TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the new spoiler, racing at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson's popularity, his involvement in Ryan Newman's team, and more. TALK ABOUT HOW PRACTICE WENT FOR YOU TODAY: "It was good.
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the new spoiler, racing at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson's popularity, his involvement in Ryan Newman's team, and more.
TALK ABOUT HOW PRACTICE WENT FOR YOU TODAY: "It was good. We started in race trim and basically the last 20 minutes in qualifying trim. Car is driving pretty good so far."
HAVE YOU FOLLOWED BUTLER UNIVERSITY RUN THROUGH NCSS TOURNAMENT AND WHAT HAVE YOU PROVEN FROM LAST YEAR UNTIL NOW ON BEING SO CONSISTENT? "I haven't watched any basketball this season to be honest. I kind of wish I would of, but I haven't. I feel like everything we have done is because we have good people. We have guys like Bobby Hutchens and Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson. Ryan Newman as a teammate. That is the tip of the iceberg, it trickles down through the people that they have assembled. We have just been really fortunate to have really good people."
HOW MUCH ATTENTION AND INPUT DO YOU HAVE WITH RYAN'S TEAM? "As much as I put on my team. There is no point in having a second or third or fourth car if you don't put the same amount of effort in to all the cars. We have our competition meetings on Monday and we try to figure out what happened. We dissect the whole race and find out what happened. What we can do better. It just seems like there has been one thing every race that has caused Ryan to have the struggle he has had during the day so, we just have to figure out how to put the whole day together. They have got times when they are running really good, they just haven't been able to put the whole day together and that is what we are trying to figure out how we can help them do that."
TALK ABOUT PHOENIX. IS THAT A BIG SHORT TRACK? "Easy, you stay inside the concrete walls that are on the outside of the track. You stay to the left of that and you have pretty much navigated around there pretty successfully. You know, it races like a short track in all reality even though it is a mile, it races a lot like a short track because of how slick it gets. That track is a pretty old surface but that is what makes it fun is because it makes you have to work so hard to get your car right and get it driving good there. It is a place I like. It is one of my favorite tracks we go to all year is Phoenix is because of that."
LOOKS LIKE YOU AND TRAVIS KVAPIL GOT TOGETHER AT THE END OF PRACTICE, WHAT HAPPENED, WE ONLY SAW THE END OF IT? "That is a really good question, I wish I knew the answer to that. That is all I saw was the end of it too when he checked up in front of us. Not sure why that happened."
ARE BRAKES AN ISSUE HERE FOR YOU? "I'll be honest, even when guys were still having trouble with brakes; we were one of the teams that historically didn't have trouble week to week. That is part of why we have been decent on road courses too is because our brake package is pretty good. I've guess I'm just not really hard on brakes for some reason. "It never seems to really be an issue for us. I don't think we have really worried about it for three or four years now. The brake packages have gotten better all the way across the board, even with teams that really struggled with brakes seem to have a lot better under to control now."
AS A TWO-TIME CHAMPION, HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO GET INTO THE OTHER COMPETITORS HEADS? "Yes, definitely. But, the thing is, there is a group of guys that are easy to do that to and there is a group of guys that it is impossible to no matter what you try to do, you can't get in their heads. Then there is a group of guys that it is real easy to get in their heads. Everybody is different but there are definitely groups that you can use that to your advantage."
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON 'HAVE AT IT BOYS' AND DO YOU THINK WE ARE GOING TO HAVE ANY ON-TRACK POLICING THIS WEEKEND? "I thought we handled and answered that question at Daytona during the media day there so I think that is already in the books."
HOW MUCH HAS THE AIR PURIFICATION SYSTEM FOR DRIVERS BEEN IMPROVED? "I think it is more what NASCAR has done to help out. It seems like everybody has kind of worked together on making it a better air package. It is a lot better than it used to be. In the last two years in particular it is quite a bit better and significantly different. It is a lot better and at the end of the race you feel a lot better. NASCAR will come down and take readings with the drivers after the race and it has been cut in half in the last couple of years from what we saw two, three, four years ago. They have definitely made huge gains in that area and that is better for us down the road."
WHAT HAS DARIAN GRUBB MEANT TO THIS TEAM? "He's the backbone of it. We couldn't do any of it without him. He was such a huge part of when we hired him a year and a half ago of really getting the ball rolling and getting the process started and getting the right people hired in the right positions. He had to do a lot of work that was above and beyond a crew chief's job to get everything going. There is absolutely no way that we would be where we are with this organization without him right now."
ON THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED, HOW CHALLENGING IS IT AND HOW DOES IT STAND OUT? "Well, you know that every corner counts in that green-white-checkered. You've got four chances to get through a corner better than somebody else and you know that you have to make that count. A lot of it is the circumstances of how many cars you get by are the tire strategies. And we had the luxury in Atlanta; we had just gotten back on the lead lap there and were able to get tires and that gave us the opportunity to get by those guys. It's controlled chaos. Everybody is trying to get that one last spot and they know they've got two laps to do it in and everybody is bunched together when that happens. So it's a pretty wild two laps (laughs) and you're normally glad when it's over.
"I think a situation like Atlanta where it's wide and the tires are so different, that makes a bigger difference than it does here (Martinsville). It seems like it takes three or four laps for things to kind of sort out here, so it's really hard to get two lines. You're not going to run three-wide here anyway, so starting double file, a lot of times it's going to stay that way and whichever line gets going you might get a spot because of that. But it's hard to make up a bunch of spots here. Guys could have 100 laps on their tires and if there are 10 of them in front of you in a green-white-checkered and you have four brand new tires and you're the fastest car all day, you're not going to get back by 10 cars in the last two laps."
IN THE PAST, IT SEEMS LIKE WHEN A GUY DOMINATES, AFTER A WHILE PEOPLE GET TIRED OF IT AND THEY START BOOING HIM LIKE CRAZY. DO YOU HAVE A THEORY AS TO WHY JIMMIE JOHNSON DOESN'T SEEM TO ATTRACT THAT REACTION FROM THE FANS? "It's because he doesn't do anything on the race track that makes them mad other than win. He's the kind of guy that it's hard to not like Jimmie. He's personable. I get along with him great. Every time I won a race last year, he was one of the first people to send me a text message congratulating me. And I think that shows Jimmie's personality and character. He's just not one of those guys that goes out there and gets into guys and gets into trouble with guys on the race track that creates some of that animosity that the fans have sometimes."
DOES THE NEW SPOILER MAKE THE CAR LOOK LIKE A GOOD OLD RACE CAR? "It looks like a car with a spoiler on it to me. We're worried about making them go fast. I mean, I'm not entering it in a car show for appearance, so it doesn't really matter to me. I'm trying to figure out how to make it handle good. Sorry, I don't think about that stuff (laughs)."
AFTER THE FIRST PRACTICE HERE AT MARTINSVILLE, DID YOU FEEL ANY DIFFERENCE WITH THE NEW SPOILER? "No. We didn't notice any difference. You're running about 80 mph here; you're not really going to feel a difference."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT RACING AT MARTINSVILLE? "It's still that old short track feel. That's what I like. We run a lot of 1.5-mile tracks during the year and this is the only place that races like this. We've got two half-mile tracks that we race on. This one's quite a bit different than where we raced last week (Bristol) and that's what makes it fun here. You can out-brake guys; you can run the outside if you get a shot, but it's racing the way we all grew up racing."
-source: gm racing