RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) WHERE DO YOU STAND WITH YOUR PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR?  “I’m leaving Penske Racing.  I don’t have a contract to drive any place else right now.  There’s nothing on paper.  I have offers and I’m choosing the best one.”

HAS RAY EVERNHAM TALKED TO YOU? “Ray has not contacted me.  There have been multiple organizations that have contacted me.  I will pursue what I feel is the right option.”

WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO RUSTY WALLACE’S COMMENTS THAT YOUR WERE FIRED FROM PENSKE RACING? “I don’t know what Rusty’s grounds are or what he’s trying to prove by saying that, it wasn’t the case point blank.  Roger (Penske) and I decided mutually not to continue and it was more of my decision then it was his (to leave).  I said that our goals didn’t align and for that reason and that reason alone, we decided not to continue after 2008.”

Photo by: Jeff Kluss/SIT

HOW BIG OF A DISTRACTION IS YOUR FUTURE? “The future is somewhat of a distraction, but it’s something that I need to take time with and it’s mandatory that I focus on it.  I feel bad for the guys on the Alltel Dodge because I don’t want to take away from them from a performance standpoint.  I don’t feel that it is (a distraction) when that I’m in the racecar, but obviously outside the racecar, it takes some effort to manage the situation.”

HOW MUCH OF A CONCERN IS IT IF ONE OF THE CARS THAT YOUR ARE CONDERING ISN’T IN THE TOP-35 GOING INTO NEXT YEAR? “It’s an issue, but not a big issue.  Obviously the people that are outside the top-35 know that and want to get in the top-35.  We don’t even know what the rule is going to be next year as far as the top-35, or whatever it may be.  The bottom line is that if it requires building a team and building an organization, so be it.  I’ve been in that position before and I want to build something that is good for me and something for the organization that I’m a part of if that’s the case.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR UNDER ANY PRESSURE TO GET A DEAL DONE SOON? “I feel that there isn’t necessarily pressure, but time is of the essence, the sooner the better.  For me, whomever I partner up with, the sooner we can get working, the sooner we’ll be more prepared for Daytona.”

DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WANTED TO GET YOUR NEXT DEAL WRAPPED UP THIS WEEKEND IN YOUR HOME STATE? “Not necessarily.  The location doesn’t matter so much as it does the right time and the right place.  Not to say that (Indy) is the wrong place, I’d rather be more focused on the race itself and trying to win the Brickyard 400 in the Alltel Dodge then anything else.”

Photo by: Jeff Kluss/SIT

HOW MUCH DOES INDIANAPOLIS MOTORSPEEDWAY MEAN TO YOU? “This place means a lot – from a pure history of auto racing – that to me means the most.  I’m walking in the same footprints and footsteps as A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.  Whether it’s Jim Clark or Jim Hurtubise or people like that, to know that I’m stepping in their footprint as I walk to the race car, that to me is what’s special.  They’re my heroes just as much as anybody else right now.”

BEFORE YOU WON THE DAYTONA 500, WHERE WOULD A WIN HERE RANK WITH YOU? “To me, Indianapolis ranks second to the Daytona 500 and not by much.  This race hasn’t been going on as long as the Daytona 500 has, but there is more history here at Indianapolis than there was at Daytona as far as the last 100 years.  It holds a lot of weight. To me, it’s second – the Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500 are tied for third.”

HOW AGGRESSIVE WILL YOU BE HERE ON SUNDAY AT THE END OF THE RACE IF YOU’RE IN A POSITION TO WIN IT? “We’ll do what we have to do to win.  Whether it’s strategy or laying a fender or using eight tires instead of four, you do what you have to do to win.  This race is not different.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO RACE HERE? “The racetrack is really fun to drive.  It’s one of the hardest tracks to race which is why some people love and some people hate it.  It’s very similar to Darlington.  It’s the same old thing for me, if you have a fast racecar, it will be fun.  If you don’t, it will be a miserable day.”


DO YOU FEEL ANY LOAYALTY TO DODGE THAT WOULD KEEP YOU IN A DODGE OVER ANOTHER MANUFACTURER? “Well, based on the fact that I made my announcement and the people from Dodge haven’t contacted me…. no.”

DO RUSTY’S COMMENTS UPSET YOU? “Was he conscious when he said it?”

ARE HIS COMMENTS AN ONGOING RIFF THAT YOU’VE HAD SINCE YOU WERE TEAMMATES? “I guess it is because it’s not true. I guess you could say that.”

HOW DO HIS COMMENTS MAKE YOU FEEL? “It doesn’t matter to me.  I know Rusty and his personalities …plural…and everybody is different.”

DO YOU THINK ROGER IS MAD BECAUSE HE DOESN’T LIKE TO BE TOLD HIS EQUIPMENT IS BAD? “Nobody does. Nobody likes to be criticized as a driver and nobody likes to be criticized as an owner. Constructive criticism isn’t part of what I have to do as a driver.  If I don’t feel like I have good equipment or as good equipment as the guy that’s ahead of me, then I speak up.  That’s a racer.  That’s just the way it is.  You have to be able to stomach a percentage of that whether you’re a car owner, crew chief, or a guy changing the tires.  That’s part of it.  I’d expect the same the thing in return.”

DO YOU THINK SPEAKING OUT IN CHICAGO WAS POSSIBLY A REASON WHY YOU’RE NOT COMING BACK TO PENSKE RACING? “I don’t think that it helped anything.  I don’t think that anything that I’ve ever said is anything but the truth.”

WHERE IS YOUR CENTER OF FRUSTRATION WITH THE TEAM? “I’ve said before – this weekend is going to be better based upon what I know – just pure performance.  Whether it’s horsepower or getting the cars to handle, being competitive, being consistent, strategy calls, things like that we’ve been good – just not great.  Good gets us close to the Chase, great gets us in it.”

SINCE YOU MADE YOUR DECISION TO LEAVE, DO YOU FEEL LIKE AN ODD MAN OUT? “I talked to Kurt (Busch) – I haven’t talked to Sam (Hornish Jr.) personally, obviously I have a better relationship with Kurt just based up the time we’ve spent together.  But I called Kurt and told him, ‘Hey man, this is what I’m doing.  I want you to know.  I don’t want there to be any hard feelings.  I’ll do whatever I can to be the best teammate after my announcement.’  That’s just part of it.  I think Kurt understands it because he’s been through this, I haven’t.  I’m just trying to cover my bases and do the best thing I can do as a teammate, as a person and as a driver.”

ARE THERE OPPORUNITIES READILY AVAILABLE TO YOU? “There are opportunities out there. I’ve had people call me and I’ve called people.  I’m happy that I’ve had interest both ways.”