Las Vegas: Tony Stewart and Jair Gensollen interview

Jair Gensollen, Winston No Bull 5 Fan Contestant Paired With Tony Stewart, White Plains, N.Y. "My name is Jair Gensollen. I am from White Plains, N.Y. I am a student of occupational therapy and I also work in a rehabilitations hospital. I ...

Jair Gensollen, Winston No Bull 5 Fan Contestant
Paired With Tony Stewart, White Plains, N.Y.

"My name is Jair Gensollen. I am from White Plains, N.Y. I am a student of occupational therapy and I also work in a rehabilitations hospital. I work full-time in the morning, I go to school at night and I only have thing to say: 'Thank you, Lord.' I am very happy to be here.

TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

ON RUNNING FOR THE WINSTON NO BULL 5 BONUS TOMORROW: "I'm pretty excited. We were one of the many teams that came out and tested here. We didn't test last year and I think the results showed that we needed to come out here. We took one of our seven tests, came out here and felt like we left as one of the better cars from the test. With our qualifying run yesterday, starting 15th - that's a pretty good start for us, so it's just a matter of going out there and trying to keep the balance of the car good all day. But, I think we've got a shot here, so we'll try to make our student here (Gensollen) a little wealthier without having to finish school first."

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THE $1 MILLION BONUS TOMORROW? "It would be great. We race for large amounts of prize money every week in the Winston Cup Series now. If we win this 'million,' he (Gensollen) is going to get 100 percent of a million [dollars], I'm going to get a portion of a million [dollars]. But, to know that you helped somebody out and could possibly help change somebody's life, it's a pretty neat opportunity. To have R J Reynolds put that kind of money up for these guys five times a year, that's a pretty neat deal for the race fans. I'm probably more excited for him than I am myself on this because, to me, I still have to look at it as a points race. I have to look at it as 'race three of 36,' but for our friend over here, it's a lot more important than that. It will be great if we can actually win the thing and try to help him change his life."

GENSOLLEN:

ON YOUR BACKGROUND: "I am from Peru - Latin America. I've been here almost seven years. I came here to have the American dream, basically. My mom is in Lima, Peru right now. Hopefully she is watching FOX. I have a lot of confidence in Tony and let's just have a good time tomorrow. Whatever happens, happens."

STEWART:

"You keep that attitude and it will make my day a lot more easy."

GENSOLLEN:

HOW KNOWLEDGEABLE ARE YOU ABOUT NASCAR WINSTON CUP RACING? "I did my homework. I went online. I tried to learn a little more about this sport. But, the real fan is actually my brother and he likes this guy (Stewart). I'm just happy that I got lucky and got paired with him. But, hopefully from today, I will become a NASCAR 'big fan.'"

STEWART:

WHAT STRATEGY WILL IT TAKE TO PULL THIS OFF TOMORROW? "It's basically the same thing we go through every week. Track position is going to be important. It always is here, and keeping the balance of the car good all day. It's easy to have a car that drives good at the beginning of a race here, but as the track conditions change it's easy to lose that balance. To have a car that is adjustable enough to be able to compensate throughout the day and not only be good at the beginning of the race, but be good at the end of the race - that is the biggest key to winning races here. I've been here in Indy cars and stock cars and it's always been the same. You have to have an adjustable enough car to be able to compensate all day for whatever the track conditions do."

DID QUALIFYING SURPRISE YOU YESTERDAY? "Not from our standpoint."

HOW ABOUT THE OTHER TEAMS? "It seemed a little odd yesterday. Some guys that you didn't expect to qualify up front did. Some guys that you expected to qualify up front qualified in the back. But, I think it's just showing how competitive this series is. We ran about the same time that we practiced. But, in qualifying I had a solid first lap, tried a little harder to get a little more the second lap and probably could have gained more time if had slowed down just a little bit. But, it's putting a lot of pressure on the drivers and the teams to really step up the qualifying programs. When you see guys like Todd Bodine going out there and gaining six tenths of a second in qualifying, it raises the bar of what you have to do to start up front in these races."

WHY DO YOU SEEM TO RUN BETTER ON FLAT TRACKS THAN BANKED TRACKS? "I'm scared of heights. I honestly don't know, to be honest. In my open wheel career, I ran better on banked tracks than I did flat tracks. I think a lot of it has to do with Greg Zipadelli, to be honest. He is the guy that puts the setup under the car. If the car drives good, you go fast. If it doesn't drive good, you don't go fast."

DOES THE ONE-ENGINE RULE FORCE YOU TO FOCUS MORE ON THE RACE SETUP ON FRIDAYS? "I don't think so, because if you look at how many laps guys ran in practice yesterday it really wasn't a lot of laps. You figure everybody that did qualifying runs, every time they went out it was four laps. You had an 'out' lap, two timed laps and an 'in' lap. Half of those 'in' laps were clean cuts where the motor wasn't running anyway, so as far as time on the motor, we probably didn't run 17 laps on it. We've probably only got 20-some miles on the motor."

ON HOW YOUR DAYTONA ENGINE FAILURE ALTERED THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE FOR YOU: "I think everybody is kind of realistic about the fact that knowing in 36 races that you're going to have three or four bad days during the year. You hope you don't have any, but I think being realistic, everybody looks at it that you're going to have three or four, I guess. We just look at it that that was one of them. You hate to use that card up early, but you know that that is probably going to happen to some of these other people down the road. Dale Jarrett had it last week. You just know that it is one week that you throw out. After Daytona is over, you just have to forget about Daytona and go to Rockingham. We finished fourth there and gained 21 spots in the points in one week. Now, last week is over and you focus on this week. If you take it one week at a time, you just don't worry about it. What it is, is what it is. You go to next week and try to do the best you can and compensate from there."

WAS IT A RELIEF TO GET THINGS ROLLING AT ROCKINGHAM? "Yeah. I think you guys know because you guys are the ones that remind me that we get off to a slow start and remind me how big of a deficit I normally have by the eighth race or so. We know that we need to try to stay as close to the front as we can these first seven or eight races. But, it doesn't really change the approach or anything - there is no mindset change. You just know that after the eighth race, you hope that you're a little closer than you were last year. But, we still just take it one week at a time. That is the only way that you can do this and be good in the business, and that is to do it one day and one race at a time."

-pontiac racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Tony Stewart , Todd Bodine