Bristol: Stewart - post-race interview

Tony Stewart ...

Tony Stewart #20 Home Depot Chevrolet (3rd)

Yeah, especially you know we got into a situation where we got blocked into the pits on the first pit stop. I had a good car, I think we tore a reverse (gear) out of it and we just had transmission problems the rest of the day. But, I think we lost 15, 16 spots there and dropped out of the top 20 with one pit stop and kept having to work our way up from there. But, we had a good car, we just never got the track position we needed. I probably should have stayed out the last time I came in and got tires. You know, with that many guys in front of you pit for tires, you hate to have it bite and instead of going forward going backwards, so I just played the safe approach and came in and got four and didn't have good track position but just kept working our way up one car at a time.

ANY IMPACT ON YOUR CAR WITH THE SPIN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RACE, AND WHAT HAPPENED?

It folded the right front fender it, but I'm not sure exactly what happened other than the fact that we got hit by the #2 car and turned around. I don't think it was a deal where he was trying to crowd us. He probably thought he was giving me enough room and it wasn't enough room. So, we're just lucky that's all it did, lucky that nobody else hit us. Spun out and kept going and grabbed and a gear and gave us an opportunity during that caution to come in and make repairs on the car.

WHEN YOU SAW THAT GREG BIFFLE DROPPED BACK AFTER NOT TAKING TIRES, DID IT MAKE YOU FEEL GLAD YOU DID?

Yeah, I think so. Zippy was a little hard on me after I went in and came in. I just said, we just came in and the spotter called the pit lane RPM and the guys knew we were coming in at that point. I told them we were coming in, so.and after we got the tires and got back out, I think he was giving me a hard time saying he thought we were going to stay out. You know, it's darned if you do, darned if you don't. In this case it actually worked out to our favor. We have good cars that were around us and if we hadn't taken tires, we would have had less laps on our tires than Greg did, still I think the effect of those tires showed up later in the run.

WHAT HAS IT BEEN ABOUT YOUR TEAM TO REMAIN IN THE TOP 10 IN POINTS? WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SITUATION IS WITH BOBBY LABONTE RIGHT NOW?

I think Bobby's situation is about bad luck. You know, we haven't had a ton of good luck go our way either this year, but you know, I guess that's why we are in the top 10. We just keep plugging away and we may not get the top 10. If we don't get a top 10, we stay in the top 15 or top 20. We just get the best we can get out of it, where some of these other guys have had one really bad race that's taken them out of it altogether. So, just being able to keep putting those runs together..like I said, even if it's not a top 10, get something that's reasonable for the end of the day and keep making points that way.

WHAT IS THE KEY TO THOSE SAVES?

Luck. I mean, there's only so much you have control over. The rest of it is just.your instincts tell you to do part of it, but the rest of it is just luck for the most part. We got lucky that we didn't hit the wall sliding up the race track, and as we were spinning around nobody else hit us, and lucky that when it did come around I got the wheels straight in time. You know, part of it you do is skill and part of it is luck. Nobody is going to come in here and tell you it's all skill and they practice that all the time and they've got it down to perfection. So, after you do it a couple times, I guess, you get better at it but you hope you don't have to do it.

RE: TIRES

I don't think the tires.I think when Goodyear brought this tire here, they wanted it to fall off a little bit so you couldn't do that. I think that was the case. The hard thing was, on Friday when we practiced, really we could run 40, 50 laps in a run there and only lose a tenth or two tenths. So, I think guys had it in their mind that they weren't going to lose a lot of time. It's hard for a guy like Greg (Biffle).that's the toughest position to be in to be leading the race, get a caution and know that you can make it, but don't know about the track position to come in or not. It's really a disadvantage being in his position-being the lead car. Once everybody else reacts behind him, that gives everybody else.the first guy that reacts the opportunity to make their decision. At that point his decision is already made. I think he probably thought he had a good enough car, just track position would be good enough for him. I guess that hurt him worse than we thought. You know, he wasn't far away from a top 5 with it.

THERE WERE SOME BAD ACCIDENTS TODAY. HOW IS THE HANS DEVICE FITTING FOR YOU ESPECIALLY AT A SHORT TRACK LIKE THIS WHERE YOU'RE BOUNCING AROUND A LOT?

It's perfect. I couldn't ask for it to fit any better.

WERE YOU GLAD FOR THE LONG GREEN IN THE FIRST PART OF THE RACE?

I liked it. I mean, we still made ground I thought. Our teammate Bobby Labonte was right in front of us and was having a good run too. We were with guys like Elliott (Sadler) in that area, too. We were with a bunch of guys on the lead lap that we were comfortable with. I always like long runs versus short runs here. Eveyrbody's car drivers good for 25-30 laps and then once you get 30 laps on a set of tires, you start separating these guys. Anytime that we can get a long run here, I pray for it. I'd love to run 500 lap segments and be done with it. But obviously this style of racing, you're not going to get that here. I like it when we have long runs like that. It gives us a chance to get separated. You can really concentrate on what your car is doing and not overdrive it. Because if you got guys that have fresh tires behind you, their cars are really good for 10, 15 laps and then they go away.

DO YOU LIKE HAVING BACK TO BACK SHORT TRACKS?

The only thing hard about back to back short tracks is that if you have a problem with somebody today, you're going to remember it next week there. That's about the only negative to it, in all reality. The schedule is the schedule; I don't think it really makes any difference. You get to this level because you're used to running different sized race tracks week in and week out. I guess, for the most part it's more fun to get back to traditional setups so to speak, where you're not worrying about aero latitudes.

JIMMIE JOHNSON DESCRIBED RUNNING OUT THERE AS RUNNING OVER BASKETBALLS. WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE OUT THERE TO YOU?

I don't know what driving over basketballs feels like; I've never done it. I don't know. It just was typical Bristol. I didn't think there was anything wrong with it. You know, it was pretty much just the same thing we do every year here. I don't think it was really any different from normal. I don't think the feel is any different so to speak, so I don't know what he was talking about. It's pretty much the same it's always been.

WERE YOU GOOD TODAY, OR JUST LUCKY?

I mean, we were good, but we had some bad luck that got us behind there with the contact with Rusty. That put us from sixth back to 15th, I think. So, we had some bad luck there and then some good luck go our way when the #17 and #24 had tire problems. We were closing in on Jeff anyway before his tire went down, but closing in on Jeff and getting by him is a different story. Still, I think we would have finished in the top 5 either way. We got two extra spots and I got lucky and got those spots. I think the little bit of bad luck we had, we got it back at the end.

WAS IT CLEAR HARVICK HAD A DOMINANT CAR?

I don't know. I mean, I didn't get a chance to see him a lot. You know that when you look at the board and you seem him running in the top 5, you know he's got a good car. He always runs well here, whether it's in a Busch car or a Cup car. Probably the most disappointing part of the day was the #2 car. He probably was the class of the field all day in all reality and just got caught on pit lane and then a piece of debris caused a caution. You know, he probably had the worst luck of anybody all day and then never was able to get those laps back. But I didn't think it was a big deal. You know, I think Kevin had a great car but I think Biffle had an awesome car, too. Once we lost Rusty on the lead lap, those two guys were pretty much the class of the field.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart