TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: HOW GOOD IS YOUR CAR RIGHT NOW? "I think we're decent right now. The hard thing is with a two-mile track like this, they only let so many cars on the track at a time and if you don't go out in...
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
HOW GOOD IS YOUR CAR RIGHT NOW? "I think we're decent right now. The hard thing is with a two-mile track like this, they only let so many cars on the track at a time and if you don't go out in a pack of cars you really don't know where you're at. The first run, everybody was making their first run on race setups and we were pretty good with everybody out there. But, the second time we went back out, we weren't around anybody, so it's kind of hard to tell how you stack up and who we're going to be racing tomorrow."
WOULD A LOT OF LONG RUNS TOMORROW PLAY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE? "It might. Our cars are normally better midway to the end of a run. If you break it up into thirds, the center third and the last third of the run are our strong points. It seems like when everybody is on stickers, everybody runs about the same pace. Our car just doesn't typically fall off. We may not start off as quick, but if we're a tenth off at the beginning, we may break even in the middle of the run and maybe be a tenth or two better at the end of the run."
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON JIMMIE JOHNSON AND THE START HE IS OFF TO? "I think he is doing a great job. With who his car owners are (Jeff Gordon), he definitely stepped into a situation with a lot of pressure. But, I think he has adapted really well. He is definitely one of those guys that is paying attention to what is going on out there and he has learned a lot in a short amount of time."
GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON TOMORROW'S RACE "We've run well here. We've run in the top five every time we've been here. We finished like ninth or something one time (10th, 2000), but we ran second or third all day and just had a problem at the very, very end. But, Tony does a good job here. Our cars have been good and we've been better at this type of racetrack this year. We're really looking forward to a good run here tomorrow. The Home Depot Pontiac has been strong right off the truck. It's real comfortable and now we're just tweaking on it."
DO YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOU CAN WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR? "Yeah. The people in front of us really haven't stumbled. When we have finished, we have finished in the top five. The three times we haven't finished, we obviously weren't there at the end, but we've had at least a top five car in every one of them. I don't know that anyone else in this garage area can stand here and say that they've had a car capable of winning almost every race they were in. That says a lot for the group of guys here. We started the season a lot stronger than we have in the past. We think we know what we need to do. We've just got to be able to take everything we've done so far in the first nine races and carry our momentum the rest of the way.
"We're not out of it. The '40' car (Sterling Marlin) may go out and have three DNFs in the next month. You don't know. And if we can, we're going to outrun them. If it comes down to the last four or five races of the year, then we'll look at where we are. I don't think you're ever out of it until you're out of it. I think it's way too early to look and say that we're not in it."
"If he has the rabbit's foot all year and keeps knocking off top fives and top 10s and doesn't have any problems, then we won't catch him. But, we'll work hard at winning races, leading laps and getting more bonus points than anybody else."
JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
IS YOUR TEAM GAINING ON THINGS A LITTLE BIT? "Yeah, we definitely have a turn-around going on here. The past five races we still don't have results to show for it, but we've had cars good enough to win. We've just down on our luck. And, I know that you make your own luck, but a lot of it has been circumstances. Johnny [Benson] has been in a lot of wrecks that have not been his fault. Last year we literally bent only one race car all year. This year we have bent nine of them. It's just a lot of circumstantial things, but we do feel like we're back on track.
"Our confidence is climbing back up. We feel real good. We qualified 11th yesterday with a car that had less than 20 laps on it and had been wrecked once. They say that momentum is a big thing. But one thing we're working on at the shop is that we're explaining to everybody that momentum is in your head. We're trying to get back to being able to control the things that we can control because there are so many things we can't control. But, things are changing on this team and we're definitely pointing in the right direction again."
ON JACK ROUSH "Jack is a great guy and what happened last week was really unfortunate. For me personally - and maybe he doesn't realize it - Jack is one of my heroes. He is the guy that has done more for me in this sport than anybody else has. Our relationship didn't end the way I would have liked it to, but that doesn't mean that I don't carry a lot of respect for that man. He is impressive. You look at the things that Jack has been able to do in his life - he is a pretty special guy. For me, it was good to hear last week that he was coming back out of things. Anybody that knows Jack knows he is going to pull out of it just fine, as long as he has got the opportunity to do it. It's great to hear that he is doing better."