RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE CHEVROLET, was the guest on the NASCAR Weekly Teleconference. Below is the complete transcript:
An Interview With: Ryan Newman
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. Newman picked up his first victory of the 2012 season at Martinsville Speedway, moving him to 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. Stewart-Haas Racing has won three of the first six race this is season, and eight of the last 16 overall.
Ryan, Sunday’s finish in Martinsville was one of the most exciting of the season so far. Talk about how your team refused to give up even after falling a lap down early on, and fought hard all race to be in the position to win when it mattered most at the end?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, it was an eventful day for us off the racetrack, I guess you could say, just because I got the speeding penalty on pit road and put myself in a bad position. The guys did a good job of fixing the balance of the race car first and standing behind me and having good pit stops and things like that, and using the right strategy at the end of the race to put ourselves in position to be in contention.
Glen was a part of our success, but (Indiscernible), I was happy to bring the Chevrolet home and in first.
Q. Ryan, near the end of the race Sunday, at the start of the first green/white/checker, you had maybe half a second to respond to what was happening there going into the first turn. Was it your plan all along to follow Bowyer, or did you see something happening as everybody went into that turn that made you take the direction you took?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I knew that the front two didn’t have tires, and there was a better chance of them spinning their tires than us, at least with two tires. My intention was to get a run on Clint, which I did, then having the entirety of him blocking me and getting down and getting a run on 24, because I couldn’t see that.
Once he did, I just kind of backed off, and I gave him, I guess, enough courage to try to stick his nose up in there. It didn’t work for him, and it worked for us. So that was just the sum of it.
Q. As a father that’s been around the sport now for a few years, what do you think the environment in the garage area maybe differs for young kids growing up now as opposed to the way it might for say someone like Kyle Petty who practically grew up teething on a tire?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I think it’s a little bit different in the essence that we have great people like the MRO who bring facilities for us to bring our kids at, and that makes a difference. I don’t think they had that so much. I think it was more of a picnic basket back in the Kyle Petty generation of kids.
For us, it’s hard for me to answer that not knowing exactly what it was like. It’s still a great environment. NASCAR has given us the opportunity to bring our kids and keep them within our family whether they’re in the bus or in the garage.
Q. Just to follow up real quick, could you ever see your daughter being a driver? Would you support that if that’s what she wanted to do?
RYAN NEWMAN: I will 100% support whatever she wants to do. That’s her goals and her dreams. I think it’s important for a Parent to assist their kids in that, but I think it’s also detrimental if a Parent tries to persuade their kid to do something.
So I will do whatever and stand behind her in whatever she wants and help her along the way. I’m probably not going to be the guy that holds her hand. But I’ll be there when she needs me to held her hand.
Q. When you were going into that what turned out to be the next to last race start, what were you hoping for as far as where you would finish? Did you think you had a really good shot at the win? Were you concerned if anyone wrecked that you were just going to get collected in it? What was your mindset going into that first initial green/white/checker?
RYAN NEWMAN: We got the one to go before that green/white/checker you’re talking about and crossed the start/finish line. I remember coming out of turn two and hit the radio button and said listen, guys you’ve done a great job today. If I don’t bring it back, I just want to tell you beforehand. Just because I know that anything can go or anything usually does go at Martinsville when it comes to restarts.
I didn’t have a specific plan other than just going forward. Obviously, I wanted to win. That was a goal. But I figured I had a shot of maybe getting two of them and getting underneath Clint and getting into one. When that didn’t work out, Clint took himself and a couple others. And I’m not blaming Clint for the product of three-wide at Martinsville. I could say it was just as much as Jimmy and those guys down as it was Clint and the pack getting in there. But that’s racing. It happens at Martinsville. It happens at every short track across America. There is a time when somebody will go three-wide and it doesn’t work.
Q. Did the win give you more of a feeling did you want to celebrate or just breathe easier? Was it more relief than exuberation or the other way around?
RYAN NEWMAN: The relief was when we got the white flag, and I saw A.J. on the outside. I didn’t know how A.J. was going to race me, if he’d try to take me out or anything. You never know. You can never anticipate that emotion.
But I knew I had purposely raced him clean and never got up and leaned on him because I didn’t want to. I didn’t want him to race me that way. I figured we had plenty of racetrack to work with. We both needed a good finish, and we both got that. Somebody has to win, and we were fortunate with our Outback Chevrolet to do that.
There was a sense of relief there, but the emotion was, man, we did it. I’ve tried so many times there, and I enjoy short track racing. I enjoy Martinsville, and I didn’t used to. So it made it more sweet for me than maybe another racetrack.
Q. I guess the question was maybe relief for the fact that while Tony has won so many races, it seemed like you guys with —
RYAN NEWMAN: I don’t look at it in that respect. I can’t compare myself to the 14 or Tony Stewart or anybody else. All I know is I can go out there and do the best job that I physically, emotionally, and mentally can. If that gets us to victory lane, then it does. If it doesn’t, we need to sit back and figure out how to be better. Comparing yourself doesn’t get you anywhere in my opinion.
Q. This is a little off the subject of Martinsville. I read that believe Martinsville you went hunting with Martin Truex; is that correct?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, Martin Truex and I and we were down in Georgia doing a little turkey hunting.
Q. How’s Martin out there in the fields? As a guy from Jersey, I don’t know, you put a weapon in his hand and you might be a little nervous?
RYAN NEWMAN: I guess if it’s a turkey it’s okay as long as they’re in season. But we had a lot of fun. Martin has become a closer friend. I enjoy my time and experience with him. He’s much more of a hunter and more experienced of a hunter than I am. I’ve learned some things from him. So we have a lot of fun together.
We enjoy fishing as well. We go fishing at a lot of different racetracks. It’s tough in any sport when you compete against a friend, but we do a good job of separating it.
Q. Did you say at the beginning of the call that you were feeding deer when you came on?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, yeah, I was putting some corn out and taking care of them. They’ve got to eat too.
Q. A lot of times for as much as drivers win and how significant the wins can be, a lot of times drivers will remember as much the one that got away as much as the ones that they want or the ones that they pulled out. Is there a race in your career that you think back at times as the one that got away? Kind of that one that stings a little more, and if so, what were the circumstances of that?
RYAN NEWMAN: The one that comes closest to mind timewise was the last Martinsville spring race that we had when we had a really good race car. Ended up breaking apart on the race car and losing the cylinder. Just not getting what we felt like we deserved. We had been so good there at times. I think the previous fall or spring, I think we ended up running fourth because we got booted out of the way. And that’s why it was so bittersweet and nice to be on the flip side of the coin, and be able to go through those green/white/checkers and get the victory. That was a true relief.
Q. I also know some tracks with the pre-race introductions, and sometimes you’re paired together with another driver in the back of the pick-up, sometimes you’re in the pick-up alone. When you’re in there with another competitor and I know sometimes it can depend on who it is, but to be in there, what do you talk about? Obviously, it’s a guy that you’ll go race against and compete against in just a short while. How comfortable a situation can it be? How uncomfortable can it be if it’s somebody you’ve had an issue with or maybe not the best of friends what’s it like? What do you talk about in the back of the pick-up as you wave to the crowd?
RYAN NEWMAN: Lately, it’s been kids. With the increased population of drivers and kids, whether it’s McMurray or Jimmie Johnson or Kenseth, there are a couple of others out there, Harvick and guys like that that are living the same lifestyle and changes that my wife Krissie and I are. So that’s something that we typically will talk about. Because you might throw in, How’s your race car? Is it good or bad? How are you in practice? Or you might say man, your car looked good in happy hour or something like that. But usually it’s something non-race related like, hey, have a good day. I’ll talk to you later.
Then there are times that it may be somebody that is your nemesis or somebody you just got into it with the week before. That is the dramatic irony of what we do. You have to get through those things.
Q. So when you’re talking about kids, is it talking about diaper changes or what my kid did?
RYAN NEWMAN: Anything. Sometimes it’s as simple as a diaper change, and sometimes it’s how many air planes did it take to get your wife and kid to the racetrack. It’s just different.
It’s a different lifestyle than we were used to. Like for us, at least Krissie and I right now having a kid and having another one on the way is definitely different than just having one.
Q. What is that? Can you expand on that, please?
RYAN NEWMAN: Morning sickness, a little bit of everything. Just the differences. Really, we’ll talk about anything. Sometimes it will be how many fans are in the stands. Sometimes it will be, hey, are you feeling that bump in the middle of three and four? It could be anything.
Q. Ryan, we were pouring over the stats a little bit. 11 of your 16 wins have been on different tracks. So pretty much that makes you a jack of all tracks versus a jack of all trades. Can you expand on being so diverse on the NASCAR circuit?
RYAN NEWMAN: I said this in the media center, so I have no problem repeating it. The fact is I enjoy most all racetracks. There are tracks that I prefer over others, but there are no tracks that I truly dislike. It’s not like I say I hate going to this racetrack this weekend.
So I think that helps in giving me an opportunity to be successful at most, if not all of them. Just from a driving standpoint, I always said that one of my heros was A.J. Foyt. The modern day A.J. Foyt is a guy that can drive anything, anywhere, anyplace. So, hopefully, I can create enough stats and increase the 11 of 16 into like 20 of 40 or something like that. So we’ll keep working on it.
I like all kinds of different racetracks. I haven’t won on the road course yet, and in the Cup Series and in the Nationwide Series, but it’s something I’d love to do this year.
Q. Ryan, Sunday’s late caution certainly won’t be the last one to change race results. Could you talk a little about a driver, a crew chief and a team’s ability to adapt and take advantage of changing situations?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, the situation the way it played out, the 24 and the 48 stayed out and gave us the opportunity to create an advantage on them, and we did that. They still had the full opportunity to come down pit road and take two tires. Maybe everybody behind them wouldn’t, but it was a difference in strategy and a difference of opinion. There was no known factor of like the 24 running out of fuel at the end. For us, it was just get a splash of fuel and see if we can create a performance advantage with tires.
We had 130-plus laps, I believe, on our tires. So there was a true advantage to new tires at Martinsville. We did what we thought was right. And did a good job of making the call, put us in position, and it all came through.
Q. Basically in racing would you say that’s a common thing?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, it is a common thing. It’s a common thing in every car and every race I’ve driven that we’ve had the ability to come in and make a change. Back in my Silver crown days, you could run a flag in the race, and you’d be putting a spare tire on, if you were fortunate enough to have a spare tire and that’s what sometimes won a race back then.
So taking that perspective into what we do on a Cup series, yeah, there’s always that ability. You see guys doing it in Sprint cars and things like that even on 30-lap races. So you throw in another 470, and there’s the potential for it to happen all wait through the race.
Q. What did you and Tony do and what did you learn during off-season to start off with such a quick winning season?
RYAN NEWMAN: We actually found a genie in a bottle. My first wish was for unlimited wishes, and we’ve used up three of them now. So we should be good for another little bit.
Q. Also, you talked about going to different tracks and not caring which track you go to. How do you get a feel back as a driver of tracks after they’ve been repaved. Like in June, the Michigan track that you’ll be racing on has been repaved totally.
RYAN NEWMAN: The thing is you’ll feel the same types of feelings in the race car with respect to your seat. But you’re not going to feel the same things on the steering wheel because the tire will be different. That part changes more so than the actual racetrack does.
You have to remember the things that you’ve learned in the past, but you can’t rely on going back to those. You have to be able to adapt. That’s why I look forward to going to Kansas in the fall and Pocono and Michigan and places like that. I say that now, and hopefully I can adapt and be successful, but I look forward to it. It’s a challenge.
Q. How does winning a race early in the season help your confidence throughout the rest of the year?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, it’s big for us from a points standpoint because we gain an advantage in the points, but primarily to give us something to fall back on if we need to to make it into the Chase. That is a sense of relief. But that relief doesn’t get you anywhere when it comes to performance. It just gives you something to fall back on.
So our job is still to go out there and win each and make the effort to win each and every race and keep moving our way up into the points so we don’t have to rely on the win.
It’s a relief and that’s what we shoot for. But realistically it doesn’t matter if it was right now or if it was three races before the Chase.
Q. Going into (Indiscernible) Speedway in a couple of weeks, do you feel it will be important to have a good day there especially being on mile and a half tracks because they dominate the schedule on the Sprint Cup circuit?
RYAN NEWMAN: I look forward to it because of that. Stewart was strong in Vegas. We finished fourth. Stewart won last fall. So there are a lot of things that we have going for us. Doesn’t mean we’re going to be the team to beat or organization to beat when we go down there.
We’ll have to stay focused and get our job done. I look forward to it, like I said. But each and every race, I feel the same way about. We have to go do the exact same thing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us. Hope you enjoy your off weekend and best of luck next weekend in Texas.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports … .
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.