ALLTEL Notes From Daytona

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Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Taurus, will be part of the 2002 Raybestos Rookie of the Year class and teammate to fellow Penske driver Rusty Wallace. Newman qualified for seven NASCAR Winston Cup races last season, winning the pole in Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600, and had two top-five finishes (Michigan, 5th and Kansas, 2nd).

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ENTERING YOUR FIRST FULL WINSTON CUP SEASON?
"There's a lot of hard work behind getting to this point, but at the same time I want to do the best job I can. I'm gonna learn as I go as far as what to do and when to do it, just learning the ropes I guess. It's been an experience up to this point, but this is gonna be a whole different experience altogether."

DO YOU FEEL THE SCHEDULE YOU RAN LAST YEAR HELPED MORE THAN IF YOU HAD CONCENTRATED ON JUST ONE SERIES?
"I think we definitely learned a lot last year with the ABC schedule. It would be pure speculation to say if we would have run a full Busch Series we would or wouldn't have gotten more out of it. I think what we did last year prepared me and the team the best possible way for what we're gonna do this year."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT HAVING ONE TEAMMATE NOW INSTEAD OF TWO?
"It's always great to have a lot of input, but sometimes that means you have too much input. I'm not saying that two teammates would have done that, but I think it's gonna be really good for me to be one-on-one with Rusty Wallace and for him to be one-on-one with me at the same time. I know there are some things I can learn from him on short tracks and I think there are some things I can help him with on intermediate tracks as far as what we can do to be better and more consistent drivers. A lot of these things are still to be seen, but those are some of things we might be able to do in the future."

RUSTY AND JEREMY HAD DIFFERENT CHASSIS. WILL YOU HAVE MORE IN COMMON WITH HIM FROM THAT STANDPOINT?
"I think the way we go about our process of being a driver is very similar. Rusty is a very seat-of-the-pants driver. He'll get out and work on the car and know what is going on and how to make it better. I think I can do those same things, whether I do it myself or whether I do it through my crew. Our backgrounds are very similar. We grew up racing with our family as the team and I'm looking forward to working with him this year."

THOUGHTS ON BEING HERE AT DAYTONA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A CUP CAR?
"I've been coming down here for every bit of 10 years now with my dad and some friends. Just to be here last year in an ARCA car was neat and being across the fence from the Winston Cup boys, but now to be here as a Winston Cup driver is really special. There's been a lot of hard work from my family and friends and teammates. It's been truly a team effort in order for me to be here this year, but I've got a lot to learn."

WHAT ABOUT THE RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BATTLE. DO YOU GET CAUGHT UP IN THAT?
"If we focus on going out and being the best team we can be, logging all the laps and getting the best position we can, that's how you become a championship team. Obviously, we all go to win, but you have to prepare yourself to win before you can win. I think that's one of the things I learned last year in the Busch Series and in the Winston Cup races. When you look at Kansas, it was a 400-mile race and just being there at the end and being on the lead lap with a chance to finish in the top 10 was important. I think a lot of preparation from the past is gonna help for this year, but, at the same time, when it comes down to the rookie race, it's gonna take care of itself."

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002

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