Newsmaker: Ryan Newman

Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2004

TALLADEGA, Ala. Ryan Newman's chances to win the Chase for the Championship seemed doomed when he blew an engine Sept. 19 at the New Hampshire International Speedway.

A week later, however, he led the most laps at the Dover International Speedway and won the race.

Newman talked about his uphill climb in the Chase, and what's ahead for his Alltel racing team.

Question: Could the victory at Dover signal the start of one of your runs?

Newman: Historically it takes about 10 weeks for us to get off of a run. If we start one right now, we should be in good shape, and that would include the Daytona 500 next year, so all things aside, that's just potential. I think we have a good race team and we have great race cars going into these last eight races and we look forward to each and every lap, no matter if it's at Talladega or Kansas for that matter.

Question: This week's race at Talladega is very stressful because of the very real opportunity for a big crash. What would fix that?

Newman: I guess just in general having a package we could race and not draft basically, where handling was a little more important or the cars separated out because the car had a handling advantage over another car. That would make it more fun from a driver's standpoint. Obviously it's very fun from a spectator's standpoint, but that doesn't include a driver's feelings.

Question: Are you having fun with the Chase for the Championship?

Newman: I'm having fun with the racing part of it. Going back to the point system, I've always said I don't like the point system from the competitors' standpoint, which is what I am. I think that might be a good marketing strategy and we'll see what that turns out to be at the end of the year as far as the stats go, but I think overall we're here to race and we attack each lap at each racetrack with the thoughts of being the fastest and doing our best to be able to win it. The points system is just kind of a separate situation. If we race good, the points will take care of themselves.

Question: Do athletes like it when sports marketing gets involved with the competition side of the sport?

Newman: Yes, I agree with you, but I don't think that was something that NASCAR necessarily needed or the Nextel Series necessarily needed. I think the whole idea of revamping the point system kind of got blown out of proportion. Like I said throughout the entire year, it is what it is this year. We'll take it for what it's worth. Everybody had an equal opportunity. Not everybody has an equal opportunity right now in these last 10 races and that was my pet peeve of it. We'll go on and try to do our best to win the championship.

Question: What's your confidence like right now?

Newman: I think your confidence can get too high in some respects, but if you just maintain the focus like I said at Dover when I was doing the post-race media stuff, I said, 'Today's victory celebration is over. We have to stay focused on what happens next week and that's Talladega and a different race car and a different racetrack.'

Question: Do you like Talladega being part of the Chase?

Newman: I'd rather not have it on the schedule, period. It's part of what NASCAR decided to make one of the final 10 and also decided to make it part of the schedule. We'll just take it for what it's worth. There's still 185 points available there.

Question: What makes your team so strong on the intermediate track of a mile to 1.5 miles?

Newman: Communication and teamwork and understanding. I like the intermediate. I'd say 95 percent of them are banked. Some of the tracks we go to like Loudon and even Richmond to a certain degree are even flatter racetracks. I definitely enjoy the banked racetracks, so that's a big part of it. So is being able to have track position be only 70 percent of the day instead of 90 percent of the day. Who would have thought about a 17-car pileup at Dover in the spring race? Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a crash at Martinsville will take out two cars and sometimes it takes out 12 cars. Obviously I've seen crashes at Talladega, like Kenseth in the spring race when he spun out, it looked like he should have taken out about 20 cars not because it was his fault just because of the way it worked out. He ended up spinning by himself. It's just a part of racing luck.

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