Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS met with media and discussed the Charlotte track, his potential for earning points this weekend, the Talladega race, how the CoT drives on restrictor plate tracks, drivers being asked to pull over for...
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS met with media and discussed the Charlotte track, his potential for earning points this weekend, the Talladega race, how the CoT drives on restrictor plate tracks, drivers being asked to pull over for Chase contenders, his opinion about changing the qualifying rules, how he runs his World of Outlaws operation, on possible World of Outlaws drivers to join, if only a limited number of short track drivers will be able to join the ranks of NASCAR because major Open Wheel stars are joining NASCAR, on the Chase points system, on development drivers make the jump to bigger series, on what the sponsors reap from racing series other than Cup, on having a job at a car wash, on the appeal of his TSR organization, and on driver Donny Schatz.
Select quotes from driver interview:
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF LMS THAT MEET YOUR DRIVING STYLE? AND WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU DISLIKE OR FIND MORE DIFFICULT? "I don't know that there is anything that really suits our style. I think it's more just a combination. Zippy always finds a package that I'm comfortable with. Charlotte is such a fast track. If you're not comfortable, you're not going to go fast. So, having a crew chief that can find how to make the car have a good feel that you like and be good for the whole day and make it adjustable is what makes you good here."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR POTENTIAL TO PICK UP POINTS TOMORROW NIGHT IS GOING TO BE GOOD? "I don't know. It's a coin toss. You never know. I think we're running good. The guys ahead of us in points are running good too. Thinks can change in one lap, literally. So it's hard to say."
LAST WEEK AT TALLADDEGA, WERE YOU MORE DISAPPOINTED THAT YOU DIDN'T WIN OR THAT YOU PUSHED JEFF GORDON TO THE WIN? "That I didn't win. I didn't care who I pushed to the win. After you lead that much, you don't want to lose."
WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT THE GUY YOU PUSHED HAD MORE POINTS IN THE CHASE? "No. It is just frustration of having to rely on other people. The only time that we really got some help at the end there, we couldn't capitalize on. That was the frustrating part."
WHAT'S YOUR OPINION OF THE COT AT THE BIG TRACK NOW? "It drives just as good as the other cars did. Anytime you put on a restrictor plate on, they've got us slowed down speed-wise enough that handling isn't an issue anyway. You can run on the apron if you have to. We got pushed on the apron in the middle of Turns 1 and 2 once and didn't have any trouble driving the car. It's just finding the package that can get us to where we're more relying on ourselves and not relying on everybody else."
DO YOU HAVE ANY NOSTALGIA FORTHE OLD CAR? "No, I'm just trying to buy a couple of them so I've got some dirt ARCA cars to run in the next couple of years (laughter)."
CAN YOU GET THEM CHEAP NOW? "I'm trying to. J.D. (Gibbs) and I battle on the price still."
SOME TEAMS HAVE ASKED THEIR DRIVERS TO PULL OVER AND LET OTHER GUYS PASS WHO ARE IN THE CHASE FOR TOP FIVE FINISHES. DOES THAT BOTHER YOU? "Yeah, I don't really like that aspect of it. But there is nothing you can do about it. It kind of is what it is. It goes back to really the only thing that I've disagreed on with the Chase. You've got 31 other guys that can dictate who wins the championship and who doesn't; literally, by those 31 guys. We need to have our own point structure where it's first through 12th for us every week. We're not racing those other guys for points anyway, so why should they be dictating where we're at amongst each other? If you've got five guys in between two Chase guys, it shouldn't matter - especially if three of them are teammates of one guy that's in the Chase and that guy lets three of them go to protect this guy's spot. That's the only thing I really don't like about our Chase rules."
ON CHANGING THE QUALIFYING TO GET RID OF PROVISIONALS: "I think it's a tough situation. NASCAR is the only one that understands it fully. You've got to remember you're asking a driver, and luckily I own some race teams so I kind of understand what we're talking about and why. But when you've got multi-million dollar companies coming into the sport and expect to see their teams run say, the Daytona 500, if you've got a team that puts out three other cars just for that one event to make the show and make money off the event, if one of those major sponsors misses it because of something like that, it's hard for some of these smaller teams. Or if you have a mistake, if you blow an engine and miss the show because of that, I don't know that its fair to that driver and team that support every race and try to make every show. It's a tough balance. It's kind of like the point structure in the Chase. I'm not sure there is an easy solution to that because you look at it from the owner's standpoint and the sponsor's standpoint you understand why they do it, but you also understand it from somebody like Boris Said's standpoint, who is trying to make it in and is on the provisional pole at Daytona earlier and gets rained out and has to go home. You see it from both sides. I'm not sure there is any good solution to it at this point; at least not from a driver's standpoint. You've got to ask somebody a lot smarter than me that question."
JOSH WISE DROVE FOR YOU IN THE PAST. MICHAEL WALTRIP SAID HE MIGHT CONSIDER HIM FOR THE NO. 00 CAR. WHAT CHALLENGES DOES HE FACT? "He's been running a lot of ARCA races this year. And he's run some Truck races and run really well. I think he's shown a lot of patience and intelligence behind the wheel. He was always good, no matter whether he was on the pavement or dirt with us and that gave me the confidence when Michael came and asked if he was ready. Absolutely. Michael wanted to put him in the ARCA car and the Truck for this year and I was more than confident that was a very adequate move. Michael has been here a lot longer than I have. He's going to know by watching these guys and seeing their talent and what they're doing on the race track and knowing if it's the right time. Every race I've seen Josh run with the ARCA car or the Truck, I've felt like he's done an exceptionally good job. It wouldn't surprise me to see him in a Cup car next year at all."
-credit: gm racing