MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB 400
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 24, 2017
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed his win last weekend at Phoenix, extreme heat conditions, his approach to the season after earning a spot in the playoffs, how the cars handle this year compared to last year, and more. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEK AFTER WINNING AT PHOENIX AND THEN COMING TO AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
“We were obviously excited after the win on Sunday and then getting a chance to go to the shop on Monday after very little sleep to congratulate all the guys and girls that were a part of it; and just to see everybody. I don’t want to say it’s been a long time coming because I think when you say that you kind of expect it. But, it had been a while since I’d been to Victory Lane in an RCR for Richard for three years of a drought. So, it was something we were fighting very hard for and it was very rewarding. And, that’s probably the better way of saying it. I got to do some things around the farm and hangout with the kids and do some things like that like a normal person. Outside of that, just being at the shop on Monday was a lot of fun.”
TALK ABOUT THE APPROACH OR MAYBE WHAT THE DIFFERENCE IS IN HOW YOUR VICTORY MIGHT CHANGE THE WAY YOU GO FORWARD NOW SINCE YOU’VE ASSURED YOURSELF A SPOT, VERSUS FIGHTING YOUR WAY IN ON POINTS
“The point system and the point structure reminds of me of back in the Winston Cup days where you race as hard as you can every race and the cumulative effort, whether you win or not, you’re still expected to be a winner at some point to be a champion. Usually that just works out that way. That cumulative effort goes into the entire season, not a given race; and then you can change your strategies on different races or be a little more gambling on certain calls than others. I don’t see it changing the way you would have expected it to have changed the last three years, is probably the best way to say it. I think it’s really all about going out and figuring out how to do it again and again and again; and eventually building up that ‘buy’, so to speak, in each round of one race, compared to somebody who isn’t as victorious as another team. That’s, I think, the ultimate goal to have your best shot at a one-race championship at Homestead.”
HOW DO YOU PERSONALLY PREPARE FOR EXTREME HEAT CONDITIONS DURING A RACE?
“It surprised me in Phoenix last week how hot I got inside the race car. I knew it was going to be hot. My rental car said 97 degrees on the way to the airport, so it was probably hotter than I expected it to be, both in ambient condition as well as what it was inside the race car. It was really, the worst I’ve ever been burned inside of a car. I got a burn on my pinky toe, which doesn’t sound like it’s that much. It’s just kind of awkward. My left heel has a spot about the size of a golf ball on the back of it. That hurts quite a bit. And the right hamstring, or ham, or the backside of where my seat was, it’s got a little family of blisters that live on it now. And it’s just been kind of painful (laughs). I’m not trying to get sympathy; I’m just saying I was really hot in the race car. And to give you an idea of why I was as exhausted as I was, when your skin blisters up because you’re cooked. I never felt like I was dehydrated. I never cramped-up. I never had any problems like that. I just literally felt like I was in an oven and I needed to get out.”
WHAT DIFFERENCE, IF ANY, IS THERE BETWEEN THE HANDLING OF THE CARS THIS SEASON AND LAST SEASON?
“It seems like every year we’ve taken downforce off and it gets better and better. And, I guess the adjustment to that is that teams get better and better. So, we get a percentage of that back each and every year just refining what we do with the race car from an engineering standpoint. I think we’re getting back to where we need to be with a proportion of horsepower and downforce and drag and braking and acceleration, for that matter; and getting to a point where the cars are more fun to drive because they’re on top of the race track a little bit more. I think we’ll see that more so this weekend. This race track always seems to provide good three and sometimes four or five-wide racing. But, I think just seeing cars sliding around will be a lot more fun this week than usual.”
IS THE CHANGE IN THE CARS AFFECTING THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TIRES MORE?
“That’s a very good question because the tires are always a big part of the performance because they are the only things touching the race track. The less downforce you have, the more you have to kind of adjust your air pressure to compensate for it. So, the less downforce you have, the less air you need to hold that race car up because the body is not pushing the wheels down into the race track as hard. So, it’s just a balance and an adjustment. I wouldn’t say that it’s much different, but you kind of do have to adjust your air pressures; which, any time we go lower kind of makes Goodyear cringe. But we all fight that knife edge of too low and safe enough.”
WHEN YOU DON’T COME IN FOR TIRES AND YOU’RE A SITTING DUCK ON THE RESTART AND YOU WEREN’T (AT PHOENIX), DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR PAST RACING EXPERIENCE TO HELP GET YOU THROUGH THAT RESTART AND PROPEL YOU TO THAT WIN?
“It all depends on the race track to declare the sitting duck. At a place like Fontana here, absolutely I think you would be a sitting duck if you did the proportional laps; and the way the tires fall off here, you wouldn’t ever want to stay out here, ever, under any circumstances. You would end up 20th by the time you got to the overtime line. But, at Phoenix the tires are little bit more durable. They held on better. It was the first time we had our car in clean air. Secondly, our car was better on long runs. So, it was to our advantage to stay out. Some guys, for instance the No. 22 (Joey Logano), who ended up blowing a tire, but his car was better on short runs. He was probably one of the best cars on short runs. So, it would have been a no-brainer for him to come in and get tires. But, it just worked in our favor. Sometimes you have that and sometimes you don’t.”
WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THE USE OF RESTRICTOR PLATES AT INDY ON THE IXFINITY CARS WITH THE PROSPECT THAT IT MAY LEAD TO PLATES ON THE CUP CARS?
“I think there’s a balance there on speed and safety. I don’t know what their sim results are or what their testing has been to validate what needs to be done, but I believe it’s all based off of safety. Indianapolis is unique in the fact that the corners really are kind of 90 degrees. You never really hit at 90 degrees, but you’re hitting more so at a sharper angle than you are at a place like Fontana or Michigan or even at 1.5-mile race tracks. Keeping that in check, I think it’s most. But given the driver’s throttle response and acceleration and the ability to pass people is equally important. And we’ve seen some racing that gets pretty spread out at Indianapolis. I don’t know if a restrictor plate would make that the same or worse; or even better for that matter. To me, I think the restrictor plate, or at least the term restrictor plate, is usually more about safety and top speeds than it is anything else.”
GOING BACK LAST WEEK AFTER THE PHOENIX WIN, WHAT DID THAT DO TO YOUR LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE HAVING BEEN SO CLOSE TO WINNING? WHAT DOES THAT DO NOW GOING FORWARD FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
“Confidence is kind of key in our sport. And I’ve always said confidence overpowers ability. If you don’t have the confidence then it doesn’t matter your ability. And I think that it definitely is big. I guess there’s probably a few people that would argue that I don’t need any more confidence. But, there’s a time after 127 races where confidence, at least in getting to Victory Lane, is very important. And it makes a big difference in your ability to win a championship. Ultimately that’s our long term goal and hopefully it was, at the same time, the first of a few that will lead to a championship in Homestead.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO KNOW YOU ARE MOST LIKELY IN THE PLAYOFFS COMPARED TO THE PAST FEW YEARS WHEN YOU’VE HAD TO POINT YOUR WAY IN?
“Yeah, that’s the biggest relief, I would say. Aside from getting the victory after 127 races was being locked into a less-stressful Richmond (laughs). It seems like we always, no matter what, have been on the bubble; either on the good side or the bad side, the last six or seven years, in trying to fight our way in at Richmond. So, not being that guy will be fun. But at the same time, we’re still there to win the race. We’ve been close several times.”
WITH NASCAR TAKING NO ACTION AFTER KYLE BUSCH A COUPLE WEEKS AGO, AND AUSTIN DILLON LAST WEEK, DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT’S OPENED UP THINGS FOR DRIVERS? DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO? OR DO YOU NEVER WANT TO PUT IT IN NASCAR’S HANDS?
“I don’t think anybody wants to put making that judgment call in NASCAR’s hands; but unfortunately with our sport, you have frustrations and therefore temptations. You have to do what’s best. And what’s best is not always the same in everybody’s eyes because being aggressive, whether it’s with your race car or your right hands, doesn’t always lead to the answer. But it sometimes gets your point across and sometimes that’s what’s needed. So, I don’t know that it gives us an answer of what we can or can’t do, but I think at some points we’ll eventually find a limit of what you so-to-speak can get away with.”