Bristol Pontiac post-race notes

TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (HOW GOOD WAS HIS CAR?) "It wasn't near as good once we got put into the wall by a lapped car there late in the race. It messed the toe up really big. My steering wheel was probably four ...


(HOW GOOD WAS HIS CAR?) "It wasn't near as good once we got put into the wall by a lapped car there late in the race. It messed the toe up really big. My steering wheel was probably four inches off, so it hurt the car quite a bit. Right before that we definitely were a lot faster than Rusty. We just got held up by some lapped cars."

(HOW FRUSTRATING WAS IT TO BE BLOCKED BY MIKE SKINNER IN THE LATE STAGES OF THE RACE?) "He wasn't the only one and he was racing guys for position, too, so I'm not blaming him. That's just part of this track. That's part of this sport and if we had been leading the race and got the jump it would have played into our favor. It's just part of racing. "But I'm really happy with second. I wish we could have gotten to Rusty, but at the same time, we had a good car all night. The guys kept making adjustments. We had a segment in the middle of the race where we couldn't make the car turn and finally got to where we made enough adjustments to where - it was taking 20 laps to start turning and then at the end we got it to start turning after about five laps, so we at least made the car better at the end."

(WAS THERE ANYTHING HE COULD HAVE DONE TO HAVE AVOIDED BEING IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THE LAPPED TRAFFIC?) "No, not really. We were as close to the front as we could get really. That was about all we had and all we could do, so I don't know what I could have done any different or any better to have helped our situation there. That's just short track racing. "This is my favorite track. I've never had any luck here and this is the closest I've had to having a really good night, and we did have a good night here finally. But I've always liked this place from day one and I wish we could race here once a month. It's a great place, and to see all these people here and the excitement that happens around this racetrack, it's one of those places I wish we could race once a month."

(COULD HE HAVE GOTTEN A BETTER JUMP ON RUSTY THERE AT THE END?) "No. We weren't very good on restarts. We would take five or six laps after we kept making all the adjustments to really get the car to start turning again. Getting stuck on the outside and never could get a break to get back down - that's what cost us. Our car was really good if we could stay right on the line, so the fact we were up on the higher groove really didn't work into our favor on restarts."

(ON HITTING THE WALL LATE IN THE RACE)  "I'm looking across at it right now.
It's a pretty big mark.  I was behind the '22' car and I think he took two
tires.  He was racing hard and (Mike) Skinner was trying to get by him for
some reason.  I don't know what he really had to gain, but we could never
get by him.  He came off of four and slid up, and in the wall we went."


(ON TAKING TWO TIRES ON HIS FINAL PIT STOP) "That was not a good move. We didn't run good on four tires, much less two. This car is unlike the car we ran here before and I don't know what's wrong with the damn thing. It's nowhere near where it ought to be."

(ON RECOVERING FROM TWO EARLY SPINS) "We came back and I think if we had put on four (tires) we might have gotten in the top 10, easy - I mean real easy. But we put on two and the car was just junk after that."


ON BEING ABLE TO RUN WITH THE LEADERS, BUT BEING ONE LAP DOWN) "Yeah, we just went down one. Looking back, we just went down. Sometimes you let guys go here and maybe if you don't you don't go down that one. "But I see plenty of gains. We've been seeing gains since Indy - really since the '10' car (became a teammate). We started swapping info at the second Pocono race. Those cars were pretty damn identical tonight, and we finished 12th and 13th."


"We just struggled all day. The guys had great pit stops, but pitting on the backstretch - you lose 10 spots pitting back there. Every time we'd get to a good spot we'd pit and then give them all back. We fought our way back up to 13th and salvaged a good finish when we probably shouldn't have."

ON THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE '36' CAR) "I think it's great that we're working together. That's what the deal was going in here. The deal was, 'We're not going to lie to each other. Here's what we've got.' We kind of work during the day and see which car is running better and what tire sheets look better, and we share everything. We're pretty close on the set-ups to each other, and I believe as far as drivers go, me and Kenny are pretty close, also. It's great. We've been helping them and they've been helping us and it's working really well."


"We were looking pretty good. We didn't have the best car, but it looked like we were going to stay on the lead lap tonight. They had that little wreck up there and then we got turned around in it, so we lost a lap there. But it was no fault of ours. It really wasn't the fault of anybody. We were just a victim of circumstance and then we were a lap down the rest of the night. We almost finished the best of the cars one lap down, but we still didn't do that. But we finished 15th. All in all, it could have been a lot worse. I dodged a lot of them tonight it seemed like. The in-car camera probably got some eye-fulls of a few of them spinning out in front of me, so we dodged a few and came out of here with a complete race car. Probably, if we had been on the lead lap we might have been in the top 10."


(ON FEELING DECENT ABOUT FINISHING 15TH) "You could look at it that way. We usually have a better car than where we finish. Even tonight we had a little bit better car than where we finished - not a whole lot. But still all in all, it could have been a lot worse. Like I said, I had an eye-full of cars that were sideways a couple times, and I could have made the wrong move and went the wrong way, and destroyed them or gotten ourselves in it. So hey, it's just one of those deals."

(ON HIS PHYSICAL CONDITION) "I feel better now. I just had a cramp in my right leg so bad there about halfway through the race. It just would never go away. My nerve back there in the back of my butt and my leg has been bothering me anyway, so I just have to work on that. But once I got out of the car, I was fine. But man, sitting there it was just cramped up as all get-out."

(ON HIS MINDSET STARTING FURTHER BACK IN THE FIELD) "You just try to drive defensively, pretty much so. We didn't have the best car, but we had a good car. We just try to do what we can and can home with all four fenders on it. We did that. We wish we could have run better and we were looking more for running better than anything else. But we still had a good finish out of it, and still finished good enough to keep that (the points lead). It's just one of those deals - Bristol - and at least we're walking out of here."

(ON DODGING TROUBLE TONIGHT) "We dodged the ones in front of us. We just couldn't dodge the ones behind us. I didn't think we had a target on us and I wasn't worried about it. If it was going to happen, it was going to happen. But I felt like we were destined for a little good luck here, anyway."

(WAS THIS RACE GOOD FOR HIS CHAMPIONSHIP RUN?) "It's not the biggest momentum booster to go anywhere. But at the same time, you look where our finishes have been here in the past and to finish 15th here is probably good for us. We can take it whichever way, but we're excited about every race. We can't let this get us down. Finishing 15th isn't a top 10 and we want to finish in the top 10. We know the '3' and the '88' finished in front of us, and the '2' won and '20' was second, so we want to be better. But we could have been struck by more bullets tonight than the one we got hit by."


(IS THIS TRACK A NEMESIS FOR THIS TEAM?) "I've got 10 years coming here now. I'm beginning to believe it is. I used to like coming here. It seems like our cars always run good. Tony ran good tonight. Our cars have always run in the top five or top 10, most of the time when we come here, but we always seem to get in the wrong place at the wrong time. Typically there are a half a dozen guys here that every time we come here, they're going to wreck or they're going to run over you. We always seem to be the victim of that. It's not that we don't run well. It's just that we're caught up in these things. At Bristol, things happen so fast that if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, you're going to be part of it." (ON THE POINTS RACE) "We're taking it one race at a time, like we've been saying all year long. This was the next race on the schedule. We fell short a little bit here, but we're going into Darlington. We feel real good about Darlington. It's a track we ran pretty well at the first race, so we're looking forward to getting to Darlington, and running there."

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Series NASCAR Cup