TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed racing at Kansas, practice, windy conditions, the Chase, Danica Patrick, and more. WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed racing at Kansas, practice, windy conditions, the Chase, Danica Patrick, and more.
WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN ON SUNDAY NOW THAT YOU'VE BEEN ON THE TRACK? "I'm pretty excited this weekend so far. I think we ended up fifth in practice there and we were on top of the board for a minute. We got a good start to the weekend. I think our car felt good in race trim and we're pretty decent in qualifying trim right now. We're going to try to make it a little bit better for our qualifying run. We drew the first spot so we've got to go out first which isn't probably the most advantageous spot to take off for qualifying but we'll see what we get."
THE WIND IS FIERCE TODAY, WHAT DO YOU FEEL OUT THERE IN THE CARS MAKING SOME LAPS? "It was a little gustier at the beginning of the session then it was at the end. It seemed like it was a little more consistent at the end. It just changes. It depends on which direction the wind is blowing dictates how the entries and exit of the corner are and whether you've got to run with the head wind or tail wind down the straightaways or anything but it seems to be blowing from the front stretch to the back stretch so it only affects really the corners right now. It was a pretty big difference."
YOUR FIRST SEASON AS AN OWNER SO FAR HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE HAVE YOU HIT THAT POINT WITH YOUR TEAM WHERE ITS MORE OF AN EXPECTATION THAN A PLEASANT SURPRISE THAT YOU GUYS ARE RUNNING SO WELL? "I think we're through that stage now. Everybody is still happy about the fact that we're doing this in our first year but I think since the Chase has started we all not have expected more but we put more pressure on ourselves to perform better and consistent each week so we still feel like we have a shot at this championship. That's what we're all pushing for right now."
HOW DO YOU KIND OF RATE HOW YOU'VE RUN THE FIRST TWO RACES OF THE CHASE AND HOW MUCH ARE YOU WATCHING THE OTHER 11 GUYS? "We're really not right now. Obviously at the end of the race we look at the points sheet to see where we're at and see whether we've gained or lost but we don't worry about it in practice. You still have to go out and beat 42 guys each week. I think we would have like to obviously had a better Loudon and we would have likes to have finished better last weekend but we were a quick car. We just weren't as quick as the No. 48 was last week and we thought that taking four tires was going to be better for track position at the end there and we lost too much track position. So we thought there would be more guys take four tires. We made the guess that we thought was going to be right for us and lost out last week."
CAN YOU TALK TO US ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO SEE THE YOUNG KIDS HERE ENJOYING WHAT YOU DO AND THE COMMUNITY OUTREACH GOING TO CLASSROOMS AND THINGS YOU GUYS DO TO REACH OUT TO THE COMMUNITY OUTSIDE THE SPEEDWAY? "We don't get to do much outside the speedway obviously. We fly in on Thursdays and we race Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then we leave. That's the great thing about our sport its very fan friendly from everybody that's kids all the way up to people in their 70's and 80's. This is a sport that people have enjoyed for years and seeing the young kids that come to the track they're going to enjoy it for a lot of years to come. It's a good sign that our sport is healthy and we've got a good future."
IS THERE ANY CHANCE WE'LL EVER SEE YOU TAKE YOUR TEAM OR A TEAM OVER TO LUCAS OIL AS SPRINT CAR DIRT SERIES AND RUN 360'S BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE ITS GROWING REALLY BIG? "I think right now with the TV package we're pretty happy with the World of Outlaws side. It helps us sell our sponsorships knowing that they're going to be able to see our Armor All car and Bass Pro Shops cars on TV once a week almost through the summer. We always look at all the other series but it's hard to maintain a USAC program and a World of Outlaws program. It's hard enough to do just those two let alone branching out right now."
IS THERE ANYTHING NEW YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT DANICA PATRICK? WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO NASCAR IN TERMS OF POPULARITY AND MORE ATTENTION? "You need to ask NASCAR that. You've got to remember you guys (media) ask us questions and topics that we're not really that concerned about. I'm worried about making my car go fast this weekend and trying to figure out how to make my organization good for the rest of the Chase. I'm not worried about what somebody else is doing or I don't have this much time to sit and think like you do to try to figure out what the impact of it's going to be. I'm sure it would be huge. She's the most popular driver in IRL and for her to come here would be huge pat on the back to NASCAR, for sure. But what the true impact of it is, I have no clue (laughs). I don't know what it would be."
ENTERING INTO THIS PART OF THE CHASE, HAS ANYTHING SURPRISED YOU OR HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR TEAM REALLY RISE TO THE OCCASION? SPECIFICALLY, GIVE US SOME EXAMPLES. "I think they've got to do that every week. It's not something that you coast and collect for 26 weeks and then you show up on the first day of the Chase and say okay, now we're going to work hard and work 100 percent. They've been doing that all year. But I did notice something this morning when I got in the garage they were all joking around and smiling and having a good time. And that's the way we've been through the whole practice. So, that sets the tone for the weekend and then running good so far in practice has kind of doubled that. So I think we're off to a great weekend so far and I'm looking forward to carrying it out the next two days. I think we're going to have a really good weekend."
YOU WERE PRETTY EMOTIONAL LAST WEEK AFTER THE INCIDENT WITH JOEY LOGANO. WHEN DID YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO TALK TO JOEY AND GREG ZIPADELLI, AND HOW DID ALL THAT GO? "It went good. I talked to them both on Monday actually. I talked to Zip to get Joey's (phone) number. I didn't have it. That was the first time Joey had gotten upside-down, he told me, so it was definitely a new experience for him. I told him I've probably been upside-down more in Sprint cars than he will in his whole career. That was a pretty big wreck. That's the hard thing about these cars. You can't see through them to see what's going on in front. My intention was to follow Joey right in the corner and all of a sudden he had to jab the brakes really hard because of somebody going down in front of him. But it just was a bad spot on the track for that to happen."
-credit: gm racing