Stewart - Richmond II Friday media visit

Team Chevy press release

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed making the Chase, strong run last week at Atlanta, being a team owner and other topics.

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

YOU WERE 30TH IN PRACTICE; HOW IS YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE: “I think we are better that. We had a back marker, that is a consistent back marker, pull out in front of us on our last run, so, didn’t give us a chance to really see exactly what we’ve got there. I think our race car is a lot better than where we are probably going to qualify so excited for it.”

WHAT YOU HAVE SAID OVER THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS IS YOU GUYS NEEDED SPEED IN ORDER TO BE COMPETITIVE EVEN IF YOU MAKE THE CHASE; LAST WEEK AT ATLANTA, YOU HAD IT. HOW INDICATIVE IS THAT OF HOW FAR YOU GUYS HAVE COME? “We were good at Atlanta last year too so you take it a week at a time. There’s no…just because we ran good one week, we have to do it week in and week out to say we are where we need to be. It was a good feeling to have a good run at the end last week. But, we have to do it for 10 straight weeks if we make this thing.”

18TH OR BETTER IS ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TOMORROW NIGHT TO BE IN THE CHASE, HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU THAT YOU CAN DO THAT? “I haven’t seen all the time sheets yet. I mean I just literally got out of the car from practice. So, we’ll wait and see what the lap tracker shows as far as us versus the field. I feel like we’ve got a more stable car than what we’ve had here in the past. We’ll wait and see.”

WHAT IS THE SITUATION LIKE FOR YOU RIGHT NOW? “We have to finish 18th or better, same thing as you’ve known all week.”

DO YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE OR DOES THIS FEEL LIKE A NORMAL WEEK? “The pressure is all of the media standing here. We’re doing the same thing we always do every week. It’s you guys asking us the same questions for eight straight weeks in a row is annoying. That’s where the pressure is coming in because we’re answering the same thing that we answered for the last seven straight weeks. That is where it gets annoying after awhile and gets to be very monotonous.”

WHAT SHOULD WE BE ASKING YOU? “I don’t know. I don’t do your job. Come up with something original.” WELL, I THINK THIS PARTICULAR WEEK THAT IS UNFAIR BECAUSE THIS IS A BIG WEEK: “All right, here’s the thing. All I care about is what I am doing this week. I’m not worried about what’s going to make your article this week. If it doesn’t make my race car go fast, I really don’t care about it right now. Got a lot of things going on.” THAT’S FAIR, BUT YOU ARE IN A POSITION…”So ask me a question that’s original this week.” I THINK THE QUESTION IS THE SAME THIS WEEK BECAUSE OF WHERE YOU ARE IN THE STANDINGS: “Ok, then go back the last seven weeks and get the same answer I used the last seven weeks. I’m doing exactly the same thing I’ve been doing.”

YOU DISCUSSED LAST WEEK THAT THE ONE PLACE YOU GUYS HAVE SOME DEFICIENCIES IS YOU NEED A COMPETITION DIRECTOR IN ORDER TO GET THE OVER-ALL SCOPE TO GROW. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE SEASON TO DO OR SOMETHING YOU ARE WORKING ON EVERY DAY: “Definitely not. You definitely don’t want to wait until the end of the season. See this is original. This is somebody that is a good journalist because they actually know how to ask something original. It is a good question; it is nice to have that occasionally. You definitely need to have that as soon as possible. You can’t grow and you can’t get better until you get that spot filled. It is a position that you can’t afford to wait until the end of the season. You need to have that person. If you don’t have that person in place, you need to be trying to get that person hired for sure.”

WAS IT MICHAEL MCDOWELL THAT CUT YOU OFF IN PRACTICE? “Yes.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FROM A TEAM ASPECT TO HAVE THE CHARGE YOU HAD AT THE END OF THE RACE IN ATLANTA? “That is big going into this week. It’s just you come off of a high. We left Atlanta, everybody was in a good mood. Everybody was positive. Everybody was really excited about how we ended that race. You carry that demeanor and that attitude into the next weekend. It starts the day off right today.”

WHAT ABOUT FOR YOU? “Same thing. Absolutely, the same thing. I’m a part of that team so I feel the same way.”

WAS THAT AS GOOD OF A SEGMENT AS YOU’VE HAD ON A TRACK FOR A WHILE? “I don’t know. I didn’t realize we’d gained as much time at the end as we had closed in. It was pretty impressive. Didn’t know how much we had caught up in the last 15 laps of that race. We were definitely, definitely the fastest car on the race track.”

EACH YEAR OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, THERE HAS BEEN THE TEAM THAT WAS GOING TO BEAT THE NO. 48 CAR. BUT IT SEEMS LIKE THE MENTAL ASPECT HAS A WAY OF DISMANTLING THOSE TEAMS. WHAT’S THE MENTAL CHALLENGE LIKE TO GO THROUGH THAT 10 WEEK CHASE? “The hard part is I think we run two or three races at the beginning of the year and then we get our first weekend off. At the end of the year, you go 16 or 18 straight weeks without time off. That’s something that I think NASCAR really has to look at. You’re asking a lot of the teams; you’re asking a lot of the drivers and everybody before and when the Chase starts. It would be nice to have that break and give everybody that time to kind of catch their breath and get ready for a 10-week stretch like that.”

DO YOU EXPECT TO BE TOLD WHERE KESELOWSKI IS RUNNING AND HAMLIN IS RUNNING AND JUNIOR IS RUNNING DURING SATURDAY NIGHT’S RACE? “Hopefully we’re not going to have to be in that situation. If we’re running in the top 10 like I feel like we should be, then we won’t have to worry about it either way. We really won’t worry about it.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A TOP-10 CAR AFTER THIS FIRST PRACTICE? “I don’t know. Like we said earlier, we’ve got to go in and look at the sheets. I haven’t gotten into the trailer yet; I’ve been talking with you guys (media) the whole time.”

THERE ARE SO MANY SCENARIOS OF PEOPLE TRYING TO STILL MAKE THE CHASE, DO YOU EXPECT SATURDAY NIGHT’S RACE TO BE WILDER AND CRAZIER THAN ANY OTHER RACE? “No; ever since the Chase has started everybody asks that when we go into this race and it doesn’t seem like this race is any different than the spring race. If anything, guys are more cautious during this because they know they can’t afford a mistake. So, I think it tends to lead it to be the opposite.”

ON JEFF GORDON SCORING HIS 85TH CAREER SPRINT CUP VICTORY AND TAKING SOLE OWNERSHIP OF THIRD ON ALL-TIME WIN-LIST: “Oh, it’s pretty impressive. To think about somebody at his age that has already accomplished that many wins, it’s going to be fun to see, by the time or whenever he ends up retiring, it’s going to be fun to see the number he puts up there because if that’s his 85th, I can promise you that won’t be his last one. It will be fun to see where he ends up on the all-time win list.”

KEVIN HARVICK ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK THE MERGING OF HIS NATIONWIDE PROGRAM WITH RCR AND NOT DOING A TRUCK PROGRAM. SHOULD THAT BE A WARNING SIGN OR A CONCERN THAT SOMEBODY LIKE HIM WHO KNOWS HOW TO DO THINGS CAN’T MAKE IT WORK ON HIS OWN? YOU CAN’T DO IT ON YOUR OWN. SHOULD THAT BE OF CONCERN FOR THE SPORT OR TO FUTURE OWNERS? “I’m not sure that’s why he did that. That’s not the reasoning that I understood of why he’s making that change. So, with that in mind it doesn’t lead into what you’re saying. The two scenarios don’t match.”

WELL, DOES IT SURPRISE YOU? “Yeah, because they’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money and effort and heart into that organization. So that’s a major, major decision to make a change like that.”

HOW MUCH STOCK TO YOU PUT INTO CARRYING MOMENTUM INTO THE CHASE? LAST WEEKEND KEVIN HARVICK SAID IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING; TODAY JEFF GORDON SAID IT WAS HUGE. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THAT? “It could be both. It is what you make it on Friday when you get here. You could win the race last week and be terrible this week. So that proves that momentum doesn’t mean anything. But, if it means a lot to you personally then that’s when it counts. Every driver is going to be different; and every organization is going to be different but still, when you win the race on the previous Sunday, you start over on Friday and you start from scratch.”

HOW DIFFICULT, OR HAS IT GOTTEN EASIER, DEALING WITH THE DEMANDS OF BEING A CAR OWNER AND TRACK OWNER AND STILL TRYING TO RACE AT THE TOP END OF THE SPORT? “When you have good people in the right spots, it makes that a lot easier. So, we’ve had that from day one or we wouldn’t have added all these different programs. We’ve made sure that we’ve had good people in the right spots before we went ahead with those plans. So we make sure we’ve got our bases covered. It really hasn’t made it any harder or easier.”

CAN YOU PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE FOR ME WHAT IT MEANS FOR ONE PERSON TO WIN ORP, WINCHESTER, AND SALEM? I’M PRETTY SURE SHANE HMIEL IS THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS EVER WON ALL THREE OF THEM IN THE SAME YEAR. “Oh, it’s big. Winchester and Salem are two places where you’ve gotta have a lot of nuts to go there. They’re both very, very, very fast paved half-miles. To win at those three venues; for guys who grew up in Indiana, those are three crown jewel race tracks on the schedule that you want to win at. And if you can do it in the same year, it’s pretty cool.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, richmond, sprint cup, stewart