TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed potential changes to the 2011 schedule, racing at Watkins Glen and other topics. ON RACING AT WATKINS GLEN: "Anytime...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed potential changes to the 2011 schedule, racing at Watkins Glen and other topics.
ON RACING AT WATKINS GLEN: "Anytime you have a record like we've got here, it makes you definitely look forward to this event every year and coming here. Last year we started off kind of slow on the practice day and got going really good during the race so hoping that is kind of going to work again. We're a little off pace today, but we're making gains on it and getting a direction of what the car is like. We have another long session coming up that should give us plenty of time to get the rest of the way there."
ON THE RADICAL CHANGES TO THE SPRINT CUP SCHEDULE IN 2011: "I'll be honest; I haven't really thought much about it. Things change over time. NASCAR knows where we need to be and what markets we need to be at and I guess it's kind of like we've always said, we kind of just trust their judgment on where we're going and why we're going there. There's tracks that I like better than others and this and that. Atlanta is kind of one that has fallen in the middle of the road. I've had good runs there and I've had some miserable days there. There's going to be changes as time goes on, changes happen. There's tracks that -- look at places like Rockingham and North Wilkesboro that don't even run anymore. There's tracks that I didn't get to run on, that I got to watch races at when I was a kid. The schedule is going to change. I can't say that I'm sitting here with emotions either way about it, I really don't think about it. We go to whatever races are on the schedule and go race. That's what we think about."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS AT WATKINS GLEN? "It's nice knowing that they addressed the issue that we had last year here. Obviously, we had a big, big wreck here last year. That's kind of been an area of the track where we're splitting one giant course into a short course and I don't know if there's a real easy way to do that. They've definitely, you've got to give the track credit and the facility credit for making the adjustments and now sitting on their hands on it. They not only addressed that area, but they addressed a couple other areas on the race track too. Definitely give them credit for making the changes for sure, but I don't think it's really going to change the racing a lot. I don't think the drivers really think a lot about it. We've been racing here a long time and we've been racing with the stuff we had up to this point. It's nice when you go back to a facility and you know they've made it safer than it was the last time you were here."
WHAT IS YOUR COMFORT LEVEL WITH YOUR SPOTTER BOB JEFFREY? "It was real natural. I've worked with him before in some Nationwide races and a couple ARCA races on the dirt. When we started working together on the Cup side, we had already worked together before and I was always comfortable with him. It's like relationships, you have to have somebody that you trust beyond a shadow of a doubt and you have to know that when that guy tells you a direction, if you can't see what's going on in front of you and he tells you that you need to go there to get out of a wreck, you have to trust that person 100 percent. We're both Indiana guys, he's got a good sense of humor and that's important to me. There's times during the race where I need somebody just to make me laugh a little bit and break up my thought process. He's definitely one of those guys that can do that and I really enjoy working with him. Like I said, I've worked with him in the past and enjoyed and really like having him full time now."
IS IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR A TEAM TO MAKE A CAR RIGHT AT A ROAD COURSE VERSUS AN OVAL? "Not necessarily. It's still the same challenges except you're trying to figure out how to do it two different directions. Whatever you do to fix turning one direction, it's going to hurt the opposite direction and a lot of times when you have a problem, when it doesn't feel right, it's going to feel better going one direction than the other. It kind of leads you the way you need to go with it. I wouldn't say the challenges are more, you're still fighting cambers in the front, your rear springs in the back, you just have to worry about two different directions versus one."
WHO DO YOU SEE AS SOME OF THE TOP DRIVERS HERE? "Obviously, Marcos Ambrose is probably the first guy that comes to mind. He's been so close so many times and not been able to finish one off. He's always been there every year. Him and Juan (Pablo Montoya) and Robby (Gordon). Those are three guys in particular that it seems like every time we're here at some point during the day, they're a factor. It's been kind of interesting to watch practice and see who's been at the top of the practice board. It's a group of guys that you're not accustomed to normally seeing up there with some of them, but they're putting good laps together and being able to do it consistent. That group may expand by the end of the weekend."
WHAT HAS WATKINS GLEN MEANT TO THE SPORT? "I'm not sure; I've only been a part of it for about 12 years. I got to watch a lot of races here growing up and it was always just neat to see guys that are kind of out of their element here every week, but these guys put more emphasis on road course races now than they ever have and you see that in the times and the speeds. Watching guys on the race track, there's guys that have struggled here in the past that are really picking their game up. I would say this is a place, I don't know what it means to NASCAR as a sport, but I know what it means to me, I know how much I enjoy something different. It's a different challenge coming here. It's something that kind of breaks up the normal routine of running ovals every week. We get to do it at a cool, historic race track at the same time."
DO YOU FEEL MORE PRESSURE TO RUN WELL AT WATKINS GLEN? "Obviously that's the direction you can go, but it gives you confidence coming in that we know how to win here and we've won here before. I don't think we put any pressure on ourselves extra than we do anywhere else. We just go through the motions of what we have to do to make our car fast and run the race according to what we've got. I think more than worrying about going backwards; we still worry about still going forwards."
HOW MUCH EXTRA PRESSURE IS THERE ON YOURSELF WITH RYAN NEWMAN HEADING TO THE CHASE? "Obviously, we would both rather be in real nice and comfortable and secure, but there's nothing we can do but do the same things we've been doing every week. If you try to do something different and you try to do something extra, you normally force yourself into an unwanted mistake. We just have to go out and do what we've been doing and hope we get a little luck on his (Ryan Newman) side. He's has some miserable luck this year and that's hurt us. We're doing everything we can to help him, but you're careful to not try to reinvent the wheel all of the sudden in four weeks and get yourself in a worse position."
DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE MORE AGGRESSIVE DRIVING ON RESTARTS HERE LIKE WE SAW AT SONOMA? "I think it's a little more out of control at Sonoma because we're running slower speeds. It seems like everybody is a little more respectful here because of how fast we're running. The restarts will still be action-packed, there's no doubt about that. (Turn) one is a big braking zone and it's wide down there so you get a lot of cars that dive down in there and the same thing going into six. There's two areas where guys are going to dive, but the thing about Sonoma where you have corners that are so slow from average speed straightaways where guys get stacked up and guys just go in and just plow themselves in there and that's something I don't think you'll see this weekend."
ON FINISHING FIFTH AT MICHIGAN LAST MONTH: "It was a good race, I can't even remember running it to be honest, so obviously it was a decent top-five. We'll go there and do the same things we always do. I'm not even thinking that far ahead. I'm worried about this weekend and then once we get through Sunday, we'll worry about Michigan next week."
HOW DO YOU BALANCE THROWING THE CAR AROUND AT WATKINS GLEN VERSUS FINESSE OF OTHER RACE TRACKS? "The bus stop area, you have two sets of esses there, you have a right, left and then a left, right. You tend to throw it through there a little more. The other corners, I don't know that I see a lot of; I don't feel like I throw the car around a lot. If we get it right, I normally don't have to do that. You're still dealing with a 3400 pound car that you start throwing it; it throws back eventually and doesn't want to stop. I don't know that we've been big on throwing the car around, but if you get it right, you shouldn't have to throw anything around, it will normally do what it's supposed to do."
-source: gm racing