CHEVY NSCS AT NEW HAMPSHIRE ONE – Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart Press Conf. Transcripts



American Muscle


JULY 17, 2011

Ryan Newman Wins at New Hampshire; Teammate and Team Owner Tony Stewart Finished Second

Chevrolet Extends Lead in Manufacturers’ Cup Standings

LOUDON, N.H. (July 17, 2011) – Ryan Newman was truly “Rocketman” behind the wheel of his No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He started on the pole, led a race-high 119 out of 301 laps and was in front of his Stewart-Haas Racing team owner and teammate Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet as the closing laps of the race clicked off.

But, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds as crew chief Tony Gibson told him they were very close on fuel and to save as much as he could and hope there was no green-white-checkered finish in their future.

Everything went his way as he took the checkered flag for his first win of the 2011 season, the 15th victory of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) career and his third victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The victory moved him to eighth in the standings and marked the first time Stewart-Haas Racing has started and finished 1-2 in a NSCS event.

Newman’s victory extended Chevrolet’s lead in the NSCS Manufacturers’ Cup standings to 17 points with eight victories to-date this season.

Stewart also started where he finished. The two-time NSCS champion led twice for a total of 48 laps. He remains 11th in the standings with 19 races in the books and seven races remaining until the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Five-time defending NSCS Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, rallied from a pit-road penalty and a late-race spin to finish fifth. He jumped three positions in the points to second, just seven points out of the top-spot.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, led once for 19 laps but had to battle back to an 11th place finish after the crew made a battery change on pit road. On the final lap of the 301-lap/318.46-mile race he suffered a blown tire while running in fourth but managed to salvage the 11th finishing position. The four-time Series’ champion remains seventh in the points order.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, finished 15th after battling handling issues throughout much of the race. He sits ninth in the standings.

Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Good Sam/Cheerios Chevrolet, was 17th at the finish line as he battled the handling of the car throughout the race. He remains 12th in the point standings.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, was credited with the 21st finishing position, also battling handling issues. Harvick is fourth in the standings with three victories so far in 2011.

Denny Hamlin – 3rd (Toyota) and Joey Logano – 4th (Toyota) complete the top-five finishers.

After a weekend off from competition, the Series’ begins its stretch to the end of the season at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 on July 31, 2011.




THE MODERATOR: We’ll get started with our post-race winner’s interview. We welcome Ryan Newman. Talk a little bit about the race today and your thoughts on your and Tony’s finish.

RYAN NEWMAN: Just really proud as an organization. From my standpoint personally, it’s great to win. But we had fought so hard over two and a half years to get the U.S. Army in Victory Lane. Haas Automation, from that standpoint, too.

From my standpoint, just a great day. We backed up what everybody said we couldn’t back up, that was our qualifying effort on Friday. I had won three for 46, now four for 47.

Thanks to Chevrolet, Hendrick engines, everybody that is a big part of Stewart Haas Racing. We put it on them today. We’ll relish this moment and figure out what we did right so we can keep doing it.

THE MODERATOR: Tony Gibson, talk about your strategy today.

TONY GIBSON: We were talking about we were going to run as long as we could on our lefts to keep our track position. We had to do what everyone else was doing if not a little bit less. We knew from watching the Nationwide race yesterday and from our practice that we could run a pretty good ways on our left.

Our strategy was to stay up front, keep Ryan in clean air. We knew if we could do that we had a shot to win. We gave up track position middle of the race to put four on. We had to do whatever we had to do to keep our track position.

He did an awesome job of saving fuel. I never believed we were going to make it. We were definitely a solid two to three laps short from making it. I was hounding him on the radio. I’m sure he got tired of hearing it. He did an awesome job. He’s done that several times for us over the past three or four years. It was time to showcase what he can do as far as driving and saving fuel. Glad I didn’t chicken out on him today.

THE MODERATOR: Also joining us Gene Haas. Gene, talk about the day.

GENE HAAS: It’s a great day. We haven’t had this in a while. It’s the first win of 2011. I think it just goes to show that this strategy of saving fuel worked this time. I can tell you how many times it didn’t work. It takes some courage to make those kind of calls. It worked today. Really glad for Ryan and Tony. They did a great job.

I think we have to give a lot of credit to Mobil 1, to the oil inside the Chevy engines. I think that made a big difference today.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questions.

Q. Ryan, how nervous were you? Did you think you were going to run out?

RYAN NEWMAN: I only got nervous when he told me we were eight laps short. Then he told me 15 laps later after several yellow flags we were still eight laps short. I was thinking to myself, We shouldn’t be (laughter).

I was worried about that part of it. I knew I was doing a really good job of saving fuel, which is not the easiest thing to do. Here easier than other racetracks, but still not easy to do. Saving grace that we had was we had a good race car, we were able to pull out on a lead and maintain that lead.

One of the best cars here that we saw was the 14. There were a couple other cars at different times, but the 14 was mired back in traffic. He had to run the wheels off of it to get up to where he had some track position so he could try to run us down.

Fortunately it stayed green. I was more worried about a yellow coming out with five to go, do we have enough fuel for a green white checkered. Usually those things that come and squash us didn’t happen today. Maybe a change of luck for us from that standpoint.

Just really happy. I’ve won ’em here on fuel, I’ve lost ’em on fuel, won ’em in rain, lost ’em in rain. Really happy for the U.S. Army team. This is for the soldiers. We appreciate all the things they have done and do. They make all the difference. We see it every day from our standpoint. We hope everybody else does, too.

Q. Ryan, obviously this gives you a ton of momentum going to the Brickyard. Wish you could head straight there from here or are you still glad to have the week off?

RYAN NEWMAN: Doing what we do, you’ll take a week off anytime you can get it. This is a demanding sport. I don’t know that we’re athletes, but this is a demanding sport.

We work so hard to get the things that we do on the racetrack, sometimes it’s nice to take a weekend off away from the racetrack, neutralize yourself.

We’re not going to kick it out of gear for very long. This is huge for our team, even bigger for our organization. Let me say it this way. Tony Gibson said before the race, This is our race. I wanted to tell him, This is not our race until we make it our race. We did make it our race. All the guys came together and made it happen.

This off weekend is going to be nice. Going into Indianapolis with a lot of weight off our shoulders and a smile on our face is going to be really nice for our team and organization.

Q. Ryan, speaking about nervous, this win is kind of insurance on the wild card. But you had your boss racing behind you. Did that make you nervous?

RYAN NEWMAN: No, I wasn’t nervous. I’d rather have Stewart behind me than anybody else. I have a lot of respect for him. I know the way he races. If we were side by side coming to the checkered, we’d have smoke coming off the fenders, because that’s the kind of guys we are. We’re not going to crash each other, but that’s the kind of guys we are.

Looking in the mirror seeing that Mobil 1 Chevy was music in my ears. I know he’s going to respect me, respect our situation. It never came down to it, but I’m glad that it didn’t, but he was one I didn’t mind seeing in my mirror.

Q. How important did that first pit stall play in your strategy?

RYAN NEWMAN: The first pit stall is always important. It’s different and it has different weights of important at different racetracks based on the (indiscernible) line in reference to that box.

It’s a short distance here. It definitely helped us get off pit lane a little bit better. We beat the 4 and 31 one time, where if we were in a different box we may not have.

Everything worked out the way we wanted it to. The way we worked it from the time we unloaded off the truck, the car was fast. Qualified well. We had a good race practice. Like I said, that’s one of the things to me that probably means a lot; that we were able to back up what we did on Friday.

Q. Ryan, there was one point in your career where you said that this wasn’t one of your favorite places to come to. Has this place started to grow on you, given all the success you’ve had here?

RYAN NEWMAN: You’re going to put me on the spot. It’s a great racetrack. It’s tough racing here. It’s really hard racing here compared to other racetracks we go to. Ask any driver in the garage, they’ll tell you it’s difficult to pass. Probably one of the most difficult racetracks we go to to pass. Track position is important.

Maybe I’ve had success here in the past because of our track position and our qualifying efforts. I always like the banked racetracks. It’s always going to be in the seat of my pants, that feel. Like I said, this is a great facility. A lot of great fans, a lot of great things we’ve done up here. I enjoy it.

The modified racing is a Catch 22. I get to enjoy that, but it takes away from my fishing. This is a good place to fish (laughter).

Q. How do you explain the success you have had here?

RYAN NEWMAN: How do I explain it? Man, I’ll sit back in a rocking chair someday and tell you.

Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve always said that this track, you have to only take what it will give you. That’s why I like the banked racetracks even more because you can physically push the car in the corner, it will stick. Here, it’s going to slide into the walls. It’s like the wall is a magnet and the racecar is metal. You have to be on eggshells with the steering wheel, with the pedals, the things you do. Working around traffic, it’s a demanding racetrack from that standpoint. You see some guys that are really successful here. We have been and I don’t know exactly why. But it does take that. Maybe I’m answering you that way.

Q. Tony, for the last two months we’ve had a lot of fuel mileage races. I’m sort of baffled. This is ‘boys have at it.’ What is the dynamic that brings these fuel mileage races into the equation?

TONY GIBSON: It’s just track position. It forces you to do things you normally wouldn’t do. Take two, stay out on fuel and gamble. The reason we came to it today because we knew if we pitted like when the 14 and those guys did, there were going to be two or three guys that stayed out, like the 2 car did at Kansas. Somebody is going to stay out and roll the dice on fuel mileage and win it. Ryan, he’s on me all the time. He’s, Dude, we’re going to have to grow some here and win a race. The way to win it is to stay out.

He’s backed us 110% no matter what. We make a decision, he’s behind us right or wrong. It’s the thing you have to do. That’s the way racing is today.

Q. Why so many fuel mileage races?

RYAN NEWMAN: Because we still carry fuel in the car.

TONY GIBSON: I don’t know why. I don’t know why it’s a fuel mileage deal. Maybe the tires are better. The tires don’t give up as much as they used to give up so you can stay out longer. You’re not giving up a lot of time staying out on fuel. A lot of these tracks, it’s dictated by the tire more than anything.

RYAN NEWMAN: Got to commend Goodyear. I think we did 150 laps on our lefts the first and second time. I think 75 each on the rights every time. A great Goodyear tire.

It’s a Catch 22. We always say it. We ask for a tire that will be safe and fall off, then there’s a reward to put four tires on so you can drive back to the front.

It’s tough to do that, make it safe, make it so it doesn’t blow out for the guys that aren’t handling well, have the technology to understand the things about the tires.

There’s a lot of demand on Goodyear. Because they’ve been building tires that are safe, I think we’ve seen better, safer tires throughout the season. Therefore, you’re seeing more strategy, more strategy with respect to fuel, because fuel is more of an issue than the tires are.

Q. Ryan, the first half of the season both you and Tony have been kind of up and down, but pretty much within the top 10 or 12 in points. Does this win validate what you were already working on this year? Does it show something that you worked to get better? How does it fit into your season so far?

RYAN NEWMAN: This win is huge for us. I mean, it’s the biggest thing. Our first one was special. The No. 39 had never been to Victory Lane in the Cup Series. We chose that number because of me. If you’re what’s the word superstitious, then we’ve got a lot to fight against. That’s polysyllabic, so it’s hard for me (laughter).

We had a lot to work towards for our first victory. But for us to get the U.S. Army in Victory Lane, that was a goal we had way before the season ever started, for the soldiers, our sponsors, our team, our organization.

Like I said, the timing of it’s perfect from a points standpoint, from a wild card standpoint with respect to the points. The whole Sprint Summer Showdown, where they’re offering a lot of money to a driver, foundation and a fan, that’s a big deal because we’re a part of that, too. A lot of positives come out of today.

Q. Does it show you guys have been relatively on track though?

TONY GIBSON: I think so. I think we started out really good. I think we kind of got complacent. Martinsville, we had this car at Martinsville. I think that was our race to lose. We had a header problem there, we lost it. But we kind of stumbled after that a little bit.

We have a good race team. We have a great driver. We have great sponsors. We know how good we can be. We had to get our head straight and get there.

RYAN NEWMAN: To add to that, we’ve been really good and we’ve been really good for three quarters of the race, then we’ll come home fourth, fifth, tenth, not maybe make the right call, strategy, whatever it is to put ourself in the box of top five to close out the race. There have been times where we had failures, bad pit stops. All those things add up.

Today it all came together for us. We proved what we were capable of. I said it in Victory Lane. We were close several times. We have to sit down as an organization to figure out why this weekend was so great, how to carry it over into the next six and then into the last 10.

Q. As on track as you have been, there’s also been some upheaval at the upper levels of the organization. What changes have you seen? What do you think the changes will be going forward?

TONY GIBSON: I think the stuff that’s happened, we’re trying to make our company better. We had a pretty strong start in ’09. The teams were working really close together. We were doing a lot of the same things. Then we kind of got off track a little bit this year. I think we’re just trying to make sure we head back in the right direction. Grab everybody by the arms, tug ’em, bring ’em in, head down that road instead of going down two roads.

For us it’s not one guy is doing a bad job, it’s a matter of everybody doing a good job. That’s what we’re trying to do.

We haven’t fixed our problem 100%. We’re on the way. We’re building better racecars. We’re trying to make adjustments on pit crews, pit calls, fuel, things like this. We’re trying to make ourself better.

Have we fixed it? No. But we’re on the right track.

Q. Is there difference you’ve seen in the last month?

TONY GIBSON: The biggest thing I’ve seen is the company as a whole pulling back together. We’re one team now. There for a while we were heading two different directions. We’ve kind of put our arms around it here in the last month or so and said, If we’re going to get this together, we have to pull together as one big team. That’s how we’ll make ourselves stronger. We haven’t fixed it but we’re on our way.

Q. Ryan, you looked pretty emotional after the race. Who did you dedicate your race to?

RYAN NEWMAN: A good friend of mine lost a battle with cancer. His name was Beau Slocumb. He died in April. I’ve worn a bracelet ever since. I wanted to make sure that bracelet could remind me how tough life can be, what it can throw to you, sometimes to the best people you could ever imagine. That was something that’s emotional to me. It’s hard to talk about it because I know his family, I know his wife. It’s tough. He was living with us. To see some of the things that he went through, to help him fight that battle, that was really tough for me.

Q. Tony, I’d like to give you a crack at this question. Given the demands that this place can place on a driver, why is yours so good here?

TONY GIBSON: Look, there’s no neck here. It’s connected. He reminds me of Cale Yarborough. He sits in a car, he’s like this. He’s a physical guy. He gives you 150% every lap whether we’re five laps down, a lap down, 10th, fifth. He’s physically and mentally in the game. Like I told him last week, there’s nobody I’d rather have in my racecar with 10 to do if he can see the leader because we have a shot to win it. He went from seventh to fourth in a lap. We know when Ryan Newman is in there we have a shot. The biggest thing he contributes is his driving ability, his mental ability, keeping us headed in the right direction.

Q. Ryan, you obviously had the fastest car today and won from the pole. The fuel conservation, the obvious person thinks you back here in the turns. Talk about how you do save the fuel in the car.

RYAN NEWMAN: It’s no different than in a passenger car. If you got one of those little fuel calculators on the dash, just watch it and try to save fuel. Two ways to do that is let off the gas and coast, the other way is ease into the gas and not pick it up as hard when you’re coming off the corner. It’s all about energy conservation. The less you use the brakes, those brakes are consuming energy, the less you can use the brakes, the more you’re saving fuel.

It’s a matter of having a good car, a good engine package, the right balance and enough fuel to make it all happen. And we did that today.

Q. Talk about the competition so far this season. You’re the 13th different winner in 19 races. Last year we had 13 different winners the whole year. Talk about the competition this year.

RYAN NEWMAN: Kind of goes along with what we were talking about earlier, with the tires being better, different strategies. You saw Regan Smith get his first win by staying out on fuel on old tires. There’s been a different mentality this year which has given people a little more courage to make those calls to put themselves as a team in that position.

I’m just proud. I don’t really care about the first 12, I’m just proud to be the 13th (laughter). We’ll try to carry on and try to keep it at 13.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thank you for your time this afternoon.

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THE MODERATOR: We now welcome in the media center Tony Stewart, who finished second in today’s race.

Tony, talk a little bit about your run out there today.

TONY STEWART: It was a perfect day for the organization for sure. This is a perfect way to go into an off weekend, for sure. Especially going into Indy, man, this is big for everybody at Stewart Haas Racing. Big thanks to the Hendrick engine and chassis department for everything they do for us.

Very proud of Ryan and Tony Gibson. I’m curious to see what the record books show, but I’m sure Ryan is the only guy to get two poles and two wins in a weekend here. I don’t know, Kyle maybe did it. But to do it in the modified and in the Cup car today, for the organization to take the front row and get first and second today, you couldn’t ask for a better weekend.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questions.

Q. Tony, organizationally looking at the big picture, first 1 2 for the organization, what does that mean to you, looking ahead to Richmond especially?

TONY STEWART: It’s huge. It’s no secret we’ve been struggling this year. But it really shows me the depth of the people we got in our organization. It’s been one of the weirdest years as far as just weird things and bad luck happening to both of us.

Our guys at our shop just keep plugging away, they keep working, they keep their chins up. That’s probably what I’m most proud of. It’s easy when things are going right. But when times are tough and you have a day like today, you see how your organization battles. That’s to me what shows the character of what Stewart Haas Racing is about, what our people are like.

That’s probably what I’m most proud of in the last two and a half years, is how we’ve come from the first half of the season to a weekend like this weekend.

Q. Tony, can you speak to the overall sense that you came into this weekend and how maybe you got encouraging signs when Ryan wins the pole, you have pretty long runs in practice, then you finish qualifying second.

TONY STEWART: Well, obviously getting our first first and second qualifying efforts, that’s the first time that we’ve done that as an organization. That puts a positive spin on the weekend.

We were both happy with our cars yesterday. We were quickest in the morning session. The second session, when it got warm, we weren’t quite as happy with our car, Ryan was still happy with his. That was still encouraging. I’m really proud of Darian Grubb. They told him yesterday he’s got pneumonia. He’s battling through a weekend like this, never missed a beat on the box today.

When you’re feeling good, it’s really easy to lose focus and lose concentration. I’m really proud of what he did today. That was a tough day and a tough weekend for him, feeling bad. But an awesome job by everybody. Ryan has been spot on all weekend. Tony Gibson, everybody has done a great job working through the weekend together.

By the way, yes, I’m still happy to be a car owner now, in case you had any questions about that (laughter).

Q. Tony, you still looking forward to having this next weekend off or…

TONY STEWART: We only get three of them a year anyway, so might as well take the rest of them away.

It doesn’t really matter. It’s good and it’s bad. It’s good because you want to go back to the track next weekend and keep going, but at the same time we get to ride this wave for two weeks going into a really big race for us. It doesn’t really matter either way.

The good thing for Ryan’s team is it gives them a little bit of extra time to get ready for the Chase now. Hopefully that will lock him in, make sure that we can keep those guys there.

Hopefully it will give them time to get prepared. It’s a good weekend for us gaining a little bit points wise. We’ll keep digging on our side.

Q. Are you going to stay up here for the owner’s portion as well?

TONY STEWART: This is the owner’s portion, just so you know. It never ceases to amaze me how much of a rocket scientist you are (laughter). I’m honored to be in your presence.

Q. As a guy who is witty and uses sarcasm, maybe you should understand that that was a joke. Maybe your jokes are better.

TONY STEWART: I’m pretty sure. We’ll take a poll and it will be overwhelming.

Q. You talked about this a little bit, but how fearful were you that Ryan was going to run out of gas? Can you talk about the fine line he’s walking.

TONY STEWART: It definitely was a big risk, for sure. Honestly, I didn’t know. He got the lead pretty early. I knew how short we were. I didn’t know what kind of mileage they were getting for the day, if they were getting better mileage than we were.

This is a pretty easy track to save fuel on in all reality because you really have to use a lot of brake, but it’s got long, sweeping corners, so you coast a lot through the center of the corner. It does give you an opportunity to save fuel pretty easy.

When we had the lead and Carl was second to us, we were lifting just past the flag stand and able to really save a lot of fuel, not hurt our lap times too much. I honestly didn’t know what his status was. I knew he was probably having to save a little bit. The problem was by the time we got to second, we were so far back that we didn’t have a chance to capitalize on it.

I think hindsight being 20/20, I don’t mind running second and having him win the race versus us winning the race and him running out of fuel. This is a much more gratifying weekend for me.

Q. As a team owner, during the last laps, you had to be excited for Ryan running up front. As a driver, you hate to finish second. What were you thinking?

TONY STEWART: I was happy, period. I mean, you know when you’re in that situation as an organization, it can’t get any better than that. I can promise you, I didn’t leave anything out there. That was as hard as I could run till the end. I couldn’t get the rest of the way. I couldn’t get any further than that.

I got in a period when I caught Jeff Gordon, I think he was running fourth or fifth at the time, I got to his bumper but I couldn’t really do anything. I ran about three laps where I kept slipping the rear of the car, just got the tires hot. I basically had to back away from him and run my pace again, just let everything cool down. Then we made that second charge at him and were able to get by him and keep marching forward.

The problem was, to do what we did to get a second, I mean, I used everything up getting there. That was as far and as close to Ryan as I could get. The good thing is we still got guys in the series like Andy that don’t see what’s going on other than what he’s doing. It’s amazing, the guy has no concept of the race except what’s around him. We just couldn’t get the rest of the way.

Q. Where are you as far as a competition director?

TONY STEWART: We don’t have one yet.

Q. Any closer?

TONY STEWART: When we have one, we’ll let you know. We’re still working on I it. We’re working on it. We’re not not looking for a competition director. We’ve been doing that since we let Bobby go.

Q. When you went to Victory Lane, what were your words to Ryan?

TONY STEWART: I just told him I was proud of him. I told him I was proud of him and it was a great day for our organization, great day for the Army. Colonel Crotts was here. He’s retiring after 31 years of serving our country. Couldn’t think of a more perfect day for him to be at the racetrack. We don’t get him at the races every weekend. To have Colonel Crotts here, get the U.S. Army Chevy in Victory Lane, that’s an awesome weekend. You don’t want him to go into retirement, but knowing he’s going, it was a perfect way to send him off.

Q. Very hot conditions in the grandstand where we were watching. In the car, Marcos said he was cramping up a lot. Did you have any problems with the heat affecting your driving?

TONY STEWART: My feet were hot all day. We got a guy that’s going to get an earful when I get back to the garage. We ran at El Dora last night, the World of Outlaw Sprint car. I got to sleep at 5:00 this morning and was up at 8:30. I feel like we’re pretty fit right now.

I don’t have a big workout program like some of these other guys do, but I’m pretty sure we’re race fit with all the racing we do on the side.

It was just a hot day, but we didn’t have any problems inside the car. We’re used to it. We do it all the time.

Q. What was the key element in the way the race played out strategically to get your car good at the end?

TONY STEWART: I think we had a strong car all day. At the beginning of the race, position was pretty big. Both Ryan and I stayed out the first three stints of the race. We ran the same left side tires three times. By the time that Ryan and I finally started fading back, we were doing it together. We just couldn’t believe that we could stay out that long on lefts. But we had a strong car. We knew we had a strong car all day.

At the beginning, when we got the lead, we were running a pace that was comfortable to us. When we were running with Ryan there, the two of us drove away, we were running a comfortable pace. Like we said, later in the race where Carl was second, we were able to really take it easy.

We knew we had a good car. I was surprised how good our car was at the end of the day because we didn’t change much during the race. It seemed like the later the day went, the better our car got. It seemed it got better as the day cooled off.

THE MODERATOR: Tony, thank you for your time this afternoon.

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