TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET met with media and discussed restrictor plate racing at Daytona and Talladega, the upcoming Martinsville race, the rain and track conditions at Auto Club Speedway, and more.
“We just went in qualifying trim. We actually lost the first five minutes switching over because we were set-up for race trim. So we just switched over and made three runs.”
IS THAT WHAT EVERYBODY WORKED ON TODAY?
“I think Darian said there was only one car that he saw that was making more than one lap at a time. And they probably did that for one run and then switched over. So, I’d say from the looks of it, everybody was doing qualifying stuff.”
HOW WAS THE TRACK?
“I didn’t have any problems but you don’t know where he (Kyle Busch) was (when he crashed) at and all that. I didn’t see what happened, so I really can’t comment on something I didn’t see.”
BUT YOU DIDN’T HIT ANY WATER OR SEE ANYTHING?
“No, we didn’t have any problems that I know of. We didn’t go out until after he (Kyle Busch) had his problems, so we kind of took it a little conservative and stayed off the bottom a little bit further.”
WHEN YOU HAVE SUCH A SHORT PRACTICE LIKE TODAY, HOW DO YOU GET A FEEL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE CAR?
“I’m terrible. I told Darian I apologized to him because I don’t think I did a very good job that session. I like to start off in race trim and get some laps under our belt and then when we switch over for qualifying I feel like I have a better idea of what the track is doing and where I need to be and where my marks are and all that. I didn’t feel like I did a very good job just going in cold turkey.”
THERE ARE GUYS OUTSIDE THE TOP 20 THAT ARE USUALLY IN THE TOP 10. DO YOU THINK THE NEW POINTS SYSTEMS HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT?
“I think the Daytona 500 has a lot to do with that. Normally if somebody had a slow start to the year, you can normally pinpoint it to Daytona or something similar to that and you look at the first two races and there were two big ones (multi-car wrecks) in the first two races. I think there is a reason why there are guys kind of in a bad sport right now.”
ON BEING TIED IN THE POINT STANDINGS WITH TEAMMATE RYAN NEWMAN
“It’s definitely a good thing. I don’t think you can look at it and say it’s a telltale sign of what our season is going to be like but it’s always nice to get off to a good start and you don’t feel like you’re playing catch-up right off the bat. It’s like I said, I don’t like being tied (in points) with somebody but, this is a situation where I’m pretty happy to be tied with somebody right now.”
IS THERE ANYTHING REALLY DIFFERENT WITH THAT TEAM OR IS IT AS JUST AS MUCH AS LUCK RIGHT NOW?
“They’ve always done a good job but I think they’ve had a little bit of luck go their way this time around and they are definitely running better. They just got off to a really good start and it’s kind of worked that way for both sides. Both of our cars have been good. I think both teams have just been running better. “
WHAT’S YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF WEEPERS ON THE TRACK?
“I’m not an engineer so I don’t understand exactly why it pumps the water out. But there are certain places where, like Pocono is a place, here, those are two places that you know if it rains you’re going to get weepers. Indy used to be that way. I can’t exactly tell you what it is that makes it pump the water up and out of the ground once it gets saturated like that, but it’s just part of it you know. That’s the one variable that none of us can control when we get here and that’s the weather.”
ON THE CHANGES OVER THE YEARS AT MARTINSVILLE
“I think the shock technology and I think it’s like anywhere else where you’re still trying to get the cars to do the same thing. You still have to make them rotate and more so, at Martinsville than anywhere else, you have to, you’re asking the car to accelerate a lot off the corner. That’s the hardest thing. You can always get it to do one or the other, but it’s hard to get them to do both.
“I think that’s why Martinsville is so difficult. But there are things that drivers figure out that they like and the feel that they like and when you find that you normally have something to shoot for each time you go on the race track. But the technology does change with it, I believe.”
DOES IT SURPRISE YOU THAT TWO GUYS HAVE DOMINATED THE LAST 9 RACES AT MARTINSVILLE?
“No, because like I say, I think once those guys know the feel that they want and then know the feel they have to have at the end of happy hour to be good for the race, I think that’s a big factor. We had a run there where we didn’t win a lot of races there but we were very consistent and ran a lot of top three’s and top five’s and I knew exactly how I had to have my balance and the end of the session to be good for the race.”
HOW WAS YOUR TRIP TO THE ZOO?
“It rained a lot but it was kind of cool to do that. It was neat being around an 11,000-lb. animal.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL?
‘We hung out with an elephant so that was pretty much it.”
ON RUNNING A SMALLER RESTRICTOR PLATE AT TALLADEGA NEXT MONTH
“We’ll be doing the same thing we did at Daytona. I guarantee you right off the bat, that’s exactly what everybody is going to do as soon as they hit the race track is go right back into that mode.”
INAUDIBLE QUESTION REGARDING TALLADEGA
“It’s still smooth enough and still fresh enough; it’s not brand new like Daytona was, but I think it still has enough grip that I think guys are still going to be able to do that pretty easily. I think what we saw in February is kind of a result of what the finish was in October at Talladega. You saw those two groups of cars at the end of the race, when the caution came out. And that’s how Harvick won the race. But I think that was kind of the start of what we saw in February. Nobody knew exactly the way it was going to be and that’s going to keep evolving now. That’s a style of racing that’s just going to keep building and growing from here on out.”
“Anytime Kevin (Harvick) and I and the other guys go and do that; anytime we get in something that has a motor, it’s ultra-competitive. Nobody wants to lose and I can promise you, Harvick, more than anybody I’ve ever met in my life, hates to lose at his own track more than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
MORE THAN YOU?
“Yes. More than me.”
SO IS (CREW CHIEF) DARIAN (GRUBB) IN THE HAULER NOW BASICALLY TRYING TO GUESS WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO FOR QUALIFYING?
“I think we’re actually going to go back to what we started with. The second and third runs didn’t feel as good as the first one so we’re just going to go back to where we started and that’s kind of where it felt the best and we’ll tweak off of that just a little bit.”
-source: team chevy