Continued from part 1 Q: I'd like to ask you about the season Kyle Busch is having, winning so many races in the top three series. Being a teammate of his this year, have you discovered anything new about his abilities, has he surprised you at...
Continued from part 1
Q: I'd like to ask you about the season Kyle Busch is having, winning so many races in the top three series. Being a teammate of his this year, have you discovered anything new about his abilities, has he surprised you at all with what he's doing?
TONY STEWART: Well, I don't think any of us expected would he have the year that he's going to have, and not because he doesn't have talent. He's having a dream season, to go out and win the amount of races he's won in all three divisions, and to be as dominant as he has; you pray that you have a season like that and they don't come around all the time.
You know, I'm happy being Kyle's teammate. I'm happy to be as close to him as I am right now, and get a chance to see him have the season that he's having. I'm proud of what he has done. He's worked hard and the results have shown from that.
You know, it's not easy running the Cup Series and then just running a partial nationwide schedule, let alone the beginning of the year running every race, plus running as many truck races as he could.
You know, that takes a lot of commitment to do that and I'm pretty proud of him for what he's been able to do the first half of the season. Like I say, it's something that you pray that you're in that situation in the future; that every year you could have a year like that. You know, you look at the history books and there's few seasons that have been like this.
Like I say, I'm proud being a teammate of his. I'm really proud and happy for the success he's had this year, and you hope that the rest of the year finishes out the way that it started for him. I mean, obviously we want to go out and win the Chase just like he does and just like Denny does but you hope that they keep that momentum the rest of the year, too, and have a strong finish to the year after the way the first half of it's been.
Q: You answered my question about Zippy but I was interested in also finding out, moving into an ownership role, do you think that you will have any more, I don't know, say, power or pull with NASCAR when you go and complain about something like earlier in the year, you had the problem with the tires and you spoke out about Goodyear; do you think NASCAR takes the owners more seriously than what they hear from the drivers?
TONY STEWART: Not necessarily. Obviously if I have a complaint from the driver's side they will look at it from a driver's side. I don't think being a car owner in the series is going to necessarily have more pull. I think they have always been really good about listening to what everybody has to say and evaluating and making their own decisions about it.
They don't let the drivers make the decisions for them and that's something that's made NASCAR as successful as it's been for the past 50 years is that NASCAR has always retained that control and they always have open ears and they tell you, that if there's something you don't like, come to us and talk to us about it.
I think they treat the driver issues as driver issues. I think they treat the car owner issues as car owner issues and sponsor issues from the sponsorship side. I don't think having dual roles, though, is necessarily going to give you power over what's going on. I think NASCAR itself holds the power to what's going on here. I just think that whatever side of the coin you're on as far as what aspect that your complaints are about or concerned about, that's the side they will address it from.
Q: With all of the changes, is NASCAR an open-wheel series -- (indiscernible).
TONY STEWART: In my opinion it's an open-wheel, and when I say open-wheel, I don't necessarily mean IndyCar Racing. Sprint car racing, midget racing, USAC races and Indiana, and they just finished up Indiana Sprint week and to me there's a lot of late dirt model racing and pavement racing, but it's still to me the thing I think most about is all of the midgets and USAC days in Indiana.
Q: You touched on the new car earlier, but given how notoriously difficult it is in the past in Indianapolis anyway, will we see anything different than before?
TONY STEWART: I don't think so. I think you'll see the same style of race. Obviously a track that has 90-degree corners versus 180-degree corners, you're not in the -- the duration that you spend in each corner obviously isn't as long, so that doesn't normally lead to having multiple grooves.
The preferred line is to be on the white line in each corner. It makes it a little harder to pass because of that, but you know, at the same time, I think what sometimes the fans and sometimes the media loses sight of is that you're still winning a race at a track that has a rich history and just to have your name on a list of winners there is a huge, huge accomplishment in my opinion.
Like I mentioned earlier, most of the times, somebody that's won the race there has won it in dominating fashion, and I think sometimes people lose perspective of what the accomplishment of winning that race is when you've had a dominating day like that or you've had a car that was just that much better than everybody else's and lose sight and say, well, it was a bad race. It wasn't a bad race; it was a team that figured out the equation better than somebody else and went out and had a performance that day that showed that.
I think you'll see a very similar race to what we've seen in the past. You never know for sure until you get there obviously but I think it's going to be very similar to what we've seen in years past.
Q: Has the pressure of winning at Indianapolis gone, and do you enjoy this week more than you would have the last few years?
TONY STEWART: Oh, absolutely. There's no doubt about it. You know, every year that we went there, whether it was an IndyCar or a stock car and had not won there yet, just that pressure kept building. Once we won it in 2005, it took a lot of pressure off and then winning last year even took more pressure off.
I think in all reality, after each time that you've won there, I think it makes it easier when you go there. I think the emotional side of it, not the desire, I don't want you guys to confuse the desire of winning versus the pressure of winning; I think the pressure goes away, but the desire is still there, and I think if anything, it makes it easier to focus on what you're trying to do and what you're trying to accomplish because you don't sit there and wonder all weekend, what would it be like to win.
You know what that feeling is like and you know what to do to accomplish that goal, and it's just a matter of going out and doing the work to accomplish it. But I think it takes a lot of the pressure off to where you can just focus better and worry about the task at hand of what you have to do to win that race.
Q: As far as the Chase is concerned, are you comfortable with the direction your team is headed right now, and who on the outside right now worries you the most?
TONY STEWART: I couldn't even tell you any more that we're tenth in points right now. I haven't -- I don't even know who is 13th in the points or 14th or 15th.
As far as the comfort level, I am very comfortable where we're at. I feel like we've really started to hit on things the last three or four races, and it still has not led us to a win yet obviously. Chicago I thought was a great example, for a large portion of the race, we were a contender to win and the car got away from us there, the handling got away from us the last couple of runs, but for the majority of the day, we were as fast as our teammate was, and the guy that's been the dominant driver in all of NASCAR racing this year. To be running with him like that is exactly what we were going to have to do to probably win the championship this year.
I felt like consistently over the last three or four races, our performance seems to be pointed in a direction that we're a lot more comfortable with and I feel like the consistency in our runs now are going to be a big key factor in the success of the rest of the season.
Q: A few years ago you seemed like you would be eager enough to get enough money to get out of NASCAR and race wherever you wanted. Was there one thing that changed your mind about that? This seems like a long-term commitment to NASCAR.
TONY STEWART: It is, but it doesn't mean that I have to drive. I don't know how long that I'll be a driver, but the good thing is, I've enjoyed being an owner in USAC. I've enjoyed being an owner in the World of Outlaw Series, and I have no doubt that I'm going to enjoy this experience of being an owner in the NASCAR Cup Series.
We'll see what direction that goes. I have an option now and I've always had an option as a driver of deciding when I retire and doing it on my own terms, and I still have that option and on the other hand, I have an ownership role that I might stay involved in NASCAR until I die as an owner.
It's nice having those options and you know, like I said, the enjoyment I've had owning USAC teams and the world of out law teams, I feel like all that has got me ready to be an owner in NASCAR and hopefully will enjoy some of the same successes that we've had in the open-wheel series.
Q: Have you made any progress in getting a teammate?
TONY STEWART: We're still working on it. Obviously I'd love to announce it sooner than later. I think it will be a key to being able to attract sponsors to the second car. We're still working on that. Hopefully we'll be able to get -- I want to get that done as soon as I can. I feel like that's a big key in this whole program being successful next year is having the right teammate so definitely want to get that done as soon as possible.
Q: There could be times next season where Tony the driver and Tony the owner are not exactly going to see eye-to-eye. You can't fire yourself --
TONY STEWART: Sure, I can. It makes it easier to fire yourself if you own part of the team.
Q: How do you reconcile that next year where you're going to maybe do things from an owner perspective and another from the driver's perspective?
TONY STEWART: I think it's what I've learned from Joe Gibbs and JD, and you know, you win races and championships with people; it's not with fancy race cars and by having trick strategies. That's not what happens in the long haul. In the long run it's people.
You know, when I'm at the track on the weekend, I'm on the driver's side. You hire the right people to do the right jobs and it's their responsibility to do their job and it's my responsibility to do my portion of it as a driver on the weekends. When we go back on Mondays and Tuesdays and I'm not sitting behind the steering wheel, I'm obviously an owner again but you have to have that confidence that you have the right leadership within the organization to focus on your job of being a race car driver on the weekends and knowing that those people are doing the right jobs and you have to trust that. If you don't trust the people that you have working for you, you're never going to be successful.
I think that's a trust that you have to put in those people that you've put in those positions to do the right jobs and focus on what I need to do as a driver to be successful in my part of it.
Q: As an owner now, putting on your owner hat and looking at adding a driver, several guys out there, what's the type of person you're looking for in a teammate, certain mind-set or attitude?
TONY STEWART: I think so. I definitely think so. We definitely want somebody that you feel like is dedicated to what we're trying to do and realizing that we're taking an organization that's not had the success that it wants and has the for sight to look forward and see what we're trying to accomplish and see that we're dedicated and going to put 110 percent into making this organization the best it can be.
You know, you want a driver that has that same attitude with what they do every weekend. You don't want a guy that's just content to run in the Top 15 or Top 20. You want a guy who has every intention every year and a realistic intention of saying, I expect to make the Chase. I want somebody that expects to win races and expects to be a contender to be a championship every year, and if they don't have those intentions, that's not a guy that I want driving my race cars.
Q: What about a crew chief? There's been a lot of talk about who you might pick, and is Ryan Newman still in the running to be your teammate?
TONY STEWART: There are a lot of drivers in the running right now. It's not narrowed down to just one driver right now.
Obviously the crew chief situation, that is obviously a big factor in what we're doing. You know, now that we're back from vacation, it's kind of the full-court press now on trying to figure out not only who we're going to have -- we need two crew chiefs right now. It's not just one crew chief.
We have to figure out exactly if we're happy with the crew chiefs that we currently have or if we need to look outside the organization, and at the same time, looking at the leadership of what we have on the floor and deciding if the team manager's roles and the people that are going to really be the brain trust, I guess, and the guys that you trust to get everything turned around. Those are key positions right now that are a huge focus for us right now.
Obviously the two crew chiefs whoever they are going to be whether it's Booty or somebody different, that's obviously a huge priority for us right now along with getting a driver and other key people in the organization signed up right now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you and first of all, much appreciated, Tony Stewart, best of luck this weekend for you.
TONY STEWART: Thanks, you guys, I appreciate your time.