Ryan Newman swept both races last year at Dover International Speedway, and this Sunday's MBNA 400 Salute to Heroes comes as Newman is still looking for his first victory of the season. Ranked ninth in the Nextel Cup Series point standings, the third-year driver knows he needs to start putting together consistent finishes in the top 10 to assure himself a spot in the "Chase for the Championship."
Newman talked about his season and what he expects.
Question: You've found something at Dover. What's your secret?
Newman: First of all I like the racetrack, which never hurts. Second of all, Matt and the guys on the team do a great job of putting a great race car underneath me. It's just a combination of everything, just like any other team that gets to victory lane. It takes a little bit of everything and not just good but great situations, whether it's pit stops that are strategies or whatever else to get that win. I like the racetrack. It's typically a pretty good race. Cars are able to pass instead of beating on each other. That is a good recipe for good racing. I've enjoyed it and done well there.
Question: After Dover come races at Pocono and Michigan. How important is this stretch for you?
Newman: The last two seasons our summers have been our strong point. We start off really bad and then get really, really good in the summer and kind of average out the last 10 races or so. We're going to do our best to even that out and do our very best obviously every weekend and try to eliminate some of those bad runs, which we have [done] in the past, but we've had some other things pop up like this past weekend. We look forward to Michigan, obviously. It's close to home for me. I enjoy Dover, and I also enjoy Pocono. As far as road courses go, we've been to four races there and haven't finished out of the top 10 yet. We'll just see what we can do to rack up some points there.
Question: With only seven different winners this year, has the competition changed?
Newman: I think some of it is coincidence. Some of it is a couple of teams hitting things right. Jimmie Johnson's got two wins, Kenseth two wins plus the Challenge race. Junior's got two wins, so a lot of guys have hit it right a couple of times. We've been close a couple of times, but we haven't made it to victory lane yet. Competition wise, I don't think it's much different, if at all different from last year. I couldn't even tell you if it was more or less competitive because it's that close. I just go out and race for the win.
Question: Does the way you dominated at Dover last year give you confidence?
Newman: The bottom line is we've proven we can get around the racetrack and we can win there. Now the determining factor is we've got to go back and repeat. We've got no excuse. We've been the fastest car on Friday and we've been the best car on Sunday. The bottom line is to go back and do our best job like we did last year and let things happen the way they're going to happen. If we get beat, we get beat. If not, we'll go to victory lane just like before. Sometimes you have to work real hard and sometimes things come easy. More often than not you have to work real hard. Dover has been a good track for us in the past. We've qualified well there, and we've raced well there. We can't say that at every racetrack.
Question: The Craftsman Truck and Busch series have limits on the number of tires they can use during a race. Does the Nextel Cup need the same rule?
Newman: I think there could be, but I think it's fine the way it is. There's a lot of other ways to cut the cost of this sport, and there are a lot of other ways to bring money into this sport. I think it's fine the way it is right now as far as tires go. Let me say it this way: We had a tire last year at a ton of tracks that would last forever, and they decided that wasn't a good way to do it because we should build tires that wear out. I think that's the only series I've ever heard say that, so, no, to limit tires would be kind of hypocritical at this point.
DATE RACE WINNER/TRACK
FEB. 15Daytona 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
FEB. 22Subway 400 Matt Kenseth
MARCH 7UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Matt Kenseth
MARCH 14Golden Corral 500 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
MARCH 21Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 Jimmie Johnson
MARCH 28Food City 500Kurt Busch
APRIL 4Samsung/RadioShack 500 Elliot Sadler
APRIL 18Advance Auto Parts 500 Rusty Wallace
APRIL 25Aaron's 499Jeff Gordon
MAY 2Auto Club 500Jeff Gordon
MAY 15Chevrolet American Revolution 400 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
MAY 22NASCAR Nextel All-Star ChallengeMatt Kenseth
MAY 30Coca-Cola 600Jimmie Johnson
JUNE 6MBNA America 400Dover, Del., (FOX)
JUNE 13Pocono 500Long Pond, Pa., (FOX)
JUNE 20Sirius 400Brooklyn, Mich., (FOX)
JUNE 27Dodge/Save Mart 350Sonoma, Calif., (FOX)
JULY 3Pepsi 400Daytona, Fla., (FOX)
JULY 11Tropicana 400Chicago, (NBC)
DATE RACE WINNER/TRACK
JULY 25New England 300 Loudon, N.H., (TNT)
AUG. 1Pennsylvania 500Long Pond, Pa., (TNT)
AUG. 8Brickyard 400Indianapolis, (NBC)
AUG. 15Sirius at the GlenWatkins Glen, N.Y., (TNT)
AUG. 22GFS Marketplace 400Brooklyn, Mich., (TNT)
AUG. 28Sharpie 500Bristol, Tenn., (TNT)
SEPT. 5Pop Secret 500Fontana, Calif., (NBC)
SEPT. 11Chevy Monte Carlo 400Richmond, Va., (TNT)
SEPT. 19Sylvania 300Loudon, N.H., (TNT)
SEPT. 26MBNA America 400Dover, Del., (TNT)
OCT. 3EASports 500Talladega, Ala., (NBC)
OCT. 10Banquet 400Kansas City, Kan., (NBC)
OCT. 16UAW-GM Quality 500Concord, N.C., (NBC)
OCT. 24Subway 500Martinsville, Va., (NBC)
OCT. 31Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Atlanta, (NBC)
NOV. 7Checker Auto Parts 500Phoenix, (NBC)
NOV. 14Mountain Dew Southern 500 Darlington, S.C., (NBC)
NOV. 21Ford 400Homestead, Fla., (NBC)