Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, talks with the media about his charitable efforts, returning to Atlanta and what to expect during the first Car of Tomorrow race. WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY WITH SPECIAL PAINT SCHEMES? "I've won a couple...
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, talks with the media about his charitable efforts, returning to Atlanta and what to expect during the first Car of Tomorrow race.
WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY WITH SPECIAL PAINT SCHEMES? "I've won a couple and I've crashed a couple so I think I'm back on the up swing of being ready to win with a couple of them. I think we started off really good with some special paint schemes then we went really bad for a while. I think it's time to go back to good again."
WHAT DO YOU GET FROM WHAT YOU GIVE WITH YOUR CHARITABLE EFFORTS? "My career especially before I became a Nextel Cup driver and Indy Car driver when I decided I was going to quit working and strictly try to make a living driving race cars there were a lot of times you either had to borrow money to get to the next event or somebody would let you stay overnight in their house. You realize what's been given to you and the help along the way and it's nice to be able to return that favor finally being able to give back. It really completes your life when you're able to do something like this and be able to give back to the community something."
WITH ALL THE CHANGES IN VEGAS WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BEING BACK IN ATLANTA WHERE THE TRACK IS FAMILIAR? "It's nice to not have to worry about tires and new race tracks. It's nice to be able to just worry about working on your race car and trying to figure out how to make it go fast. I always enjoy coming to Atlanta because Coca Cola and Home Depot's headquarters are both here but after last week it's even that much more exciting to be back to some place like this."
ON LAS VEGAS AND ATLANTA BEING FAST TRACKS BUT THIS TRACK HAVING A DIFFERENT FEEL: "Yeah, with the tire that we have here you have control of the car even if you get loose or get tight. You have control and that security knowing that you can feel the race car and the track where we didn't have that luxury last week. The good thing is I'm looking forward to getting in the car and worry about just making it go fast instead of worrying about what I can do to get comfortable in it."
WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT THOUGHTS ON THE TOP-35 RULE AND SEEING SOME GOOD DRIVERS GET SENT HOME? "Honestly I don't think about it because we're one that's always been in the top 35 and we don't have to worry about that side of it. You see the list of who goes home each week but honestly I haven't really thought much about it because normally after Friday's qualifying is over we're trying to already get back in the mode of race practice for Saturday."
WHAT IF YOU WERE ON THE OTHER END OF THE TOP-35 RULE? "I'd be able to speak about it if I was on the other end of it but I haven't been on the other end of it luckily. The first year I was here I think it was the first four races we had to make it in on time. That's about the closest thing I can think of to understand what those guys are going through but it was tough. We strictly focused on qualifying during qualifying practice. Once we would make it in the show it was a big weight lifted off our shoulders."
ON HIS WEIGHT LOSS AND HOW IT MAKES HIM FEEL AND THE AFFECT WITH SPONSORS: "Well I did get Subway as a sponsor because we've been eating the six grams of fat or less menu a lot when we're on the road. We've just hired a personal trainer that goes with us everywhere we go knowing our schedule and when it's time to work out and when it's not and just most of all making sure we're eating right. That's been a big a help."
HAVE YOU HAD ANY SUCCESS RUNNING UP HIGH HERE? "I ran a lot there last fall when we won the race here. When I ran sprint cars and midgets, I always ran the top. I never liked running the bottom. It just seems like the way Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) and I get the car driving that I can run the bottom here a lot longer here than most guys can but I still end up at the top like everybody else. It seems like last year we got really, really good up there. I got to where even with the guys you are used to seeing running up there, we were faster than they were."
IS A WIN MORE SPECIAL HERE HAVING YOUR SPONSOR BASED IN ATLANTA? "Oh yeah, absolutely. Like I said with Home Depot and Coca Cola here and that being two of our favorite sponsors, anytime you can win in their backyard is huge. I'm not from around here obviously but just having those two sponsors here make it special when you can win."
ON THE RECENT TALK ABOUT PUTTING MORE EMPHASIS ON WINNING: "They don't have to dangle a carrot in front of our faces to want us to win. I still go back and run midget races that pay $1,500 to win and I race just as hard there as I do at a race that pays a million dollars to win. It doesn't change how you race but I think the situation that Bruton's group got themselves into is trying to playing God. I admire what they were trying to do and what they were trying to accomplish but the thing is where it starts is technology. That's what gets to where the fields string out because certain teams find a certain package that works and they get an edge on competition that way and it's always been that way. Except for a restrictor plate track, you're never going to get everybody to run in a tight pack and run real close to each other. It's just not going to happen. Them thinking that building a race track was going to accomplish that didn't really make a lot of sense. It makes you wonder where they came up with that idea and what made them think that was the right idea."
IS IT TRUE AT A CERTAIN POINT IN SOME RACES YOU AND YOUR CREW CHIEF HAVE TO GET TOGETHER WHEN REALITY SETS IN AND YOU SAY YOU HAVE A 10th PLACE CAR? "Yeah, you never give up on trying to make it better but there are days you know there are two or three guys that have hit the setup and they're not showing their hand until the end and in those situations you're racing your guts out and all you can do is barely stay in the top 10. You never quit on trying to make it better but at the same time you're realistic and knowing where you are at."
HOW FUTURISTIC DO YOU THINK THE CAR OF TOMORROW IS? "It looks prehistoric I think. There's nothing about it that's futuristic by any means but you're not going to when you try to make the top of the car taller like that. When you think futuristic you think more sleek than what we have now. Their goal of trying to make the bodies a little bit more like the Truck Series and how they're able to stay closer together, NASCAR is being proactive in trying to make things better for sure."
WILL THE CAR OF TOMORROW BE THE EQUALIZER THAT NASCAR HOPES IT TO BE? "I doubt it because you still have technology involved and as long as there is technology and engineers and wind tunnels and seven-post shake rigs and all this, there's somebody that is going to find an advantage over somebody else. As long as there is that advantage, you're never going to keep everybody real close together."
DO YOU SEE A MORE AGGRESSIVE RACE NEXT WEEK OR LESS BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO DAMAGE THE RACE CAR? "I wish we could crash all of them to where we don't have to drive them anymore but I think it will be the normal race. When it comes to it drivers are going to race like they are used to racing. I don't think any of us are worried about crashing cars. We drive cars every week. You know if you crash we're not going to have an opportunity to win obviously but we have the opportunity to crash cars this weekend too and it's not anybody's goal to do that but they're still going to race hard."
ON RACING ANY DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE OF THE SPLITTER: "I don't think you're going to do anything any different from that standpoint. I don't think you can worry about trying to guard a piece of the car."
COMPARED TO THE LAST FEW YEARS IT SEEMS LIKE THERE ARE A LOT MORE VARIABLES ON THE DRIVER. IS RACING STILL RACING OR DO YOU NEED TO BE A SMARTER DRIVER IN THIS ERA? "For a driver it still comes down to feel. If you're comfortable, you're going to go fast. If you're not comfortable, you're going to be a little timid and it doesn't matter whether it's because of a tire, a race track or having a different race track. If you're comfortable, you're going to go fast in it and you're going to push it to its limit. Really that's kind of the moral of the story. As long as your comfortable you're going to go fast.
DOES THE PROCESS STILL STAY THE SAME IN TRYING TO GET TO THAT LEVEL? "Testing is when you have opportunity to learn those things so you don't feel like every time you go out it has to be right. You strictly work up to it and find out what it is doing and go from there with your crew chief. It still for the driver boils down to a just a feel. If it feels good you go."
-credit: gm racing