Stewart - Bristol II Friday media visit

Team Chevy press conference

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 BASS PRO SHOPS/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed upcoming plans for Danica Patrick, on locking into the Chase, turning the program around, and more.

Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

HOW WAS PRACTICE? “Well, we’re just fighting a tight car right now. If we can get it to cut I think we’ll be fine, but we’re struggling right now.”

ON DANICA PATRICK RUNNING SOME CUP RACES FOR STEWART-HAAS RACING IN 2012 “We’re excited about it. She’s putting 100 percent into it and that’s something that we’re excited about. She is definitely deserving of an opportunity like this and we’re excited and honored that she chose us to do it with.”

ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT DANICA PATRICK RUNNING IN A CUP CAR AT THE DAYTONA 500 NEXT YEAR? “We’re worried about other stuff right now. We’re working on her schedule and when we have a schedule, we’ll let you guys know what those races are going to be. But right now, we have a lot of things to work on.”

WHEN DO YOU HAVE TO START THINKING ABOUT PERSONNEL? “A month ago. You don’t make decisions like this and not already start that process.”

HOW FAR ALONG THAT ROAD ARE YOU? “We’ll let you guys know. We’re working on it, guys. We’ve got a lot of stuff to do. There’s a lot of stuff not done yet; there’s a lot of stuff that has to be done and we’re in that process. We are in the middle of getting it all done.”

ON KEEPING THE CAR IN THE TOP-35 EVERY WEEK, DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING THAT CAR ON THE TRACK FULL-TIME? “Yeah, we’d love to. If we can put together a package to run somebody in the rest of the races, we would love to do that. It’s in everybody’s best interest to do that and I know it would be good for us as a team to be able to go ahead and run that car full time next year if that opportunity presents itself.”

IS THERE A SENSE OF EXCITEMENT AT STEWART-HAAS RACING ABOUT THE DANICA PATRICK ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE TEAM? “Well, I was gone yesterday. Unfortunately I had a previous media engagement that I had to fulfill yesterday, but I’m sure next week when we get around the shop I’m going to get a better sense of that for sure. It’s been hard to keep it quiet around our shop obviously, but all along we’ve wanted to be a third and fourth-car team, so now having that opportunity to add a third car, I know that’s going to create a lot of excitement.”

ON KYLE BUSCH HAVING MUCH SUCCESS AT BRISTOL “Well, he runs three nights a week when he comes here. That’s an easy way to win a lot of races when you run three times the races everybody else does.”

YOU HAVE THREE RACES TO GO TO LOCK YOURSELF INTO THE CHASE, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PRESSURE? “I’m more worried about just getting our program back on track. Just like today. We’re kind of struggling today. I want to make the Chase more than anything. I want it for our sponsors. I want it for our organization. But most of all, I just want us to get back on track. If that means we miss the Chase in the process, we do. But we’re going to try to do everything we can to make it. Like I say, the most important thing is getting our program back on track.”

WILL THE DECISION ON WHICH RACES DANICA PATRICK RUN NEXT YEAR IN CUP BE A SPONSOR DECISION OR WHAT WILL IT BE BASED ON? “When we have that we’ll let you know. When we have the schedule, we’ll let you know. We don’t have it set yet. We’ll figure it out.”

I GUESS WHAT I’M ASKING IS… “I know what you’re asking. I don’t have an answer to your question. When we have the schedule done, we will let you know.”

OBVIOUSLY THERE IS ENOUGH TIME TO MAKE THE CHASE, BUT IS THERE ENOUGH TIME TO BE A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER? “I think so. If things can get turned around, and obviously if we knew what the problem was, we would fix it. But you know it could turn around in a week; it may not turn around the rest of the year. We don’t know. But the thing is, that’s our main goal right now is to get this program turned around and get us back on track and get us where we know we need to be and deserve to be. We’ll keep working hard toward that and we’ve got to take it one day at a time. I would love for it to be sooner rather than later, obviously.”

IT SEEMS LIKE BY WHAT YOU SAID LAST WEEK, IT WOULD BE A BIG CHANGE. HOW OFTEN DO YOU SEE BIG CHANGES HAPPENING IN A FIVE TO SIX-WEEK PERIOD IN THIS SPORT? IS THAT POSSIBLE? “Like I say, if I knew what the change was, we would have made it by now. I don’t know what the change is or what we’ve got to do to get it right. But we’re not going to stop until we figure it out. We will keep working until we get it sorted out and figured out. We won’t quit on it.”

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACED WITH AT ATLANTA BY GOING FROM DAYLIGHT INTO NIGHT RACING? “Just the balance change, really. If you notice the track cools down at Atlanta and it gains a lot of grip. It’s a very temperature-sensitive race track. So, the biggest thing is just keeping your balance and keeping up with it as it cools off. Normally, I can’t say that it changes a bunch balance-wise, it just changes a lot grip-wise. So, just having the car adjustable enough from the start of the race to the end of the race.”

AS A DRIVER, WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT ATLANTA? “Just understanding what you’re going to have at the beginning isn’t what you’re going to have at the end of the day; you have to be patient until it gets dark and until that temperature cools down. And once it starts settling into the nighttime hours, you can kind of get a better idea on what you’re going to have for the rest of the day.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY DESIRE TO RUN DANICA PATRICK IN A FULL SCHEDULE IN CUP NEXT YEAR? “No, that’s why we’re running her in a partial schedule next year.”

WELL THERE WAS SOME TALK THAT MAYBE SHE WOULD TRY TO JUMP IN. BUT DID YOU FEEL LIKE THE SCHEDULE THAT’S PLANNED IS THE BEST FOR HER? “Yes. Absolutely. The way it’s laid out is a really good schedule. For her to be able to just be in a stock car every week is going to be great for her. It’s going to be a great experience and then to run her in the amount of races we’re going to run her in will be good to get her ready for Cup in 2013.”

DANICA PATRICK SAID THAT WON’T FIGURE OUT THAT SCHEDULE UNTIL SHE SITS DOWN WITH YOU AND THAT YOU WILL BE THE PRIMARY INFLUENCER. WHEN DO YOU THINK YOU’LL HAVE A CHANCE TO SIT DOWN WITH HER? “As soon as we can; as soon as we can. Like I said, we want to get it locked in now so we can be making plans ahead of time for it and get her program ready.”

KELLEY EARNHARDT SAID SOMETHING ABOUT STEWART-HASS RACING BEING UNDER THE JR MOTORSPORTS UMBRELLA. IS IT MORE THE HENDRICK UMBRELLA? WHAT DID SHE MEAN BY THAT? “I’m not exactly sure (laughs), to be honest with you. I’m sure somebody does in or organization, but I’m not exactly sure what she means by that. I’m just worried about making sure that the races that we run, that we’re doing a good job of giving her the best equipment that we can and give her the best opportunity to succeed in her goals.”

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bristol, chevrolet, sprint cup, stewart