Ryan, despite your qualifying success and some strong races at Charlotte, you’re still searching for your first Sprint Cup Series win at the track. What will it take for you to earn a Bank of America 500 win this weekend?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, I hope we can just build off of where we were in the Coca-Cola 600. I think we ended up sixth if I remember right in the Coke 600, fifth or sixth or something like that, but we had a good car, and were in position at the end. I’ve been in position several times at the Coke 600 and actually I think about five years ago led everything — led coming to the white and then crashed in Turn 1. I’ve been close at Charlotte. It’s one of my favorite racetracks. I look forward to going back. Obviously I have been successful on qualifying nights, usually Thursday nights. So look forward to that, as well. Just a good rebound weekend from what we had in Kansas would be good for not just me but for everybody.
Q. I was curious as far as the NASCAR test on Monday, what do you hope they look at? We’ve heard a lot about no ride height rules. Would you like to see that implemented?
RYAN NEWMAN: I mean, I don’t know if — you’re talking about the Martinsville test or are you talking about a different test? Charlotte test?
Q. I’m talking about the Charlotte test this Monday that’s on the 2014 rules that they’re looking at for the 2014 rules package.
RYAN NEWMAN: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know how to answer that or what to say. It seems like they’re very complimentary of the product that they have. They talk about how great it is and the racing and everything else, and then it seems like we can’t just keep things the way that they are for more than one year, more than six months at different times. The whole ride height rule, that doesn’t — I think there’s two different ways of looking at it. Do we change the car or do we change how we work the car. The ride height rule being work the car. We’ll see what comes out of it. I guess it’s good to be proactive and test, but I think that ultimately all that we need to do is take some downforce all these race cars, and I think it’ll help the end product.
Q. Do you have any update for us as far as who your crew chief will be next year, and do you know is RCR anywhere close to knowing who they will be?
RYAN NEWMAN: Honestly I don’t know that they have announced it. I think I know what’s going on but I don’t know that they’ve announced it 100 percent. With that in mind, I’d rather not answer. But I don’t want to — I think everybody knows but I don’t want to say.
Q. Kind of along those lines, knowing that the Chase hasn’t really panned out the way you expected, are you starting to look ahead to next year knowing that the championship this year appears to be out of reach? Are you starting to focus more on the RCR side?
RYAN NEWMAN: No, not at all. Entirely 100 percent focused on 2013 and having an opportunity. I mean, there’s a sixth of the season still left. We have a lot of great opportunities, a lot of good racetracks to go to. We’re mathematically a long ways out, but we’re mathematically not out of it. Realistically, yeah, it’s going to be a challenge, but we can move up. We can do good for our sponsors and ourselves and prove that, as I said before several times, Indianapolis was a great weekend for us, and we need to show that we can duplicate that again.
Q. There have been some other drivers such as Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth the last couple years that have elected to kind of draw a line there of demarcation which they don’t cross and they don’t go to the other team’s shop. Are you doing the same thing? Or are you starting to at least touch base with them every once in a while?
RYAN NEWMAN: It’s more of a touching base. It’s not about sharing ideas or anything else. It’s more about getting things lined up, making sure that we have seats and seatbelts and helmets and all those things getting in order. The second part of that is photo shoots and things like that are still starting and always do start this time of year, so I’ve actually done one photo shoot with them already. I’ve been to the shop, but there’s no — no reason not to. I’m not sure what Kevin Harvick is doing with SHR right now or anything else. We do what common sense has to happen. The engineering side, the strategy side, the performance side of that, none of that’s even at all in consideration right now.
Q. The test Monday at Charlotte, are you in the 39 car still, or was there any consideration if you’re not to putting you in the Childress car for next year?
RYAN NEWMAN: We’re not going to the test at all.
Q. Normally I know when teams go to a race, after the race they’ve gotten notes and everything that they’ve used for their notebook for the next time they go back and everything. With you switching teams and with everything that went on this past weekend at Kansas, what did you take away from that race? What did you learn, if anything?
RYAN NEWMAN: I look forward to Kansas next year.
We were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got taken out by somebody else’s misfortune when Justin crashed. I don’t think that our car was great, but I know we were capable of a top 10 run because I know we were better than some of those guys that finished in the top 10. From a points standpoint our day could have been so much better, but we got pretty tore up. I hit him really hard, and he hit the wall really hard and knocked off a lot of speed before I hit him, and I just had nowhere to go. But with respect to where RCR is and where SHR is, like I said, I’m focused on 2013 and doing what we have to do.
I guess it’s a little bit reassuring to know all three of their cars did run good in Kansas and it is one of the earlier races in the 2014 schedule, at least I think it’s going to be. That’s something that’s nice to look forward to.
Q. I know this is a little bit obviously speculation, but you know Tony well and know he’s gone through that third procedure. Do you see him at all changing his approach, how he deals with managing his short track runs with the fans of the Cup schedule?
RYAN NEWMAN: You’re asking the question if he would change the way he manages short track racing with respect to –
Q. Yeah, in terms of the schedule, whether you’d dial it down a little bit.
RYAN NEWMAN: Tony Stewart was born a short track racer, and he just happened to be a Sprint Cup driver and an IndyCar driver and different kinds of drivers at different times. I think he’ll always race short track. I think that there’s potential that with respect to sponsorship that they might ask different things of him in the future, but I don’t know that — I think that’s all situational and depends on the sponsor. In Tony Stewart’s heart, in Tony Stewart’s blood, he will be racing short track racing no matter what year it is and if he’s got 10 fingers and 10 toes.
Q. You’ve gone through an abundance of challenges and changes in 2013 and survived well. What helped you most do you think, and do you believe that maybe sometimes what can wear you down can also make you stronger?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, yeah, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, no doubt. It’s been an up-and-down year on several fronts, career-wise, race-wise, Chase-wise, all those things. But I have an extreme passion for the outdoors. I literally an hour ago was sitting in my tractor planting alfalfa on my farm. I enjoy those things that are a release for me to get away. I used to spend a lot more time at the race shop, but those guys have to focus on their things, and I spend a lot of time at the racetrack talking to those guys, and probably more so than some other drivers.
In the end, there’s a balance there. Whether it’s feeding baby deer or taking care of my kids or fishing or whatever, I just enjoy those things that are entirely different from what we do in any given weekend.
Q. And would you recommend that for some of your fellow drivers?
RYAN NEWMAN: I’m no doctor and I’m no therapist, but I do know that everybody needs some sort of release, whether it’s shooting a gun, whether it’s just enjoying the peacefulness and quietness. There’s people that need to balance their lives in different ways. Some people like punching bags is my point, and some people like smelling flowers.
Q. How do you feel today, looking back at the days when you ran Winchester and sprints and the midgets and everything? Did you envision that life would be like it is now?
RYAN NEWMAN: That’s a very good question, one I didn’t expect, but I would say that I never thought to predict the future. I just knew what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, and that was a Sprint Cup champion. I’ve still got that opportunity mathematically, somewhat unrealistic, but there’s a lot of fight in me, and I guess that kind of comes from back in those days of racing in Winchester and Salem of 30 laps of fight, 30 laps of desire, 30 laps of making it happen.
I enjoyed those days then. I enjoy those days now looking back on them, even go on YouTube once in a while and look at those old races and just kind of remind myself of who I was and where I am, and still at the same time, having not won a championship, who I want to be.