SCR: Does that apply to open wheelers in general, or just to yourcircumstances?
NEWMAN: More to the USAC style racing and racing different racetracks all over. I mean you can race open wheel cars at the same trackevery week. If you want to become the Kokomo (Indiana) track champion,that's great. But you're not as versatile as if you're USAC champion.
SCR: You hear drivers in this sport telling about how they wontheir first-ever go-kart race and telling of their early success. Howlong did it take you to get that first win?
NEWMAN: I don't remember. I know I won races before I was sixyears old. But I can't remember (the first one). That was over 20 yearsago.
Newman and crew chief Matt...
Newman and crew chief Matt Borland are both trained as engineers.
SCR: You hear a lot about how this is a family sport, and you seedrivers with a background like yours or Kevin Harvick's or Jeff Gordon'sand their families really did nurture them for a career in racing; hasthat helped you in this sport?
NEWMAN: As far as family involvement?
NEWMAN: Oh, without a doubt. If my parents hadn't started meracing quarter midgets at a young age, I think that eventually I mayhave ended up doing this, but not in this way or with this amount offocus.
SCR: You alluded to this earlier, but your seeming levelheadedness is a function of that environment, I would guess.
NEWMAN: Yeah, that, and the same thing I said before: You're aproduct of your environment, whether it's at home, at the race track, orin a meeting with your team. If they'll stay level headed, then you'llstay level headed, or you're more apt to. That goes a long way when itcomes to being beneficial to a team.
SCR: This is probably a question you've answered a thousandtimes. But you had a lot of success in Midgets and Sprints while incollege, so just how tough was it to juggle college life and asuccessful racing career? That had to be pretty stressful.
NEWMAN: It was like working two jobs at one time. It wasextremely difficult, but I knew it was something I could accomplish. Ittook me a little longer and a little more effort than I thought it wasgoing to take. But nonetheless I was still able to accomplish that.
SCR: Given your success in racing, in hindsight, a lot of peopleprobably would ask why you even went to college?
NEWMAN: Ahhh, because you never know. You could be riding abicycle and have a bug hit you in the eye and never get to drive againthe way you always drove. You've got to have something to fall back on.On top of all that, it never hurts to be educated.
SCR: Does your engineering degree and background give you anadvantage over other drivers, given what this sport has become and howtechnical and advanced it's become over the last decade?
NEWMAN: I would like to say so, yeah. I know there are a lot ofsmart people out there. But I know that having an engineering degreethat I can say that I'm one of them.
SCR: You mentioned NASCAR's embarrassing moments and the problemsof the last few races. Looking at the situation with cautions and theconfusion they've caused, there seems to be a simple solution--justrevert back to the last completed lap. Yes or no?
NEWMAN: That's the way we all grew up racing. But that's not theway they've always done it. We have the technology to separate where allthe cars are when the yellow flag comes out. It took the IRL a fewmonths after Helio Castroneves won the 500 to figure out who exactly wonthe 500, even though he had already won it. So we're not the only oneshaving that problem. But there's definitely a lot of different ways ofdoing things than the way it's been done in the past.
SCR: Field fillers, for lack of a better term, what is youropinion of drivers in the back who are barely competitive but who makeraces because of the rules?
NEWMAN: I don't think there is such a thing as a field filler. Ithink people come to compete. When they are in the form or position tocompete, they will. If not, they'll play their best hand and fold ifthey have to. The bottom line is that no matter what series you're inthere's always some form of what they call field fillers. But they'recompetitors in the same right, and they come for a specific reason.Whether it's to win or to compete, they're there for the competition.That doesn't make them a field filler.