TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed the end of the Daytona 500, repaving at Phoenix and other topics.
HOW HAS PRACTICE GONE AND HAVE YOU NOTICED A BIG DIFFERENCE WITH THE NEW NOSE?: "I don't think we've noticed anything with the new nose so far. I think the tire is a little different -- it has more grip so it's really hard to compare apples to apples anymore at this point."
WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND MARK MARTIN AT THE END OF THE DAYTONA 500?: "We just never got the bumpers locked together. We kept bouncing off each other. Then when a couple guys got a run through the center there, it kind of pulled him off of us even more and got us separated so bad that we never were able to get hooked back up together."
WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED AT THE END OF THE RACE THAT YOU COULD NOT GET HOOKED BACK UP WITH MARK MARTIN?: "You think? It's over and we're on to Phoenix now. We wish the outcome could have been different obviously, but the only thing we can do now is worry about what we're doing this weekend. If you were paying attention to what we did last week then we're not doing a good job this week right now."
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN THE INDYCAR CHALLENGE THAT WAS ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK?: "I would love to say that I would love to go do it obviously, but it's the same thing as running the Indy 500. If you don't run three or four races, you're probably not going to have a shot to win it anyway. Just going to do a one-off deal doesn't make sense for us to do right now."
DO YOU HAVE TO TREAT THIS WEEKEND AS A TWO-DAY SHOW?: "Yeah you do. You just focus on these two sessions and then tomorrow just qualifying. I like this format. I like doing what we're doing this weekend. I like running the practice on Friday and having qualifying tomorrow and the race Sunday. This is a format I like. I just like running all of our practice Friday. No particular reason other than I just like the easier day on Saturday to get ready for Sunday."
HOW DO FEWER CAUTIONS CHANGE HOW YOU VIEW A RACE AS A DRIVER?: "You've got too much time to think. We race the race as it goes. You don't really worry about it. You run the race as it's running and if you get a caution then you work on it. It's no different than anybody else. You look back 10 years ago and it was that way too probably. It is what it is. You never know what's going to happen so you race the race when you start the green flag run, you run like you're going to run a full fuel run. You just play it as it happens. You don't think about it, you don't strategize different saying, 'Well, we're probably going to have two less cautions than what we had.' We don't think about that stuff. My job is the same. I still drive it and steer it the same, work the pedals the same -- I still do the same thing in the car. The crew chief still does the same thing. You can't count on cautions or count on not having cautions. You don't know when that's going to happen. It could happen after a half a lap, it could happen after 80 and a half laps. You just don't know."
WHEN DO YOU THINK YOU WILL HAVE A GOOD GAME PLAN ON HOW THE NEW PIT STOPS ARE GOING TO WORK?: "We don't talk about it. It's still just when it's full you go. Honestly, I don't know. It's not really my department. You have to ask the pit stop coaches and you would have to talk to the fuel guys and the crew chiefs -- they're the ones that are going to know how long they think it's going to be until they get it all sorted out."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON PHOENIX GETTING REPAVED?: "I said it a long time ago when they took the Goodyear bridge away and they took the exit of turn two away and changed it that they screwed it up at that point. Anything they do in the future is not really going to matter to me anymore. They already kind of messed it up."
DO YOU LIKE THE PROGRESSIVE BANKING?: "Only if it works. There's no guarantee that putting progressive banking in is going to make it better. If the drawing I saw of the potential layout of what they're working on -- I'm not sure -- it will be interesting to see how that plays out too. This has been an historic, famed race track out in the west for a long time and like I said, they already took away that mystique of it once and it looks like they are going to do it again."
HOW MUCH DO THE REPAVES OF RACE TRACKS LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD?: "Everybody's good when tracks have grip. It's been that way in every form of racing that I've ever seen. It's when the crews have to work on the handling of the car and the drivers have to find ways of finding more grip or managing the grip they have -- that's when it separates the men from the boys so to speak. The hard thing is that it's part of the cycle. You can't just keep running race tracks. At some point they have to be repaved and we're just in a mode the last four or five years where a lot of these race tracks have come to a time where they have to be repaved and they have to resurface them."
DID THE SIDE DRAFT BREAK YOU AND MARK MARTIN APART ON THE FINAL RESTART AT DAYTONA?: "We never did get going to begin with and then a couple cars got through the center there and it pulled Mark (Martin) back a little further yet. We just couldn't get going. The intention was there, we just couldn't get in line to get going at the end."
WHAT DOES IT SAY THAT TREVOR BAYNE WON THE DAYTONA 500?: "They were fast the whole time they were there during Speedweeks. The kid did everything right. He did everything exactly how he should do it and we were the ones that didn't do it the way we were supposed to do it. That's why he won the race is because he did a good job."
DO YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN PRACTICE WITH THE NEW WAY TO DETERMINE QUALIFYING ORDER?: "No, honestly we're not. We kind of talked about it two-thirds of the way through this practice in trying to get a game plan on what we're doing for the day as weather could be iffy tomorrow. I think with the way the time is today, we'll do our mock qualifying run at the end of the day and try to put our big number up at the end when the conditions should be at its best -- when we go out at the end of the session. Hopefully we'll be able to put up a good enough number so if we do have weather tomorrow we'll be alright."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT KEVIN HARVICK THAT HAS ALLOWED THE COMPANY TO STICK AROUND SO LONG?: "I don't think Kevin (Harvick) gets the credit he deserves for what they've built. To build it from the ground up -- there's a lot of organizations that have partnered up together and grown and got stronger, but him and Delana have done this strictly from ground zero and built up to what it is. In not just one division, but multiple divisions and the business side of it where they are probably building half the trucks now in the truck series. They're doing things right obviously, they're not doing it and just surviving. They're really spear-heading a lot of the things that are going on in the Nationwide and the Truck Series right now. I'm proud of them. They've been great friends of mine for a long time and I couldn't be more proud of what they've done off the track as car owners with their organization."
-source: team chevy