Tony Stewart - Indianapolis Friday Media Visit

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed winning his first World of Outlaws A-Main, racing at Indianapolis, NSCS drivers racing in other types of cars, memories of Indianapolis and other topics.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony Stewart.

Q. Obviously this week is the Brickyard. You have a lot of history here. Talk about that and the Showdown.

TONY STEWART: It's cool to be back here at Indy. Haven't got to go home, but at least we're close. I spend a lot of time here in Indianapolis. This is obviously a place that's special to us from the race standpoint and the facility.

It's the kickoff of the Sprint Showdown, too, which is really cool. A driver and a fan has a chance to win $1 million. That's something that us drivers, we never need too many incentives, we always want to race for the trophy, but to race for our foundation is something we want to strive for, too. Pretty excited about it.

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

Q. When does the Summer Showdown come into play with you guys? Chase is first and foremost?

TONY STEWART: You still got to take it one week at a time. You don't do anything different for it but you know if it does happen, you do have that good day, it can work in your favor.

We can't put that into a game plan necessarily any more than what we would do to try to win the race.

Q. How about winning that World of Outlaws race?

TONY STEWART: It was awesome. I don't know how many races in the World of Outlaws I've run. To finally win one of those and run against Sammy Swindell, Jason Meyers, Steve Kinser, have a good night, win one of those, was something that's definitely high on my list of accomplishments, for sure.

Q. I hear the word 'parity' a lot. Do you feel like everyone is more equal this season?

TONY STEWART: I think there's more teams that have kind of figured things out. There's still the teams that have been good over the last two or three years, then there's some organizations that have found a little extra.

I think the number of cars that are on top of their game is growing each year. Definitely this year is no exception.

Q. Why is that?

TONY STEWART: I have no idea. You'll have to ask the teams that found something (laughter).

Q. You have to feel pretty good about your position knowing the tracks coming up. Looming on the horizon is a track in Pennsylvania that you've had good success at. What is it about Pocono?

TONY STEWART: We've had really good days there and days we weren't very good. It just seems like it's so sensitive to the bumps, how to get your car to go through there. If you get it right, you're fast all day long. If you missed it, you miss it all day long.

Q. What is your earliest memory of this place?

TONY STEWART: I think the first time I came here was with my dad. I was probably five or six years old. We came out to watch practice the day before qualifying. There were a lot of cars on the racetrack that day. It was pretty amazing.

Q. (Question regarding honoring a fallen officer.)

TONY STEWART: Have the wristband on. We're very honored. I received an honorary badge and was sworn in this morning. Pretty cool feeling.

You hate to lose an officer. Whether it's county sheriffs or city police or state police, it's a group that we're pretty passionate about in the work that they do. We lost a good one in Terre Haute. We're going to have his badge on our car this weekend, both mine and Ryan's car. We're honored to have him onboard.

Q. What kind of momentum will you have from the last race?

TONY STEWART: We had an awesome weekend at Loudon, but it doesn't turn a whole season around in one weekend. Hopefully if we can have a good weekend here, maybe we can get that feeling we're onto something, building momentum.

It was great to have the weekend that we had there and then have a weekend off to concentrate and get regrouped and get ready for what we're doing now.

It was definitely big momentum for the organization.

Q. Are you disappointed to see Nationwide leave the racing at Raceway Park?

TONY STEWART: I am. I spent so much time at Raceway Park, to me it's going to be sad that it's leaving.

It's cool for the guys that are going to get a chance to race here, but it's sad for the fans that like to watch the races at ORP.

Q. Is it only good teams that can figure this place out?

TONY STEWART: With such long straightaways, you've got to have horsepower and handling. Everything has to be right. You can't have a variable that's off and win here. It seems like the teams that have their programs in check are the ones that have a shot to win here.

Q. The more often you come back here, seems to be a more special place to you every year to you.

TONY STEWART: I think it was special from day one and I don't think it's ever changed. I don't think it's got better or worse. I got in last night after the Silver Crown race at ORP. You come in and see it lit up, you get that tickle in your stomach that tells you you're home.

Q. If you're a Hoosier, it's special always?

TONY STEWART: Always has been, always will be.

Q. What are your memories about your first race here?

TONY STEWART: Not a lot. I think Al Unser was still running the blue 48 car. That was the car I kept watching all day. Every time he went out, that car caught my attention.

I didn't know who the drivers were at the time. I couldn't believe how loud they were and how fast they were. It was pretty amazing.

Q. Earlier you talked about finding stuff. What is the shelf life of an advantage in the garage these days? Next to nothing?

TONY STEWART: It's hard. It depends on what it is. Depends on what area it is. There's no guarantees that what you had last time you won a race is going to be good the next week. Technology is constantly changing week-to-week in our series.

Q. There's been some folks questioning whether you should be racing in other cars. You just won in one for the first time. What are your general thoughts?

TONY STEWART: I don't care what anybody else thinks about it. I'm going to live my life the way I want. Kasey is going to live his the way he wants. I encourage Ryan to do the same thing.

We make sure the car is as safe as they can be. We make sure we have just as good of seats in our cars, we have the same seat belts, wear the same helmets.

We can get hurt driving down the street just as easy, if not easier, than driving a racecar. What happened to Kasey happens every night and nothing happens to the driver.

The people that say that don't drive racecars and don't know what it's like. To me you only get one chance at life. You need to live it the way you want to live it. Not worrying about what can happen, worry about what you're making happen.

Q. How much more depth is there out there compared to the older times?

TONY STEWART: I think the competition's tighter because of the equipment. There was the talent back there. There were days that 25 guys back in that day could win driver-wise, but there weren't 25 cars capable of winning the race each week.

That's the difference now, is that the competition is so close, the teams are so close, that you just don't know who can win.

Q. (Question regarding equipment.)

TONY STEWART: And the rules packages are a lot closer for everybody, yeah. Back in days when guys were building seven, eight scale cars, winning races, you'd never get away with that in this era.

It's not that there wasn't talent then, because there were the same amount of drivers every race that could win the race if they were in the right car. Nowadays there's more of those cars out there to have that opportunity on Sunday.

Q. In recent years it seems like one or two guys have emerged...

TONY STEWART: You'd like to think so. I mean, from a driver standpoint, we don't think about it. All we're trying to do is figure out how to make hour cars win, not worrying about how many other guys have won or if it's good for anything. It's worrying about how to make it good for us.

Q. (Question regarding heat.)

TONY STEWART: None to me personally. I like it when it gets hot here. The days we run the best is when it's been really, really hot here. I like this track when it gets hot and slippery.

It's definitely going to be about grip, getting the cars balanced. It will be exciting to finally get in the car that afternoon and, you know, try to get working on that balance and see if we can get it close.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

TONY STEWART: Yeah, when everybody is running the same speed, it's hard to pass somebody. It's good there's that many teams that are that competitive. It does make it a little bit harder to pass.

But, you know, you look at the stats this year, there's been a lot of lead changes in the series. I think it shows how good the competition is, that if somebody misses it a little bit, there's somebody else there that can take advantage of that.

Q. Seems like points are more precious than ever.

TONY STEWART: Points have always been. Whatever the other points system would have been, whatever the split would have been, that would have been big, too.

Points are points. You give away any points, it's big. It's all in perspective. The percentages are still basically the same.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

TONY STEWART: Well, it would be great, obviously. That's kind of what the goal is every week when we show up, is to do that. It would be awesome. It was really cool. It was big for the team. It was big for the sponsors, our organization. Trust me, if we could do that here, it would be huge.

Q. Did you ever sense that?

TONY STEWART: No, because I know how much this track can change. You can have a great racecar in practice and then when you start the race, the conditions seems to change a little bit. It's just a battle of trying to keep the car balanced all day.

Even during the race, it's hard to sometimes -- you can have a fast car at the beginning and lose the handle at the end. You have to make sure you have a car that's adjustable all day. It's hard to know exactly that feel you want at the end of the Happy Hour to be good for the race, depending on the conditions.

Q. Is this place still a love/hate for you?

TONY STEWART: I think I got by the 'hate' part once we won the second one. You love the place because of the history of it, because it's home. The hate part was we worked so hard, won so many laps, couldn't win. Once we won the race, think it took that side of the equation away, made it that much better. We got to enjoy it that much more afterwards.

Q. (Question regarding foundations.)

TONY STEWART: No, I just think the great thing is doing stuff with our foundation and other drivers and their foundations. It's just a part of our life that we're proud that we have in our life, that we're very committed to. We're pretty dedicated to staying active on that side of it. There's times it's better than a race win, knowing you're doing something to help out.

Q. When you look at golf, they measure their top guys by winning majors. In tennis, it's the Grand Slams. In NASCAR there's four major races. When you look at it, only two current drivers have won all four. You only won here. Is that fair how you'll be remembered?

TONY STEWART: I think to a certain degree it's fair. There's definitely big marquee events. I don't know. I don't think it totally defines a driver, but I think there is something to that. The four races are in my mind are the marquee events that are big. The guys that have won all four, that's why they are where they are.

I think there's something to it. I don't think it totally defines a driver's career, but I think it is a benchmark for sure.

Q. What would it say to you that Carl Edwards is leading the points, great driver, he's not won any of those or a championship. Kyle Busch, people call him great. Can you be great without winning those?

TONY STEWART: I think so, because there's still the other races. It's still hard every week to win. You look at the two Daytona winners this year. Not saying it's easy, but there's a lot more guys that can win at Daytona now than ever before. But it's still one of the marquee events.

You know, like I say, I don't think you can totally define that. I think guys that have won all four of those, there's a reason when you look at their stats that they have.

Q. The whole thing about driving in other events outside of NASCAR's top three series, as an owner even, do you worry about that kind of thing, losing a driver?

TONY STEWART: Not at all. I ran five races since we ran Loudon in the same kind of car that Kasey crashed in. We have all the same safety equipment that we do in our cars. We don't just jump in cars that we know aren't 100% right. Kasey drives his own car. I drive my own car. So we know the equipment we have is right. We could get hurt leaving the racetrack in a rental car going to dinner. You can't live your life worrying about not getting hurt. You just got to live life. You look at people that ate the right things, exercised, then still have a heart attack at age 30 and drop dead. You're like, Wait a minute, this guy did everything right and something still happened.

I think guys that discourage people from doing that, I think it's wrong to do that. You only get one shot at life. It's not like we get to hit reset and start over and do all the fun stuff we wanted to do. Just have to be smart about it. That's where making sure that when you do drive something outside of here that it's good equipment, that it's safe as it can be, and you have fun.

Q. Didn't Joe make you back off a few years ago?

TONY STEWART: He tried to. He tried to.

Q. Didn't work out?

TONY STEWART: It never worked out. I still raced as much as I wanted to. Joe understood, too. It's like I told Joe, I made the commitment to Joe that when I did that stuff, if I was going to drive a car, it was as safe as it could be or I wouldn't drive it.

By: team chevy

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags brickyard 400, chevrolet, indianapolis, nascar, nscs, sprint cup, stewart-haas, tony stewart