DETROIT (June 5, 2000) - All season Home Depot Pontiac driver Tony Stewart has been looking for that one day where he and his teammates could run up to their potential and self-imposed high standards. That day came Sunday at Dover Downs when ...
DETROIT (June 5, 2000) - All season Home Depot Pontiac driver Tony Stewart has been looking for that one day where he and his teammates could run up to their potential and self-imposed high standards. That day came Sunday at Dover Downs when Stewart led 242 laps, including 241 of the final 294, on the way to notching his fourth career victory. What the second-year driver is hoping now is that he can use the win to put his struggles behind him and start a new, positive chapter as he heads to Michigan Speedway for this weekend's Winston Cup race.
THOUGHTS FROM TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX
...why does the competition in Winston Cup seem to be different this year?:
"I don't know. I wish I knew. There are just a lot of guys that have done a lot of homework over the winter, I think, and done a lot of testing and made their programs better. My job is not to determine what the variable is that's different. My job is to try to be that guy that has the car that has hit the set-up right. That's where Greg (Zipadelli) and the guys come into it."
...on being cheered in Dover after being booed at Lowe's Motor Speedway:
"That was very nice. That's much better than the money and the trophy in my eyes, having those people stand up and cheer, and knowing that you have those kinds of people supporting you. I haven't had that for a while now. That was the best part of this (Dover) win so far, I can promise you that. It's nice to get it for the guys again because they deserved to win again this year. But seeing those fans all the way around here cheering when we won this thing - I wish I had the words to express it because the last two weeks have been literally hell for me. It's a nice feeling to see those people again. Hopefully that will start building our fan base back up because that was definitely one of the highlights of last season for me was to have the reaction of the fans and have those people supporting us like they did."
...on the demands of being a NASCAR driver:
"It's tough to be in the situation we're in. This is not an easy business by any means. Anybody that thinks being a Winston Cup driver or a Busch Grand National driver is an easy job, I would gladly trade you for one week and let you try it out. The results are staggering. I thought I knew what was going to happen when I started last year, and I found out it was a lot different than I thought it was going to be. It's just hard. It's hard to make adjustments. We've all had to make adjustments in our life when we moved out of the house for the first time, or moved away from home. It's a tough deal to get used to. Well, that's the same thing I did. I packed up everything I owned on January 4th last year and moved to Cornelius (N.C.). I lived in a house that I had owned, but I had never spent more than about four or five days at a time there. To go there and know that that's where I was going home every night, that - on top of the lifestyle that you lead and the reaction of some people - it's sometimes overwhelming."
...on continuing to work on "keeping his cool":
"I think that's a given that everybody up here knows I've got to work on my cool. That's probably my weakest link right now. But that's where Greg's strength is and Mark (Robertson), my spotter - both of those guys know my personality. They know how fired up I get. They know that to be good at the end of a run I've got to be patient and take it easy on my tires. If you can get a scanner and listen to Greg, every lap he would read the time off and say, 'Take care of your car. Take care of your car.' He knows if he keeps preaching that to me that eventually it doesn't bounce off the inside of the walls of my brain anymore and actually sticks and I actually understand it and do what he tells me. "Like I've said, a year and a half is not enough to really learn how to adjust to all this, but that is part of it. These races are so long. You can get cautions in 10 laps and then the next thing you know you've run two segments without a caution. That's where that patience comes into it and they just keep preaching that to me. It's having a good crew chief and a good spotter that can keep you calm like that all day."
...is it tougher for the team this year as opposed to its rookie year in 1999?:
"It's a lot easier when you know that you can take that first year as a learning year and everything that happens that's good is a bonus. We set two realistic goals each week last year and that was that; we ended up with the season we had. This year it's hard not to expect to do better. It's hard to not want to go out and at least back up what you did the time before."
...is the competition tougher this year in Winston Cup?:
"The competition is definitely tougher this year. I think there are a lot of teams that throughout the winter have found things that have made their programs better, whether it was the driver-crew chief combination or whatever. I think the relationship that Greg and I have showed a lot of teams last year that that's a very, very critical part to the equation. We saw a lot of crew chief and driver changes last year, and we're seeing combinations that are working well this year. That, and technology, and people are testing more and figuring things out. I just think it's getting harder and harder to stay up in the elite group of crews and teams and drivers that can go out and be a contender. There are just more people being added to that list each week in my opinion."
...what are the team's goals with regard to the points race in 2000?:
"I pretty much treat it the way I did the (USAC) Triple Crown in '95. The Silver Crown Series was the one that we ran well in each week, but I didn't win a race in '95 and still won the championship. We won it on the last night. The two guys in front of us had to have problems and they both had problems. "We're not out of it, by any means. I don't think you can ever count yourself out with so many races to go because you never know what is going to happen. Are we looking at the points? No. We're looking at days like (Sunday). We need to have more days like (Sunday). We want our consistency back. That's the most important thing. I would trade wins in for consistency again. We still want to win more races. But at the same time I would like to finish in the top five more and if we can do that then the points will take care of itself. "Who knows where we're going to finish? I think at this point we realistically want to stay in the top 10, but if we can do better than that and get in the top five - great. But we're not going to say that we had a tragic year if we don't get in the top five now. We've just got to do the best we can each week and just go from there."