TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed racing at Auto Club Speedway, status of Stewart-Haas Racing and other topics. WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY?: "I...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed racing at Auto Club Speedway, status of Stewart-Haas Racing and other topics.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY?: "I think this weekend will be a lot truer test of what our season will be like versus last week. We had a pretty good practice there. Usually guys are using it more for qualifying practice, but with the uncertainty of the weather tomorrow, we used the majority of the time for race practice and felt like we had a decent start. I feel like we have a ways to go, but we felt like we made gains on it through the session there. Our mock qualifying run, in qualifying trim we ran five-hundredths of a second faster than we did in race trim so we have a little work to do on the qualifying trim side."
ARE YOU IN A POSITION TO FINE-TUNE YOUR CAR OR DO YOU NEED TO TAKE A BIG SWING?: "I think we're still taking swings at it right now, just from the standpoint that we are on a different tire now than we were here in the fall. It's learning what that tire likes and dislikes and figuring out what you have to do to get the balance of it. I would like to say that we are fine-tuning, but I feel like we're a little further than that right now."
HOW IS THE WEATHER AFFECTING THE CARS AND THE TRACK RIGHT NOW?: "This place is pretty temperature sensitive, it definitely has more grip when its cooler, but a day like today where the sun is kind of peeking in and out it's not really going to change a whole lot. The fact of more rubber getting built up on the track as the session is going on will change the handling more than the actual sun will at this point. If you get a hot, sunny day on Sunday it definitely magnifies everyone's problems. It seems like this place, if you're tight, your car gets tighter when it gets hot. If it's loose, then it gets looser. It's more just tuning what you have."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WATCH JAMIE MCMURRAY WIN THE DAYTONA 500?: "The thing that I saw, Jamie (McMurray) is a perfect example, when you guys constantly ask us what it would mean to win the Daytona 500, that's pretty much inside how we all feel. I think his reaction after the race said it all and it's nice to see somebody like him, Jamie is one of those genuinely nice guys, he's always smiling and he's always fun-natured around everybody. It's nice to see somebody like him get his first win there."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALIFYING AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY?: "You definitely, as much as the drivers are pretty accurate when they say that we don't really do much at Daytona because we don't. We still have to guide it around there and we have to do our little things that help the car stay freed up and keep from scrubbing off speed, but we're going to hold it wide open at Daytona. Here, we're going to lift, we're going to use the brakes. No matter who gets the pole, they're going to use the brakes a little bit today. It definitely puts more of the equation in our hands today and I can't say that it really has felt different today, it's not been a situation where, wow, I haven't been in one of these for a while and I haven't had to use the brakes and now it's all different. It's kind of felt like we really haven't stopped, which is really kind of a cool feeling."
WILL YOU DRIVE IN ONE OF OUR MIDGET OR SPRINT CARS NEXT WEEK IN LAS VEGAS? "No, but I'll be there to watch them, but I wont be in one. We have one USAC Sprint car and then the two Outlaw Sprint cars."
DO THE DRIVERS FEEL THAT THE ATTENTION PAID TO DANICA PATRICK IS TOO MUCH?: "No, we don't think so, it's just that you guys keep pestering us about her gets to be too much. After a while you wonder how much you can talk about the same topic and we haven't even gotten her to her first regular race and we're still talking about the same stuff. Our opinion about her hasn't changed, I still think she has an extremely high amount of talent. I think that if the media will give her enough room to learn and not big the daylights out of her where she can't breath, I think she'll be fine. That opinion from last week to this week, it really hasn't changed."
WHAT WAS YOUR OVERALL IMPRESSIONS OF YOUR TEAM AT DAYTONA? "We were terrible and I wish I could put a finger on why we were so bad, but we were. We just never got the balance. We were that way from the time we unloaded in Shootout practice the first week through the 500. We fought the same thing and never could come up with a solution to fix the problem. I don't know what we missed there, but we're going to keep digging into it until we figure it out."
IS THERE A CONCERN THAT YOU WILL BE FIGHTING THE SAME PROBLEM MOVING FORWARD?: "If it happened this week then we would worry about it a little bit more going into Vegas than we would going from Daytona to California because of the packages being different. I'm concerned about how we're going to be when we go back to Daytona in July right now."
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR NEXT WEEKEND AT LAS VEGAS?: "It's no different at Las Vegas than anywhere else, you have to get it to rotate the corner, but still stay tight enough on entry and exit. There's no unique challenges there, it's a cookie-cutter mile-and-a-half so it's the same thing that we fight 18 races a year. Nice thing is that the place is really smooth and that really lets you work on the attitude of your car and I think that's a luxury that we have there that we don't necessarily always get everywhere because every track has its unique set of bumps. Vegas has there's too, but for the most part it's so smooth that you can really fine-tune the attitude of the car."
DO YOU DRIVE AS AN OWNER OR DRIVER AND HOW HAS IT CHANGED SINCE YOU BECAME THE TEAM OWNER? "It hasn't from the driving side. I think I've been on the ownership side long enough not only with the Cup stuff, but with my open wheel teams that I've run periodically here and there. When you get in them you are just thinking about being a driver, you're not thinking about making payroll at the end of the week or all the other things that you worry about when you're outside the car. When you're in the car, if you're thinking about anything other than driving the car then you probably shouldn't be in there to begin with. I think that's something that's been really easy to separate the two for us."
HOW DO YOU THINK TWITTER COULD HELP YOU? "I have no idea because I don't do anything with that stuff. I actually have enough productive stuff to do with my life other than sit there and tell everybody what I'm doing every minute of every day. I really don't mess with it. I've heard about it, I've heard a lot about it, but don't know anything about it."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAVING TWO RACES AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY EVERY YEAR? "If it's not here, it will be somewhere else. It doesn't matter to us as competitors. We just want to race and we really don't care where it's at."
-source: gm racing