TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE / OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed being an owner/driver, what it's like to do the double, moving the awards banquet to Las Vegas, and more. Full Transcript: WHAT SIZE TRACK DO YOU ...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE / OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed being an owner/driver, what it's like to do the double, moving the awards banquet to Las Vegas, and more. Full Transcript:
WHAT SIZE TRACK DO YOU PREFER? "Richmond is still my favorite place. I like the short tracks. The aero doesn't mean as much if you beat a fender in it doesn't hurt you as long as it's not rubbing the tires. I've still always liked the short track stuff the best."
AS YOU'VE GOTTEN INTO THE SEASON, AS AN OWNER/DRIVER HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO BACK OFF FROM SOME OF THE OWNER STUFF AND FOCUS MORE ON THE DRIVER'S SIDE? "Well I've been able to focus every week when we get to the race track on the driver's side. That's why we've got Bobby Hutchens and he does a great job of filling that owner role during the weekends and then during the week we concentrate on the car owner's side. But the schedule has eased up a little bit for me. Once we got all the key people in place, it started giving me back a little more time in my schedule."
HAS IT BEEN ABOUT AS GOOD A START AS YOU COULD HAVE AS AN OWNER/DRIVER? "Yeah, I'm pretty happy with it."
ARE YOU PRETTY HAPPY WITH THE WHOLE ORGANIZATION? "I'm real proud of those guys. They (Ryan Newman and team) had a rough start just with some bad luck. It wasn't a lack of performance, just a lack of luck in that category. Every week they're getting better and better. They've had a better average the last two weeks than I have so I'm really proud of what those guys are doing too."
ON THE APRIL FOOL'S JOKE FROM CAR & DRIVER MAGAZINE "I didn't think it was a very smart deal."
THERE IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY THAT A NASCAR TEAM OWNER IS GOING TO ANNOUNCE ON MONDAY HIS INTENTION TO FIELD A CAR IN THE INDY 500. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TELL US? "The only think I can tell you is that it's not me. Once hundred percent it's not me; not going to be me. I've got my hands full enough. I'm kind of curious Monday to hear who it is. I doubt very seriously that somebody is doing it all on their own, unless it's Robby Gordon. Robby would be the only guy I know of that would do it by himself. But it's going to be cool, whoever it is; and nice to see somebody cross over in that direction and be a part of it."
HOW HARD IS IT TO DO THE DOUBLE? "The double is pretty tough. And now, it's impossible to do it and be at both on time. It was pretty hard. It's hard enough running the biggest Indy car race of the year and then running the longest stock car race of the year on the same day. It's not something you just decide the week before, oh yeah; I'm going to go do both of these. It takes a lot of preparation to get ready for it."
IS IT FUN TO DO THE DOUBLE? "Absolutely. I enjoyed it both times. The second time I enjoyed it more because I was more prepared. The first time we realized how much we lacked preparation to get ready for that. But it is pretty cool."
ON MOVING THE AWARDS BANQUET FROM NEW YORK TO LAS VEGAS "If that happens, I'm all for it. That definitely fits my style a lot more than New York did. New York is a neat place. It doesn't fit me and my lifestyle, but I think it (Las Vegas) fits us a lot better."
THE YELLOW LINE WAS YOUR FRIEND LAST YEAR AT TALLADEGA, BUT IS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO HAVE IT? "I think so. Guys can still save their cars below the yellow line and you get down on the grass and it's a little harder to save them. If they didn't do that and we were running each other all the way down to the grass I think that would make it a lot bigger problem than what we've got now."
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, WITH WHAT YOUR EXPECTATION MIGHT BE? "Definitely last week, we were definitely happy with that. To have both of us in the top six like that. That was obviously our best. Even if we had just had the sixth place run from Ryan, that is the best finish the team has had let alone our run with third. Definitely very satisfied with that."
WOULD YOU HAVE LIKE TO HAVE GONE FOR THE WIN LAST WEEK? "Oh yea, you always to win, that is why we do this. We weren't quite quick enough to stay with the No. 48 and the No. 11, but watching how hard they were racing each other, if anything happened, we were in the right spot to try to take advantage of it. I just wasn't close enough when it did happen to do anything with it. It was a fun race to watch. I mean, I messed up my corner watching them race and jumped the curb and cost myself a lot of time in that same corner just because I was watching those guys running up the race track. It was a fun race to watch where I was at for sure. Just wish I could have been a little closer to get to get in the middle of it."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR STEWART-HAAS TO BE A PART OF THE HENDRICK PROGRAM? "It is huge. It is a really big deal to us. It has been going both ways already; it has not been quite as much on our end obviously with our two cars as it is with their four cars. "Every session that gets done, they know everything that we did. For example, all the Hendrick cars were in qualifying trim today so I know they are going to look at what Ryan (Newman) and I did in race trim. Get our feedback, then they will make their decision on how they are going to start their race practice tomorrow. That is something that we are proud of. Man, I think it makes all of us better being able to transfer the information back and forth like we are."
IS THAT A CHANGE FROM THE SITUATION BEFORE BETWEEN THE TWO ORGANIZATIONS? HOW HAS THAT IMPROVED? "Well, I think, obviously when Darian Grubb came from Hendrick over to Stewart-Haas, that helped close the gap a lot between the transferring of the information and making everybody a little more comfortable. That, and we have sat with Tony Gibson and he understands why we are doing it, it just makes sense. All the crew chiefs are working really well together and they are working really hard to make sure everybody has accurate information."
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE SPRINT CUP BANQUET MOVING TO LAS VEGAS? "I am all for it. I like it much better there."
LEAD CHANGES ARE DOWN FROM LAST YEAR, BUT I AM SURE THERE IS MORE TO IT, HOW DO YOU VIEW THE CURRENT LEVEL OF COMPETITION? "I look at last weeks race in particular, obviously it is the most recent, but I was sitting there in sixth place and I could see all five of the leaders in front of me and they were two-wide for the lead for three straight laps. Four guys were racing for the lead there. You can't say that it isn't exciting. I mean, we have had some of the most exciting racing we have seen in a long time here."
HOW QUICKLY DID YOUR COMFORT LEVEL COME WORKING WITH DARIAN, ESPECIALLY IS YOU ARE UPSET WITH THE CAR? "We haven't gotten to that point yet. That is the great thing. Everything has been so smooth, we've just talked to each other about it. There has never been a point where I've even been wound up about anything so far this year, which has kinda been nice. It has been relaxing during the three days each weekend. I am sure we will get to that stage, that was something I told him before was 'Hey, there times I am going to get wound up on the radio, you can't take it personal.' He understands that, you have to remember, he worked with Dale, Jr. and Dale likes to say a whole lot on the radio too. It is nothing new for him."
IS THERE A SPECIAL REASON YOU PICKED THE NATIONWIDE RACE HERE TO RUN? "Actually, I don't even know how we ended up with it here to be honest. It was more to make sure that we picked a race that was good for Armor All and Kevin and DeLana (Harvick). It didn't really matter to me where it was, I just wanted to make sure I got that in for both of them."
IS THIS A TRACK THAT IT IS EASIER TO RUN TWO RACES THAN SOME OTHER PLACE? "I like Texas. I mean, I have always liked this track. The older this track gets, the better it gets. It gets multiple grooves and gets to where you can make a difference as a driver versus they way we were the first couple of years where everybody was stuck on the bottom and you couldn't pass. This track is fun now to race at because you can move around so much."
DO YOU THINK THIS YEAR IS RUNNING SO SMOOTHLY FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU HAD TO DEAL WITH SO MUCH AT THE END OF LAST YEAR? "I am busier than I have been. At the same time, it has been a comfortable busy. We have enjoyed everything we have been doing. It is a new challenge and I have always liked new challenges. I feel very content in this role right now.
"I have never had anybody personally come up and tell me I am crazy for doing this. I am sure there are people who said it, but they never said it to me. The thing that still impresses me about the whole thing is how many people have been so supportive of what we are doing. Guys like Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs.. Those three guys in particular have been really big about lending a hand and saying, hey, if you need something, call me. If you have a question, call. That makes you feel a lot better when you are a rookie car owner when the veterans are willing to help you out."
-credit: gm racing