Consistency The Key
February 3, 2005 | 9:22 A.M. EST
"Prior to the 2004 season, we set our highest goal at having less DNFs," Newman said. "That stopped us from reaching the championship in 2003. Unfortunately, we had nine DNFs last season. That's nine too many. So, this year less DNFs is at the top of our list, again."
Although the team has undergone many changes during the series' off-season - a new teammate, a new race shop and a new body design - it believes that a championship season is not out of the question.
"The 2005 season is definitely one of changes for us," Newman said. "The ALLTEL team has always been good at adapting to new situations. All of the changes that have occurred over the winter, we believe, can only benefit the team.
"Travis is going to be a great teammate for us. He won the NASCAR Truck Series Championship, which shows that he's determined to win. That's exactly what we want in a teammate.
"Our new home at Penske Racing South is amazing. Roger Penske left no stone unturned designing that place. I've never seen a race shop like it.
"Testing in Daytona allowed us to study and really get a grasp on the new Dodge Charger. We'll be able to learn even more about it during testing next week in Las Vegas and California."
At this time last season, Newman was the hands-down favorite to win the inaugural NEXTEL Cup. While he did qualify for the "Chase for the Championship," Newman finished seventh in the final point standings.
"Call it bad luck if you want," Newman said. "I've never really believed in luck much, but last season may have proven it exists for me. Still, we were a dominant car in the final 10 races. We led every race but one, and led the most laps in the last 10 races. We just didn't have the finishes we wanted. We got tangled in a couple of accidents, Kansas was my fault, an engine failure at New Hampshire, and, of course, the cut tire while leading at Homestead.
"Going into the new season, even though we had nine DNFs, we are well aware that we had a strong race car at the end of the season. That's what we're building on. We were fast every weekend, and plan on being that way again in 2005."