News & Media


Behind the Wheel: New surfaces, new races

June 07, 2012, Ryan Newman, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

New asphalt. You're going to be hearing those two words a lot in the next two weeks.

Both tracks we are heading to -- Pocono and Michigan -- have been repaved since the last time we were at those tracks. So, there's a lot of uncertainty heading into the next two weekends.

"While having race tracks repaved is kind of part of the evolution of our sport and of the race tracks, I can't say that, as a driver, it's something we necessarily like. I guess it's more like a necessary evil."

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While having race tracks repaved is kind of part of the evolution of our sport and of the race tracks, I can't say that, as a driver, it's something we necessarily like. I guess it's more like a necessary evil.

From my perspective, the newly resurfaced race tracks are typically not the better races. The older, more worn-out race tracks provide much better racing side-by-side, with multiple grooves.

As a driver, I love the tracks when they're old and they have character and they're lacking grip and we can take a tire there that's pretty grippy and falls off, and that is a good combination for us as drivers, especially for the racing and for the fans. That, to me, is just better all the way around for the fans.

New asphalt changes the grip and the tire combination, which will have an effect on the racing. We've never gone -- I shouldn't say this, but I don't think we've ever gone -- to a newly surfaced track and run three wide or had three grooves to work with, so it changes the characteristics of the racing. But, like I said, it's something that has to be done for the future of our sport from a safety standpoint.

No matter how good the paving crew there is, there's still got to be character in a race track, and the character comes with time. They obviously strive to do a perfect job -- that's just what their goal is when they pave a highway -- to make it perfectly smooth. But that highway gains character over time, as well.

So, we'll all be heading to both Pocono and Michigan with a clean slate. We have test sessions at both race tracks so we can try different things and figure out what works best for us. Hopefully, that will also help get multiple grooves on the track sooner rather than later.

Both Pocono and Michigan have been really good tracks for the No 39 team recently. So, hopefully, we can continue our streaks of solid finishes at both race tracks. We need to make sure we do.

We've had a rough few weeks, and we haven't gotten the finishes we have expected going into the race. We really want to turn that around and get going in the right direction again. That's our biggest goal going into this weekend.

While we don't know for sure what to expect at Pocono and Michigan, besides wanting to secure a good finish, I really just hope the fans see a good race.

If it weren't for the fans, none of us would be at the race track this weekend.

Speaking of fans, be sure to check out my Haas Automation Chevy this weekend at Pocono. You'll see the website address www.BBQwithMe.com on the back of my car. Go check out that site and be sure to enter to win a chance to enjoy a cookout with Tony Stewart and me at Daytona this summer.

Behind the Wheel with Ryan Newman runs twice a month on NASCAR.COM as he shares his experiences throughout the season, both at and away from the track. Follow him on Twitter at @RyanNewman39 and online at www.ryannewman.org and www.ryannewmanfoundation.org. The opinions expressed are solely those of Newman.