TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed NASCAR'S drug testing policy, racing at home track for two weeks, Gene Haas out of prison, and more. HOW WAS PRACTICE? WHAT'S IT LIKE OUT THERE? "I don't think it's any ...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed NASCAR'S drug testing policy, racing at home track for two weeks, Gene Haas out of prison, and more.
HOW WAS PRACTICE? WHAT'S IT LIKE OUT THERE? "I don't think it's any different than normal. We didn't get the whole session in because we had a heating issue. We had a sleeve of cardboard that was in between the radiator and the oil cooler so it was just basically like the radiator was blocked off. So it took a minute to figure that out and we had to switch radiators out before we found it. So we only got about half the session in. We're just tight right now. I'm hoping everybody else is tight; that's what we're fighting right now."
NO REAL SURPRISES LIKE DARLINGTON WAS SLIPPERIER THAN THIS? "I don't think so. Things seem to be pretty normal. The good thing is that it doesn't seem like you have to scuff the tires like we've had to do in the past here. It feels like you can just go out on them now and run, which makes it a lot easier and saves the teams a lot of time (by) not having to come in and out scuffing sets (of tires)."
TALK ABOUT COMING HOME TO CHARLOTTE AND RACING THERE FOR 2 WEEKS "It's the same as it is every year. It's big for a lot of these guys because guys at the shop don't get a chance to come to the track, so it's nice for those guys who don't get to go on the road with us have them be able to come here at home and still be able to go home and sleep in their own beds."
HOW MUCH IS AN ALL-STAR WIN WORTH? IS IT ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT YOU JUST WANT TO GRAB UP? "Well, anytime you dangle a million-dollar prize over our heads, it makes everybody want to win it. But you've just got to treat it like another weekend almost and go through the same motions that you always go through. But you know that tomorrow night is going to be a little bit different atmosphere. It's more of a go-for-it attitude than take it easy and take care of your car day."
ON THE TEN-LAP SHOOTOUT, WILL THAT CREATE A LOT OF EXCITEMENT AT THE END? "I guess we'll see. It doesn't matter to me what the format is, or what it is, just as long as we know what it is going into it. We know what we've got to do and we'll just try to accomplish the goal."
ON BACK-TO-BACK RACES IN CHARLOTTE, HOW DIFFERENT IS THE 600 NEXT WEEKEND COMPARED TO THE ALL-STAR? IS IT A TOTALLY DIFFERENT FEELING? "Yeah, you go from the shortest race of the year to the longest race of the year. Next week is a lot longer deal where you start in the daytime and end at night and it cools down. This deal tomorrow night, we start at night. So it's more of a sprint race where next weekend is the longest endurance race of the year for us."
DO YOU USE THE ALL-STAR RACE AS A TEST SESSION FOR THE 600? "Everybody wants to win and everybody still uses it for a test for next weekend, but they're not doing stuff that they don't think would give them an opportunity to win the race. So everybody is trying to win. It's just a matter of who hits on it tomorrow night."
WITH GENE HAAS OUT OF PRISON NOW, WILL THAT CHANGE THE WAY THE TEAM WILL BE RUN "No, not at all. We're excited that he's back finally. We're excited to show him finally, what he's been able to build. So we're excited to have him here. I just hope we have the same results we've been having so we can make him proud."
WILL HE BE COMING TO RACES AGAIN LIKE HE USED TO? "I'm sure he will. You'll have to ask that. But I hope he does. We want him to come to the race track every week and have fun and enjoy what he's built and hopefully he's proud of this team when he shows up every week at the race track."
IS THERE A SATISFACTION ABOUT BUILDING AN AMAZING TEAM AND HAVING THAT TO SHOW HIM AND FOR HIM TO COME BACK TO? "It's what he's done too because he's the one that started all this and he's the one that's given us all the tools and opportunities to do what we're doing. It's nice to be able to show him the results of what he's built. He's the one that started this and done the majority of work. I've been able to come and kind of tie the loose ends together for him. So, we've just got great people now and hopefully he comes and has fun because that's what he should do as a car owner. He should come to the race track and be proud and hold his head up high and be proud of what Ryan (Newman) and I are doing with the teams."
ON THE DRUG TESTING, DO YOU FIND YOURSELF HAVING TO POLICE YOURSELF A CERTAIN WAY OR DO YOU NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT IT "No, if we have a question on something, we know we can go to the NASCAR liaison team and say this is what we're fighting, we're fighting a cold, and is this all right to take The safest way to make sure you're not getting in trouble is go to NASCAR and say hey, this is what I'm fighting. We have the liaison's numbers. We can call him 24/7 if we're fighting any ailment. We can call him we know we can call him and check and make sure the thing we're thinking about taking is okay."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD RELEASE THE TYPE OF DRUG INFORMATION FOR ANYONE THAT FAILS THE DRUG TEST? "I don't think so. What does it matter what it is? You either pass or you didn't pass. I don't think it's everybody's business and that's more of the media wanting to dig in and find out what's going on more than it is us. It doesn't matter to us. We just want to know what we're not allowed to take and make sure that we're staying within the policy. The policy is there for a reason and it's a solid policy. So if we have any questions about it, it's our job as drivers to go to them and say listen, I'm sick with this right now or I have a cold or I have the flu and is it all right to take this? And they'll tell us whether it's okay or not okay to take it. So it's none of our business what everybody takes. It's just a matter of us taking responsibility and making sure that we take care of what we're supposed to."
POLICE YOURSELF AND YOU'LL BE OKAY? "Yeah, I think so. It's not our job to police the other drivers. And it's none of our business what happened to Jeremy or what happened to anybody else. That's why NASCAR is there. NASCAR is there to police that for us."
DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOMEBODY TAKING PROTEIN SHAKES OR USING COCAINE OR MARIJUANA TO YOU ON THE RACE TRACK? "It doesn't matter. Whether they have been on the track or not doesn't matter now. It's whether they're going to be on the track this week or next week. That's why NASCAR is there and that's why they're doing the checks and balances that they go through."
ON THE LENGTH OF THE 600 AND IF HE'S EVER TAKEN FOOD DURING THE RACE? "I would love to have a Burger King drive thru about half-way, just to grab a snack (laughter); maybe eight or 10 extra caution laps to eat your dinner and go on? I don't know that we'll get that. But we run so many 500 mile races that extra 100 miles isn't that big of a deal. It is longer and then this is a track that's not an easy track, physically. We're flying around here and this is a fast race track. So it makes for a long night here."
-credit: gm racing