trying to boost him? Were you trying to move him up and get position?
RYAN NEWMAN: I was trying to make a run to dive underneath him to do to him what he was trying to do to the 24; not take him the 24 out. We were not trying to take him out by any means in that context, but just to be able to get track position and work my way up to third; and hopefully my tires would outrun the 24 and 48 in the last couple laps. But that didn’t work.
And then as soon as he got the rundown into one, and for whatever reason, wore out, got loose, hit the curb, whatever, he definitely drove up into the 24 and ran out of room and caused a melee. But that’s short track racing. We can be the best drivers in the world racing Sprint Cup stock cars, or we can be out there running hobby stocks, and the same exact thing would have happened.
Q. Talk about for the second week in a row, Stewart Haas Racing has kind of masterfully been in the right place at the right time. Tony did it last week at Fontana, and you were able to endure it here today overcoming the one lap penalty. Talk about how the whole team kind of seems to be on a roll right now.
RYAN NEWMAN: It’s different situations and different racetracks and I guess there are two things to talk about. Tony dominated. He drove from whatever he was, 14th and whatever in qualifying up to the lead under green the whole entire way and he had a dominant race car.
Today we didn’t have a dominant race car but we put ourselves in position and in contention in the last two green and white checkers.
The strength overall for Stewart Haas, it’s a two mile racetrack and a half mile racetrack, and Stewart already won on a mile and a half racetrack. So we have a good strong start to the season when it comes to looking at the racetracks and the places that we race at, and that makes a difference.
Some guys are only capable of winning at certain racetracks and we have proved that Stewart Haas is capable of a lot.
Q. You said at the Martinsville Henry County SPCA media event that this track owed you one and the first thing that comes to mind is the frantic finish here a couple years ago where you were running second on the restart and got shifted up to the third line and had to settle for fourth. Do you feel with the way this one played out, you finally got the one that you deserved here?
RYAN NEWMAN: I think there’s 42 drivers out there that say that this place owes them one. That’s the nature of this paperclip racetrack.
But from my standpoint, yeah, we had been in contention a couple of times and didn’t get to victory lane; me as a driver both with Penske and at Stewart Haas. It’s nice to be able to balance the averages out and make it happen. It was due to the misfortune of some other people, but that’s racing. That’s the driving and that’s why we love the sport.
Q. Wondering if we can get your take on that wild finish from your viewpoint what’s going through your mind, and also Ryan, being affiliated with Hendrick, looked like they were going to get the 200th win, sure you’re not going to apologize for taking it that way from them.
RYAN NEWMAN: It’s under the hood.
Q. Wonder if you had any reaction. But Tony, could you go first?
TONY GIBSON: Like I said, we were like that a couple years ago and had a shot to win it and got booted out of the way. We knew we had an opportunity to win the race and on Bowyer went. When I saw Bowyer Newman went to the inside, and when I seen Bowyer chop him off I figured one of them was going to go around.
So you know, Ryan had a good run going and Bowyer was going quite a bit slower from what I saw. It was a straight hit, but you know, I think everybody was still going pretty straight before they got to the corner. When they got down in there, I knew good and well that Bowyer wasn’t going to lift. So I was just hoping that we could get stopped or get down low enough to miss it and that’s kind of how it worked out.
But it’s nerve wracking and it’s like Newman said before the restart, he said, “I’m going for it and if I don’t bring it back, I’m sorry, you guys did a good job.”
He already had a plan in place and we were behind him whatever happened. I figured something was going to happen. Those guys up there on old tires and guys behind you with new tires, that’s a recipe for disaster on a track like this. I’m just glad we came out on top.
RYAN NEWMAN: As far as the Hendrick, I don’t focus on that. Hendrick, it will happen. Doesn’t have to be at Martinsville after a day they dominated. It’s a circle on the cycle of NASCAR.
Q. You said you were worried about Junior, but you had a Penske Dodge on your outside and with you knowing what Penske has, did that give you a little more confidence to where you felt like you could concentrate more on Junior?
RYAN NEWMAN: We were probably an equivalent car to the 22 all day long. We raced nose to tail for a long time and that’s why I chose the inside because I felt like that was the lane to have. Eight tires are always better than four, and I didn’t want to have to lean on AJ, and I didn’t, but if I needed to, then I could.
Just the way it all worked out it. Had nothing to do with my previous history at Penske. It was just about knowing that that was the ideal line for me and my race car. I was really only worried about Junior because I knew he would try to do the exact same thing Clint did because that’s what we all try to do. If eight are better than four, then 12 has got to be the best. It didn’t work out for Clint, but we always try.
Q. Seeing you in victory lane there with the champagne bottle, you didn’t get an April Fool’s bottle, did you?
RYAN NEWMAN: I couldn’t get the cork out of the thing. Had to give it to one of the guys to let them enjoy it. I’m not a champagne drinker, anyway, so wasn’t a big deal for me. I ended up wearing it instead of spraying it.
Q. My math may be wrong on this and it often is, but your 16 career victories, I think 11 have come at different racetracks; that’s pretty good diversity. Talk about what that means to have wins at everywhere from Daytona to Martinsville.
RYAN NEWMAN: I just try to spread them out. I could win a bunch of races, but for me it’s more important to just kind of spread it out and let other guys win once in a while, too. (Laughter).
What do you want me to say? That’s just the way it all works.
Q. That wasn’t what I was looking for. If you could give me a better answer about what it means to be versatile.
RYAN NEWMAN: And it goes back to, people ask me, what is your favorite racetrack. And I have got some tracks I like better than others, but there’s not a track out there that I dislike. That just goes to show you when it comes to my stats, I’m a contender at a lot of racetracks and that’s I think the best I’ve ever run in the championship is sixth, but just goes to show if we get the right situation and package together for the last ten, with the difference and versatility in the racetracks, we’ll be in good shape.
I look forward to it. We just have to keep our nose to the grindstone. This is a great step in the right direction but ultimately this is just one small steppingstone and we have to build a pretty nice sidewalk.
Q. In some sports, if you have a nice crowd, it kind of boosts a player’s confidence or a driver’s confidence. For drivers, do you feel like having a packed house, seemed like a pretty good crowd today, does that play any factor in a driver’s head and being pumped up about the race?
RYAN NEWMAN: It doesn’t change the way I approach the race. I mean, it’s cool and all. If there’s 150,000 people or 350,000 people, the victory is still just as sweet it. Doesn’t change that. It’s all about how we raced and how we competed as a team. That’s what makes me happy and gratified.
I couldn’t ask for much more today. Like I said we were not a dominant race car but we put ourselves in contention and pulled it off.
Q. Tony, 19 years ago today, we lost the driver you won the championship with; what does this mean to you to win this race on the anniversary of the day we lost Alan Kulwicki?
TONY GIBSON: Yeah, I thought about that last night actually, and it means a lot. It’s a lot of the reason I’m where I’m at is because of Alan. You know, the fight to never give up, and always believe in yourself comes from him, too.
So I think Alan, he put a lot of that and a lot of guys in this garage here, and not only me. I think, you know, it’s just pretty cool to be with Ryan with the engineering background, and he’s just like Alan. He’s just like him. He’s wicked smart and when you ever try to catch him on something, he’s got a little bit better answer for you. So I don’t try that anymore.
But it is really cool. It’s pretty neat if you look back, same type of guy; a guy that all he wants to do is race; all he believes is in racing. Just goes to show you, you can be smart and you can drive, too.
It means a lot, today does. And any time you win is important. Any time you can win is gratifying. But today is really cool to be able to win and think about Allen and where we have all come.
So I’m just happy to still be in the sport. I know I’m getting old and I can’t believe I’ve lasted this long but hopefully I can dig along for a little longer and get some more wins.
RYAN NEWMAN: I remember this day 19 years ago when I was in high school. He was inspiration for me. He was part of the reason why I chose to be an engineer and follow through with my racing career at the same time.
You know, just like Tony said, he’s inspirational to a lot of people in the garage; that never give up attitude; the underdog kind of mentality that he had. It’s no matter what, we’ll do our best and that’s all we can do, and that’s what we did today.
Q. Getting a win this early takes a little pressure off the wildcard scenario. Is it going to take a couple wins, maybe three wins, or are you mostly hoping on points and not have to worry about wins?
RYAN NEWMAN: You know, I don’t want to have to worry about wins. I think our team is definitely a Top 10 contending team. We have proved that the first six races of the season or whatever we are at now. If we have to, then we do.
But if we have to, and it’s tough to say because of what Stewart went through last year if you have to; usually if you have to do that, my point is, you’re not a championship contending team.
So I would rather much rely on how strong we are each and every week than rely back on a win or multiple wins to get into the Chase.
Q. Good to have one?
RYAN NEWMAN: It’s great to have one, and the clock.
Q. Between you and Tony Stewart, you guys, Stewart Haas Racing, have won eight of the last 16 Cup races. Can you just talk about the run you guys have enjoyed so far?
TONY GIBSON: Well, I think it’s really cool. It’s great for our company and it shows the equipment that we have. It just shows that either one of these guys can win. They both have great talent and driving.
RYAN NEWMAN: Just glad I finally contributed.
TONY GIBSON: I was getting a little nervous for a while. It was nice to contribute on our side of it, and we know we can do it; we have said it time and time again, the equipment is there and everything we need to do to win. We just have to put it in place and execute. We have struggled a little bit at that. We had 27 and a half great races last year and we failed in the Chase. We didn’t run as good as we needed to run, and Stewart took off like a ball of fire.
It was disappointing for us he’s still on fire. It’s disappointing for us because we know we have the same equipment and we know we should be winning those races, too. It puts pressure on us and makes us work harder and think, why aren’t we winning, and they are winning.
So hopefully we have helped ourselves. We know we are working hard as a company to make sure both these cars are as close as we can get, other than what the two different drivers need, little things. We have everything there we need to win every week. It’s hard to win every week, but we have got the equipment and the drivers to do it. We just have to execute and make sure it happens.
KERRY THARP: Ryan and Tony, congratulations for a wig win today.
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DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/MOUNTAIN DEW/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET – FINISHED 3RD
KERRY THARP: Let’s roll right into our post-race for today’s 63rd Annual Goody’s Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here at Martinsville Speedway.
We are joined by third place finisher, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He drives the No. 88 AMP Energy Mountain Dew National Guard Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, and his showing today puts him up to second in points and is only six points out of the points lead after we take the break here after Martinsville. Talk about the race, strong car up front all day, and got yourself a really good finish here today. I’m sure you’d like to have the win but a strong finish.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I’m real happy with our finish. We worked really hard all day, all weekend really we worked hard to obviously get the best finish we could. This is our first race with AMP on the hood, and we are proud to have a good finish for those guys, had a lot of people here in weekend.
Really, the race, the car was good on the long runs. Obviously drove up there and passed Jeff for the lead and at the end of the race drove back into the top three there, and so the car was really good on the long runs. We didn’t have short run speed. We didn’t have enough to run with really with a lot of people in the first 20 laps.
But after the lap 45 or so, I thought our car was great, really comfortable and doing everything I wanted it to do. Really, really fun race. This is a fun racetrack. I was really happy with how the race was playing out there until the end. We totaled both sides off my car at the end of the race. Felt unnecessary to me but that’s the way it happened.
Q. What’s your take on the 10 car? It seemed like about five laps out there, he was going about five miles an hour, and finally came to a stop. You guys were running 1, 2, 3 for Hendrick at the time. What’s your thoughts on just all that happened there with that and how that brought out the last yellow?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, I would like an explanation on why that happened, from him, his crew chief, somebody. But there’s no it doesn’t seem like there could be a logical reason for him to end up stopped on the track.
He was running around slow; you got a problem, you really get down and get on pit road. I don’t believe he had any trouble getting down. When we went by him the first time he was low. I would like to hear a good excuse to be honest with you, because I’m sure it would be laughable. (Laughter).
Q. Talk about the first green and white checkered, what did you see on the inside line with Newman and Bowyer get going that kind of caused the chain reaction that led to the way the race finished?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Now that I think about it, the leaders had more than a hundred laps on their tires, and the guys behind them had new tires at least on one side of the car. And we all took off and ran in the back of the leaders, all of us.
So Clint went to the inside, and that was his prerogative, man. He was going for the win and I thought it was a good move. Just not enough room for all three of them down there in that corner and everybody got together.
Q. Obviously Hendrick going for win No. 200 today, I think you guys were one two, three up until the final caution. So did David Reutimann pretty much just cost you guys the big day, and can you talk about the disappointment for you and Jeff and Jimmie not getting 200?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Disappointing for everybody to run as good as we did today and not finish up there. I know Jeff is especially disappointed because of the way his year’s been going. And I’ve got a real good idea of what his opinion is about that.
You know, Jimmie is trying to climb back into it, and they had the winning cars all day, both of them. You know, I expressed my opinion about the finish there and the guys stopping on the track. And I don’t think I want to talk about it too much. I don’t want to say more until I get an explanation from them or read one somewhere. Maybe you guys can track one down.
Q. For the last year, I’ve been watching Hendrick a lot and paying attention to things as a team and I noticed this year you guys have changed differently. Even though your team is not doing well on the racetrack, can you just tell me what, if anything, has changed? Are you guys bonding differently or better?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don’t know what we have done and our team has done really and I’m happy with the way our car is running.
I can’t believe the 5 and the 24, they have been fast, the 5, sitting on the pole and he has been fast everywhere. He was killer fast at Phoenix. The 24 has been lightning fast at a lot of places. Jimmie is always quick everywhere. So they just had really bad luck.
I think we are I think we actually have more speed as a group, as a whole, than we did last year.
Q. For the last two weeks, we’ve been hearing how fans want to see more beating and banging and craziness out there, do you think this is what they meant?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, I think green and white checkered finishes, they are okay, but the way this one happened I’m really okay with the way the racing was at the end of the race. That was fine with me. Clint going for the win, we all get down there and wided up; that was racing to me. That’s okay.
I just don’t like how the caution come out. So, you know, I don’t have a problem with the green and white checkers. My opinion of them are kind of positive.
Q. If you don’t mind, we have comment from Reutimann if you would like to hear it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Sure.
Q. He said: I would not have stopped on the freaking racetrack to think (indiscernible) going on the back straightaway, I know it sucks and I hated for everybody to be affected, but I can’t get out and push the thing. I was just trying to finish the day out and stay in the top 35. So can I get your reaction to that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, I don’t.
KERRY THARP: Dale, thanks a lot. Y’all have a good Easter. Thank you.
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