TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON KENNY IRWIN) "He worked really hard to get to this level. He was always a hands-on guy. He could probably have built a Winston Cup car from scratch if he had to; I couldn't. That shows...
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
(ON KENNY IRWIN) "He worked really hard to get to this level. He was always a hands-on guy. He could probably have built a Winston Cup car from scratch if he had to; I couldn't. That shows how dedicated he was to the sport and to auto racing. He always was working on his own race cars and making decisions on what to change. He was probably one of the most focused guys at the racetrack. We can't bring him back. There is nothing we can do. I guarantee you I'd do anything I could to bring him back right now. It was a lot of fun racing with him. It was frustrating at times, but that's just because we were so competitive with each other. But I'd much rather have him here and I'd do anything I could to get him back right now."
(ON WHETHER HE IS A BETTER DRIVER THIS YEAR THAN LAST) "I think I've learned a lot that held me back at the beginning of last year. We had a lot better team than we had a race car driver for the first half of the year. I started catching up a little bit as the year went on. This year I feel like I'm gaining more knowledge. I've worked with the same guys. We haven't switched any of our guys over, so the guys that I'm working with, I'm more familiar with them, they're more familiar with me. I'm just starting to get smarter. Every time we make a change, Greg (Zipadelli) lets me know why we're changing it, what it's supposed to do. I'm starting to get more involved with that so it makes me more confident as a driver knowing what the changes are. Knowing how the car should react every time I go on the racetrack is just making me a more confident race car driver."
(DOES HE FEEL BETTER PREPARED TO WIN THE BRICKYARD THIS YEAR?) "Definitely. Any time you only go to a track once a year your first year is kind of a throw-away year. You don't know what to expect. I didn't know how the track was going to change. Now I know how the race went last year. I know more on the preparation in just the race set-up more than anything, knowing how to get the car where we need to get it and knowing what areas of the race I struggled in last year. It gives you more of a direction where to focus on for the race."
(HOW MUCH MORE CAN THE NASCAR SCHEDULE EXPAND BEFORE IT BECOMES EXCESSIVE?) "I don't think one guy can answer that. You're asking a guy like me who doesn't have a wife and family to support. I don't have plays and softball and baseball games to go watch my kids play where some of these other drivers do. I don't want to speak for them, but I'm sure it's harder on them to a certain degree. It takes two weekends where they would be able to spend time with their family and takes that away from them, so I'm sure it's going to be a little harder on them. But it doesn't matter to me. All it means to me is that I have to cut two or three dirt races out of my schedule, so it doesn't affect me too much."
(ON COMPARING RUNNING STOCK CARS HERE AS OPPOSED TO INDY CARS) "I don't really think about it much. I prepare for this race just like I do any of the other 33 races during the year. With the Indy car it was always different to begin with. From a driver's standpoint (now) you don't have time to prepare for it like you do with the Indy cars. It's like the topic of the week. In my mind, a couple weeks before I'm going to be thinking about it but I'm not going to do anything special. I just go about it as another race, and that's the way you have to treat it. You've got to go through the same stuff that you go through whether it's Michigan or here or Daytona or Talladega. You've got to go through all those steps all over again. We won't do anything different. They built me a brand new car to come here to the test with. We're working with that and a car that we ran at Michigan a couple times, and just trying to find which one is the best one. That's the one we'll bring back for the race. I guarantee you, they (the team) all want to win here just as bad as they do Daytona, so they're working really hard, and they're looking at all the fine details in both of these cars."
(DOES HE HAVE MORE DESIRE TO WIN HERE THAN SOMEWHERE ELSE?) "Yeah. It's not going to replace winning the Indy 500, by any means, but you always want to win at home. I want to win every race I run anyway, but would I trade the Loudon win in for this? Yeah, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I definitely want to win here pretty bad."
JOHN ANDRETTI, NO. 43 CHEERIOS/STP PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
(WHAT IS HIS TEAM TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH DURING THIS TEST?) "We brought a new car and a we brought an older car. I think our agenda is going to be different than it was last year. Tomorrow the weather is going to be different than today. You can do set-ups and really blast off a lap today. But then you come back and you spent all your time setting up for one particular day. That's not what we're trying to do. We're going to go through a lot of stuff. Obviously, we would love to be the fastest, but we'd like to do it on a real consistent basis."
(DO ALL HIS LAPS AT THIS TRACK GIVE HIM AN ADVANTAGE?) "I think one year I did between 2,500 and 3,000 miles here just in one year at the speedway between tire testing and the month of May and all that. These guys (Winston Cup drivers), they can learn anything in a heartbeat. We go to Vegas, we go to Texas, we go anywhere new tracks are built and it's like, 'OK, got it.' And why are the same guys there? Because they're that good and because of the depth of their teams, and everything else. It's the same old reason why they run good at the old ones and the new ones. There's not advantage for me anymore. In fact, they've changed so many things here, I barely know where to go to the bathroom, and that used to be my line."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
(ON BRINGING A NEW CAR TO INDY THIS WEEK TO TEST AND WHAT KIND OF INPUT HE HAS INTO THAT NEW CAR) "I don't need to go in and pinpoint, and say, 'This needs to better.' There are good enough people here that do that. They've got figured out pretty good. It's just a deal where we all talk about what we think we need to do to be better at it. They all work on it, and I don't have to go down there and point out anything."
(DOES HE TALK TO HIS BROTHER TERRY MUCH ABOUT RACING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP?) "I don't talk to him a whole lot about it. I talked to him when he was going through it anyway, so I figure what I learned then I'm using now, but what I'm using now isn't quite the same as what he was going through. It's always a little different. I think you've got to adjust to what the situation is today over what it was three years ago for him and 16 years ago, also."