MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
AXALTA PRESENTS THE POCONO 400
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 9, 2017
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 KALAHARI RESORTS & CONVENTIONS CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed stage racing, the progress of his team, getting a win versus points-racing, rules changes, and more. Full Transcript:
AS A FORMER WINNER AT THIS TRACK, WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO REALLY GET AROUND THE TRICKY TRIANGLE?
“Obviously just having a good balance in all three corners. Probably one of the biggest keys is no matter how good you get through those corners, you have to have the power to pull it down the straightaway. And it seems like at some point some pit strategy and some fuel savings and a little bit of luck has to come your way; but nevertheless, I’ve always enjoyed this race track. I enjoy the area; especially now with Kalahari being built just up the street. It’s a great place for kids and families to go and have some fun when the race track’s not hot.”
THERE’S ALWAYS FUEL STRATEGY INVOLVED HERE AT POCONO. WITH THE WAY THE STAGES FALL IN THE RACES, HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WILL AFFECT HOW THIS RACE PLAYS OUT?
“It will. And I don’t know how much. And I don’t know when; if it’ll be the first or second or third stage or all three. But, I think the bigger the race track, the more risk you are for not making it back to pit road. And we have this stretch in the summer between the two Poconos and Indianapolis and Watkins Glen and Sonoma, where we have big race tracks and lots of distance and few mileage is talked about quite a bit. With the stages, I think it changes because of the size of the race track and how good your race cars is and the strategy that goes along with it. You put four tires on and when you do it you take a risk of doing it a little bit early expecting a caution; or, does a caution not come and you put yourself in a bad spot? I think it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. The pros and the cons of the stages are we get those guaranteed restarts, guaranteed bunch-ups, and therefore, guaranteed yellows, which I don’t particularly care for. But, I do like stage racing and I do like the way that it mixes up the strategy. I just never like to see a race go yellow.”
HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE THE FIST HALF OF THE REGULAR SEASON OF THE SCHEDULE
“Obviously, Phoenix was huge for us to get that first win. We’ve had some decent runs and top 5’s and top 10’s of late. We’ve had two top 10’s that to me, our performance did not meet that result. So, we’ve got to pick it up. It’s good to have good finishes, but I would actually feel better if we had a car that led more laps and finished fourth than a car that ran 15th to 17th all day and finished fourth. It think there’s a balance in there and we have to keep working.”
HOW IS RCR AS A WHOLE APPROACHING THE FINAL 13 RACES OF THE SEASON BEFORE ENTERING THE PLAYOFFS?
“I know how we are and that’s to do everything to the best of our ability and try to get those stage bonus points and as many regular season points that we can and have whatever cushion we can have to start the playoffs and each round of the playoffs so that we have a better opportunity of racing for a championship at Homestead. That’s ultimately what it’s all about. It still revolves around winning.”
HOW MUCH DIFFERENT IS IT TO GET THAT WIN EARLY IN THE SEASON AND KNOWING YOU’RE GOING TO BE IN THE PLAYOFFS VERSUS WHEN YOU GOT IN ON POINTS? HOW DOES THIS CHANGE YOUR TEAM’S STRATEGY?
“Let me put it to you this way: I don’t remember the last time I had a win and didn’t have to worry about getting in on points. And again, there are still no guarantees. I don’t see us having 17 winners in 26 races. It could happen, but I don’t see it. And, I think that it is nice to have that off your mind, but I still feel that you have to have the mentality that you don’t. You have to have the stubbornness and the racing mentality of you can’t just say that we’re in. I’ve seen guys the last few years that get that, and they don’t perform well in the first or second stage of the playoffs and it costs them. So, I think when you race for points, no matter if you win or you don’t, it is good practice for being closer to becoming a champion.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING TO MICHIGAN NEXT WEEK?
“It was always a fun race track. It’s been a bit of a challenge with the groove being a lot narrower and somewhat more treacherous when you get out of the groove. So I hope that some of the homework that we’ve done, whether it’s with VHT or tire dragging, or just the aging, that the race track will make for better racing because it is a lot of fun when you can get three and four and five-wide in the corners and get your car with some clean air on the nose to be able to make a pass and we haven’t had that in a few years since its been repaved. If we can get back to that, it’ll be the Michigan that we all enjoyed.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING IS ADVANCING AND TURNING THINGS AROUND THIS YEAR?
“It’s somewhat of a loaded question because I think if you look at us from a sponsorship standpoint, we probably are an unpublished underdog. But at the same time, I don’t know that entirely matters when it comes to the race cars and the race track. Richard does a good job of giving us every tool that we need. It’s not like we’re missing any wrenches in the tool box, or when it comes to simulators or simulation and wind tunnel time and 7-post time, we have that. We have more tools probably, than we have time to work on them. And we have a lot of people. But, I think its all a matter of how you put everything together and use all your tools. It’s like a toolbox, right? You don’t use a hammer when you need to screw something in. And you don’t use a screwdriver when you need to chisel something out. You get the right tools for the right places at the right time. That’s the biggest challenge, I think, that most teams have now. If you look at the rules and the rules package and the tolerances we have to meet, everybody is pretty much building the same race car. It’s the fine details that are really making the big difference. The biggest one of those being under the hood; and the rest of it being on the aero side of it. So, I don’t think we’re exactly where we want to be at this point in the season, but I do feel we’re in a position of having two of our three cars potentially in the Playoffs and having a better year for sure than we did last year.”
“As long as it’s the same for everybody, it doesn’t matter. I know that a rule change did occur, but in the end, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I wish we didn’t have to sit here and talk about silly things like those types of rules changes halfway through the season, but it is what it is. You wouldn’t get into those boxes if NASCAR didn’t let you. It’s not their fault. It’s just sometimes you’ve got to clean-up what everybody is doing. And I wish we could talk about the racing versus that.”
WOULD YOU PREFER THAT THE CHANGES ARE MADE AT THE START OF THE SEASON? YOU GUYS USUALLY GET THE RULES PACKAGE AT THE END OF SUMMER AND HAVE THE OFF-SEASON TO WORK ON IT. WOULD YOU PREFER TO HAVE IT STAY LIKE THAT OR DO YOU THINK THAT NASCAR OWES IT TO THE GARAGE TO KEEP PARITY IN THERE AND IF THEY SEE SOMETHING, THEY’RE GOING TO MAKE THE RULE ACROSS THE BOARD?
“This wasn’t a change in parity. I know what you’re saying, but in the end it doesn’t matter, right? We’re talking about a rules change that has something to do with everybody. And if you’re going to check a box off that we can’t work in anymore, then what’s the point? We need the ability to make an advantage or create an advantage over other teams. So, if we want to have every race car built exactly the same, then we need to have NASCAR start building them for us and just put decals on the doors.”
IN ADDITION TO THAT, THERE WERE A LOT OF FANS TALKING ABOUT CHANGE THIS WEEK RATHER THAN THEM TALKING ABOUT JIMMIE JOHNSON’S ACCOMPLISHMENT
‘That’s my point. I’d rather just talk about what Jimmie did or the crash on the last lap or the oil dry on the race track other than a rule change in the middle of the season. Its just silliness.”
SO YOU THINK ONCE YOU HAVE THE 2018 RULE BOOK THAT SHOULD BE SET IN STONE?
“There are things, I think, that revolve around safety that are more important than rules that have an aero affect and how it affects maybe one manufacturer over another or one team over another. I think that’s, again, silliness. Safety is the first thing and the rules should change for that, whether it’s a lug nut rule. We should be talking more about lug nuts and what we can do to secure a wheel on a hub so that the wheel doesn’t fall off, whether it has any lug nuts on it, or not. That makes more sense to me than an aero modification.”
“There was more there than I thought there was. And I think if was a matter of that we all couldn’t see it. White on white is still white. You couldn’t see it. And then when the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) blew it up and the No. 42 (Karl Larson) blew it up and the No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) and then Ty (Dillon) hit it and I was underneath Ty and it was craziness. I think there was way more there than we ever realized.”