TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed his success at Watkins Glen, team leadership, expanding to a third team, aggressiveness racing, and more. TALK ABOUT YOUR...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed his success at Watkins Glen, team leadership, expanding to a third team, aggressiveness racing, and more.
TALK ABOUT YOUR FONDNESS FOR THE GLEN AND YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND. "It's a race that we always look forward to. Like you said we've had a lot of success here and it's just fun. It's like taking Sonoma and just multiplying the speed times three. This is just a lot faster track. It still has the same elevation changes but you're just running a lot quicker mile an hour here. Both Sonoma and here are two places on the schedule that we really enjoy coming to and look forward to. So I'm excited to be here today."
DO YOU THINK THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON NEEDS TO HAVE A ROAD COURSE WIN TO FILL OUT HIS RESUME? "I don't think so. I think three consecutive championships is enough to pretty much overshadow the fact that he hasn't won a road course race. There's a lot of pride amongst the drivers being able to win at every discipline and try to win at every race track so I'm sure that's something that's high on his priority list."
HOW ARE THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS GOING TO DIFFER HERE FROM EVEN INFINEON AS FAR AS THAT'S CONCERNED? "It's easier to run two-wide through here through (turn) one so I think it's going to make the starts real excited because this track is very conducive to having double-file restarts and not getting people in trouble trying to get filed down to one lane. So I think it should make it exciting for this weekend. I think this will be a perfect place for it."
WITH THE 2010 SCHEDULE COMING OUT, DO YOU LIKE THE BALANCE AS IT IS RIGHT NOW, WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ANY RACES SHORTENED OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ANY NEW RACES MAYBE GO INTO THE CHASE OR SOME COME OFF? "I'd like to see Eldora added to the schedule but other than that I'm pretty happy with it (laughter)."
WITH ONLY FIVE RACES LEFT BEFORE THE CHASE, LOOKING AT THE NO. 42 IF THE TEAM MAKES THE CHASE HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE WOULD YOU EXPECT MONTOYA TO BE IN THE FINAL 10 RACES? "Anybody that makes the Chase, if you've made it you're definitely a contender for it. It's hard enough just to make the 12 drivers that make the Chase. Whoever it is that gets in there it doesn't matter. If you've made that group you're definitely a contender. I don't think there is anybody that will make the Chase this year that you can't consider a solid contender if things go their way and you get a couple of breaks. If Juan makes it, you can't count him out. He's been solid all year."
HOW UNLIKELY IS IT THAT YOU WILL RUN A THIRD CAR IN 2010? "I don't think we've ruled that out yet. It's getting to the point in the season if we're going to do a third team and have a third team for next season it would have to happen pretty quickly. At least having the sponsor and driver lined up to make sure that we have an adequate amount of time to get all the tools and pieces in place for next year. But I would say it's not very likely right now."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON RACING AT MICHIGAN AND MAYBE A LITTLE ADDED PRESSURE THIS YEAR WITH THE CAR MANUFACTURERS AND THE ECONOMY. "When I'm in my media session next week I'll tell you all about Michigan. I'm not worried about it this week. It's the same as it always is there. We look forward to going to there obviously because the manufacturers are there and it's a driver's track. You can help yourself out as a driver by moving around on the race track. It does give you that flexibility as a driver to not be just stuck with whatever your balance is. You can search around and try to find a spot that's better for it."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE GLEN THAT'S ALLOWED YOU TO HAVE SO MUCH SUCCESS AND OBVIOUSLY ENJOY YOURSELF SO MUCH AT THIS TRACK? "I don't know. I mean it's kind of that way with Sonoma too. We seem to have taken to the road racing side of it fairly well and just have had good luck with it. So I don't know that there's a secret to it necessarily from our standpoint. I think a lot of it is when we get here we look forward to being here. There are some drivers that don't look forward to the road course races and we're one of those guys that we actually look forward to it. We like the change in pace and get to do something different for a weekend. That's something that we always look forward to and it kind of gets us boosted up for the weekend."
DO YOU SENSE THERE IS A LITTLE MORE PRESSURE THIS YEAR TO MAKE THE CHASE FOR THE GUYS DOWN BELOW BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMY? "I don't know that the economy has got anything to do with it from a driver's standpoint. They want to win. I've never seen a driver grab a check before they've grabbed a trophy so I think that kind of tells the story. Drivers want to win and they want to win the trophy. I don't think they think of the economy necessarily."
CARL EDWARDS MENTIONED THAT SOME GUYS ARE DRIVING FOR THEIR CAREERS WHEN HE WAS IN HERE EARLIER. "That's not the economy though. That's guys trying to stay in their rides right now."
DO YOU GET THE SENSE THAT THERE IS A LOT OF TESTING GOING ON DURING RACE WEEKENDS, AND IS THAT THE ONLY WAY THE OTHER TEAMS CAN CATCH YOU? "I hope that's the case. But it's no different for us. We don't have the luxury of going and testing, either. For us to try to maintain the advantage we feel we've got and having our cars consistent and good each week, we don't have that luxury of going testing at the same places they would, so it's a matter of just doing your homework. The good thing is it's the same for everybody. This isn't a situation that's unfair. The thing is, who knows if we had more testing, we might even be further ahead of these guys. So, I don't know that it puts anybody at a deficit by not testing, it just saves all the teams money which is something they need to do. Just like today for example. An hour and a half of practice, guys were in race trim to start and I'm sure guys tried things trying to get direction for where they want to be for the two practices tomorrow before they went into qualifying trim. That's why you've got to plan your practice time wisely and figure out exactly what you want to do and how you want to use that practice time."
ARE YOU LOOKING AHEAD AT ALL THE FUTURE WEEKS? "Yeah, everybody is. You're obviously always working to make sure you're good for those last 10 weeks. We're no different. We tried things during practice too, just to see if it gives us a direction that we might like. That's the great thing about having the amount of time that we do have. It's not so much that it feels like a test day, but it's enough that you feel like you can run through a wide range of changes before you have to lock-in on one direction."
AS AN OWNER, HOW DO YOU PULL THE REIGNS IN TO KEEP EVERYBODY ON YOUR TEAM SO THEY DON'T TRY TO OVER-ACHIEVE AND MAYBE LOSE A LITTLE FOCUS? "I think just the leadership we've got with Bobby Hutchens and Darian (Grubb) and Tony (Gibson), I don't think you have to do much of pulling in the reigns because a lot of these guys are having success for the first time in their Cup careers so you want to take advantage of that enthusiasm and not pull it back too much and let these guys enjoy what they're doing. They're having fun and that's half the battle."
HOW MUCH OF A ROLE TO THE SPONSORS HAVE RIGHT NOW IN MAKING CAR GRAPHICS DECISIONS OR UNIFORM DESIGN? ANY MORE THAN USUAL? "No, they've always done that. Anytime we've ever had sponsors, they always help you decide what their artwork is going to be because it has to fit their brand. There is nothing this year that's any different because of the economy or anything than it has in the past from that standpoint. They've always been involved. They've always had to approve paint schemes for the cars, whether it's a special paint scheme or just their standard deal. It's something that the sponsors have always been a heavy part of."
THE DRIVERS? "I think so now you're seeing probably in the last four or five years that's becoming a bigger factor than it used to be just that the sponsors align themselves with the teams now that are aligning themselves with the drivers for their branding and that's an important decision for those guys as well as far as who the driver is going to be."
DID YOU BUILD STEWART-HAAS WITH EXPANSION IN MIND IN TERMS OF SPACE AND EQUIPMENT AND PEOPLE? HOW SIMPLE OR SEAMLESS WOULD IT BE TO EXPAND FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE? "The building is capable of holding three teams for sure. That's not a problem. It's just adding people and making sure that the funding is in place. It would be adding a little more equipment and people, but having that funding and the driver is the biggest key."
ARE DRIVERS RACING EACH OTHER MORE AGGRESSIVELY NOW AFTER POCONO, OR WHERE DO YOU SEE THAT GOING? IS IT GOING TO GO UP AND DOWN? "It was wilder than I remembered at Pocono last week (with) guys taking chances and getting themselves in situations I haven't seen before but it wasn't one or two particular guys, it was quite a few of them that were doing that. And it's kind of a situation where once one person does it, you're forced to have to do it to maintain. It was pretty crazy, I thought, at points last week. I don't know about the escalating and coming back down. If it's up there, it's probably going stay up there for a while before somebody gets in trouble with it I guess."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SATISFYING PART FOR YOU IN BUILDING A TEAM THAT'S BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL SO QUICKLY? "Leading the points. It's hard to go any further than that. To come out with a team that's new and be leading the points halfway through the year is a huge accomplishment right now for us."
WHEN YOU COME TO A PLACE THAT'S 'YOUR HOUSE' LIKE WATKINS GLEN IS, DO YOU CARRY A SENSE OF OVERWHELMING CONFIDENCE WHEN YOU COME HERE? IF SO, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO DRAW YOURSELF BACK AND GUARD AGAINST BEING OVER-CONFIDENT? "No, I don't think so. I think when you've had success at a place you look forward to it and it's like we said, we enjoy coming here. We enjoy road racing. When you've won four races, it gives you that confidence that you know how to win here and know what you have to do to get to victory lane. It's just a matter, at that point, of going out and practicing and putting yourself in that position."
-credit: gm racing