This Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway will be a truly American event complete with tailgating, beer and fast cars. For Ryan Newman, though, it’s not about any of those things.
What matters to the No. 39 Chevrolet driver this Veteran’s Day weekend is supporting just that: veerans. In fact, Newman’s car will sport a fresh theme for the Phoenix race with over 150 photos of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
In addition to honoring those that have served so bravely for our country, Newman and his No. 39 team have one other item on their agenda for the second to last race of the 2013 NASCAR season. And that’s closing out the year with another win.
This week’s installment of #behindthewheel with Ryan Newman gives a closer look at how Ryan his crew chief Matt Borland are prepping for Sunday’s race at Phoenix. Read on and enjoy, State Racing fans!
Q: Your record at Phoenix International Raceway really speaks for itself. Talk about racing there.
A: “It’s a place I’ve raced for 17 years. I’ve got quite a bit of experience at Phoenix. It’s unique and totally different on both ends of the racetrack, so it’s almost like two racetracks in one. The driver really has to drive and hustle the car a little bit and still be smooth. It’s those aspects that make the track a lot of fun for me.”
Q: Your first Sprint Cup start with Matt Borland as your crew chief came at Phoenix in Nov. 2000. What do you remember about that race?
A: “We qualified 10th and we ended up having a windshield tear off, cover up the grill and melt the engine down. After the race, we found out my brake pedal wasn’t returning all the way, so it was cooking my brakes. We had a bunch of car problems, but it was a good experience. To qualify 10th in my first Cup start was awesome. Then I backed it up the next spring by winning the pole in my third Cup race, so we proved we were no fluke.”
Q: How do you use your engineering degree on the track?
A: My crew chief is an engineer, too, so we’re able to communicate well as a result. Being able to talk to Matt and the race engineers, I think that definitely helps. I’ve always said that an engineer, every time he gets one answer, he gets two more questions, which are easily, ‘how’ and ‘why.’ I think that for me, it has made my career more successful being an engineer. I wish that more drivers had an education. People don’t want to wait for kids to get out of college to hire them as a racecar driver. I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish that was some kind of stipulation.
Q: What is the most difficult track on the circuit to race on?
A: All of them, and for very different reasons.
The AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup race at the Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ starts this Sunday, Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. EST on ESPN.