NASCAR Teleconference Transcript July 8, 2009 An Interview With: TONY STEWART RYAN NEWMAN THE MODERATOR: We have two great drivers coming in here in the middle of the summer for a race. Ryan and Tony are here to talk about the Allstate 400...
NASCAR Teleconference Transcript
July 8, 2009
An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: We have two great drivers coming in here in the middle of the summer for a race. Ryan and Tony are here to talk about the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and we're very appreciative of them coming to do that.
Tony, we're going to start with you. You've been talking a lot lately about the success of your team and it's surprising a lot of people. When you looked at the schedule for this year and set expectations, did the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard jump out as one of the goals for the team?
TONY STEWART: You know, honestly this was a project that was so big that I'm not sure that we really actually set goals other than what I had instilled in Bobby Hutchens and Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson and Ryan. I wanted us to go to the racetrack each week, give 100 percent, and our competition meetings are on Monday. I wanted us to go back on Mondays and sit down and discuss everything that happened during the weekend; talk about the things we did right, talk about the things we did wrong, and talk on both of those sides how we can make things better for the next week. So that was my goal was just to make progress every week.
You know, the success that we've had up to this point of the season has come much quicker than any of us I think would have dreamed, but we're very pleased with it, very excited about it. I feel fortunate about it.
Ryan has done a great job coming in and working with the new group of people, and I look at Ryan's season up to date and I look at mine, and I've had the easy side of it. Ryan has absolutely been like a warrior through every weekend. He's battled through adversity at every race, and that really makes me proud, not only of him as a teammate and a driver but also of his crew on the U.S. Army car and how they're able to overcome each weekend. They've been able to do things I think battling adversity during the races that I think a lot of teams can't do and get the result and the outcome that they've had.
From our side it's been pretty painless up to this point. Our Office Depot Old Spice team has done a great job, and I'm really proud to work with Darian Grubb. I'm excited about our relationship so far and how quickly it's grown in such a short amount of time that we're extremely excited about the progress of this race team and the organization and watching how the organization has grown over the last year now.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, you have family close by. You have a favorite fishing hole out here in the infield. How do you approach this race, or do you approach it any differently than any other races?
RYAN NEWMAN: I bring different worms for the pond out here. They don't always work (laughter). Realistically, it's a place that I'm a big racing historian. I like the history of the sport, and I've always said to know that people A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti and Jim Hurtubise and Mel Kenyon, all those people have been through here at some point walking the same path out to the pit lane and driving the same line on the racetrack.
That to me means more than anything else, just the history of all of auto racing here at this racetrack. It's a great race. It's a unique racetrack. We all know that. It's a lot of fun, especially when you're up front. It seems like the straightaways become forever and you can just sit there and relax and drive the race car. I just look forward to coming here with our U.S. Army Chevrolet and trying to run good. We're working our way to kind of solidify ourselves to be in the Chase, and that's our goal at this point in the season is to make sure that we can lock up that position, or a position. It's a great racetrack, a lot of great fans, both Tony and I being from this area, meaning Indiana, with the open wheel side of things, the racing that we've done all across every part of Indiana pretty much. I would speculate there's very few racetracks in this state that either one of us hasn't raced at. It's just a great place to come back and enjoy the racing and the fans.
THE MODERATOR: I should point out right now that first of all this is being streamed live around the world. This is also part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup weekly teleconference so we will also be taking questions from the teleconference participants, as well, here in the room.
Q: Tony, do you approach this race any different as an owner rather than just as a driver?
TONY STEWART: No, honestly you can't. You know, it's obviously an important race for both of us. That's why we're here today to talk about it.
But it's kind of the same that you do what got you to the dance. You hear people talk about it when it goes to playoff time or anything like that in any other sport. You pretty much stick to what you've been doing and what's working for you. You don't come here and try to do anything any different. That's when you get yourself outside the box.
You know, the great thing for me is I've got a great support structure at Stewart Haas. The great thing is it allows me the flexibility and Ryan the flexibility to just come here and worry about doing what we do best, and that's drive.
It's hard to play the owner role and the driver role on the weekends. I mean, I don't want to sit there and worry about what the tire bill is for the weekend. I want to worry about making sure I know what I need to do as a driver. You know, we've worked really hard to establish that system before we ever got to Daytona, and it's worked to this point, so we won't change it when we come here.
Q: Ryan touched on this a little bit, just the history of this track, the centennial era. Do both of you just have a favorite story growing up or maybe even as a driver from this racetrack?
RYAN NEWMAN: For me I'd say one of the coolest things ever was I was around here a little bit when the IndyCars ran. I came to one race when I was probably about six years old and it got rained out. It was the year it rained until I think Tuesday and I had to go back to school.
But I was down here with my mom. I forget if we were picking up tires at Hoosier or what we were doing, and we drove by the racetrack and we heard a different noise, and it was the stock cars. I believe that was, what, '94, early '90s, '92, and the bottom line was we came
TONY STEWART: You're such a historian.
RYAN NEWMAN: It's 15 years ago, man. We snuck into the racetrack and came over and talked to Jeff Gordon and some other drivers, and it was just neat because we got to be here firsthand for when the stock cars hit the racetrack.
TONY STEWART: I think every memory was huge. I mean, the thing that I remember most was every day after school was over, I rode my bike to school every day, and your parents beat it in your head to stop at stop signs and wait for green lights before you cross the road. I played Frogger going home basically with a bicycle trying to get home as fast as I could trying to get the TV on. That's my biggest memory is just growing up and watching, loving the opportunity to get home. I didn't care how much homework I had. It was the last priority when the month of May was going on and whatever coverage was on TV. You were just glued to it. There wasn't any one particular moment, it's just been something that's been a huge, huge part of my life.
Q: Tony, two quick Indy related questions. First of all, do you share the confidence level some of the other drivers have voiced going up to Indy with kind of that tire issue being resolved and behind everybody?
TONY STEWART: Do you want to translate that for me?
Q: Do you share the confidence level that we've heard so many drivers voice about going up to Indy and the tire situations from last year being resolved?
TONY STEWART: Am I concerned about the tires? Not at all. I came up here for two days. Ryan has been up here quite a bit with Goodyear, and I can promise you they have put a full court press on making sure we don't have the issues that we had last year. I've gained a lot of respect for Goodyear over just the process of working on the tire for Indianapolis and the dedication that they've shown to making sure that that doesn't happen again.
We were able to run almost 30 laps and still not even be down to the cords and the tires, so I'm very confident that with a full field here that there shouldn't be any issues at all. You obviously can't guarantee that, but I can tell you that from the test session, and normally the test is a lot worse on tire wear than it is during a race weekend that we were able to run 30 laps and feel very comfortable, but they've got a tire that will be just fine when we come back here that not only is it going to be durable but also I think the way that the tire that the laps fell off time wise I think is going to make for a great race, too, with the way that the tire performance falls off. It doesn't wear out fall off, but it just falls off because of heat.
I think they've come back with a combination that not only is durable but also made where it should be better racing at that time, too.
Q: I believe you went up to Akron earlier this year and kind of went through the process with the Goodyear folks. Can you tell me what you kind of took out of that whole process?
TONY STEWART: Well, it's nice to go up there to Akron and see how it's done. It's a process that makes you shake your head because you just don't realize what goes into making a tire. And the good thing is it's not done by a machine, it's done by a physical person that actually puts that tire together. There's a lot of machines that assist in that process, but some of the key components are still done by a Goodyear engineer that sits there and makes sure it's as perfect as it can be.
That put my mind at ease a lot, being able to see firsthand how the production of those tires is made.
Q: I was wondering, what's been your biggest challenge as a driver/owner? You mentioned balancing on the weekends, being a driver, being an owner. Is that kind of where the meat of that challenge comes from?
TONY STEWART: It's been a very easy part. I mean, we worked really hard before we ever left to go to Daytona to have that separation to where and I was really emphatic about when I spoke to Darian Grubb with the fact that I work for him on the weekends, and I'm not his boss, he's my boss on the weekends.
It's just knowing what each other's roles are, and it works best if I'm working for him. All the guys on the team, I worked really hard with my guys saying, Hey, I'm just one of you guys, I'm just one of the guys on the team. I'm your driver on the weekends. We've worked really hard on that relationship early in the season to make it to where it's as easy as possible.
But there really hasn't been that one hard thing or that one thing that has surprised me yet. It's been so smooth right now that it's the whole process has gone much better than I think we all could have expected. There's definitely challenges that we have each week that we're trying to overcome.
But honestly, it's not something that I haven't been used to. I mean, Eldora Speedway and partial ownership in Paducah, Kentucky, the racetrack there, and one in Macon, Illinois, and having two World of Outlaw teams and two full USAC operations, it's the same challenges, it's just at a different scale. It's not all totally new to us, but it's just the size of it is really the new factor of it.
Q: And why do you think it's been relatively pain free so to speak? Is it just surrounding yourself with good people? Is that part of it do you think?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the one thing that being with somebody like Joe Gibbs for the last 12 years, you learn a lot about how to organize people. And I can promise you, Joe doesn't know anything about those race cars. He doesn't know how they work, but he knows how to hire the right people to do the right jobs in the organization, and that's what has made him successful in the NFL, it's what's made him successful in NHRA and NASCAR. He's extremely successful at hiring the right people to do the right jobs.
Part of that process is being able to take five resumes that can be identical and being able to pick which guy is going to work with everybody else in the organization and has the right mindset, no matter whether there's eight more guys that have the same skills they have. That's something that I feel like I was able to bring from Gibbs Racing and apply it to Stewart Haas.
Continued in part 2