TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed racing at New Hampshire, his approach to the Chase, sponsorships and other topics. HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT A MAN CAN...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed racing at New Hampshire, his approach to the Chase, sponsorships and other topics.
HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT A MAN CAN WIN FIVE STRAIGHT RACES? "If anybody can do it, that's the team (Jimmie Johnson, No. 48) that can do it. But I think this is probably the best shot that 11 guys have had in four years to keep those guys from doing that. It's the most competitive Chase field we've ever had. It's really anybody's game right now. There is a lot of racing that has to go on. There are a lot of variables out of our control each week. It's no different today. They have just as good a shot this year as they've had the last four years of winning a championship. It's not whether they can do it five times in a row. It's can they do it this year? That's the big thing."
WHEN YOU WON THE TITLE IN 2005, YOU DID IT WITHOUT WINNING A RACE IN THE CHASE. WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT CHASE? WHAT STANDS OUT?
"Gosh, I couldn't even tell you who ran second that year. I don't even know who we were racing. The thing that I think everybody gets into trying to look for a pattern and I don't think you can. There might be and it may play out into a pattern, but you can't start the Chase thinking about a pattern that happened over the last two or three years because every year is different. There are so many things that can change and so many things that can go right or go wrong that it's hard to say just because something has happened the last two or three years in a row, that it can happen that way again."
IN YOUR SEARCH FOR SPONSORSHIP, HAVE YOU BEEN FORCED TO TRY NEW APPROACHES OR APPROACH DIFFERENT KINDS OF COMPANIES THAT YOU DIDN'T NECESSARILY THINK YOU WOULD TRY TO REACH OUT TO? "I think you always have to be that way. I think you always have to think outside the box. When you're selling something, and you go in there with the same approach that everybody else has, what makes your organization stand out from theirs? I think that's kind of the way we thought about it from day one because we were a new company anyway, so it was easy to start with new ideas and a new approach."
EVEN WITH THE ECONOMY IN A SLUMP, IS IT SURPRISING THAT GUYS LIKE YOU AND JEFF GORDON, STARS OF THE SPORT, ARE LOOKING FOR SPONSORS AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON? "Not necessarily. We all understand the situation. We all understand why corporate America has had to pull the reigns back a little bit. So is it a surprise and a shock? No, not necessarily. If you look in this garage area, it's still a thriving sport and it's still represented by a lot of Fortune 500 companies. I wouldn't stand here and say that we're all in bad shape, because the sport is very healthy right now. All you've got to do is walk through the garage area and see that."
HOW IMPORTANT IS A GOOD STARTING PLACE HERE AT NHMS GIVEN IT IS THE START OF THE CHASE? "It's no different than it would be here in the spring. You approach this race just like you do the spring race. You can't race with the Chase in mind. You have got to race the race and you have to take it one week at a time. We had a good practice this morning. I feel like we have a good base to start from tomorrow. It is a three-day weekend and we will literally take it one day at time and focus each day on what the job is and the what that task is for that day and not over think the rest of it. I think that is where you get yourself in trouble, just thinking about the stuff that is really out of our control right now. So you just focus on the things that we did to get ourselves in the Chase."
IF IT SUNNY TOMORROW, WILL YOU BE ABLE TO ADJUST TO THAT? WILL IT BE SMALL ADJUSTMENTS OR DOES IT MEAN YOU HAVE TO START OVER? "I think where we are at right now, small adjustments will get us there. We had those changing conditions...it wasn't this cool obviously in the spring, but we had times during the weekend and even during the race where we had overcast skies for a long period and sunny periods. So, we know what we have to do to equal the car back out depending on how the conditions change."
THE IMPROVEMENTS YOU GUYS HAVE MADE OF LATE, WAS IT A GRADUAL IMPROVEMENT OF FINDING SMALL THINGS OVER TIME OR WAS THERE A EUREKA MOMENT? "No, there never was that big, big gain. It has been a lot of little things throughout the season, especially the last two and a half to three months I feel like. I'm happy with that. I'm not sure I wanted to find one big chunk. It's nice to see that in different departments we found little things and it shows the whole organization is pulling their weight and working really hard and staying pumped up. It's not just one group found something and everybody else was like 'whew, we don't have work for it'. Everybody is doing their part, finding their part of the equation to make us better."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT DOVER? "It is a track that is kind of a two-phase deal. It is easy to get your car too tight in the center trying to get it to drive up off the corner nice and it seems like if you get it to rotate through the corner then it is way loose off. That's the two things that you really battle there. It is the sacrifice of which one do you want to be a little bit off to accomplish having a balanced car."
HOW IMPORTANT WILL IT BE TO GET OUT OF DOVER AS CLEAN AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN? "It's as important as the other nine that aren't Dover. It is one of 10. It is one-tenth of the equation. There's not going to be emphasis on one track versus another. We have to be setup for 10 races at 10 tracks. So, that is what we are doing."
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT ONE TRACK OR FOCUS MORE ON ONE? "No."
HOW DO YOU COMPARE THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF MAKING IT AS A RACE CAR DRIVER AS TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF GETTING YOUR TEAM TOGETHER? "The same as it was last year at this time. We did the same thing last year so it is the feeling is the same, the effort is the same. It is having the right people in the right positions which is the same thing we have talked about for the last year and a half also. Not of that has changed. You hire good people, you hire them to do the right jobs and then when I come here on the weekends. I worry about driving. Bobby Hutchens (Director of Competition) assumes that ownership role on the weekend for us and handles all that side of it."
-source: gm racing