SCR: You look back to 25 years ago with Petty and Pearson intheir heyday, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, too, and half the fieldcould be labeled field fillers as far as that goes.
NEWMAN: Yeah, that's it. Somebody said field filler one time andtoo many people were listening. I don't think there is such a thing.
SCR: We've talked about this a little, but what are the biggestchallenges facing this sport today?
NEWMAN: I think a couple of things. Maintaining consistency, ineither judgment calls or in the rules themselves, and making sure itremains true to its form. Bill France Sr.'s famous comment (when NASCARwas being formed) about no telling how far this sport can go if it'shandled properly will be true forever. Because the sport has grown somuch, if it isn't handled properly, it won't be here. The biggest thingis to make sure that it stays true to itself and that it's handledproperly and managed properly and marketed properly and stays a cleanbusiness, or is a clean business.
SCR: From the inside, how are things different in the sport fromwhat you would have expected as an observer, say, 7,8, 10 years ago?
Newman's No. 12 Penske team notched 22 top 10 finishes in each of thelast two seasons.
NEWMAN: Just the politics of the sport, and I think everybodywould say that. Dealing with people is one of the hardest things anybodycan do in their life. It's easy to go sit on a boat and catch a fish.It's easy to go slide down a hill when it's raining. It's easy to do alot of things. But dealing with people and personalities is one of thehardest things. For me, that's probably been the most eye-catchingthing.
SCR: Is that the part you are least comfortable with, dealingwith people?
NEWMAN: Not the least comfortable with, but some people have aknack for it and some people don't. It's not a part I particularlyenjoy.
SCR: This part (with the media)?
NEWMAN: Not even just this, but in general dealing with people,whether it's a fan or an official or crewmember or whatever. There'stheir opinion and ego and everything else that goes along with it.
SCR: There was a story out there somewhere that you weredisputing the banking at Bristol, saying it was closer to 26 degrees andnot 36 degrees.
NEWMAN: It is 26.
SCR: Where did that come from? What compelled you to even measurethe banking in the first place?
NEWMAN: You've got to know what it is to be able to tune things.Flat is flat, 26 is 26, and 36 is 36. Bristol is not 36 degrees.
SCR: When you measured it, were you surprised by that?
NEWMAN: I thought it would have been closer to 36. But it's asmuch a false advertisement as there ever has been.
SCR: Do you think it seems steeper because it's such a shorttrack?
NEWMAN: You're misreading me. It is 26. It's not 36, so itdoesn't seem any steeper. It is 26.
SCR: How did the folks at Bristol react to that?
NEWMAN: They haven't yet.
SCR: You recently won your 10th race in your 95th start. Is thatbetter than you expected to do in this sport?
NEWMAN: I never put numbers together as far as what I wanted todo. All I could do is try my best, try my hardest, and see where I endup. You know, to be one of 15 people who have ever done that is reallyan honor for me.
SCR: So you were aware that you were in a pretty select groupthere?
NEWMAN: Yeah, once I saw it I realized what it was. To beatsomebody like Jeff Gordon to 10 wins, and know that he's a four-timechampion, is pretty cool.
SCR: Do you look back a lot and reflect on what you've done? Youwon eight races last year and that puts you in pretty heady companythere.
NEWMAN: Yeah, we've had some great moments as a team. It feelsgood to be able to accomplish those. But it just makes you want to go onand do more.
SCR: You ever look at those trophies and reminisce a little?
NEWMAN: Oh, always. Always. You can't ever forget where you camefrom.
SCR: Last year, of course, you had the eight wins and won 11poles, but you won a lot of races on fuel mileage. And when you win alot, rumors start flying. The biggest one I heard was that you had adouble firewall on your car, with the fuel line snaked through thefirewall, and you were getting extra fuel from that.
NEWMAN: I don't think they've done that since Junior Johnson wasaround, or Smokey Yunick. I can honestly say that our car is and alwayswill be straight-up legal. Usually the guys that are complaining are theones that are cheating and still getting beat.