TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS: AFTER THE ACCIDENT: "Yes, I am ok. Not completely sure what happened out there. All of a sudden it took off on me. I haven't seen it on film, so I am not sure what happened. Pretty impressive to...
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS:
AFTER THE ACCIDENT: "Yes, I am ok. Not completely sure what happened out there. All of a sudden it took off on me. I haven't seen it on film, so I am not sure what happened. Pretty impressive to go all the way to the back and come up all the way to the front of the field like that. I was really happy about that. The Home Depot Monte Carlo was awesome today. We fell back and came back. We were kind of in a bad position that one pit stop, when Robby Gordon was coming and I stalled it trying to get out ahead of him. Then him and the 38 get together and wreck on pit road and I was just in a hurry to get out of there and wasn't paying attention to pit road speed. That was my fault and I got us behind.
I got us to the back and was proud how we got back to the front, I thought it would be a little quicker than it was getting to the front. It took a little longer than I anticipated; the car was just so tight back there. It was so hard to drive back there without clean air. I'm just so proud of these guys. They never got worked up;, I never got worked up and we drove our way back to the front."
ON THE RACE: "I thought we were pretty good. It took longer than I thought to get back through there. The further back you were in traffic, the tires were so hard it was hard to work your way back up through there. But we had a car that was good enough to get back there. We got back to the front so I was pretty proud of that."
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE PIT STOP? "Robby Gordon was coming in. He was toward the back of the pack and we were finishing our stop and he was getting ready to come in. I tried to beat him out and I dropped the clutch too fast trying to get going and killed it and then I guess him and the 38 got together. They were wrecked right in front of us and then when I went down pit lane, it was my fault. I screwed up again making two mistakes in one stop and it was speeding at the end of pit lane. It did show how strong a car we had to run with both grooves and come from the back like that, I was pretty impressed by that."
WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED? "I'm still disappointed but we got a lot to be proud of. We had an awesome Speedweeks. We had two of the three days go absolutely perfect so this is the only one that didn't go right.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed right now but if when we look back a week or two from now, to win two races this week is a pretty strong week."
IS THIS SITUATION HARD BECAUSE YOU HAD SUCH A GREAT CAR? "Yeah, the closer we got to the front with fresh tires the better we were obviously. When we started in the back I couldn't pass anybody. It was hard to keep up for about the first four or five laps. You just got in such a hard push. But I really didn't think it would be that bad but that's exactly what we talked about when you make the tires harder."
WAS THAT JUST A MISTAKE BY KURT BUSCH? "I don't know because I haven't seen it yet so I'm not blaming anybody because I just haven't seen what's happened yet. I need to watch it before I make any judgments on it."
ON IT BEING A HARD HIT: "Yeah, it scared me a little bit because it kind of reminded me of the Earnhardt hit but that's why we got the safety equipment we've got. I'm fine but I just feel bad for our guys obviously. I mean this was the best shot I feel like we got at winning the 500 and going to the back like that I thought we had the car to beat."
ON KURT BUSCH TAKING RESPONSIBILITY AND SAYING IT WAS HIS MISTAKE ON LIVE TV: "I haven't seen it yet so we'll just wait and see."
ON HAVING THE FIELD PRETTY MUCH COVERED: "Yeah, I think we did. We had the best car by far all day. I felt like when we led I think we ran the better lap times. It's hard to say. Two out of the three days went exactly the way we wanted so I really can't complain but I'm still disappointed."
ON HIM BEING CALM AFTERWARDS: "There's nothing that I can do about it now so I can hang my head. I can be mad. I can be whatever but it's not going to help at this point until I see what happened on the TV."
YOU'RE STILL SMILING. ARE YOU CONFIDENT ABOUT THE SEASON? "I am excited about our season. These guys have done such a good job all week. Man our Chevy was fast, every time we went on the track it was fast. Just had good speed today. I am just proud of everybody at Home Depot, all 350,000 associates that were rooting for us today, we will just come back next year and get one. I was just in the middle of the corner and all of a sudden. It didn't take off easy, it took off pretty big. I'm not sure, I haven't seen it (the tape). You can't leave here disappointed. Any time you can win two out of three events, we've got a lot to smile about."
WHAT'S THE RACING LIKE OUT THERE? "If you're up front, it's not too bad. If you get in the back, the tire is so hard and you get in dirty air, it's hard. It took a long time to fight our way back. It's just not as easy as I thought it would be. You just get back there and your car is wicked tight. I'm just glad we got back to the front. We had a problem in the pits. It started with my mistake and then I just made the mistake worse even. I stalled it trying to get ahead of Robby (Gordon) who was coming in the stall ahead of us. And then the No. 38 and him got in a wreck. It took me a while to get going and then I was speeding and wasn't paying attention. But we had a really strong car today."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS:
YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO DEFEND YOUR DAYTONA 500 TITLE: "Yeah, that's definitely disappointing. These guys worked so hard at Hendrick Motorsports. I can't thank them enough for the race cars they give me. Unfortunately we crashed today. We got loose from the center. I thought I had it saved but it snapped back to the right. A disappointing day. This was a hard hit, but everything did its job inside the car and I'm fine.
"It was certainly disappointing to lose control of the car like that and then getting caught up in that wreck and cause that big pile up. We were trying to come up through the center and make up some time. I got lose in the center and fought it for most of Turn 2 and unfortunately lost control in the exit and got in the wall and took us out."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WAY THE YEAR IS BEGINNING FOR YOU? "This is one race of many. This race is so different than what the bulk of the season is. We certainly wanted to get off to a good start and not have a DNF coming out of the gate, but there is still a lot of racing left and we have a very strong race team."
HOW HIGH WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS COMING INTO TODAY? "They were high. I knew that they guys would put me in position to compete for the win. I just didn't make it to the finish, unfortunately. We had a problem with the car being really tight. We finally got it turning a little bit better. That caution came out and we were starting to make up some ground and get up close to the top 10 and unfortunately had a crash."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS:
"I was behind the No. 88 and couldn't see what caused the wreck, but I had nowhere to go. The No. 88 slowed down and I ran into him and got ran into. I don't know. We just wrecked. I couldn't see what was happening in front of me. We were coming off Turn 2 and I just saw sparks on the wall. I couldn't see what was happening in front of me because I was tucked in behind the No. 88."
DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD SOMETHING FOR THE LEADERS HAD THAT NOT HAPPENED? "No, I don't think so. We were trying everything we could try. The race wasn't over with, but we didn't bring enough bullets tonight."
ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO CHANGE UP YOUR ENGINE PACKAGE WHEN YOU GO TO TALLADEGA? "I would like to. We didn't bring a good bullet to the fight. We didn't have everything we needed to have. We're normally a lot better than this, and it's very frustrating to try to get out there and make things happen when the car just wouldn't cooperate. I made some moves too. I wasn't just the race car. Everybody was three wide and you didn't know which lane to be in. I just seemed like everywhere you went it was the wrong lane. It's just frustrating. We've had really, really good stuff down here. We need to look back. We used to really be good. I think if we looked back and tried to get our motors back in that kind of range and the rpm we used to run, we'd do better. But we ran a little more rpm this weekend with a higher package and it just didn't work for me."
YOU GO 150 LAPS AND EVERYTHING IS CLEAN, AND THEN WHEN YOU GET TO THOSE LAST 50 LAPS, EVERYTHING GETS MORE CONFUSING AND CRAZY. WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN YEAR AFTER YEAR FOR YOU? "It's a 500 mile race. The first 400, you are really just kind of cruising around making laps and trying not to wreck. And then when it's 30 or 40 to go, you know you're good on gas and you don't have to pit anymore, everybody lets it all hang out and you see a lot of smoke and bumping and tire-rubbing and carrying on and it's really, really nerve-wracking. I like being in front of it."
YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T FEEL LIKE YOU HAD A BULLET TO WIN. HOW DOES YOUR EQUIPMENT COMPARE NOW TO A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO? "We're not where we used to be and I think that's pretty obvious. The motors make good numbers. It's not a problem with the engine builders. The guys are building good power. It's how the car gets run in the draft and how the car holds the run for several laps. We're turning more rpm's with this package we've got down here. I'd get a run and I'd run out of rpm's. I get near the rev-limiter and the car won't turn anymore and the car won't run any faster. So we need to back it down a little bit and get the power in the torque range back down in the low 7000 range and see if that'll help."
TONY RAINES, NO. 96 DLP HDTV MONTE CARLO SS:
"It was just three-wide restrictor-plate racing. Somebody got into the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and caused a wreck. I don't know. Three-wide, with forty to go, I kind of expected that to happen. We had nowhere to go."
HOW WAS THE CAR UP UNTIL THE ACCIDENT? "We had gotten it better. The car was getting better. That was the best that it had been so far. It's disappointing. It's a long couple of weeks to be down here for it to end up like that. Mostly it was tight off of (Turn) 2 all day. But, we got it better and I was optimistic that we'd get a good finish."
ROGER STAUBACH, CO-OWNER, NO. 96 DLP HDTV MONTE CARLO SS:
"It's disappointing. We were obviously hoping for a better finish. We got caught up in a wreck, and Tony didn't have anywhere to go. Hopefully, we can come back next week at California and rebound a little bit. It's a setback to start the season this way, but we need to put this behind us and get ready for California."
JEFF GREEN, NO. 66 BEST BUY MONTE CARLO SS:
"It looked like Jimmie (Johnson) got up into the wall and then came down into us. There was nowhere for us to go. We never should have been back there to begin with. The Best Buy Chevy was awesome today. It was honestly one of the best cars I've ever had here, but our pit stops just killed us. We lost positions every time we came to pit road. We were in the top-five, came in to the pits, and lost something like 12 or 15 spots. On the one hand, it's exciting to know we've got really good cars this year, but we've got to get it done in the pits. We'll talk about it tomorrow back at the shop."
-credit: gm racing