TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing at Bristol, other upcoming tracks, the point system, and more.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be a contender for the pole, but if we could stay in the top 10, that’s a good starting spot and we can normally get a halfway decent pit selection that way. That’s two big keys to being good here for Sunday.”
ON THE POINT SYSTEM
“I don’t know if I even really know what to expect, still. So, I’m not sure we’re really focused on it as much as the media is. But we’re just trying to go out and we still know that if we win the race, we get the most points. Right now, we’re just trying to have good finishes and have good top five runs and try to win some races right now. When we get a little closer to Richmond, for 26 weeks, I’m sure weeks before that we’ll start paying attention to it and have a lot better idea of how the system is actually working for us.”
NORMALLY YOU HAVE A LATE SURGE IN THE SEASON. THIS YEAR YOU ARE STARTING OUT PRETTY HIGH. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THIS?
“What are we? We’re only three races into the season, man. C’mon. Let’s be realistic. And one of them was Daytona of all places. So it’s a little early to be trying to figure it out and access where we’re at.”
NEXT WEEK AT FONTANA, THEY’VE SHORTENED THE RACE TO 400 MILES. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THAT?
“I’m happy with it. There are a lot of 500-mile races that in this age and era of sports where you’re fighting to keep the fans’ attention, a 400-mile race is going to be every bit as exciting, if not more, than a 500-mile race is. So, it will give everybody a chance to get home a little bit earlier and I think it’s just better for everybody I think in this era. You don’t have to have 500-mile races to put on good shows. We’ve run 300-laps at Loudon; we’ve run 300-laps and Phoenix and they are always good races. None of these races are endurance races anymore, anyway. So the theory of 500-mile races I think some of them going to 400 is a good thing.”
WHAT MAKES FONTANA UNIQUE?
“Not a lot, really; other than it’s a lot fresher pavement. But with the heat that we have out there you move around a lot on that race track. You can run the bottom and the middle and the top, and that’s what we do at Michigan too. So they’re starting to really pair up a lot and be very similar.”
FOR THE NEXT FIVE RACES, HOW HARD IS IT TO PREPARE, AND THEN GO OUT AND DO WELL?
“It’s not hard to prepare for because that’s what these guys do week in and week out and they’ve done it every year. These teams have always had this kind of schedule and while it’s not hard from the preparation standpoint, sometimes it can be hard to be good at all five of these next five tracks. But That’s why they call it racing.”
WHAT ARE THE BIG DIFFERENCES IN HOW YOU RACE HERE AT BRISTOL?
“Well, you don’t have to wreck somebody to race here. So you actually race at Bristol now instead of wrecking people at Bristol. Normally this place, where you just ran around the bottom all day, now guys can run the top of the race track, the middle of the race track, and actually there’s a race track now versus just a track where guys used to go in there and run into the back of each other or wreck them or move them out of the way and then go on. But to me, what we’ve got now is a race track, race track.”
WHAT’S THE KEY TO SUCCESS AT FONTANA?
“It seems like you have to have a car that can turn in the center but it seems like every time you get your car turning really good in the center, it’s hard to keep the forward drive on the exit. So it’s a balancing act of trying to get our middle third of your corner and your last third of your corner tied in together.”
WILL THE TRACK GET RUBBERED IN HERE?
“I don’t know. Go ask the Goodyear guys. They know more than we do.”
“I’ve run a lot of high-banked half-mile tracks but when you come to Bristol the first time, it’s just different; everything about it. You walk in here and the first thing you notice is the grandstands. You don’t even notice the race track (laughs). You just can’t believe that there is a race track sitting in this big mass of 160,000-seat capacity venue. Just the setting of it; you’ve got to go uphill to go down into the infield of this place and it’s just like you feel like you’ve climbed into a volcano.”
-source: team chevy