Stewart, Newman - NASCAR teleconference, part 3

Continued from part 2 Q: Tony, there's a lot of talk and there's been talk here today, too, about how tough the Cup level is because basically it is. My question is what's toughest do you think for drivers in general, and what's toughest for...

Continued from part 2

Q: Tony, there's a lot of talk and there's been talk here today, too, about how tough the Cup level is because basically it is. My question is what's toughest do you think for drivers in general, and what's toughest for you still?

RYAN NEWMAN: What gives you a bad day?

TONY STEWART: What's toughest about what?

Q: What's toughest about driving at this level for drivers in general and what's toughest for you?

TONY STEWART: I think having to sit in the media center and try to figure out what everybody is asking.

I don't know, I mean, the hardest thing, I think, in the big picture, I'm not sure how detailed you're wanting, but it seems like at this level with the responsibilities we have and added responsibilities this year as an owner, it's budgeting your time is one of the biggest things. Once we get to the racetrack and we get in the race car, that's what we all love to do and what we're comfortable doing.

It's just knowing that there's 24 hours in a day and only 365 of those days in a year to get everything that you need to get done. That's your practice, your racing, your photo shoots, commercial shoots, appearances. There's a lot that goes on in those days, press conferences.

I told somebody the other day, they said, If there was one thing that you could change, what would it be. I'd said, We'd make 30 hour days and 400 day years to get everything that we want to get done. It's just finding the time with everybody's schedules as hectic as they are to be able to get everything that needs to be done. That seems to be the hardest part of what we do.

Q: And for Ryan, you've been in the Army now for about eight months. What were your expectations going into it what you thought you would have to do with that sponsor and what's been the most important revelation, I guess? What's surprised you about

RYAN NEWMAN: I haven't exactly been in the Army, but biggest thing for me is just seeing what the troops and what all the Army soldiers do. At Fort Bragg it was neat to see the guns and some of the training missions that we went through. They were shooting live rounds in 30 by 30 rooms with rubber walls and they were soaking up the bullets, and I'm thinking to myself, wouldn't the bullet bounce off the rubber? Luckily it didn't.

But just in general what the soldiers go through and all the different stories and things like this, it's really amazing. They're all great people and they all give us the opportunity to do what we love, whether it's sit and write a press release or drive a race car. It was pretty amazing just the Army celebrating its birthday in Michigan and then Independence Day and all the things we've been doing with the Army. It's a lot of fun, a lot of great people, and I really enjoy it.

Q: Two questions if I may. First for Tony, I know winning your first Brickyard race was special and you'll never forget it, but how would winning it with your own team compare to your first Brickyard win?

TONY STEWART: It would be awesome. I know how gratifying it was to win the All Star race at Charlotte earlier this year. I remember when a perfect example was the first year we won the Chili Bowl, which is the biggest midget race in the country, I won it for a good friend of mine, Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby, and then we were able to win it two years later and it was the first time I had won it driving my car. You know, it's just an unbelievable feeling knowing that you've had a hand in helping build it, built the program.

So it would be awesome. It was a dream come true. It's always been a dream to win in Indianapolis, and I've been very blessed and fortunate to win it twice now, and that's something that if I died tomorrow I would die a happy man because of those two races.

But it would be that much more special to win it as a team owner, too. It's been so much fun working with this group of guys, and even if I didn't win it, if Ryan won the race, I would have the same feeling of gratification just being a part of it and being able to help Ryan realize his dream. I think it would mean just as much to be the winning car owner for Ryan as it would be for me to win it as a driver and owner, also.

Q: Kind of following up on that, yesterday on NASCAR.com we actually debated the top story for the first half of the 2009 season. I suggested what you've done with Stewart Haas Racing is the top story. What do you think about that? If you don't think that's the top story, what do each of you think is the top story from the first half of the season?

TONY STEWART: I don't know. I guess I don't think about it that deep. Ryan is the much smarter of the two of us, in case you guys haven't figured that out. I don't use words that have more than about five letters in them.

RYAN NEWMAN: You used emphatic earlier and I was really impressed.

TONY STEWART: I wasn't even sure it fit but I took a stab at it.

I honestly don't know. There's so much that goes on every week that I'm not sure I'm smart enough to know what the biggest story line of the year should be, really.

RYAN NEWMAN: I mean, I think that is debatable, but I think obviously the situation with the economy and everything else and how the sport is being affected and the world is being affected. But obviously that's not a positive story, so I'd go with the Stewart Haas one. I don't watch the news, either, because I don't like watching all the negative stuff.

Q: This is for Tony. Morgan Shepherd qualified 10th Friday in Daytona, which is something that would have been impossible without your support. Morgan has been on your radio show as a guest. You surprised him a couple years ago by bringing him a birthday cake, and he's now running Eldora Speedway on the 89 car. I'd like to hear your thoughts on Morgan. Did you grow up a Morgan fan, how you became friends, and what's motivating your generous support for Morgan Shepherd?

TONY STEWART: I think we've all respected Morgan and what he's been able to do. I'm really good friends with the Wood Brothers, and I know he drove for them for a while.

Really how our support with Morgan started is another good friend of both of ours, Kevin Harvick, and two years ago Kevin started helping Morgan by building him a couple cars, and we were sitting around one day and we were talking about what Kevin was doing, and I said, Hey, is there something I can do to help that would help fit in with what you're doing. So that's how we came up with my side of it, of helping with the lease of the motors this year and the tire program, and Kevin still helping him with the use of his shop and his guys to help prepare and build Morgan's cars right now.

It's not just me, and I'm real I stress that strongly that it's not just me, it's Kevin that really was the one that spearheaded this and started this. But to see how hard Morgan works to come to the racetrack and come with a limited amount of people, you know, he has to beg, borrow and steal people to work on the pit crew for race day. But his passion and desire and obviously his belief in Christ, that's something that we're very supportive of, and I'm really proud to be a part of that.

We're not the heroes, Kevin and I are not the heroes of the deal, it's Morgan that is the hero of the whole program, and we're just proud of him as a person. That's what drew him to Kevin, and with that it drew us in, too. It's a part of our program. We sit there on Saturday and we'll be doing our debrief, and we know Nationwide is on the track, and we're like, Where is our team car at. We consider him part of our team.

Q: Did you grow up a Morgan Shepherd fan?

TONY STEWART: Well, I have to be honest, coming from Columbus, Indiana, and where Cummins Engine Company is headquartered, we were Mark Martin fans because of his association with Mark's car.

But Morgan was always one of the guys that you followed. You followed all of them. You followed Waltrip and Earnhardt and Rick Mast and Sterling Marlin and all those guys. It was like you had all your little die cast cars on the floor, and when the race got ready to start, you had your cars on the floor and you were playing with them like you were having the race.

Q: Do you still have your Morgan car?

TONY STEWART: I think we do still have the Morgan car.

Q: Tony, Ryan, as drivers, what is your feeling now that you've had a double file restart on a superspeedway? How do you like that? Second question for Tony, as an owner, what are your feelings with the limited test schedule that you have now, and also the fact that racetracks like Kentucky Speedway have been taken out of the equation because they have another NASCAR event?

RYAN NEWMAN: On the double file restarts, I think it's been great in more ways than one. I think from a driver's standpoint, I like it because you have the opportunity to move up, and when you pass one, you might be passing two if you go three wide, and I think that's made the racing more exciting. We're racing the guys we should be racing, and I mean that in essence of you're not racing the guys that are a lap down who have their own separate race to try to get a lucky dog.

Before when you had the lap down cars on the inside and the lead lap cars on the outside, if you started 6th you were starting 12th and you had to pass those other guys who were working just as hard and made their cars better, and you had less opportunity to move yourself forward throughout the day. To me some of the racetracks are more conducive for the double file restarts, but in general it's been across the board a good thing.

TONY STEWART: Yeah, and something that going along with what Ryan is saying, a lot of those times we know that green flag run can last 80 laps. We take off and budget our tires to make that 80 lap run and be fast for the whole run, not necessarily fast for one or two laps. A lot of times the lucky dog guys don't have that luxury and they were having to run 100 percent. A lot of times it created a lot of havoc for you if you were a lead car because they don't know when the caution is going to come out. It may come out one lap after the restart or it may come 61 laps after. But they don't know; they have to run every lap as hard as they can, and a lot of times that created an extra variable in the equation that we don't see now.

But I think that's a variable that was confusing to the fans, it's confusing to the drivers at times because sometimes you didn't know when you got to one of those cars, you didn't know if he was somebody that just stayed out and got track position or if he was truly a lap down.

I think it's been one of the greatest things and decisions that NASCAR has made in a long time. Like Ryan mentioned, the biggest thing is if you're a 5th place car, instead of lining up 10th, now you're lining up 5th, and everybody around you you're racing for position. It really hasn't been I think Loudon was probably one of the examples of you wanted to be on the outside most of the time, but there's even during those races and even with tracks that are going to be predominantly one particular group is going to be better than the other for a restart during the course of the race, it's going to work for you and it's going to work against you.

But all in all, I think you guys see it from the stands better than we do, but from what I've seen and being in the cars, it seems like it makes the racing a lot better for us.

As far as the second part of the question, I'm all for it, to be honest. I've got a lot of things on our plate, and testing is not one of my favorite items. It's a lot more fun when there's people in the stands and there's other cars to race around versus racing a stopwatch and collecting data. You know, I don't think it's hurt the racing this year. I think if anything it's helped because it hasn't allowed teams the opportunity to go out and find one or two things that really will set them up a step above everybody else. I think it's helped make the racing a lot better for these guys.

You know, I'm all in favor of it. I've never been a huge fan of going testing anyway, especially in an economic time like we have right now. That's a major way to help trim the budgets down and keep them in check to where it's the same for everybody that way, but it's saving money for everybody, too.

THE MODERATOR: July 26 will be the 16th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Tony and Ryan, good luck. We appreciate your time today.

TONY STEWART: I know obviously the biggest topic about this race is obviously the tires going into it, and I know we mentioned that earlier, but personally I truly believe that when we come back here that we're not going to have those problems that we had last year, and I know there's a lot of fans that are on the fence on whether they want to spend the money to come back to this event. I'd strongly urge you to come. I honestly feel like we're over that hump now, and like I said, Goodyear really put a huge effort into making it right.

So I think we're going to be I personally think we're going to be all right with it and I think it's going to be a good show, and I'd hate to see people make the decision to not come with the fear of it being like last year because I think they've got over that and past it, and I think everything is going to be just fine. That's my two cents on the personal side. I think it's going to be fine, and I don't think it's anything that the fans should worry about. I think they should come and anticipate a race like they're used to seeing here.

THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you. Good luck on July 26th.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Rick Mast , Morgan Shepherd , Mark Martin