Part 1 of 2
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (1ST):
FROM POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE...
ON THE RUN:
"We didn't get a real good start. Robby Gordon kind of banzaied everybody on the start. They always tell you you can't win it on the first lap and I don't know where he was going. He about knocked the right front in on our car because we were pinched - had a car on the outside of us and made contact with him. Then we just got settled in. We went from third to first in one corner there and just kind of settled into the race, and started picking our way to the front. We got to second with Robby in the lead and had that caution. I got behind him there and thought I could get a really good run down into one a dove down underneath him there and just didn't get stopped enough. It was my fault. He gave me plenty of racing room down there on the bottom and left me enough room. I just didn't make the corner. I blew the corner and that's where the contact was in one. I just kind of lifted to let him get his spot back because I wasn't going to take it by shoving him up the racetrack. I just settled back into second there. He drove away from us. I felt like I had a pretty good car then, but just wasn't strong enough to run with him at the time. But, as the race went on we kept getting strong and stronger. Zippy kept making changes to the car. We kept communicating all day and stayed calm and got ourselves in a position there. We stuck to Zippy's game plan to a 'T,' got out and got good track position each time. The guys did great jobs on the pit stops - just keeping that track position was the biggest thing to get us to where we needed to be today."
GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF,
NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (1ST):
YOU MUST HAVE FOUND SOMETHING IN TESTING A COUPLE WEEKS AGO...
"We made a bunch of laps and tried a bunch of things - just 'A/B-ed' some stuff. We came up to get Tony back in a rhythm. We tried some brake stuff. We were able to take what we learned there, put it right underneath the car in practice. We started out and we were pretty good. We just tuned on it a little bit.
"Today, we had to make few minor adjustments, but track position was the key. The guys on it road did a good job...and it paid off for us."
ON PONTIAC'S FIRST WIN HERE SINCE 1992
"It's hard when there are only four or five Pontiacs that start the race in a 43-car field. It doesn't give you very good odds of a Pontiac winning. But, the good thing about the road courses is that it takes some of the aerodynamics out of the equation and puts more of it back into the crew chiefs and the driver's hands. We had good luck at the test with the Pontiac. We've had good luck at Sonoma with the Pontiac. I don't really think it was an issue of body style this week as much as it was mechanical balance this week."
DID YOU JUMP THE LAST RESTART?
"Nobody has ever left exactly at those two red stripes in the four years I've been in Winston Cup racing. Nobody has ever taken off exactly at them. They can say what they want. We did what we had to do. This is a tough race on restarts - where the flag stand is and where the last corner is and where the pits start. It really puts the lead car at a disadvantage, so as a driver I just did my job. I did what I was supposed to do as a driver and that is to try to take away their advantage. The road course guys - Pruett and P.J. Jones - were lagging back to try and get runs on us. We were sitting ducks if we didn't do something about it. I wasn't going to throw this race away because of a delay on the racetrack, so they can say what they want. We won it honestly. When I left, they had the same opportunity to get in the gas the same place that I did. It's not like we did something that they weren't able to do, too."
ON THE HEALING POWER OF WINNING:
"There is no such thing. I've got a lot of hard work ahead of me away from the racetrack. But, I've got Zippy that is behind me 100 percent, I've got a race team that is behind me 100 percent, a sponsor and a car owner that are behind me 100 percent and every one of these race fans out here that were wearing 'Tony Stewart' shirts. I'm surrounded by a lot of good people. Friday was a real good example of that. To see all the car owners and crew chiefs and drivers and crew members that came over to say, 'Hey, we're thinking about you and we want you to know that we're on your side and with you on this, and we'll do anything we can to help out' - that meant more than anything, to have the support from those guys.
"This was a big win for our race team. It's not going to heal me a bit. Winning races - it's a 'band-aid.' It covers it up right now. But, tomorrow I'm going to work, getting my life straightened out again. This was just a good reward for the race team. They've worked so hard. Even I didn't realize until last week how many hours these guys were working in the motor shop. We had guys that weren't going home for three days at a time and just taking cat naps whenever they had opportunities. I wasn't even aware of that. This is a very good way of rewarding those guys for all of their hard work. They deserve this win today."
DOES IT SOLVE ANYTHING FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?
"No. What happens on the racetrack is on the racetrack, and stuff off the track is off the track. We've got to fix one before we can fix the other."
WERE YOU WORRIED AT ALL ABOUT ROBBY GETTING BACK TO YOU AT THE END, KNOWING YOU TANGLED EARLIER?
"Sure, you're watching who is back there and seeing what they're doing. But, there were a lot of opportunities for Robby to get by and Ryan [Newman] was strong and we were strong. I'm not sure if he could have gotten by Ryan if he could have even gotten to us, let alone get by us. We just were really strong late in the race and it didn't look like he was quite as strong as he was early. We were the guy that got into him. But, there were a lot of dinged up cars that passed me and were waving to me when they went by me at the end of this race.
"Like I said, we had a yellow (earlier) and I motioned Robby up and just kind of waved to him, just to say, 'Hey, it wasn't an intentional deal.' He waved back, so we knew everything was good. I wasn't worried about him back there. But, we knew he was strong and you knew that if he got to second and had an opportunity on the restart that he was going to dive me going into one. We were just hoping that we got a really good start on each of the restarts and just had to run our race. What happened behind us was not in our control, so there wasn't any point in worrying about it. We just had to worry about hitting our marks and not missing any shifts and doing what we had to do."
GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK, WAS THIS A DIFFICULT RACE TO PREPARE FOR?
"No, as far as preparations, when it comes time to do my job, I do my job. When you show up at a Winston Cup race you forfeit your personal life for three days, so I put my business hat on for three days and that's what we did. We came out and worked hard. We were good in every practice session, we qualified well, we were top of the sheet yesterday morning in the early session and ended up fifth in the second session, just because we didn't want to run a lot of laps and put a lot of time on the motor. We just went about our weekend like we have to about any other weekend. You can't let what happens during a week dictate how you run your race on a weekend. The good thing is that I've got a race team that can stay focused like that. It makes it easier for me to stay focused. But, for the most part, we just did what we normally do on a weekend, except for having to spend a little more time with [the media]."
Winning team press conference, part II