Chicagoland: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 ON MACON SPEEDWAY: STEWART: "If you guys don't know, I'll be at Macon Friday night so that's part of my vacation. I don't even know what I'm driving yet. Schrader says I'm running a late model. Kenny Wallace says I'm...

Continued from part 1

ON MACON SPEEDWAY:

STEWART: "If you guys don't know, I'll be at Macon Friday night so that's part of my vacation. I don't even know what I'm driving yet. Schrader says I'm running a late model. Kenny Wallace says I'm running a modified and I thought I was running a midget. So I don't know what I'm driving there yet but we'll figure it out when we get there, I guess."

HOW DO YOU THINK THE TRACK HERE HAS MATURED OVER THE YEARS?

STEWART: "Both here and Kansas City - I call them sister tracks because with the exception of the bow in the backstretch here, they're identical race tracks for the most part - both of them, it seems like the last couple years in particular, have come around. They've seasoned and it's got to where we finally got off the bottom and move around the race track more. That's what you want as a driver, that's what teams want. You don't want to be stuck following guys and not being able to move around and pass. Early in the Busch race yesterday it moved up and that made me happy knowing. and half the time the Cup cars are going to get up there. You look on lap four or five and I thought I saw Dale Jr. about six inches from the top of the wall and I thought 'the good thing is it's moved all the way up already because he's there'. So he's a pretty good benchmark of knowing when the track is ready to move up. It just makes you confident that at least you've got options when you go in the corner of where you can go when you can help yourself out as a driver, kind of like what we talk about at Michigan about being able to move around. It makes this place a lot more fun when you're able to move around like it is. So the first couple of times that we came here we all dreaded it because it was just single-file racing and all you heard us talk about was aero push. Now you can't really use the aero push excuse too much anymore because you have the ability to move around on the race track more."

DO YOU THINK THE NEW CAR WILL BE CONDUCIVE TO PASS AT ANY POINT IN THE RACE ON A TRACK LIKE THIS?

STEWART: "Well, it hasn't been that way so far, really. But it's a new car for everybody too. We've been working with this style of car for. the teams have been working with it before I even got here. It's evolved over time. With the new car, it's a new formula. Finding the right equation to what it wants and what makes the car happy is the hard thing for Greg and the rest of the guys at the shop. In time I'm sure it will get that way but I think we've all got to keep in mind how technology moves and what we're dealing with here. We're dealing with a brand-new car that's going to run half the season this year and I'm not sure right away we can all have the expectations that it's going to solve the world's problems as far as racing is concerned right off the bat. But it will get there, I believe."

ZIPPY: "It's definitely taken a lot of things to make that car work but I don't know that the outcome has been drastically different. It will be interesting when we start testing these things at the mile-and-a-half and two-mile places to see what it brings. I think that if it doesn't work, they'll probably make changes with it and try to make it better."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GOING TO INDIANAPOLIS:

ZIPPY: "It doesn't matter where we go as long as we get the weekend off. It's just another race track. It pays the same amount of points. We're going there to win like we do every week. We're not going to work any harder, we're not going to work any less. We're going to prepare like we do, bring our best stuff there and hopefully we'll win there for a second time."

WHAT DO YOU FEEL THE PERFECT CUP SCHEDULE WOULD BE?

STEWART: "I don't know. I think it's bigger and further than what I can grasp. As a promoter I can understand why we go to the places we go and the markets and the value of that to our sport but it depends on which angle you look at it from. If you look at it from a crew and team angle, if you look at it from a driver's angle, if you look at it from a sanctioning body's angle you're going to get three different answers there. And rightfully so. There's reasons that NASCAR has the schedule the way it is. There's reasons that drivers and teams want it cut back but NASCAR hasn't got here by making bad decisions and hasn't built the sport to where it is by making bad decisions."

ON THE EVENTS OF THE WEEK:

GIBBS: "Obviously it was a tough week. You had two great cars last week and getting a break and going through all the stuff we went through this week, and then dad (Joe Gibbs) made a guest appearance yesterday so I said 'hey, I told them before, I just work here. You own the thing so come back every Saturday if you want to, if that's what it takes.' He said that he's got his full-time job kicking off here in a couple of weeks so it was good wrap-up to a tough week."

TO GET A WIN, IS IT AS SIMPLE AS HAVING JOE GIBBS COME TO THE TRACK TO CALM THINGS DOWN?

GIBBS: "Ask him, he'll tell you that (laughs). I think the reality. I looked up at the board halfway through and I think it said we led in 13 of 18 races so I look at that and think 'oh my gosh, last season it was 14 of 19'. So I think the reality of it is, we've had good cars week in and week out. If you do that long enough, you're bound to hit your stride. As always, we kind of hit our stride, for some reason, summertime on. So that's fine. If that's the case we'll take that and be strong at the end of the year."

TONY SEEMS TO BE HIS BEST WHEN THERE'S THE MOST CHAOS AROUND. DO YOU THINK THAT'S TRUE?

GIBBS: "There's something to be said for that. When you kind of look back. of course, with Tony there's always a lot of chaos going on. So you can take your pick. I think for him, he's passionate about what he does. From day one he's always told you what he's thinking. At times, I think what he's learned - he has matured over the years - to pick certain battles to fight. Certain battles aren't worth fighting and certain ones are. For him, I think this one. you know, last week our issue was he said some stuff after the race. Those guys had a chance to get together yesterday. I think he does. Tony's used to, since he was a kid. he's had some big stuff going on all his life. So I think it's probably no different but the reality of it is even when that stuff wasn't happening, we had good race cars and should have won a bunch of races, we just didn't. That's part of life, really."

IF THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS DON'T GET OFF TO A GOOD START, DOES TONY HAVE TO GO GIVE THEM A PEP TALK?

GIBBS: "I did tell my dad - we won five of 11 games last year - I said, 'if we win five of 11 this year you will be back full-time' (laughs).

"Tony made a few appearances up there and it's kind of neat to watch those guys interact. But I'm not sure if my dad's going to have him give any pep talks up there any time soon."

IS THIS A GOOD YEAR FOR TONY TO CATCH UP BEFORE THE CHASE?

GIBBS: "Looking at the points, we felt pretty good last week. We didn't feel like we had a huge cushion in the top 12 so it's kind of nice to get this under your belt and really have a chance here to really tune and get prepared for those last 10 races. That's kind of the mode we're in right now. Let's get all the wins we can get and spend this time tuning for those last 10."

IS YOUR DAD PRETTY TOUGH WHEN HE TALKS TO THE DRIVERS AND DID HE ASK FOR YOUR PERMISSION TO DO SO?

GIBBS: "I couldn't make it out yesterday and I think he realized. he was on his way out for a West Coast trip so for him to be able to stop and spend some time. he's obviously very passionate about it as well. What most people don't realize, when you get my dad in the NFL and football, he's almost always serious. Crazy intense. Over here, you kind of see him laid back, hanging out. But I think he was a little more intense yesterday than he normally is in the racing world. His personality, which I love about our team, if there's a problem he'll deal with it quickly and move on. We learned some hard lessons years ago and that's the best way to deal with it. Hopefully we can move on past that."

AFTER ALL THE HENDRICK DOMINANCE EARLY IN THE YEAR, DO YOU THINK THINGS ARE EVENING OUT NOW?

GIBBS: "They were pretty good today. I do think, if you look back over the last 10 years is there's always a little cycle. There's kind of a wave and we've kind of been through it. We had a chance to win through the last seven championships. I think Rick (Hendrick) is going to win a couple, Jack (Roush) has won a couple. There's just kind of a wave that comes and goes but I think the guys are on top of their game more consistently throughout a year and be dominant. That's kind of our goal. We might not be winning everything but you know your cars are good, your guys are good and that gives you kind of peace there."

HOW FRUSTRATED DO YOU THINK TONY WAS AFTER LAST WEEKEND?

GIBBS: "I don't really know if he was crazy frustrated. I think crazy frustrated would have been when you're running in mid-pack and you don't have a chance to win. That's when you get really frustrated. I think we've been through these issues before and I think he obviously wants to win. I think for him, the points thing is what it is but he wants to win. That's what he lives off of because that's what he grew up with. I think it did bother him some. I don't think that led to him saying some of the stuff he did last Saturday night."

HOW MUCH PEACE OF MIND CAN THIS GIVE TONY?

GIBBS: "I don't know. I would hope that it makes him feel good about. we all know he's a phenomenal race car driver. Unless he's winning consistently, he's going to be frustrated. I think the same is with Zippy and Denny and Mike Ford, even with J.J. and Steve Addington. All those guys are used to winning. If they don't win they're going to be frustrated. I don't think there's any undercurrent or any kind of hidden message in all of this, I think it was just about time he won. He's run well long enough and you're going to have your shots."

WHY WAS THE SITUATION BETWEEN TONY AND DENNY HANDLED HERE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE AND NOT IN THE SHOP LAST WEEK?

GIBBS: "We haven't been in this sport that long. We've been here 16 years and it used to be if there was a problem 10 or 12 years ago, everyone was right there. Everyone was in Charlotte. You grab them and you sit down and deal with it. The reality of it now is Tony is going places, Denny is going places, we're going places. So the reality of it was, to sit down face to face, which is what we felt like we needed to do, the first opportunity to do that was here. So we addressed it with Tony and Denny during the week and the understanding was that when you come here, we're going to sit down and have a conversation and move on."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kenny Wallace