TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed Prelude to the Dream and other topics. CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT PRELUDE TO THE DREAM THIS YEAR?: "Excited about it. It's obviously something ...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed Prelude to the Dream and other topics.
CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT PRELUDE TO THE DREAM THIS YEAR?: "Excited about it. It's obviously something we've enjoyed doing every year. The drivers have been awesome and very supportive of it. We're up to that weekend before now and this is the weekend that I start getting nervous and start watching The Weather Channel like there's nothing else on TV to watch. Worried about just making sure we get good weather for the week and excited with the new team aspect this year of having the entire field split up into four groups and divided amongst the four children's hospital charities that we have on board. There will be an individual winner, but there will also be a team winner and that will determine who gets 45 percent of the proceeds. The second-place team will get 25 percent of the proceeds and the remaining two teams will get 15 percent respectively."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TEAM SET-UP AND TEAM CONCEPT?: "It was kind of a hard handicapping system, we basically sat down and looked at everybody that had been there and how they had run at the Prelude and tried to evenly stack the teams up to where they were as even as we could make them to make it as close as possible. You don't have a bunch of heavy hitters on one team and guys that struggled on another team. We've tried to make that aspect as even as we can. I think it gives these guys, guys that may not have a shot to win the race or may be running sixth or seventh, know they don't have a shot at winning, but at least give them some pride in knowing their finishing position counts and they know that hopefully that will be the points that helps propel their team to getting the majority of the proceeds from it. It really has given everybody that's coming a renewed pride in not only the fact that they're supporting the event, but at the same time, even if they don't have a shot to win, their finish does count and makes a big impact."
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE TEAM AND WHO GETS TONY KANAAN?: "I don't know who gets (Tony) Kanaan. He ends up with St. Jude and Denny Hamlin is the captain. They also have Carl Edwards, Kenny Schrader, Aric Almirola, Ricky Carmichael and Ray Evernham. I don't know. I still think my team is probably the one to beat. We had probably one of the best races there three years ago and I wasn't even a factor in it. Between Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin -- they put on one of the best races we've ever had there."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SECOND YEAR OF BEING A CAR OWNER?: "We're worried about the Prelude bud, we're not worried about me being a car owner right now. We've got five days to make this thing happen and we need everybody's help here. What people don't understand, it's four months of non-stop work to make this thing happen. The PR staff and getting drivers organized and the people at the track that are working hard and Pam Miller from Fox that come and help us out, this is a big deal that we're putting on here and a big push we're trying to make."
IS THIS THE BEST THING YOU DO ALL YEAR?: "It's definitely the biggest fundraiser we do all year for sure. There's no doubt about that. Like I say, it's a year round project, but its four months leading up to the race that really are the hardest push. This is not something that gets put together overnight. This is an event that takes thousands and thousands of man hours from a lot of different groups to make it all happen on one day. Especially at a facility that you can't just bring a jet dryer out if it rains and dry it off. You have to have the weather cooperate with you to get it in. It's a lot of pressure and it is probably the biggest single thing we do all year as far as fundraisers are concerned and probably the one we put the most effort into."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SPIRIT AND ENERGY OF THE PRELUDE?: "It's a really cool deal. We have tried every year and after every event that we have done, we've went to the drivers and went to different people and said, 'how can we make this better, how can we make this more enjoyable for the guys that are coming and doing it.' We do a short media session before hand and once the drivers actually get down in the race track with the race cars, the only media they do is during the telecast and during the broadcast of the show. It is, it's a really cool deal. You don't ever see drivers getting to hang out at the back of their trailers and have fun like we used to. That's something that we do get to do at Eldora. We kind of control the pit area. There's a lot of people down there, but there's a lot of racing people and a lot of the crew members from the different guys teams come and support their drivers. A lot of the car owners bring their planes and help us out on that aspect and help bring guys down.
"It really is an atmosphere and I think it's something these guys really look forward to and I don't know how many guys this year went and tested, but I know last year (Kevin) Harvick tested about five times before he came. It just shows that these guys really care about what's going on, it's not that they're just going to show up and ride around and at the end of the night go home. They really care about how they do there and have a lot of fun doing it. I know there's a group of us staying over after the race and we're just going to hang around and have a good time and that's something we never really get to do."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GILLETTE'S INVOLVEMENT?: "This is the second year Gillette has been on board. It takes a lot of money and a lot of effort to make this event happen and Gillette has come on board the last couple years and really helped us take it a step above where it's been. HBO has been a really big factor in that too. Without people like Gillette, it's something that would make this event nearly impossible to try to put on and to bring the TV aspect into it to where it can generate the funds that we're giving to these charities.
"I don't shave very much, but every day I want to shave a little bit more because of them and every time I see an ad they run on TV, it makes me proud that they have wanted to be a part of this. They've really jumped in head first and really went above and beyond of what you could ask a partner to do to come in and help with an event like this."
HOW DID YOU SELECT THE CHARITIES?: "Last year we had the military charities and we had the four branches that we helped support and we were in a situation where we had been supporting the Victory Junction Gang Camp and we still do support them very highly. We felt like this was a great opportunity every year to do something a little different. Children and animals are two big aspects of something that I'm pretty passionate about. I really believe in kids, I believe in the attitude of children and their true emotions. Being able to help the four children's hospitals this year was something that we were really passionate about doing. The really hard part is we know that two of these charities are only going to get 15 percent, another is going to get 25 and one winning team is going to get 45 percent of the proceeds that we raise. It's hard because you want everybody to get the same amount, but it does add an element of excitement and I know no matter who gets what that all four of those children's hospitals have been very grateful to be a part of this and we're excited to raise a lot of money for them."
DOES IT HELP THAT GILLETTE ALSO SPONSOR THIS WEEKEND'S RACE?: "I think it's kind of cool, but I think it was more of a coincidence than anything else that we ended up getting them back to back like this. It's cool that they are a part of it this weekend too and it really makes for a good four or five day swing of having the Cup event and the dirt race at Eldora -- both Gillette events. It's definitely something that I think they are really excited about and been able to use both of these events to help cross promote."
IS THERE A CERTAIN AMOUNT YOU WANT TO RAISE?: "As much as we can get. We tried to set the million dollar mark and we fell short of it the last couple years, not by a lot, but we would love to get to that million dollar mark again. This room is the one room that can help put it over the top like that. The help that we get from you guys is really a huge factor, more than you guys can possibly imagine, of getting these people aware of what's going on this week and letting them know how they can be a part of it with us."
DID THE PRELUDE START THE SECOND YEAR YOU TOOK OWNERSHIP?: "It was the first year that we owned it that we started the Prelude."
COULD YOU EVER HAVE IMAGINED IT WOULD GET THIS BIG?: "No, not at all. The first year I think we had 17 drivers that came and we had to beg, literally beg car owners to bring cars for NASCAR guys to drive. These car owners were so scared that somebody that hadn't been on a dirt track and hadn't been in a dirt late model wasn't going to be able to drive one. We really had to beg that first year to get car owners to bring good race cars. After the first year, it went so well that the second year we didn't have to beg near as hard to get it and now we're still having to work to get really good cars, but we're getting top of the line cars for these guys to drive. Mark Richards from Rocket Chassis helps with about half the field. I know Clint Bowyer's team, they bring their own car. Bobby Labonte's team, they bring a car. Scott Bloomquist has brought cars.
"The major chassis manufacturers in the dirt late model industry have really wrapped around this event too and they realize that this is a good advertising night for them too as much as it is what we're doing for charity. If their brand and make of car wins the race then it's just like we do with the Cup side. If their car can win then it helps them sell chassis. We've really got top notch cars for these guys to drive and that makes the even that much better because they know they are in good cars when they get there."
-source: gm racing