RICHMOND, VA-Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newark and owner Jack Roush met with media members at Richmond Raceway Saturday afternoon to introduce the new driver of the No. 6 Ford for the 2019 season, Ryan Newman. The trio took questions from the media in attendance.
STEVE NEWMARK, Roush Fenway Racing -- “We're obviously here to formally announced that Ryan Newman will be joining our organization in 2019. He will be piloting the number 6 Ford Mustang for a full season next year, and we're absolutely thrilled to bring a driver of Ryan's caliber to our organization. We truly believe that he fits extremely well with the culture that Jack has built is going to help us compete for wins and championships next year. So, Ryan, we are real appreciative of your desire to come over and be part of the team and really excited about what we can do together next year”
RYAN NEWMAN -- “Thank you I've I've always been a big appreciator of the history of our sport and I think that a big part of that is always been Roush and Roush Fenway Racing, and what Jack's done and contributed to all forms of Motorsports but specifically in the Cup garage here and he has created a great namesake and opportunity for me for next year. So I look forward to the opportunity of driving and with the ultimate goal of winning. I'm in a position where I've never wanted to stop, never wanted to quit, never wanted to retire and want to win a championship. So I am I look forward to this opportunity. Obviously finishing out this year strong as we both can in our respective positions. But at the same time with enthusiasm for the Daytona 500 in 2019.”
JACK ROUSH, co-owner, Roush Fenway Racing -- “I'd like to start by thanking Matt Kenseth and Trevor Bayne for being the most recent custodians of the number 6 car. They've done a good job. Matt has brought to us some ideas to make our car better but before I get into that, I'd like to say that Trevor has been one of the finest individuals I've ever had to meet in and out of, either in or outside of stock car racing. It's been a great pleasure to work with him to watch him grow and and share his success he had been in the Xfinity garage as well as that success he had with the Wood Brothers when he was run the partial schedule with them on loan from us.
Matt was identified by Mark Martin as somebody that had his ideas and his questions about the handling of the car and the interaction they had when Matt was just getting started as a rookie back in the early 90s encouraged Mark to ask me to give Matt a chance to to see what he can do in one of our cars. When we got ourselves into a situation where the setups weren't working, as well as I'd like to early in the year, we had a conversation with Matt and he agreed to come back. Even though the results haven't justified the effort, we've had more speed in our cars and we've got a direction that's going to be clear that will make better race cars and better racing for our fans going forward.
Ryan Newman has been the one of the most fierce drivers that we faced on the racetrack for his nine years of being involved with the sport. He has demonstrated himself to have good values and one of the things that a driver has to have is a code that makes sense to other drivers and whenever you raced Mark you knew what to expect. Whenever you raced Matt you knew what to expect. And whenever you Ryan you could know what to expect there as well. I look forward for that working in our favor as it has worked to our to our negative side on on a few occasions over the years but I've never had a quarrel with Ryan. We've always respected what he did and respected where he was coming from and the fact he's got an engineering degree makes him more valuable to me as a driver than they might be without that with his fierce competitive history.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED -- “We look forward to going down the road for a number of years. I can't say how many but for number of years and to to be able to win and compete for a run off of positions late in the years and to race for championships as well as the race to win races on a weekly basis.”
WILL MATT KENSETH HAVE ANY ROLE WITH THE TEAM AND CAN YOU ALSO TOUCH ON IF YOU HAVE ANY SPONSORSHIP TO ANNOUNCE?
STEVE NEWMARK CONTINUED -- “Touching on a little bit of the the Matt story I think is appropriate at this time. I know Jack gave you a little bit of insight but obviously an unusual situation this year when we elected to bring Matt on board in the middle of the season. Obviously some of the reasons that Jack mentioned is just you know, his ability to diagnose cars and obviously his long history with our organization. If you ask Matt how it went with his kind of self deprecating nature, he probably would say, he hasn't helped at all. But from our perspective, he's been invaluable. He's really helped us kind of move the needle and try to focus on what we need to do. You know, we went in to that relationship with the intent that the primary focus was on 2018 and we always kind of had it back of mind, we'll see how it plays out for 19. We had some intent about where that would go. But we always kind of left the arrangement with Matt that he would come back and we would sit down in late August, early September and have a dialogue about what the future looks like. That's the way it played out. He came and sat down with me when he was looking at everything, talking to his family, considering at what stage he is in his life, meaning that he's got four young girls and he's been on the road for almost 20 years, kind of sacrificing a lot of family time that he just wasn't prepared to run full time. We talked a lot about that and he said he owed it to his family. And so we obviously respect his decision and even through this process, even though it has only really ramped up in the last five to 10 days, he's been helpful in trying to guide us on direction to go with for 2019 with drivers and other things. What our hope is right now is that we'll sit down and have a dialogue and figure out what role he may have with Roush Fenway going forward.
The second part, I think, I know, you guys have been hounding us for the last couple weeks asking about what the driver situation was all with appropriate questions. So we'll have this this conference just really focused on the driver situation and the fact that we're pretty fortunate to have Ryan come on board. And then as we get into the coming weeks and months, we'll start talking about some of the partners situation.”
YOU JUST DON'T WANT TO DRIVE ANYWHERE SO I KNOW YOU ASSESSED ROUSH FENWAY RACING. WHAT DO YOU FIND THERE AT ROUSH FENWAY THAT IS INTERESTING TO YOU.? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU CAN LAND AND WHAT EXPERIENCE OR WHAT CAN YOU BRING FROM THE OTHER COMPANIES YOU'VE WORKED FOR INTO ROUSH FENWAY?
RYAN NEWMAN CONTINUED -- “I go back to my initial statement, I think the history is important thing. If you look at the history of Jack Roush in all forms of automotive relationships, it's huge from a performance standpoint, what they bring with Roush Yates Engines. The people, everything that's built and invested is there to stay. As Steve mentioned, it's just an opportunity for me to help them grow their program from where they have been, and to, hopefully where we all want to be. I think that we have both an equal opportunity of doing that.”
“I think, obviously you bring a level of experience and that experience is good experiences and bad experiences, whether it's, you know, a shock or a spring package or dealing with certain people or different kinds of programs and how things are run. Shop layouts, different perspectives, I would say that I've kind of kept in the back of my mind that make an impact on the end result of being successful. It's all those things from everywhere from the time that I grew up working in racing them out of my dad's shop to the different Cup organizations I've been a part of.”
STEVE NEWMARK CONTINUED -- “We'd probably say Ryan's being a little bit humble there because we think he's fairly unique in the garage with his engineering background with a number of different teams and manufacturers that he's seen. We think that's going to help tremendously as we're trying to take that next step.”
YOU MENTIONED ABOUT SITTING DOWN AND HAVING MATT KENSETH ASSESS EVERYTHING AND WHAT HE FELT THAT YOU NEEDED. IS IT SOMETHING THAT HE SAID THAT LED YOU TO RYAN BECAUSE OF RYAN’S ENGINEERING BACKGROUND AND HIS EXPERIENCE? IF SO, WHAT WAS IT? WAS THAT SOMETHING THAT MATT TOLD YOU THAT YOU NEEDED THAT LED TO RYAN? “Well, I think I guess maybe to kind of clarify, Matt over the last few months has been working with our whole competition side and with Ricky and the other drivers to try to isolate areas where we need to continue to improve. I think he's really helped in that fashion. When I actually sat down with him we weren't having a technical discussion. It was more kind of about his future, what he wanted to do what he had on the horizon and kind of when he settled on the fact that it really was time for him not to commit to full time racing when we talked about the different drivers that were out there. He had a big endorsement for Ryan. Obviously, they've raced against each other for a long time and he thought that he would fit in extremely well with both the culture that we have and where we're trying to go.”
WHEN YOU FIRST CAME INTO THE SERIES YOU GOT THE NICKNAME “THE ROCKET MAN” BUT OVER THE YEARS YOU'VE EARNED THE TITLE AS THE HARDEST DRIVER TO PASS ON THE CIRCUIT. WHAT TYPE OF RESPECT LEVEL DOES THAT SHOW YOU FROM THE OTHER DRIVERS?
RYAN NEWMAN CONTINUED -- “If I go back and think about it as being called the Rocket Man there was a time where I was winning polls left and right and it just kind of came easy and we had cars and kept track position and not a lot of people had a chance to pass me. As some of that started to deteriorate we weren't winning polls we were having a race a little harder. I amped up my game of not letting guys by and I never had the guidance of a Mark Martin to teach me to give and take and it took me a couple years I would say to learn the right time to give and the right time to take and the right places on the racetrack to do that equally as important. I think just overall just my experience in the past of of all the things that I've done and from a qualifying standpoint back in the day I've been a little disappointed quite frankly recently to not even had a pole in the last I guess five years so I look forward to that opportunity changing.”
WITH YOUR UNIQUE BACKGROUND IN ENGINEERING, HOW MUCH OF THAT DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU'RE GOING TO BE INVOLVED WITH THE CONVERSION IN 2019 TO THE PACKAGE AND TO THE NEW BODY STRUCTURE AND HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THAT CAN SWAY ROUSH FENWAY RACING BACK TO A PERFORMANCE LEVEL THAT THEY USED TO BE AT? “I think from an engineering standpoint, if you look at the way technology has affected our sport and our lives computers are driving pretty much everything not just in the media center here but in the garage and and that is even more important now with the lack of testing which I commend NASCAR on for us to be able to spend time with their families and do the homework on a computer, through simulators and through simulation to to make a difference. I think from an engineering standpoint, having a lot of experience with different packages over the last 18 years of my cup career, and the knowledge of the engineers at Roush Fenway in conjunction with Ford as well to be able to work through the most important race of the season and the Daytona 500 being the first one. The typical cookie cutter racetracks that happened shortly after that are equally as important to winning the championship.”
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THIS ORGANIZATION AND THE 6 CAR THAT MAKES YOU CONFIDENT YOU CAN BE PART OF THE ANSWER TO THEIR STRUGGLES? “Teamwork, putting the right people in place. They're willing to listen and make the right decisions collectively. Everybody puts that effort forward. It's just a matter of how well you do it. With respect to the 78, I think everybody in this room knew that they had their challenges being a Colorado based team starting out, so individually not aligning themselves with people to start with. They chose a very steep uphill battle and they succeeded in doing that but nobody has any kind of guarantee on how long that's going to last. You look at the history of our sport. The Hall of Famers. The Bobby Allison's and Darrell Waltrip’s owned teams and they didn't make it.Jack Roush and Roush Fenway Racing has proven to be a staple from a car and engine standpoint and I don't see any of that changing. That's why it was an easy decision.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT THIS ORGANIZATION HAS PERFORMED THIS YEAR? AND HOW WOULD YOU LOOK AT OTHER THINGS THAT THAT HAVE GONE WELL FOR YOU GUYS THAT YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE MAKING PROGRESS?
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED -- “We've been we've been on a path of constant improvement. We were improving and changing our cars in ways that that have that have had some benefit before Matt got involved. Matt brought to us a sense of what was happening on all four corners of the car. He's sat the car initially and he said it didn't feel right. He identified the issues we had with with what was happening with the front of the car and the back of the car. They were questions that were on the list of things that we were going to explore that we hadn't prioritized. We prioritize them as a result of his suggestion and that's manifested ourselves to having extremely competitive cars at Bristol and at Indy. Indy is one of the places that we haven't won yet that Ryan has won at and I'm anxious to share is his knowledge to that as well. We had arguably one of the fastest cars if not the fastest two cars for a two car team at at Indy but we managed to break a valve spring on one and have a jack failure or misstep or the jack on the other that cost us a chance to win. The wins are just around the corner and the cars are much improved and I expect them to be more improved when Ryan has as his criticism and his constructed suggestions to do what we can do as we get into next year.”
YOU STARTED YOUR NASCAR CAREER WITH FORD. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO OR FEEL COMFORTABLE ABOUT COMING BACK TO FORD?
RYAN NEWMAN CONTINUED -- “I had success in a Ford. It was a good start to my career, both from a back in the day Busch side, even the ARCA side and as well as the Cup side when we when we got the ball rolling. At that point I was with Penske and Penske made the decision to move to Dodge and I've landed everywhere but I guess Toyota in my career. I never had an issue at all with Ford. We were always competitive back in the day we we had really strong horsepower. There's really two things that are extremely important, a lot of things that are important but two things that are extremely important in what we do and that's horsepower and downforce. That makes it a little bit easier and for me from my standpoint it's about people. Ford has proven this year if you look at the results, to have the right people in the right places to be successful and the win column says that.”
WHAT WAS THE DECISION PROCESS LIKE AND GOING TO THE VETERAN DRIVER COMPARED TO MAYBE A YOUNGER DRIVER?
STEVE NEWMARK CONTINUED -- “I think we were in a fortunate situation that because some of the rumor mill started early even before Matt even talked to us and made any decision that we were approached by a number of drivers and so I think that was that was flattering. For us kind of the the clear cut favorite was Ryan and we're really glad that when he looked at his options, he decided this was the right match. I think at this point where we look at where we are, as far as development process, as Jack mentioned, we've had a lot of speed at racetracks and I think we just felt like Ryan was the right person to come in and perform immediately. You look at his track record and it's as good as anyone out there. We also just felt like he could also help us take that next step based on his experience and his background.”