TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON HIS SPRINT CAR TEAM WINNING THE WORLD OF OUTLAWS CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY NIGHT IN LAS VEGAS: "Well what can I say? When I received the phone call this morning, I felt like a kid on Christmas...
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON HIS SPRINT CAR TEAM WINNING THE WORLD OF OUTLAWS CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY NIGHT IN LAS VEGAS: "Well what can I say? When I received the phone call this morning, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Never in my wildest dreams did I feel this was really possible this year, but I am so proud to be a part of it.
"Obviously, this has been a big weekend of championships for many people - having Kevin Harvick win his NASCAR Busch championship here at Rockingham and having Jack Sprague win his NASCAR truck championship at California. But for me to finally lock down my first championship as a car owner is something that I didn't expect this year, especially with a rookie team. All I ever hoped for in our first year was to be competitive and most of all, have some fun.
"Probably the most enjoyment I've had this summer had been being able to go do my job as a Winston Cup driver, but at the same time in the evening, being able to go across the street at Charlotte or Talladega or Texas or Chicago - being able to run the Winston Cup car during the day and being able to go across the street and see one of my best friends in the evening and watch him race. That's been a very relaxing and fun way for me to spend my evenings, even though I'm a Winston Cup driver. "Being able to spend time with the team, being able to go to the track and being able to participate - not only as a car owner, but as a crew member, as well - has brought a lot of enjoyment for me this year."
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE AS GOOD AS JOE NEMECHEK, BUT A POORLY TIMED YELLOW COST YOU A SHOT AT THE WIN...: "It was my fault. I told them not to keep my out any longer than they had to on that. That's the only reason we pitted a little bit earlier than he (Greg Zipadelli) probably would have pitted me, but I was worried about giving up too much time with guys that had already pitted and had fresh tires.
"We did everything we could do today. That's all we had."
ALONG WITH RACING THE RACETRACK, DID YOU HAVE TO RACE THE '33' MOST OF THE DAY JUST TO STAY ON THE LEAD LAP?: "We were doing everything we could to stay on the lead lap and we had to do it for 200 laps. I don't think we've ever needed a caution more than we needed one more today."
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH YOUR FINISH?: "No, not really. We're never satisfied. That's why we win a lot of races, because we're never satisfied."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"It wasn't too bad. We were better than we finished a lot of times today on the racetrack, but we got caught by that caution flag there (lap 176). Then we had two segments where we were a half second off. The last segment we were about as good as anybody, but we just got off there in the middle [of the race] and got a lap down."
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"It was a pretty good day for us. We're not going to complain with third at all. But, it was pretty hard to compete. The '1' and the '33' were pretty strong all day. We did what we could.
"At the beginning of the race I thought we were a lot better than we were at the end of the race. Once the track got real slick, we just couldn't get a hold of anything, especially with the front of the car. We just pushed and pushed, but we're real happy to finish third."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU THIS YEAR AT ROCKINGHAM?: "It's just been working with these guys. James Ince has been doing a tremendous job and the backing of Valvoline makes a huge difference. This is the same race team we had a year ago; we just didn't have any backing. We felt like once we signed Valvoline on board and got a little money to work with that we'd be in a little bit better shape. So far that has been showing true."
DID YOU PIT WHEN KENNY WALLACE DID WHEN THE CAUTION CAUGHT SOME OF THE CONTENDERS A LAP DOWN?: "I believe I had pitted a lap or two before he did. I'm sure that is the last thing Kenny wanted to see and it was the last thing we wanted to see. But it ended up that we just got lucky and were able to stay on the lead lap. That's all it came down to. We got out in time. I saw Kenny coming and I thought at the time he was leading, but I wasn't sure, so all of a sudden I was trying to beat him to the line. It ended up that it was for position and not to keep our lap. It was just close and we were just fortunate."
ON ONLY SEEING TWO CAUTION FLAGS TODAY: "In our case it played out pretty good. Our car was good in the long run and not so good on the short run. We weren't as good at the end of the race, so I didn't want to see a lot of cautions at the end. That part of it worked out fine.
"Our biggest thing was that we just couldn't get a hold of the track late in the race, especially to the front of the car. We were just hurting on the aero part on the front and it was just hard to deal with. That's where we had to do the different pit strategies to keep up and to be able to get some time on them, knowing they were going to come and get us. But if we would have pitted at the same time they did, we would have been further back. I think our strategy worked out fine."
DO YOU HAVE TO CONCENTRATE ANY MORE TODAY WITH SO FEW CAUTIONS?: "Probably not anymore than any given week. But the things that you had to deal with here today was the fact that since it was caution-free, you're on old tires, somebody is on new tires, you're on new tires, somebody is on old tires. You had to be really careful. You didn't want to see a caution when you just took your pit stop and are trying to come up through the field. I thought the sun was a little worse getting into turn one than it had been in the past. I don't think we anticipated that. It probably would have been a lot worse had we had more cautions."
"But getting into one was very hard. You couldn't see the bottom of the line and I know guys were having problems with that. I know we had to keep cleaning that windshield because it was getting very difficult. Then it would get even worse if you went on the inside of somebody. That guy had to make sure that he would give you a little bit of slide room because you couldn't see him. I think everybody ran into that today.
"Like every week, you've got to concentrate. But here, when you get tires, there are times that you're going two seconds faster than somebody and you've got to be careful how you approach the guy in front of you because otherwise you'll run over them. You definitely don't want a caution when you're on new tires.
"See if you can get somebody to fix the sun. We'd be in good shape."
ON FINISHING THIRD: "Finishing in the top three is great. But I think nowadays, running in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, finishing in the top 15 is a good day, too. We're just fortunate that we finished up in the top five."