Watkins Glen: Second, third finishers press conference, part 1

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Watkins Glen International post-race transcript August 10, 2008 An Interview With: TONY STEWART MARCOS AMBROSE THE MODERATOR: We're ready for Marcos and Tony to come up on the podium. We appreciate them coming in.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Watkins Glen International post-race transcript
August 10, 2008

An Interview With:
TONY STEWART
MARCOS AMBROSE

THE MODERATOR: We're ready for Marcos and Tony to come up on the podium. We appreciate them coming in. Outstanding performance by these two drivers here today.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, finishing second in today's Centurion Boats at the Glenn, and Marcos Ambrose fresh off of yesterday's Nationwide series victory with a top three today, finishing third in that No. 21 Little Debbie Ford. Congratulations to both of you.

Tony, you're on a tear right now, you're really racing well here the last month or so. Your thoughts about your performance today?

TONY STEWART: I was pretty happy with it. It was fairly uneventful from our side. We didn't have any big dramas during the race. The red there at the end kind of killed us a little bit, but really happy with the day, proud of Kyle and how he ran, and we saw behind us that Denny was having a good day, too, so really proud of the whole organization and thought it was a good day for us.

You know, just the thing that hurt us at the end was just the red flag. That cooled the tires down and dropped the air pressures, and it seemed like we were a little bit low on the left front tire, and it seemed like when the pressures were really low, it really made the front end hook to the right.

But even if we got that fixed, I'm not sure we were going to be fast enough to get by Kyle. He never made a mistake. He had a really, really good car today, and he was fast in all the right spots he needed to be fast in. You know, I think he ran a perfect race today. I thought we were really close. I mean, we're talking nitpicking stuff to get our car perfect.

So I was really proud of our guys.  Our pit stops were good today.  I
thought Zippy had good pit strategy.  It's days like today that you want
every week.  You want it to be uneventful and be this smooth every day.

THE MODERATOR: Now let's go to Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 21 Little Debbie Ford. You had to come all the way back from 43rd, finished third, so you were flying by a lot of cars today. Congratulations. Your thoughts about your performance?

MARCOS AMBROSE: Just a great weekend all around. I thought yesterday was great, but when I'm lining up there on that red flag and I realized where I was, I was behind Tony and in front of all those other great drivers. It was just a real thrill.

We came out of the Trucks so well in practice yesterday that we were too scared to change anything, and the car was flopping around a lot during the race. It had a lot of grip, it was just really tough to drive. So I just tried to stay clean as best I could out there and pass cars cleanly and just pick away at it. I really had no idea where we were at until that last cycle of pit stops when we saw we were in about sixth place.

Just a great day all around, just so proud of the Wood Brothers for giving me a piece that I could really get out there and give it my best, and Little Debbie and the McKee family for giving me the chance to go Cup racing.

I don't want to be labeled a road racer, by the way. I am tenth in the Nationwide Series points so I'm trying to make it as a NASCAR driver full stop, not just a road racer.

THE MODERATOR: You've got to learn English first (laughter).

MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, pigeon English.

Just really excited that I've been given an opportunity and I'm able to make the most of it. You don't get many chances in life to do something special like this, and today I'm going to look back at very fondly, the whole weekend to be honest with you. I'm just really proud of both my teams, and I hope that it can give the Wood Brothers the shot in the arm they need to get the momentum to move forward.

Q: Tony, there was a few restarts there where you were second, Kyle was first, you had a couple shots at him. What was the key to him beating you on the restarts? Can you talk about how close you came to passing him in any one of those?

TONY STEWART: I never really got that close to passing him unfortunately. I never could get the runs in the right spots. That was the key, really, was we struggled a little bit off of 5 and off of 7, and those are both right hand corners, and our car was a little too free on the right handers and was really, really good on the left handers. But couldn't really get that run that I needed to stay with him to try to make a move in a braking zone.

I had great brakes all day. We were able to go deeper than he could in the corners, and there were corners we were better than him, just not in the right spot, so we never really could get close enough to really get an opportunity. Like Marcos said, you could dive bomb a guy and probably make something happen, but it wasn't going to be the right way, and we just never were really close enough to do it right.

Q: Marcos, on the restart, I understand your brakes were really iffy at that point. Was there ever a chance when you were close to Tony that you were going to dive in and try to make a pass, or did you back off knowing that it was a lose lose situation?

MARCOS AMBROSE: Well, yeah, I just really want to be respectful to guys out there that are doing it week in and week out. It's not my place to stick my nose in and ruin someone else's day that's fighting for the Chase. If I was going to pass Tony, I was going to do it clean. I really thought about it. I wanted to have a good crack at it, but I just wasn't close enough and didn't get the run up the hill through the esses to get into the bus stop.

The difference between second and third to me was small compared to the negative I would have if I took out one of these Chase cars and got a bad reputation. So I wanted to badly have a crack at Tony at the end there, but I thought better of it when I just didn't have the run that I needed to to make a clean pass.

Q: Marcos, Kyle Busch, one of the things he said after the race, was he didn't pass anybody all day except on Pit Road. Now, you started last. Just for the record, describe how you managed to get track position and pass and get in position.

MARCOS AMBROSE: It felt like I passed everyone three times (laughter). There was some guys there just through the cycle pit stops that I did pass three or four times out there. We passed quite a few on the track. We passed quite a few in the pits, too, just with our strategy.

You know, I wasn't overtaken all day, which I'm proud of, and we did a lot of passing. You have to have the right strategy when you come from the back. It's not all about passing cars back there, it's about having the right calls and the pits, too. And David Hardy did a great job, stopped us at the right time so we could make it home on the gas, and it's just been a great day. It's been a great two days on strategy to be honest with you, because we managed it really well yesterday, as well.

Q: Marcos, obviously you've had a great two days here, but you've also given quite a shot in the arm to the Wood Brothers team. From the standpoint of throughout the weekend, how busy were you consulting with their engineers and the people with their team?

MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, it's actually quite strange because the guys that I had at Sonoma aren't the same crew chief, and Hoyt wasn't with us when we were at Sonoma and we ran really well there, too. We had a car that was sort of mothballed up in Sonoma, we tested it in Atlanta, and it was like, what do we do; the new guy is in, want to change it. I knew the car was good at the test in Atlanta and I didn't want to change it.

We were debating during the week what we should or shouldn't do, and then with limited time on Saturday we decided that the best thing to do was just roll it out like we tested it because I thought it was a pretty safe package, and it's just been great, been great working with Hardy for the first time.

I'm driving for three teams this year; it's the first time I've ever done that. So I'm losing helmets and earplugs and boots and all kinds of things because I'm so disorganized between the three trails. It's just a lot of fun to work with new guys, and they're top notch. They gave me a great piece and gave me everything I could ask for today.

Q: Tony, great day for you, great run, lots of good points, but a little disappointing. This was the one you were kind of looking at to break a winless streak and win, wasn't it?

TONY STEWART: Yeah, but when you know your car was really close I mean, if we were off I think I'd have been more disappointed. I'm pretty happy with the run today. I know that we just were a little bit off. But the guy that won never made a mistake and didn't bobble. It's hard to be disappointed with that because the good thing is that we're back on track. You know, it's not all just about wins. I mean, there's a bigger prize at the end of the year than an individual race.

You know, the last three weeks have been good for us, the last two weeks to finish in the top two. There's a lot of guys that would love to have two weeks in a row where they could see they finished second. So no complaints.

I mean, I thought if we could have ever got track position on Kyle we might have been able to do something. If think if we'd have been leading when the red flag came out and our balance was like it was at the end, he probably would have got by us anyway.

But I can't be disappointed with a second place run to a teammate like that. I mean, he's on fire this year, so when you have a run like that, it's hard to be upset with it.

Q: Comfortable with the momentum now going in?

TONY STEWART: A lot more comfortable with the momentum now, for sure. I feel like we're today doesn't necessarily mean that next week when we get back to our normal discipline and run on ovals that it's going to be on track and where we want it to be. But there's good momentum and especially with all the changes this year and everybody thinking how disruptive it's been to our program.

I think the last two weeks has shown how focused our team is on the job at hand, so it makes me proud of our guys and proud of our whole organization. To have Kyle win, us run second, I looked up and Denny was fifth at one point, I don't know where he ended up. But all three of us had good cars today, so it just makes you proud of the organization, and you know that you've got a shot if we can stay in the top 12 now.

Q: Tony, in addition to sweeping the road course races, Kyle also clinched the top spot in the Chase today with eight wins, 80 bonus points. It just seems like he doesn't have any vulnerability right now. Going into the Chase, is he just far and away the favorite, and are you guys hoping something is going to happen between now and then that that team will start to fade a little bit?

TONY STEWART: Well, you answered your own question.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Marcos Ambrose , Kyle Busch