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Ford Performance NASCAR: Ryan Newman All-Star Race Media Availability Transcript

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
Ford Zoom Media Availability | Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 6 Guaranteed Rate Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing, will be making his 20th NASCAR All-Star Race appearance this weekend. The race, which is taking place for the first time at Texas Motor Speedway, will start with the All-Star Open at 6 p.m. ET with the main event following at 8 p.m. Newman was this week’s guest on the Ford Media Zoom call.

RYAN NEWMAN, No. 6 Guaranteed Rate Ford Mustang — DOES IT SEEM LIKE 20 YEARS OF ALL-STAR RACES FOR YOU? “Yeah, if you think about it. I got to start pretty early as a rookie and got fortunate that our first real Cup win was the All-Star Race, so to look back at it, I guess it’s paid dividends because I haven’t earned my way in other than that first All-Star Race on many occasions, but in the grand scheme of things that’s part of the way it works and just happy to be a part of it. It’s a pretty special race. I’m happy to see that they’re including the pit crew back into the mix this year, more so than the past few years.”

HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE 510 HORSEPOWER TO BE ANY DIFFERENT THAN 550? “I just learned about that over the weekend and I’m kind of curious. I don’t know what the exact number was on the initial All-Star package. We started off with the reduced horsepower package for the very first All-Star Race, but I don’t remember if it was 430 or 450.”

I WANT TO SAY 450. “And I think you’re right. I couldn’t remember the exact number. That sounds right. I guess my point is we’re taking a step towards that direction. We’re already wide-open all the way around the racetrack at Texas, so I think it’s gonna turn it into a mini-Daytona or a mini-Talladega, which has a sidebar I guess attached to it with the way we race those racetracks and the situations that we’re in. You can make one little mistake or you can be a part of somebody else’s mistake a lot easier it seems at those racetracks, so I really just don’t know. Three and four, I think, is gonna be no issue. My biggest question is gonna be more about how they prepare the racetrack and the race-ability we’re gonna have with multiple grooves. When you reduce horsepower it gets back to the point of usually the shortest distance is the best, especially when you’re wide-open, so the draft is gonna be pivotal, but again, if you can’t make up for that distance, then it doesn’t really matter.”

WHAT DO YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT — A, THE ALL-STAR RULES THIS WEEKEND OR B, WHAT YOU’RE DOING NEXT YEAR? “I guess neither at this point, but probably what I’m doing next year is a better answer because I don’t know. I got a cliff notes version and didn’t read it before I got on this call because I knew that you would know more than I did no matter what, so my point is there are too many things to try to remember and I guess the crew chiefs are gonna get some mental exercise as we go through each stage on Sunday.”

DOES THE ALL-STAR RACE STILL HAVE THE SAME SIGNIFICANCE IT HAD WHEN YOU WON IN 2002? “That’s a good question and I can look at that two different ways. In 2002, it paid $750,000 and now it pays $1 million, so that part is different. I think the criteria and how they do things are similar, but yet they’re still quite a bit different. When I won in 2002 there were teams that got eliminated as we went through stages and we barely made the cut on multiple occasions, got the invert and got to start up front and were able to be fast and lead and when we didn’t take tires and the 8 car did we were able to capitalize. I think all those things are gonna be similar, but it’s so much different, now especially being in Texas versus Charlotte and the car package, the aero package and how we race is so much different. So, yes, same luster, same significance, and I’m not a fan of really any other sport for that matter, but the All-Star games and the All-Star events in other sports, I think, are fairly equal to what we do. I guess my point is they are a pretty special event.”

YOU’VE WON THE DAYTONA 500 AND BRICKYARD. OTHER THAN WINNING THE SOUTHERN 500, COCA-COLA 600 AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP, WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE TO ACCOMPLISH IN CUP? “A great question and the reality is I’m way past the point of being more successful than a failure. After 700-plus starts and only 18 wins, there’s not enough life in me to try to get that back to a 50-50 number, but you’re right. I feel like I’ve been so close with the Coke 600 and so close with the Southern 500, a championship, a road course win — all those things that I’ve been second in, which is nothing to be ashamed of, but, at the same time, it’s not achieving the goals that I want and that’s really where I stand and where I sit. I don’t mean this in a bad way by any means and I think you know that knowing me, but I don’t want to have Mark Martin syndrome where you achieve a lot, but don’t always achieve the things that you say you wanted to achieve, but I think that’s the case for so many people. There are guys in our sport that have not gotten their first top 10 or top 5, and to have 18 wins and as many poles as I have is special, but it’s a humbling sport and you’re never probably as successful as you think you can be or should be.”

HOW MUCH IS NOT BEING ABLE TO QUALIFY NOW HURTING YOUR ABILITY TO PROGRESS IN THE POINTS AND STANDINGS WITH WHERE YOU HAVE TO START A LOT OF THESE RACES? “It’s whatever they call the law of diminishing returns and that’s the way the series kind of is right now. I don’t mean it in a bad way, but the fact is if you don’t run well on one week, you start at a deficit the next week and without practice and qualifying you don’t have much of a chance to work on your race car to make it better. There are only so many things that we can do adjustment-wise to try to make gains for a 300-500 mile race, so it’s got way more challenges than we’ve ever had, but those challenges are the biggest issue when you start at that deficit and it carries over. I’ll just give you an example. We’ve struggled in the pits for a few weeks. This past weekend we didn’t struggle in the pits, but we struggled on the racetrack. It takes everything, so to keep moving up and try to gain some positions and gain starting spots and gain points and get stage points and things like that, if you don’t start on the front side of it, I guess you could say, you’re gonna be at that disadvantage for a long time throughout the year and then as it resets for the last 10 races it becomes a different type animal if you’re in that group of 16 or if you’re not.”

ARE THERE ANY CHANGES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN THE ALL-STAR EVENT AND WHAT FORMAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE? “I don’t know that it necessarily matters what I think. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I think the opportunity to move the All-Star Race around and do as they started to do and have it at Texas versus where it’s been in the last 20-plus years in Charlotte is a good thing. The format, it’s like a recipe. You can make cookies many different ways and in the end you still have a cookie. Not everybody is gonna like that cookie, but there’s a chance you’re gonna like it. I really don’t know that I have one, to stop talking about cookies and making myself hungry, I know that the way I won it eliminated the competition, but, in reality, that competition is eliminated anyway. You’re not gonna go from 20th to first in 10 laps. It just doesn’t happen, so it kind of is what it is and we deal with the ingredients that NASCAR provides for the All-Star Race going into it and you just do your best to try to make up for what you’re lacking, whether it’s track position, starting position, things like that and make a good day out of it.”

HOW CAN NASCAR RECAPTURE THE ALLURE IT HAD AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY? “I don’t know that that’s possible. I think society has changed so much. People have changed so much that you can compare it and it’s fair to compare it, but in the end I don’t think that you can target that as a goal. It’s just because things have changed. It’s just not the same and I don’t know that you’d want it to be the same, but it’s definitely no doubt different — different in good ways and different in bad ways and that’s just the way life is. That’s my experience in doing this 20-plus years.”

DOES RACING PART-TIME OR ANY LOVE OF RACING TO BE A PART OF IT BECOME AN OPTION? IF IT DOES COME TO THAT WOULD THAT FULFILL THAT IN YOU OR ARE YOU ALL-IN, OR DO YOU NOT KNOW? I KNOW HOW MUCH YOU WANT THAT CHAMPIONSHIP. “That’s always been my ultimate goal from the time I was in elementary school. That’s on my radar still and will always be on my radar, whether I achieve it or not because that’s just the nature of the beast when it comes to the competitiveness of what we do, so I don’t know. I don’t know what all the steps will be, but, ultimately, that’s where my mind and heart will always want to be.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TROPHY IN TERMS OF UNIQUENESS? “I think that the no-brainer for me for the most special trophy I’ve ever earned and been a recipient of was the Daytona 500 in 2008, the 50th running. I have the one and only — when I say the one and only there’s a replica made for the team owner and what-not — but the original, the one and only given in victory lane gold Harley J. Earl Trophy and that commemorates the 50th running of the 500. So that will always be, I don’t know that there’s anything that could be more special than that. I mean, even a Cup championship trophy. I wouldn’t think that has the significance of 50 years of the sport and the people that I’ve followed as a driver and as a fan before I was ever my own race car driver in NASCAR, so that. The Brickyard 400 was really special just because I’m from Indiana and the yard of bricks and the brick that comes on the trophy, and then I always keep my second-place finish in the 2014 championship. That was just a significant race because it was one race. We were so close. We got beat, but we gave it 100 percent and we got 100 percent, we just didn’t have enough.”

WILL YOU BE ABLE TO LEARN ANYTHING THIS WEEKEND WITH THE 510 PACKAGE THAT WILL APPLY IN THE PLAYOFF RACE? “I don’t think it will be a whole lot different because we’re so close to terminal velocity. A lot of it depends on the weather and on track position. When I say terminal velocity you’re wide-open all the way around the racetrack and it’s just a matter of how little bit of drag you have in your car and what your package is, so I don’t know how different it’s gonna be, but I know it will be different because the All-Star Race is hero or zero, drive it like you stole it, and there will be some drivers that are like that in the fall race in Texas because of the playoff situation, but, overall, it’s gonna be much more mild in the fall race than it will be at the All-Star Race, in my opinion.”

HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILI BOWL EXPERIENCE TEST YOU AS A DRIVER? “I wouldn’t say it tested my driving skills, I had to knock off some rust that I had from over the years. I never drove a midget like that and we talked about it at the Chili Bowl. I never drove a midget like that with that much power to weight ratio and lifting the front tires off the ground. When I drove midgets back in ‘93 and ‘94 and ‘95, when I raced mostly on dirt then, or ran dirt as well as pavement is what I’m trying to say, and, for me, it was kind of just an opportunity. I’m very thankful for Driven to Save Lives and Clauson Marshall Racing for giving me that opportunity to got there and do that. This past year I wasn’t as successful as I was the year before, but I had my kids there and they got the chance to see it and be a part of me racing in the Chili Bowl, which is a different kind of special, but it’s just racing. You’ve always heard me say this too, I admire guys that can drive anything anywhere at anytime like the A.J. Foyts and the Tony Stewarts and now the Kyle Larsons of the world. That’s just the way I look at it. It’s just a part of what my makeup is and I’ve always looked at myself as a racer, not a stock car racer, or a midget racer, or go-kart racer, or a quarter-midget race, just a racer, and if I’ve got an opportunity to jump in something that’s good, I’ll strap the helmet on and do it.”

WILL WE SEE YOU WITH TIM CLAUSON IN TULSA NEXT JANUARY? “I don’t know about next January. I’m hoping to be able to do the BC39 race, which I think they’ve announced, at Indy. I want to be able to do it some more, but it’s got to be the right time and the right place because I’ve always said, and you’ve heard this before, that I won’t take away from what we do in the Cup garage. That’s been a challenge in more ways than one with the lack of practice and all the things that we have to do now with the simulators and whatever else, so I want to be the best person, the best driver I can be.”



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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