THE STAR OF THE SHOW
Ryan Newman finished in the top 10 last year, one of the drivers to compete in the inaugural Nextel Chase for the Cup. That brought a lot of fame to the young driver, who has a penchant for winning poles and finishing in the money. Truckers News caught up with Newman before the start of the 2005 series.
TRUCKERS NEWS: You guys absolutely dominated pole positions in 2004. Any guesses as to why it didn’t translate into more victories?
Ryan Newman: There are so many more factors that go into a race than there are for qualifying. It’s definitely easier to perfect one or two laps than it is to try and dominate 300 to 400 laps. We had a great car in the majority of the races this season, but factors out of our control happened to get the best of us.
TN: Knowing the formula for the Nextel Cup, what, if anything, will you do differently this season?
RN: Absolutely nothing. The ALLTEL/Mobil 1 team approaches each race as if it was just as important as the one before and as the next one. We want to lead every lap, win every race, each and every weekend. If winning races remains our main objective, and if we can accomplish that, the points will work themselves out.
TN: Many of the drivers who did not qualify in the top 10 are complaining they’re not getting any attention from the media. As a result, neither are their sponsors. What, if any, changes would you like to see to the Nextel Cup format?
RN: Honestly, I wish they would change it back to the way it was originally.
Everyone kind of knew there would be kinks in the system, especially the first season, and this happens to be one of them. In my opinion, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The original point system just needed a little tweaking. I can see, from a marketing perspective, where the “chase” is going to be very beneficial. But, from a racer’s point of view, I don’t think it was the answer.
TN: You have an impressive educational pedigree. Do you get involved with car design and building on your team? If so, how?
RN: If I do get involved with the actual structure of the car, it’s very minimal. Each team hires professionals to do this job that are very qualified. I leave it up to them.
TN: What’s your favorite Nextel Series track?
RN: Darlington, hands down. This track is not just physically challenging, but mentally as well. You have to have an absolutely perfect day to win at Darlington.
TN: Do you like racing the superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega? Why or why not?
RN: I’m not a big fan of the restrictor-plate race tracks, but not necessarily because of the restrictor plates. I don’t believe in any racing that has an “out-of-bounds” line, and both of these tracks do. That’s just not racing to me.
LADIES, START YOUR ENGINES
NASCAR ranks now include two accomplished women drivers.
When NASCAR began its Drive for Diversity program a few years ago, some wondered if the move to add more women and African-Americans to the sport’s ranks was simply a show.
Obviously the stock car governing body was serious, and former Indycar competitor Sarah Fisher is a prime example.