In just three seasons, Newman has become one of the top drivers inNASCAR.
Ryan Newman made his mark quickly in NASCAR, claiming his firstCup win in his 34th start and becoming just the second rookie to winNASCAR's all-star race. He also garnered consecutive sixth placefinishes in Cup points during his first two seasons on the circuit.Success, however, was already part of Newman's life before arriving onthe NASCAR scene. He juggled a successful racing career with collegelife while earning a degree in vehicle structural engineering fromPardue University in 2001. While in Sonoma, California, for theDodge/Save Mart 350, Newman spoke with Stock Car Racing about his placein the sport.
SCR: Of course, you're just coming off your first win (atMichigan), and last year at this point you already had two wins. Asstrong as you finished last year, and with momentum oftentimes carryingover from one year to the next, how frustrating was it--or was itfrustrating--to have to wait 15 races into this season before gettingthat first win?
NEWMAN: Well, we were relatively close a couple of times togetting that first win earlier in the season, as early as Atlanta, wherewe finished fifth, and we had some other good runs. Finished third atDarlington, and came back from a lap down there too. But I wouldn't sayit was frustrating. It was a matter of keeping our nose to thegrindstone and following through with all the hard work to be able toget to victory lane.
SCR: Still, a lot of teams go through that same 14-race cycle youdid and never reach victory lane. There had to have been times when youwere ready to pull your hair out.
NEWMAN: There are teams that haven't reached victory lane inthree years too, you know. There are different ways of looking at it.
Newman has often seemed uncomfortable in the fish bowl that is NASCAR.
SCR: Is there anything about this sport that frustrates you? Youseem pretty calm and level headed and you have that engineering mindset,but is there anything that frustrates you?
NEWMAN: Just some of the randomness that happens, whether it'swith the way things have gone at Pocono and Dover, as far as timing andscoring and things like that. Some of the simple things that seem likethey should be so simple but end up being so complex and frustrating.
SCR: What's the cure? From an engineering perspective, you'veprobably analyzed those things, so how do you remedy them?
NEWMAN: It's pretty simple. Just make things black and white, andyou think about it before you make a rule. And you don't make a rulebecause of something that happened the previous week. You make a rulebecause of what you know is going to be right.
SCR: Anything specifically come to mind? Let's say you are incharge of NASCAR for a day, what is the first thing you would changecompetition-wise?
NEWMAN: Taking the spoilers off would be one thing. That's justmy opinion. Taking downforce off the cars would make a heck of a lotbetter racing.
SCR: You seem more outspoken this year. Is that a function ofyour performance and not being in the limelight the first 14 races thisseason? Or are you just more comfortable with your place in the sportnow?
NEWMAN: I feel that I'm not the dumbest individual out there, sowhen I can make an input to try to make everything better for everybody,I try to do that, whether it's safer walls or drivers not wearing glovesor certain rules that there are out there, and whatever we can do tomake the sport safer and better for the drivers and the fans. If I feelI know something, I'll say it. If I think something, I'll hesitate tosay it.