Chicagoland: Stewart - Friday media visit

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed racing in the Midwest, Eldora Speedway, short track racing and other topics. TALK ABOUT BEING AT A RACE TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS...

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed racing in the Midwest, Eldora Speedway, short track racing and other topics.

TALK ABOUT BEING AT A RACE TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS AND HOW MUCH YOU WOULD LIKE ANOTHER WIN TOMORROW NIGHT: "Definitely, it's always nice to go to places that you've won at before and this is a track that's close to home so a lot of our friends and we have a lot of family from northern Indiana that get to come over for this race so it's a big weekend for us."

ARE RACES LIKE CHICAGO AND INDIANAPOLIS HELPING THE POPULARITY AND PRESENCE OF NASCAR IN THE MIDWEST?: "I don't know, I think our sports grown nationwide to where it's not just what it does for the Midwest, it's across the country what the sport has been able to bring. I think we're long way beyond the fact that this is not a southern sport anymore. It's not like we've just been coming here for two or three years, we've been coming up this way for a long time now. It's just another part of the schedule that we enjoy. I really don't think of it from that standpoint as far as anything any different than what we've been doing."

DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE MORE CUP RACES AT THE MIDWEST AT OTHER TRACKS?: "I have no idea. I know this will be a shock for you, but I don't set the schedule."

ARE THERE ANY FRIENDS IN THE GARAGE AREA AND DO YOU HAVE TO CARRY BASEBALL BATS AROUND WITH YOU NOW?: "I don't need a ball bat. I carry everything I need with me all the time. I carry all I need. Some of them should probably, though. They'll need it to equalize it. It's getting wild out there."

IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR YOU AND THE TEAM HAVE BEEN FIGHTING TO GET INSIDE THE TOP-20 EACH WEEK OR JUST CIRCUMSTANCES?: "We were definitely fighting handling for sure. That was the one variable we were struggling with there. We've been working through it at the shop and we're finding some things that are giving us a direction that seems to be a positive direction for us and we've just been continuing down that path. It doesn't mean it will fix it, but at least it's a path right now that's getting us going better in the standings and getting my cars to handle a little better. It's a lot less frustrating driving them on Sunday when they handle good."

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GIVE THE BACKPACKS TO THE KIDS YESTERDAY AND YOUR PAINT SCHEME?: "We have a pretty cool scheme on the car again, it's the back to school program and the national backpack program that Office Depot Foundation does. We were in Chicago yesterday and got to donate some backpacks. It was neat to see the smile on those kids faces. It's a program whereby the end of the back to school season will have donated 2.3 million backpacks to kids over the last 10 years that this program has been going on.

"It's another example of we're all busy doing what we do in racing, but it reminds us that there's a lot bigger things outside of what we do here in the entertainment industry on the weekends that make a bigger difference. Seeing these kids that are underprivileged and don't have the resources to have nice things and going back to school to see them have the tools they need to go back to school and have the confidence that they're just like any of the other kids, that is a pretty neat feeling to do. It's a pretty big honor to be a part of that program with Office Depot."

WHAT IS IT LIKE AT ELDORA RIGHT NOW AND THE KING'S ROYAL?: "It's pretty cool. We didn't really see, two years ago we didn't see a big drop off, but this year we've seen a little of the affects of it with the bigger races. We've lost some cars and the car count. Not as drastic as I thought it was going to be so I've been pleasantly surprised from that aspect. You sit there and you drive through the campgrounds and you talk to the fans and you realize that they're having to cut corners and it's affecting the Saturday night people just as much as the NASCAR crowd. Hopefully we're getting on the back side of it and getting through it, but I know we went to Sharon (Speedway) Wednesday and ran at Dave Blaney's place there. Kasey (Kahne) and I were going to run 360 cars at Eldora next weekend and Dave is actually going to run the King's Royal so that's pretty cool that he's back in a 410. That's where he made his name so it's going to be cool to see him get back in one and run at Eldora again."

WHAT DID SHORT TRACK RACING DO FOR YOUR RACING CAREER AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO KEEP THOSE TRACKS OPEN?: "It's very important. Nobody gets to this level and just starts here. There's nobody that says, all right I'm going to be a NASCAR driver and gets a NASCAR license and starts racing. They all had to start at a short track somewhere and work their way up. It's a shame across the country to watch tracks go by and some of them have gone away because the economics and some of them have gone away because housing developments a mile away from it are built and a race track has been there for 50 years and all of the sudden people complain about the noise at the race track and get it shut down. That's probably the one thing, being a short track promoter, frustrates me the most. If you're going to buy a house, you ought to at least check and see where you're buying it and if there's a place that's been around there for 50 years, don't complain about the noise. They were there long before these people moved in. It is, it's important because if we lose that, we lose the feeder system to get to this level. It's how all these guys got their start and it's how all these guys got the skills to be the drivers they are now."

HOW BIG WAS IT FOR YOU TO ADD STEVE KINSER TO YOUR TEAM?: "It makes me feel like Roger Penske on the IndyCar side and Chip Ganassi on the road race side and Rick Hendrick on the Cup side. I feel like we've got the two most sought after guys that you could ask for. We are second and fourth in the points right now. It's pretty cool to have a guy that's won 20 Outlaw championships and 14 Knoxville Nationals and however many races he's won there, driving your car. We have two of the best guys in the series and it's neat to watch them run with each other, but there's some nights where I see what it's like to be a multi-car owner.

"You sit on the trailer and watch your cars about run over the top of each other and you sit there and you just grab your head like I can't believe this is going to happen. It's fun and it's fun to have somebody of Steve's (Kinser) caliber and Donny's (Schatz) driving our cars. He had his back surgery last fall and you can see a lot of new energy in him this year that we haven't seen in a while. I don't think he really realized how bad he was feeling because of his back until he had it operated on in the fall. It's like you see a new Steve this year. He's got a lot of energy and he's winning a lot of races again."

DOES THE CHASE NEED TO BE TWEAKED AGAIN?: "I didn't think it needed to be tweaked the first time. It honestly doesn't matter to me what they do. The good thing is that I have the confidence in our sanctioning body that whatever decision they make, if they're going to change it or whatever they do, something that will have been thought out for a long time and at the end of the day, they will do what they think is in the best interest of our sport. I have the confidence and believe in the leadership we have to be comfortable that whatever they do it's for the right reasons."

WHERE IS YOUR TEAM AT TWO YEARS AFTER YOU ANNOUCED IT?: "I think we're ahead of schedule of where we thought we might be. It's really hard to predict when you're starting into a new deal like that. It's hard, there's no guarantees on what's going to happen. Even having the resources that we have and all the equipment that we have, it's still no guarantee that it's all going to come together and work for you. Last year, our season we definitely exceeded our expectations for year one. This year hasn't been quite as good, but Ryan (Newman) has got a victory this year. From our side, we struggled a little bit. That happens year to year so I can't say that this year is a failure because of that. There's teams that were really good last year and struggling this year and vice versa, teams that were bad last year. It's part of the evolution of it. It's an ongoing process. You're never happy with where you're at. Even when you're winning races, you have to constantly push to keep that edge and stay ahead. This is a sport that you're never going to have someone come in here and say that they're 100 percent happy with everything they're doing unless they're going out and winning every race every week."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Chip Ganassi , Roger Penske