Tony Stewart Homestead Saturday media visit

Team Chevy Racing press release

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Miami-Homestead Speedway and discussed qualifying, the championship battle, Gene Haas and other topics.

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

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

YOUR THOUGHTS ON CONTENDING FOR YOUR THIRD NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES TITLE: “I’m excited about it. I’m not normally known as being much of a qualifier so 15th I’m pretty content with right now. I think our car, we spent a lot of time working on just the race setup. I feel like we spent the time we had this morning and I’m appreciative to NASCAR that they were able to re-do the schedule to get us all the practice considering what is on the line this weekend…get us the practice we all got. I think we’re going to be alright. We just have to sit and wait tonight until tomorrow.”

HOW DOES THE CAR YOU HAD TODAY IN PRACTICE COMPARE TO CARS YOU HAVE HAD IN PAST RACES HERE AT HOMESTEAD? “I don’t know. This place changes so much from year-to-year anyway. It’s kind of hard to compare them. I think today we had a car…the good news is every time we made a change it responded in some way and that is a really good sign. It is hard when you make changes to the car and it just doesn’t react to anything. That’s when you get nervous. Having a car today that responded to the changes that we made each time we went out, we were able to sit there, Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and I have already talked since qualifying and have a game plan for tomorrow and really can go back and look at the practice we had and sit down and say ‘Okay, this worked. This didn’t work’. It gives us all a direction of what we have got to do for tomorrow. Pretty good feeling about the car that we’ve got. We’ll see where it ends up.”

YOU AND THE NO. 99 (CARL EDWARDS) TOOK VASTLY DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO PRACTICE TODAY. WERE YOU SURPRISED AT ALL THAT HE DIDN’T USE SECOND PRACTICE TO WORK ON RACE TRIM AT ALL? “I didn’t even know actually until after the second practice was over and I looked at the time sheets, I didn’t realize they didn’t do any race runs there. They’re either going to look like geniuses doing it or not. You look at how many laps we ran, we spent a lot of time trying to find the combination was for race trim. We got the one-lap deal out of the way, now we have to worry about the 400 miles.”

CAN YOU TALK BIGGER PICTURE HOW THIS CHAMPIONSHIP PUSH HAS HELPED YOUR OVERALL ORGANIZATION AND HOW DIFFERENT THAN IN ’02 AND ’05, THESE ARE YOUR PEOPLE GOING ALONG FOR THE RIDE WITH YOU TOMORROW? “Yes, but it really doesn’t feel that way. I mean, it feels just like it did when I was at Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing) in ’02 and ’05 where it was a big group of us all in it together and that’s the way it is for everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing I guess the general feel really hasn’t changed. I’ve never walked into that shop feeling like I was the guy running anything. Everybody has their job. Everybody does their job at Stewart-Haas. I’m just one piece of the equation. I have felt like from day one that it’s that feeling kind of just been the same as it was at Gibbs. I’m their driver and that is the way I’ve always looked at it.”

WE CERTAINLY APPRECIATE YOUR CANDOR THIS WEEK, BUT, GIVEN THAT, HOW HAPPY ARE YOU THAT ALL THE TALKING IS BASICALLY DONE AND YOU CAN GET ON WITH THE RACING? “I don’t know. After sitting there in the media deal the other day, I was kind of having fun talking with him (Carl Edwards). He’s like an easy target. It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight in that battle. We get to go do what we do for a living tomorrow. It’s nice that 30 hours from now we are all going to know how it played out and shook out. It’s been a fun week obviously. Like I said, he is a fun guy to pick at. He makes himself an easy target, so that makes it easier. He is a good race car driver and that is what we are going to get to face tomorrow.”

YOU ARE GOOD WITH YOUR 15TH STARTING SPOT; CARL (EDWARDS) IS ON THE POLE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HIS ADVANTAGE, BEING 14 SPOTS AHEAD OF YOU: “Well, the biggest advantage is the pit stall. Obviously, having that first pit box is a huge advantage in this sport. They did a good job qualifying, but that pit selection does not guarantee anything, it is definitely an advantage but, it does not mean it is going to work out for you and get accomplished what you need to get done. I sat there and looked at our first two races that we won in the “Chase” we started 26th and 20th. It would be nice to start on the front row right now, but we have proven time and time again. I mean I have 13 poles in 13 years, and we have won 42 races now or 41 races whatever it is. We have proven that you do not have to do it from the pole for sure. It is a luxury at this point; don’t start etching his name on the trophy yet.”

WITH CARL (EDWARDS) RUNNING SO WELL IN PRACTICE TODAY, STARTING ON THE POLE TOMORROW, PEOPLE ARE SAYING HE HAD THE ADVANTAGE, DO YOU FEEL IN ANY WAY THAT YOU ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE GOING INTO THIS RACE TOMORROW? “No, you guys need to look at the time sheets. He put up a fast lap, his lap times fell off pretty hard in the one long run that he did. Looking at that, I mean that is why I am still really confident that what we did was the right thing today. Our times do not fall off as hard as his did. Now weather they have something figured out for tomorrow that they did not show today, who knows, but after looking at the time sheet, I felt a lot better about what I was seeing. To look at that final practice, it doesn’t tell the story of the session. The two best cars I feel like are the No. 88 car and the No. 4 car and they were I think 22nd and 26th and we were sitting there 24th, so the guys I think that are the guys we are going to watch tomorrow for the race win, were guys that are back there in the same general vicinity that I was at. Looking at the times that were consistently the best cars in that second session, I don’t think looking at the time sheets today are telling the accurate story about what is going on and what is coming up tomorrow.”

ON THE HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY AND HOW IT HAS EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS “Well, it was a rectangle, and then it went to flat, and now it’s banked. It’s definitely had three different distinct shapes and styles to it. But it’s kind of cool because I actually got to come here the first time when it was still a rectangle. So, that was the first Nationwide race that I actually tried to qualify for was here at Homestead. So, it was kind of cool to see that, but it definitely has changed a lot. I think the current configuration is probably the best configuration they’ve had. It’s definitely provided the best racing given multiple grooves, which I don’t think they had before. With the rectangular, it was very hard and very one-lane. When it was flat, it was still one-lane around the bottom for the most part. But, this configuration, as we saw in the Truck race and practice today, guys are all the way from the bottom line all the way to the top and everywhere in between. So, I think the shape of this is a pretty good layout.”

SOME PEOPLE SAY WHEN YOU DO A LOT OF LAPS DURING PRACTICE, YOU ARE USUALLY PRETTY GOOD. IS THAT ACCURATE? “I think so to a certain degree. I was really proud of our guys today. Obviously with the rain that we had, we were going to get an hour and 20 minutes both sessions and today we got an hour and a half and then an hour. So we didn’t quite have the same amount of time. But we only had a half-our turnaround between the two sets, so I felt like we did a really good job. I felt like our guys did a really good job today of utilizing our hour and a half and our hour of practice and getting a lot of changes done and going out and getting that data base for tomorrow. So I felt like we were able to make a lot of changes but at the same time, when it doesn’t feel good, you run a couple of laps and you come in because you’re like that’s not working. So, I think it kind of is a good sign the fact that we were running a lot of laps each run was a good indication that I was happy with what we had. I just wanted to see how it was going to hang one or if it was going to change. So, I think from the start of practice on, we’ve had a car that’s pretty close; we’ve just been trying to work around little things and trying to find things and see how it reacts to it.”

HOW IS GENE HAAS DOING IN THE LEAD-UP TO THIS RACE TOMORROW? IS HE EXCITED? ‘Oh, he just keeps saying how exciting and fun it is. And that’s what makes me smile with our role together. He’s invested a lot into this sport over the last seven years and to finally see him have an opportunity like this makes me very proud. That’s the part where I take the helmet off and the driver’s side away and I say, ‘This is a guy that believed in me enough to want me to be a part of his organization and make me an equal partner with him.’ To be able to help put him in a position like this is something I’m very proud of. So he’s having fun but he’s still Gene. He just kind of hangs around on the side and you don’t really see him standing out much but he’s kind of fun like that. I mean he’s not a guy who wants to stand out and be in front of the cameras all the time. He just wants to come to the race track and enjoy his race cars and his race teams. And I think he’s had a lot of fun doing that this year.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, haas, miami, stewart