TONY STEWART NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/ MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway about the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Dollar General Sponsorship announcement, Talladega and other topics.
HOW DID PRACTICE GO? “I think we are good, we would like to have been able to make one more run there but, it is the best that I think we have unloaded here in a long time.”
AFTER STARTING OFF AND WINNING THE FIRST TWO CHASE RACES, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE PLAYING CATCH-UP NOW? “Anytime you are not leading you are playing catch-up. We definitely have to not have what we have had the last two weeks happen anymore for these next six weeks. We definitely have to not make any mistakes.”
JOE GIBBS RACING ANNOUNCED THE DOLLAR GENERAL SPONSORSHIP, YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS LAST YEAR TRYING TO SIGN MOBIL ONE, WE KNOW YOU ARE TRYING TO PUT SOMETHING TOGETHER TO GET THAT THIRD CAR GOING, HOW ARE YOU FINDING THE SPONSORSHIP CLIMATE? “It is the same as it has been for the past three years; at least ever since I have been an owner it has not changed so far. It is still difficult, so that is a big deal.”
JOE GIBBS RACING GETS 12 RACES, THEY ALREADY HAD A FULL TIME SPONSOR, THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT COULD HAVE USED THOSE 12 RACES, DOES THAT FRUSTRATE YOU? “No because I mean obviously for them to get 12 races, Home Depot wanted to give away 12 races. I don’t think you can look at it as frustrating. I don’t know what the particulars of the deal was, you would assume that a sponsor that had the whole year that is giving up 12 races, there was a reason they had to do that in the first place. You can look at it two ways, you can say it is frustrating, but you can say at the same time that it is good we are able to at least keep a sponsor that may not want to do it full time, but still wants to be a part time sponsor.”
ARE YOU ANY CLOSER ON ANYTHING? “I wish. I’m closer to the end of the season that is it, that is the only thing that has been consistent day to day.”
ENTERING TALLADEGA, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT WITH THE RULE CHANGES? “A lot more passing for sure because you are not going to be able to just get on a guy’s bumper and stay there, I think you are going to see guys swapping around a lot more.”
WHAT IS THIS TRACK RANKED IN ORDER OF YOUR FAVORITE? “I don’t rank tracks. This is the one we are at this week so this is my favorite this week. The one I have to be good at right now, not worrying about the rest of them.”
AFTER YOU DO A DE-BRIEF WITH DARIAN (GRUBB, CREW CHIEF), ARE YOU ABLE TO GET AWAY FROM IT? “Well I think my part of it is giving him the information of what the car is doing. Something that I don’t like or letting him know what I need it to do that it is not doing and once we get done with the de-brief it is kind of turning it over to the crew chief and engineer’s hands. They will go back and run through a lot of simulation trying to figure out combinations that is going to try to fix the needs of what we are looking for. I don’t go back to the bus and keep thinking about it because there is not much I can do about it.
ARE THERE TIMES WHEN THINGS COME INTO YOUR HEAD AND YOU SEND HIM A TEXT OR GIVE HIM A CALL?" Oh yea, absolutely”
I DIDN’T KNOW IF THE DRIVER MATTERED MORE THAN THE SIMULATION: “I have never seen a computer climb out of the car in victory lane so I am going to say the computer is still not as valuable as the guys that still has to drive it on race day.”
OF ALL THE RACES IN YOUR CAREER, IS THERE A TIME YOU WERE IN A HIGH STAKES SITUATION, AND YOU FELT LIKE YOU HAVE NOT PREFORMED TO YOUR BEST? “Never done that in 31 years, we have never had anything like that; it has just been nice smooth sailing my whole career. Never had to get amped up about anything. There is always days, I mean there are days that you go to work and you don’t do your best. It is no different for us, there are days we make mistakes, there are days that it is still a sport that has human elements to it and as long as there is human element, there is always going to be a mistake or someone who makes a mistake. There is not a weekend that goes by with a race team, where someone does not make a mistake in an organization and every team here.”
ARE YOU GOING TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TEST HERE ON MONDAY? “Yes.”
ANYTHING SPECIFIC THAT YOU WANT TO SEE OUT OF THAT? “I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know. I have not really been in one but for four laps at Phoenix, so just going to show up and see what we got.”
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE TEST? “No, I never look forward to tests. I don’t care what it is.”