CHEVY NSCS AT INDY: Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson Post Race Press Conf. Transcript


INDIANAPOLIS – July 27, 2013 – Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans/The Smurfs Chevrolet SS, was the final driver to make a qualifying run during Saturday afternoon’s time trials for the 20th Annual Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard, but he made it count.   Newman clipped fellow Team Chevy driver Jimmie Johnson’s time in the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS by a mere 0.024 seconds, to earn the inside front row starting spot for Round 20 on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup tour.  Newman’s track-record run of 187.531 mph and 47.992 seconds gave him his 50th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) pole, making him the ninth driver to eclipse 50 pole wins. The run also moved him up to ninth on the all-time list of pole winners.

Johnson, who was 11th in the qualifying order, posted a time that held through the first 44 qualifiers and was only bested by Newman.   With a quest for five Brickyard wins, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will start from the second position, marking the fifth time Team Chevy has had an all-bowtie front row for the 400-mile event.  Johnson scored wins at the famed 2.5-mile track in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2012.
American Muscle

Tony Stewart posted his best qualifying effort of the 2013 season with a fifth-place run in his No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS.   Stewart, who is Chevrolet’s third driver with multiple Indianapolis Motor Speedway wins, will be going for his third victory on Sunday.  His wins came in 2005 and 2007.

Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet SS, qualified in sixth position.   Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS was eighth; while Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet SS qualified seventh and ninth respectively.   Gordon will also be going for his fifth win at the famed yard of bricks. His victories were scored in 1994, 1998, 2001, and 2004.

Carl Edwards (Ford) qualified third, Denny Hamlin (Toyota) was fourth to round out the top-five starting spots.

The green flag will wave on the Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 28th, 2013 at 1:00 PM EST on ESPN, Sirius XM Channel 90, MRN Radio and


KERRY THARP:  In dramatic fashion, Ryan Newman wins the Coors Light pole for tomorrow’s 20th annual Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard.  This is a little bit of history here today for Ryan.  It’s a track qualifying record, 187.531 miles per hour.  He becomes the ninth driver in NASCAR history to claim 50 or more poles.  This was his 50th career pole in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  This is his first pole at the Brickyard, and he joins such exclusive company as Richard Petty, David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Mark Martin and Bill Elliott as a driver that has cracked that 50 mark.  So congratulations, Ryan, historic time for you.

And also in dramatic fashion, the last driver out, knocking off Johnson there at the end.  That was quite a reception that you got, too, from the stands here.  I guess you would obviously consider this your home track.  So congratulations and your thoughts about your performance.

RYAN NEWMAN:  Well, I guess mostly just based off of practice, I thought we were a contender.  We were eighth in practice, and we had the opportunity to watch a lot of qualifiers, and the guys that at some point or another were ahead of Jimmie, knew that there was some speed out there, and my real gauge I think today was Tony Stewart.  We were virtually identical in practice speeds, and when he went out and qualified fourth, I knew that there was still grip in the racetrack and that I had a shot at it.

Have to thank Matt Borland and all the guys on the team.  This is really a new team for us this year, a lot of new guys, and this is something that’s hard‑fought by everybody at Stewart‑Haas Racing, especially these guys on the 39 car.

Thank Quicken Loans and Smurfs, too.  I think that is honestly the fastest I’ve ever seen Papa Smurf go.

I just am ecstatic.  It’s awesome because it’s my 50th.  It’s awesome because it’s Indy, and it’s a track record on top of that, so it’s like a double‑triple bonus.

But just really look forward to tomorrow.  We’ve proven today that we have a fast race car, and we just need to go out and put together 400 miles, and that’s much easier said than done.

KERRY THARP:  This is the 10th track record that this new car has broken this year in the Sprint Cup Series.  That’s quite amazing.

Also the 17th different track that you have won a pole at, so that’s quite an accomplishment, as well.

We’ll take questions now.

Q.  I know that you’re an engineer and you’re kind of a numbers and black‑and‑white kind of guy, but is there any sort of emotion that you get out of doing it here, because I think Indianapolis Motor Speedway maybe more than most tracks we go to, they love their native Hoosiers, and it was a really big deal for the people.  Is there any sort of an extra emotion you get for what your achievement was here today?

RYAN NEWMAN:  I got emotional on the backstretch when they told me that.  It’s special to me because it’s Indiana, but it’s more special to me because it’s the Brickyard, because it’s Indy, because of the history of auto racing at this facility.

So many drivers who are my heroes, so many drivers I’ve admired, so many drivers that have worked so hard in their career to get to here on this day, to be the fastest one, that’s what’s the most special to me.

Yeah, it’s awesome to get that standing ovation from all the Indiana guys and girls that are here.  It does feel like home again in Indiana, even though it does not feel like Indiana weather today.

But I’m excited.  My sister lives out on the west side.  My parents still have a house in South Bend.  I still have the Indiana roots.  That didn’t make me any faster today, but it makes it more gratifying when we did win the pole.

Q.  Ryan, in the previous interviews, Jimmie said that he watched you on TV and that you hit every corner and drove a perfect lap.  Has anybody ever told you you had driven a perfect lap before?

RYAN NEWMAN:  When I ran that 14.90 at Bristol, I think that was like a better‑than‑perfect lap.  I don’t know how that’s possible.  But to hear that with respect to Jimmie and him saying that, that means a lot.  I think he won the pole here last year.  He’s won four races here.  He’s obviously a Hall‑of‑Fame driver, and for him to say that and really mean it, because I know he does mean it, that’s special to me.

Starting on the front row with him in Indy and having two Chevrolets on the front row is going to be special, as well.

Q.  Any idea why you haven’t won a pole since September?

RYAN NEWMAN:  I waited for us to get the last draw to add the extra drama.  I’ve waited so long for this moment.  (Laughter.)

Actually I woke up this morning and had a couple chocolate chip cookies and just decided to try harder.

Q.  Did it bother you that you haven’t won a pole ‑‑?

RYAN NEWMAN:  Oh, it’s been bothering me for a long time.  It bothered me really bad to not be in the Sprint Unlimited this year because I feel like I’m a driver that can still hit his marks each and every lap and put it all together, and we didn’t win a pole last year.  We were close at times, but it’s going to be special for me to get back in that race and I know that I earned it, and I earned it at a special place.

Q.  We know the Gen‑6 car is faster here, but how will it race differently tomorrow?

RYAN NEWMAN:  I think the Gen‑6 car is faster everywhere, it’s just a matter of the conditions allowing us to show it.  It’s always going to be a track position race.  The flatter the racetrack is, the faster we go as far as the aerodynamics and the way the drafting works.  You really can’t make up in a draft what you lose in downforce in the corners.  The track position is going to be key, and because we’re faster than we ever have been, I’d say it’s even going to be more important than it ever has been.

Q.  You bring up Jimmie, and he’s had some issue on restarts, and we know we can only count on one thing tomorrow is the start.  I was wondering if you’re going to hone up on any of your sprint car start skills for tomorrow’s race.

RYAN NEWMAN:  No, I want to have a good start, and usually there’s a level of respect at certain racetracks in which you win the pole that you don’t go in side by side and take somebody out or risk taking somebody out.

I’m sure we’ll have respect for each other at the start of the race, and those restarts will become more important as we go through the race.

Q.  You were saying that this is a fresher team for you.  Being able to get the pole position, what is this going to do for your team’s confidence for the rest of the season going into the Chase?

RYAN NEWMAN:  We live in the moment, and today is one day, and we have that momentum.  We have the confidence of knowing we have the fastest race car with our Quicken Loans Chevrolet for tomorrow, and then that can change everything.  That day changes everything or has the potential to change everything.

You know, it gives us confidence to know that we can come to a flat track and be competitive, with a place like Pocono coming up soon.  But it doesn’t mean that we’re going to be a dominant car.  You really have to just keep your nose to the grindstone in this sport.

Q.  Tony had qualified pretty well today.  He was in fourth before you knocked him back to fifth.  What kind of advice did he give you before you went out there?

RYAN NEWMAN:  None.  (Laughter.)  We don’t give each other advice.  We talk about our race cars and where we’re at and what we’re doing and what our balances are, but there’s really no advice that two experienced drivers can give each other.  We have enough experience, whether it’s Indianapolis or Daytona or Watkins Glen, about what we need to do inside the race car.  You can give advice as much as you want, but he’s not sitting in my seat, he’s not pushing my pedals.  It’s not as simple as it sounds, just the word advice.

Q.  Are there any hard feelings between you and Tony regarding what’s going to happen next year, and what’s going to happen with you next year?

RYAN NEWMAN:  No hard feelings.  They made a move, and that move makes me move, and there’s no hard feelings.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  Obviously this is a good step in publicity for me on the positive side, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.  Today is over, and we’ve got to focus on getting our Quicken Loans Chevrolet fast for tomorrow and still making the Chase.

KERRY THARP:  Ryan Newman, congratulations on a big day today, and good luck tomorrow at the Brickyard.


KERRY THARP:  We’re going to go ahead and start here at the Chris Economaki media center.  We’ve got our second and third fastest qualifiers for tomorrow’s Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard powered by here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Our second fastest was Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet.

I’m going to start with you, Jimmie.  A lot of drama out there this afternoon; the last person out, Ryan Newman, edged you for the pole at the Brickyard.  I know you wanted it very badly, but just talk about the speed that that 48 car has as you look to win your fifth Brickyard tomorrow.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, just a very close qualifying session.  I think when you look through the top four or five cars, it was very, very tight, and I had some close calls including with Carl and the great lap he had.

But I felt like watching on the lap tracker, the majority of the cars except for Ryan, I didn’t have the best 1 and 2, but in 3 and 4 I’d rally back.  I started rallying back on Ryan but just didn’t have enough front straightaway to really get there the way it looked on the screen that ESPN was showing me.

But very, very good lap for our race team.  I did miss Turn 2 a little bit on my turning point, and felt like that I made that mistake and then the lap tracker showed that.  But Ryan hit all four corners great and got it done.  Happy for him.  It’s got to be a big day for him, being a hometown boy and all. Very happy for Ryan and very happy for our team.

Starting up front is important here.  Hopefully we’ll have a good day tomorrow.

Q.  Jimmie, have you ever been knocked off the pole by the last driver in your memory?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  My memory is not very good.  I don’t know.  Not that I remember any time recently.  But I’m not sure.

Q.  Where were you looking?  Were you following him or what?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, one of the ESPN crews had a television with the television broadcast on it, and I could see the lap tracker, what ESPN was showing the home audience, the viewing audience.  So I was watching that and I became a little uncomfortable watching guys be faster than me through 1 and 2 and then 3 I’d get some back and 4 I’d get a lot back.  Ryan had me in 2 and Turn 3, and in Turn 4 I got back a lot.  But their screen shows 24 hundredths that I missed.  Just didn’t have enough front straightaway.

Q.  Jimmie, Jeff has said a lot that it’s really tough getting beat by teams that have your same equipment.  Does it just make it a bigger bite in the butt to have Ryan Newman who has the Hendrick engines and has the Hendrick chassis beat you at your own game?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I hadn’t really thought much about it in that respect.  For today’s qualifying session, knowing Ryan was going last, and Ryan is so good at qualifying, that I knew he was going to be a bullet, a tough bullet to dodge.  And when the 14 posted his lap time, I’m like, okay, this is going to be a tough final car to deal with.

It didn’t cross my mind at all from a teammate standpoint or equipment side, as well.  But there have been other times where, especially the year Tony won the championship, and when we’re getting outrun by our equipment week in and week out, that’s a hard pill to swallow.  We went through some tough times there and figured out how to make our equipment better and catch up ‑‑ I should say figure out how to catch up with our own equipment.

Q.  Jimmie, Indianapolis always loves seeing you here, obviously loves seeing you win.  Shooting for five, the first decade we look at Jeff Gordon, obviously a guy who mentored you and brought you up through the ranks in the first decade; the second decade is you.  Do you feel the pressure to maybe do better than what Jeff Gordon has done, or when you’re compared side by side, Jeff Gordon to Jimmie Johnson at the Brickyard particularly, how do you feel like you need to perform right here?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  You know, I’ve not ‑‑ I’ve been more in the moment.  I haven’t looked at stats, doesn’t matter if it’s here or Martinsville.  I think Dover I had an opportunity this year.  I don’t know these opportunities that I have until I’m there and I catch the broadcast and hear about it and see it.  It’s cool to be in that position but it’s not something that motivates me.  I’m much more in the moment and worried about this weekend’s race.

Very proud of the fact that I’ve won four and understand that, but how I got there and how those stats look next to Jeff’s, I don’t have a clue.

Of course the competitive spirit in me wants to do it better.  It would be foolish to say otherwise.  But it’s not a motivating factor for me.  It’s really ‑‑ we go week to week, and when you’re in the sport 12 or 13 years, you learn how to just, good or bad, what happened the week prior, it just has to go away, and you know up to a new set of challenges and go to work and see what you can do.

KERRY THARP:  Guys, good job out there today, and certainly a lot of luck to you here tomorrow.

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