We are joined by Ryan Newman, who will drive the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing starting in 2014. Also joining us is the Chief Operating Officer of Richard Childress Racing, Torrey Galida.
Ryan, we’ll start with you. Instead of asking an opening question, I’ll just throw it to you to talk about driving the No. 31 Chevrolet in 2014, and what you’re looking forward to most about joining Richard Childress Racing?
RYAN NEWMAN: Just extremely excited about the opportunity. Richard and I had talked five years ago, or roughly five years ago before I went to Stewart-Haas racing, and didn’t have the moons correctly aligned to do what we needed to do there, and this is just a great opportunity for me personally.
Really looking forward to driving the 31 Car with Caterpillar. I think with Richard’s goals and my goals and the things that we do aside from that away from the racetrack that I think are a lot of fun as well, I’m just really looking forward to all of 2014, not just the races – 2014 and beyond, not just the racing season.
Q : Torrey, clearly Ryan has enjoyed a lot of success in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. What do you think he’ll add to the Richard Childress Racing organization?
TORREY GALIDA: Thanks, Amanda. First, I wanted to just say to everybody out there that Richard sends his regrets. He couldn’t be with us this afternoon. He is traveling, but he did want me to let everybody know if you have questions specifically for him, he’ll be available over the weekend or is more than willing to do another teleconference if we need to.
So with that being said, I think Ryan is really going to add a lot to our organization and add another dimension for us. He’s a proven winner. He’s been very, very successful throughout his career, and we are always looking to add that kind of talent to our organization.
We talked to him for a while about potentially becoming a fourth team here. Weren’t quite able to pull that all together, but did find a scenario that we believe is going to work for everybody.
Q. Ryan, have you had any time to spend with Luke Lambert yet? What are your first impressions?
RYAN NEWMAN: I shouldn’t laugh, because it’s probably taken the wrong way, but I actually think it was Atlanta race weekend, right before the race started. Luke and I were in line together at the outhouse before the race started, and we talked for about three minutes, so that’s why I laugh.
But we’ve talked a little bit over the phone, very little, but definitely have an understanding of his background and know that Richard believes in him as well as the team that they have associated there together on the 31 car. So just really have only scratched the surface on getting to know somebody in Luke.
Q. First off, just how many teams did you talk to, and kind of where was Richard Childress Racing in the pecking order of the people that you talked to?
RYAN NEWMAN: I talked to a few, which, in my world, is three or more. Richard, honestly, to start the whole conversation, came to me Daytona 500 week and wanted to know what I was doing in 2014. I told him at that point I needed to lay some ground work with the new team that we had started with Matt Borland and all the guys, and that it was too early to even think about that, but I appreciated the offer. Our conversations matured over time. After Loudon when I was told what I wasn’t going to be doing, the conversations intensified.
So to answer your question, at the top, without a doubt, Richard and everybody at RCR are in a position to control their own destiny. They build their own cars. They build their own engines. They hang their own bodies. Everything is at the RCR compound, and that means a lot to me, because that keeps that information right there, and that, I think is extremely important with the technology in our sport right now.
Q. Obviously this is the first time we’ve seen you since Saturday night. Have you seen any of the replays and heard any of the NWR audios? Just curious if you have any sort of opinion on the Bowyer spinout now that we’re a couple days later?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, right now it’s tough to comment on it because I know it’s being reviewed. My ultimate answer is it’s pretty obvious to me the decisions that were made and the communication that’s led up to that. I don’t know how anybody is going to react or put their foot down or penalize or do anything in respect to all of this. So I guess I’m kind of waiting to see what comes of it.
But I do know that based on my opinion inside a race car and watching and listening and understanding the communication that there was then, that it was not entirely an accident; and the second part of that is maybe somebody could look up for me how many times this year Clint Bowyer spun out all by himself and get me an answer on that, if you don’t mind.
Q. Ryan, it was pretty obvious from things you said at Richmond and maybe even back to Atlanta about you could say but it was inappropriate to say it was pretty clear you had a good idea that today, Monday, the 9th was coming and this announcement would happen. Even so, with making this official, does that help take any of the sting out of what happened to you Saturday night or is that going to sting for a while, regardless?
RYAN NEWMAN: To me, what happened to me Saturday night is the toughest thing that I’ve ever gone through in any kind of racing in my 30 years of driving because of the way everything went down and, in hindsight, how it hurt that much more.
This, for a week, yeah, I knew this announcement was coming, but in the end, I don’t think it’s anything to compare or contrast or say that the positive outweighs the negative or even compensates for it. They’re two different things. This announcement is to show and tell everybody how much we look forward to it and what we have coming down the pipeline as far as racing and our relationship with RCR and myself and Chevrolet and everybody else and Caterpillar included.
So it’s really tough to comment on anything about Saturday night right now until an announcement is made.
Q. I’m curious about how much do you think we’ll be able to transfer over from SHR to RCR as far as your notes and stuff? Obviously, if you’re going to a different manufacturer, I’m sure things would be protective or more protective about information. Will you be able to be allowed to take any notes with you as far as set-up stuff that can be sent over like how you like a car in a certain place?
RYAN NEWMAN: No, I don’t have a set of notes. I don’t have a backlog of information when it comes to that. I don’t write anything down. To me, what is important, is my feel for the race car. The way the team works together. The way we can accomplish adjusting to either weather conditions or a racetrack or a new Goodyear tire or whatever it is. I don’t see that – I think there are some principles that I understand and can carry over. I did that from Penske to SHR and will from SHR to RCR, and no different from what Kevin Harvick will do when he goes over to SHR. But, in the end, you have to adjust and live in the moment.
From a driver’s standpoint, that’s not a matter of bringing out the notebook. That is the crew chief’s responsibility, and that is my responsibility to communicate with the team and tell them what I need the race car to do so that we can work on it collectively.
Q. The first question, you found out in July that you were looking for a job. At that time there were not many seats available, and even more so, there are not many great seats available. Was there any concern for you at that point? What are you going to do? Are you even going to be able to get a ride? In hindsight, you’ve landed a very good job, but does any panic set in?
RYAN NEWMAN: Thank you, first of all. I don’t think I really ever had any panic. As Torrey mentioned, the real question was how can we make it make sense for myself and for RCR, whether it was a third car, fourth car or whatever. And I wanted it to be, as I said from the beginning, for me personally, some place where I was wanted and some place that is super competitive, and we have the opportunity to live out our common goals.
RCR is, as I said and mentioned earlier, was part of my interest five years ago, and obviously when Richard expressed that interest back in February, it was a no-brainer for me to go back and knock on his door. That being said, I’m just excited about the opportunity that we have from a team standpoint, the resources with Chevrolet. I know that Richard has the drive and dedication to be as successful as he possibly can, and that is as simple as that.
I told Richard when I sat down in his bus a while ago, I said every driver’s going to sit here and tell you that he wants to win. He wants to win races. He wants to win a championship. He wants to win a pole. But it’s the drive and dedication and the inflection you hear in my voice when I say that to you. I think that that makes a difference. Because every car owner wants to win. Every car owner wants to make money and be successful too. But I see the same things in him that he does in me, and that’s why I look forward to the next three years.
Q. Second question, which I apologize for reverting back to Saturday night, but just based on what you said. You called it the toughest in your 30 years of racing. I don’t know what your relationships might have been with anyone at NWR or Clint in the past, if you had relationships, but will you have trouble going forward? Will you be able to look at those people the same? Is this something that will be damaging going forward in the garage area?
RYAN NEWMAN: I’d say the potential is not good for us to be cordial to each other, but at the same time, as I said earlier, at announcement was made that NASCAR is reviewing what happened. So until NASCAR does their due diligence of how they proceed with what happened, and that could go several different directions, I really don’t know. In the end, I was extremely disappointed to see and hear some of the things that went down, and I think that that’s relatively obvious to any fan or non-fan of our sport to know that it kind of goes without saying what happened.
We’ll see how it all works out, but, yeah, it’s not an easy thing to work through mentally, emotionally, and even physically afterwards.
Q. For you it’s got to be a little different situation from Penske to Stewart-Haas to now Childress where you’ve had traditionally veteran teammates. Can you talk about what the team dynamic you think will be with the three cars, with Paul, and with the rest of the line that may be forthcoming?
RYAN NEWMAN: I look forward to it. I’ve talked to Paul a good bit going back probably even to Coke 600 weekend. We had a couple of conversations. Look forward to working with him and everybody. Obviously, Austin and Ty are there. I don’t know what capacity they’ll be in, but at the same time, no matter what, we are a team together.
Even racing with Austin going back to the truck race at Eldora, we had a lot of fun together, and clean and raced hard. That is something that even, if you look at the last five years, Tony and I have done very well and done a good job of as far as racing, clean racing hard and having fun as a competitor.
I also want to make mention too that I’m extremely respectful and I have a lot of admiration for the way Jeff Burton’s handled himself and all of this with his situation and the opportunities that we have to be able to just make all of this workout. He’s been great and I’ll leave it at that.
Q. Ryan, based off your question you were asking earlier, I haven’t finished reviewing the stat, but just a quick look. I think I found two instances where the 15 was involved in a single-car spin at Auto Club Speedway and at Michigan this year?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, he blew up at both of them, if I remember right.
Q. Something like that. My question to you as being a student of the history of the sport, you understand that the competition has not always been the most pure and really some of that is celebrated with the things that have been done in this sport. How would you explain what happened Saturday night is potentially different from what has happened in the past? Because there have been various things that have happened that have not always been on the up and up, and certainly some things have been penalized, but not everything.
RYAN NEWMAN: I think our sport is unique, and we all that are involved kind of know this. In the instance that we don’t have instant replay. We can’t hit the pause button, we can’t blow the whistle. I would say that there might have been a different perspective had anybody from NASCAR or from what I’ve understood in the way it works, the NASCAR officials, the way that each inspector monitors the communication with respect to their car that they’re handling on pit road.
My point is that that communication very easily could have been communicated about, in the end, may have caused a different reaction immediately versus talking about it two days later. It’s a tough situation in our sport, because we can’t just kick them in neutral and think about it or figure out what we need to do or take a couple of extra pay slats because we’re sitting out there burning fuel and figure out how it should work. It’s just unique. I think that’s the task at hand for NASCAR is how to handle this as well as these situations in the future.
Q. Because you mentioned and you talk about the officials on pit road monitoring the teams, you know, there has been the talk about NASCAR reducing the number of officials on pit road and reducing the number of officials at the track. If something like that happens, how does that impact that?
Suddenly there is the potential that an official could be monitoring more than one radio frequency? Might stuff get lost if there is a reduction in officials on pit road or reduction in officials on the track?
RYAN NEWMAN: Without a doubt. It’s already lost because it’s not monitored. If it was monitored, in my opinion, it would have made a difference in the way it got handled immediately on Saturday night. That is probably my point more so than the fact of what and where are we next year?
Q. For Torrey, I guess Ryan mentioned it was a three-year deal. I’m curious, did Caterpillar extend through the end of this deal? Are your other sponsors for Ryan already signed?
TORREY GALIDA: Our policy is not to discuss our contracts, but we do still have some work to do on the sponsorship front. As you know, Cat takes the majority of the season, but we do have some work there to get everything finished getting sold out. And we hope it is a very long-term relationship with Ryan.
We’ve been lucky to have Caterpillar for five years, and part of us making this move was to make sure that we kept a very strong relationship with Caterpillar for the long-term. I think everybody here at Richard Childress Racing would love nothing more than to be part of RCR winning another championship, and we think that Ryan is the kind of guy that can do that for us. So we’re hoping it is a long-term relationship.
Q. Ryan, I guess my question is were you surprised about what you kind of saw and heard on, I guess, probably late Saturday night or Sunday when looking at all of what happened?
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, I pretty much had to stress myself to sleep Saturday night. I had my phone in my hands and was communicating with different people at different times about different things. You know, some of the homework was done by you guys as far as the media goes, and some of it was done internally at SHR as far as tying everything together and the communications that were made between some of the NWR cars and what reactions that they created on the racetrack and how it affected the points, not just at the end of the race.
So in the end, it became more disappointing the more we dug into it. So that’s, I guess, and what I hope NASCAR is investigating as well. But it didn’t just affect me, it affected Jeff Gordon and at the same time Logano and Truex.
And we knew there was potential for this going into this race, so I guess from my standpoint, I would have hoped that we would have been able to monitor this situation. I mean, this is something that is brought up in every Richmond driver’s meeting. You know the quotes and you know what was said. In the end, it’s like we saw there was potential for fire, but nobody grabbed the extinguisher.
Q. Do you think they should put you in the Chase? Should they add drivers to the Chase?
RYAN NEWMAN: I don’t even want to really comment on that. I just know that we were deserving of it at one point without a doubt Saturday night, and we put ourselves in that position. To me, there was nothing up to that point that would have changed that until Clint spun out and that changed everything. That’s why I told you after I told everybody after the race, I was still disappointed in the fact that we still had the opportunity to control our destiny, come off pit road, even if we came off second behind Menard, we still should have been able to come off first car on four tires and win the race, just as Carl did. And we didn’t do that. That would have changed everything on our part. It may not have changed everything on Jeff or Truex’s or Logano’s part, but we still had control of our own destiny and didn’t pull that off. So I was disappointed from that standpoint.
But, yeah, there are so many things that we knew going into the race, could have, would have, should have, and the fact of the direct influence somebody could have by manipulating that situation, which I do feel happened. But in the end, how NASCAR handles this is extremely important for all of us.
Q. Just wanted to ask, with the location of the racetrack, do you expect to spend a lot of time there and do you expect to work with the grandsons since they’re young and up and coming? Obviously, Austin’s already doing some Cup, but Ty is expected to move in that direction as well. Do you expect to be a mentor to both boys?
RYAN NEWMAN: I can’t say that. I guess maybe your wording, I don’t expect to be a mentor. I want to be a good teammate, a good friend and be able to mentor, no more than they’re capable of for me. This is kind of an off-the-wall comment, but the last two races, I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with Mark Martin, and he brings a different perspective, some of it because of his age. Some of it because of his age and some of it the places that he’s been and the things that he’s experienced. But everybody has a different perspective.
You know, a couple young boys like the Dillon boys can have a different perspective and mentor me no different than I can mentor them. So I look forward to the team work and potential that we all have together. No different than Paul or anybody else if a fourth car ever is added. So that’s my perspective of it.
Q. Not to keep harping on Saturday night, but is there anything that will give you solace that NASCAR can do at this point?
RYAN NEWMAN: Repeat the question, please?
Q. Is there anything that will give you solace after Saturday night? Any kind of decision mass car could make that would give you solace?
RYAN NEWMAN: I don’t know. It’s one of those things where I really don’t know until if, and when, and how they say something. I mean, I don’t know. To me there are so many people involved and anything could happen because of how important it was.
I mean, we spent 26 races to get to that point, and we missed it by a tie, but we also missed it by what happened. Other people can say that they were in. I mean, it’s just so touchy. I’ll just leave it at that.
Q. Saturday night a different topic, what did you think of that final restart? You had a good view of it. Did you think it was an okay start?
RYAN NEWMAN: I honestly didn’t have a real good view of it. I spun my tires just a little bit and had the intentions of getting underneath Mark going into one, and didn’t. So I drove up and around him. Unintentionally, actually, put Truex up in the fuzz.
But, yeah, I watched the replay as well as many other replays that night later and saw that there was a defined moment where he beat the leader back to the line, which is the rule of what not to do. And no penalty was enforced, no different than the night before in which they brought up in the drivers’ meeting that you couldn’t do that.
So there is more than one issue at hand with respect to the race on Saturday night and how rules and how NASCAR needs to enforce things in the future.
Q. That’s been a gripe of Jimmie Johnson’s many times this year, the restarts. As someone who has talked a lot about technology, do you wonder why there is not a technology that NASCAR can lean on that that is a black-and-white thing, the restart?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I said this when it came up a few weeks or months ago. To me, when the green flag drops, the race resumes. If the second place guy beats the leader, then so be it. The leader has the opportunity to get going however he needs to get going. If he has lesser tires, then he chose to have lesser tires. There is no penalty for the fourth place guy to beat the third place guy. There is no penalty for the eighth place guy to beat the seventh place guy.
Why should there be for the second place car to beat the leader? It doesn’t make any sense to me. The reason we’re there is to race. There is nobody that has control of the race until you get to the start-finish line. That doesn’t mean anything. It’s who gets back to the next lap if we can’t go green and checkered in the same instant.
So, to me, it’s a dumb rule in my opinion just because it doesn’t – it just creates more confusion. There is no need for it.
Q. A lot of times in the past we’ve seen teams that haven’t qualified for the Chase to use the last ten races to get a head start on the following season. With you not coming back to the 39 team, what will your focus be going into the last ten races? What do you hope to accomplish? Also, will that put them at any sort of disadvantage because they can’t really use those ten races knowing that you’re not going to be there?
RYAN NEWMAN: Our goal is to win each and every one of these last ten races. I feel that we have the potential to. I want to do it for myself, my team, my sponsors and everybody involved, especially all of the things that we went through and fought through to get back to where we were on Saturday night and to be in a position within seven to go to race our way in. These guys deserve it. That’s as simple as that.
There are things that we can learn that are going to make our race car go faster. I don’t think there is any announcements for any big changes for the cars for 2014 with respect to wholesaling them where it takes a different set-up or different package or anything like that.
So I think what we do in these last ten races, from my standpoint, it’s going to help SHR, but it also helps me. I have to finish it out just as if we were going to be starting 2014 together. I think that’s the right and fairway to do it for myself, my team, and my sponsors.