TONY STEWART, NO. 14 THE GLADES/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed the Kansas race track, Prelude to the Dream and other topics.
HOW WAS PRACTICE?: “It’s hot and slick out there right now, but that’s the way I like it. It’s a challenge for sure to get your balance right and guys are already using the whole race track. It’s definitely going to be a hot, slick day for the race on Sunday too.”
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR CAR?: “I don’t think anybody -- you can have the best car out there right now and you’re still not going to be happy with it. We’re sliding around a lot, which is good. I like that side of it. It makes you never happy with it until you think you have it fixed all the way. It’s just a constant challenge right now.”
WHAT IS THE STORY FOR THIS YEAR’S PRELUDE TO THE DREAM?: “It looks like for once we might actually get a break with the weather here and not have to stay up for 20 hours a day trying to look at the radar. Everything is on schedule and everything looks really good. There’s still seats if people want to come to Eldora and watch and if not, it’s on HBO Pay-Per-View. We’re excited. We have a lot of great guys coming and may have a switch here with a driver -- we’ll know here in a couple days. We may have somebody that can’t make it at the last minute due to a death in the family. We may have a surprise if we do on a replacement. Looking forward to it.”
HOW DOES THE PAY-PER-VIEW DEAL WORK? “If you have cable or your satellite provider, you just go on the service there and it will guide you through how to order the Pay-Per-View -- we’ve got DirecTV and you can go down there in the sports channels and it will tell you exactly how to order it online there. No matter whether you’ve got Dish Network or DirecTV or cable -- it will guide you through it.”
SHOULD A RACE BE OFFICIATED DIFFERENTLY EARLY IN THE RACE VERSUS LATE IN THE RACE?: “My job is in the garage, I’m not going to get in that drama and that debate. I think it’s asinine to keep people talking about it. Nothing is going on now that hasn’t gone on for years here and it’s always been fine. Everybody is over-analyzing all this.”
DID YOU THINK YOU WERE FAST OFF THE TRUCK?: “We were third quickest and that was in race trim. I was pretty happy with the lap that we put down right at the beginning of practice there. I think as the session was going on, it was kind of hard to gauge where you were as it was getting hotter as you were going so the track was slicker and you don’t feel like you’re making any gains. You have to really look at where you’re at against everybody else. The best handling car out there is not a good handling car right now. You’re really having to base how your car is off of everybody else’s lap times also.”
DOES THE TIMING OF THIS RACE GIVE YOU A BETTER IDEA OF WHERE YOU’RE AT?: “No, it’s week to week. We’ve got night races, we’ve got day races -- it’s all part of the deal. You can’t base it off of one aspect of what you do. It’s got to be week to week and hopefully what you’re doing four or five weeks in a row is working.”
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR THE PRELUDE TO THE DREAM?: “Really excited. I think we have a pretty good forecast for next week so that lets me focus on things that are more important to me other than just watching the sky every day. I never would have thought that seven years ago when we started this that it was going to grow as big as it is. To have the drivers that have come and set their time and day to come be part of it with us, I have really been truly honored. We’re getting to raise a lot of money for great charities and to have fun at the same time. I’m glad to be able to do this seven years in a row now.”
...we’re still on about a six-year old model.
DID YOU EVER PICTURE PRELUDE GETTING THIS BIG?: “No, not at all. I just thought, well we’ll see how it goes the first year and if we’ve got enough guys that just want to go and have fun for a night then we could probably raise a couple dollars for charity and give us an excuse to go play for an evening. It far exceeded that goal and it really turned into something a lot bigger than that and a lot bigger purpose obviously. I didn’t. Every year when we get ready for this it amazes me thinking about how we started and the group that we had the first year and the cars that we had the first year. Now looking at the teams that are supplying cars for drivers and the caliber of talent behind the steering wheel that we’ve got coming to this event -- it’s really just getting bigger and better every year.”
IS THERE A DARK HORSE FOR THAT EVENT?: “Probably half the field. Believe it or not about a quarter of them still have a dirt track background of some kind. It’s so hard to predict because you look at the past here and I don’t think anyone would have predicted Jimmie (Johnson) was going to be the guy last year, but you look at his progress over the last three years and he just got better and better. It didn’t surprise me, but it wasn’t a guy that I sat there and looked at going into the race saying this is a guy that we’re going to have to watch. It can be a number of guys.”
HOW DO YOUR MOTORS STACK UP RIGHT NOW COMPARED TO THE FORDS?: “I think Ford definitely has an advantage right now over the whole field. Anybody that doesn’t have one, they’ve been working on this motor for a long time and we’re still on about a six-year old model. I’m really proud of Hendricks engine department -- they’ve been fighting a lot and have been really working hard to keep us where we’re at. I think you’re kind of bringing a knife to a gun fight right now. I can’t wait for one of these NASCAR deals after the race where they chassis dyno some cars and see where they’re at because I think that will tell the tale.”
WHERE DO YOU THINK FORD HAS MADE GAINS?: “I don’t know. I just know that you have to have a perfect lap time to run with them and Charlotte was a really good example of that.”