Chevy Racing–Indianapolis–Ryan Newman

JULY 25, 2014

RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 31 QUICKEN LOANS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed what changes he would make to the 2015 schedule, his take on where the performance of RCR is midseason and many other topics. Full Transcript:

MODERATOR: It is my honor to introduce the winner of the 2013 version of the Brickyard 400, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31, Quicken Loans Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Ryan, talk about the special moment that you experienced here last year and what it means coming back to this side of that win.

RYAN NEWMAN: I kind of said it here the last year was I didn’t expect to win the pole, I didn’t expect to win the race. I don’t know that you can expect to win anything. You have to kind of put yourself in position. But it was definitely a sweet and bittersweet victory for us last year after going through being released or, you know, in the future going to be released from Stewart Haas and coming back and having a little off weekend time, which didn’t go the greatest obviously, but in the end came back and capitalized on a good race with the Quicken Loans Chevrolet at the time.

It was really special. And after winning Daytona and then coming here and winning this race, the two races that I know of that you become a champion when you win, it kind of hit me when I kissed that yard of bricks.

Q: Ryan, can you talk about the progress the RCR team has made and how you would evaluate the program past the halfway point?

NEWMAN: We’ve got some better finishes under our belt the last three or four races. Two top fives was something we needed to get. Like I said, we’ve got to put ourselves in contention to win, which means being in the top five, not the top ten. Competition is tough. So we’ve progressed as a team. I don’t think we’re as good as we ultimately can be. I hope we’re saving that for The Chase. But collectively the guys are doing a really good job. You know, just pure maintenance-wise and every part of the race car is doing what it’s supposed to. We’ve been competitive everywhere. We just haven’t been a winning race car everywhere. Come Chase time we’re going to have to be.

Q: Hi, Ryan. If you were Mike Helton for a day, how would you change the schedule?

NEWMAN: How would I change the schedule? He’s got control of the schedule? I thought Brian did.

Q: Maybe, whoever.

NEWMAN: If I was NASCAR, how would I change the schedule? My answer to that would be not giving any — not being partial to any ISC or SMI tracks. I’d turn some of those tracks into Wednesday night races, and the other ones would be Saturday night or sometime Sunday afternoon when it made sense. I’d give us a little bit more off weekends. We can still run 36 or 38 races but we don’t need to be at the racetrack, especially for the Daytona and Talladega for three, sometimes four days with the inspection process. So I think just realigning it and giving us the opportunity to be on TV and be our own special event on Wednesday night, especially in football season, would be good for our sport.

Q: This kind of goes a little bit off of Chris’ question, I guess. But how do you guys bring in one driver who’s established within the team, a guy from the outside, and then a guy who’s a Sprint Cup rookie? Can you describe sort of the blending process that you guys have done through this deep in the season?

NEWMAN: We’re all drivers, and in reality it’s just the opposite if you look at experience at RCR. I mean, Austin has a lot of experience, not necessarily as a driver but been there his entire life. Paul’s moved around a little bit, maybe just one step maybe more than I have career-wise. But résumé-wise, and I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, I’ve been more victorious than either of them in the Cup Series. So I’m the newest guy with the most credibility and the least experience, and Austin is probably the youngest guy with the most experience and has a rookie stripe on his tail. And in the end I don’t think it really matters at all. I think Austin is doing a really good job as a rookie. Paul has proven — I mean, he’s got more top fives than I do even though I’m ahead of him in points. We’ve all been pretty consistent throughout the season. But for as versatile as our résumés are and as versatile as our experience is at RCR, our results are fairly similar.

Q: (Inaudible – off mike).

NEWMAN: I think the process of blending the people together from a driver and team/crew standpoint was more on Richard’s shoulders. Obviously, for me working with Luke who has an engineering background and very similar to mine, that was a no-brainer. And Austin, you know, having the knowledge of RCR and the experience with Gill and his group of guys and the experience that they’ve had in the past with Kevin, you know, went without saying with their successes, and Paul has been kind of chugging along with Slugger. So it’s been good.

Q: Ryan, you know Stewart really well. What is dirt racing to him? And what was your reaction that he got in the thing and won first time out?

NEWMAN: Dirt racing to him is probably more special than sleeping in your own bed. And I understand it and I feel it because I went over and ran IRP last night in a Silver Crown car. I know what that bed feels like — not his bed but a bed. (Laughter) Before you ask the next question.

Ultimately it’s home. It’s what’s special to him. Some people love dogs, some people love cats. You know, it’s just what he loves and, you know, it’s what a lot of us love. But he’s probably one of the few that gets the opportunity and has the resources to go experience it and do what he loves to do outside of doing what he loves to do.

Q: Ryan, we’ve always seen how the temperature-sensitive nature of this racetrack can play a role deciding who starts where in qualifying. How do you tink that’s going to play in the strategy of group qualifying here? Is there going to be a lot of guys waiting around for the perfect weather conditions before they go out or how do you think it’s going to play out?

NEWMAN: I think it has the potential to be interesting because of the forecast for tomorrow afternoon and starting at 2:10. So there’s potential for it to cloud up and become chaotic as qualifying goes through. It’s steps. But in the same there’s times the track can sit for a little bit and get faster. So you might see a burst of cars at the start of qualifying and then, you know — as qualifying goes at tracks of this size, the windows for opportunities become smaller as the timing changes. So I think in the end it’s going to be get clean air and you got what you got. But the first session will probably be the most pivotal if it doesn’t rain.

Q: (Inaudible – off mike).

NEWMAN: I heard most of your question. Wednesday night shows and how would I foresee doing that? I think it all depends what that day is like. I mean, obviously, if you go to a place like Pocono and it rains three-quarters of that day, it changes everything and you have obviously Thursday to work with. But I think situations like that, you’d have the crew guys come in on a Tuesday evening, Tuesday afternoon, let the — tech the cars and whatever window it is, let the guys go back and have a decent dinner with their team, and then come and start practice the next morning, practice, qualifying and race. You’ve got people in the grandstands for an entire day of activities and they can sell hotdogs and all the other things that way. I’m no businessman, but I know from our scheduling standpoint that there’s a lot of credibility to having some weekday races, especially when you consider who we’re up against in the football season.

MODERATOR: Ryan, we thank you for joining us today. But before you leave, I’d like to call to the stage Indianapolis Motor Speedway Doug Boles who has something very special for you.

DOUG BOLES: I had an opportunity a little while ago to present something to Jeff and talk about how great it is to have Hoosier natives winning the Brickyard 400. And we were so excited last year to add our third Hoosier as a winner at the Brickyard 400, and would certainly love to have you do a multiple one so all three of our Hoosiers are multiple winners here.

But one of the things that we do at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a tradition for a long time is we present a winner’s ring to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 and also the Brickyard 400. So I would like to ask a great partner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mr. Ken Keltner with Herff Jones to make a special presentation with you for your 2013 Brickyard 400 championship ring.

NEWMAN: Thank you. Any chance this ring has any kind of key to it to be able to get in the gate to fish the ponds over there?

KEN KELTNER: Absolutely. Get you anywhere you want to go. Ryan, on behalf of the 4600 employees of Herff Jones Company nationwide, I’m proud to present this ring to you to represent the Champion of Champions ring for the Brickyard 400. Congratulations. And it’s a thrill, as Doug said, to see an Indiana — South Bend, Indiana guy and a Purdue University graduate running the oval. Congratulations.

NEWMAN: Thank you.

KELTNER: You’ve got to wear it this way with the “Champion” and “400” out so when people see it, they’ll know you’re the champion. Congratulations.

NEWMAN: Thank you, guys. I wasn’t kidding about the key to the fishing pond either. (Laughter)