TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, met with member of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed racing in the Chase, taking chances, and more. HOW EXCITING IS IT TO BE ABLE TO HAVE A NEW SPONSOR GOING INTO THE REST OF THIS...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, met with member of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed racing in the Chase, taking chances, and more.
HOW EXCITING IS IT TO BE ABLE TO HAVE A NEW SPONSOR GOING INTO THE REST OF THIS SEASON AND STARTING NEXT YEAR? "It's definitely nice. It's nice to not have that pressure of still searching and it's real comforting after we met these guys and got to be around them a little bit. They're definitely a group of racers and they are definitely people that are as passionate about racing as we are. They're going to fit in real good with Office Depot and the whole Stewart-Haas [Racing] program."
YOU'VE WON A COUPLE TITLES--DOES IT HAVE AS MUCH TO DO WITH HOW WELL YOU'RE RUNNING OR OTHER DRIVERS MAKING MISTAKES AND KIND OF FALLING OUT OF THE PICTURE? "I don't know that the drivers are making mistakes. They can't do much when their motors blow and you get caught up in somebody else's wreck. I think we had our bad luck those first two weeks and we can't have any more and those guys still have to have bad luck. Whether it's them making mistakes or them getting caught up in somebody else's mistakes, it's all part of the equation that still adds up to the Chase."
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE MOMENTUM FROM LAST WEEK? "What has got you guys all stuck on momentum? I don't know. It's a different week; I mean what we did last week doesn't mean anything starting today. It's a whole new day, a whole new race track and what we did last week doesn't even remotely pertain to what we're doing here. It makes you smile coming in knowing that you won last week, but once you get in the car it doesn't mean anything."
DO YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO PUSH IT HARD FOR THIS CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE YOURS? "Oh yeah. We're 107 points out; we're not 107 points ahead. Yeah, we've got to push real hard right now."
WILL YOU STILL RACE FOR WINS, OR WILL YOU FOCUS ON POINTS? "Yeah, I told you that the other day when you were at the shop."
IS THE MOMENTUM FROM THE IMPROVEMENT YOUR MILE-AND-A-HALF PROGRAM HAS MADE? DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE BETTER THAN YOU WERE IN THE SPRING? "I mean, Ryan's the quick time on the board and we're sixth-quick in qualifying trim. I think we're gaining. Ryan is always good here, especially in qualifying. He's just really good here and I think that is the best I've been here in a long time. I feel like we're gaining on him."
WITH AS WELL AS RYAN TYPICALLY QUALIFIES HERE, WILL YOUR TEAM LEAN ON THEM AT ALL TO HELP WITH YOUR QUALIFYING PACKAGE? "We do the same thing we do every week and that's just compare notes of where we are and what our balance is. Ryan's got a talent for putting up that big lap and I don't know if I'm too lazy or what, but I can't do that big lap like he can. I'm trying. I thought when I ran my -:75 that was quick time on the board before I went out. I thought that I ran a good lap, but then I heard that he ran a -:40 or -:50 again. He's just got that talent to go out and do that. It's like I told him, we don't get any points for qualifying unfortunately or he would probably be leading the points year-round."
WITH SIX RACES LEFT, WHAT IS THIS TEAM CAPABLE OF DOING? "If you haven't seen that by now, then me telling you isn't going to help you any. Go back and look at the stats; that will help you out."
WITH THE POINT SITUATION COMING DOWN THE FINAL STRETCH, DO YOU PUT A SCENARIO IN YOUR HEAD AT ALL, OR DO YOU JUST WORRY ABOUT YOU? "One day at a time. One day at a time right now."
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE CHOKING AS A DRIVER? "I don't know. I haven't seen any of them do it yet down here. You get to this level and it is hard to get a guy to choke. They've all gotten here for a reason--they've got a lot of talent and they know what to do in crunch situations."
WHEN YOU BLAME YOURSELF FOR THE RUN OUT OF GAS SITUATION--IS THAT A CHOKE OR A MISTAKE? "No, I forced myself into a mistake. I wanted to win that race so bad that I just didn't do a good enough job of doing what they were asking me to do and I didn't do a good enough job under the cautions. It wasn't that we choked. I just didn't do a good enough job."
LATE IN THE RACES, EVERYBODY IS MAKING THEIR MOVE TRYING TO GET THEIR LAST POSITIONS. HOW OFTEN DO YOU MAKE THE MOVE THAT YOU KIND OF DRIVE UP THE MIDDLE AND THINK, 'AM I GOING TO MAKE IT THROUGH THIS' OR 'BOY, THIS MAY BE CROSSING THE LINE.' "More so now than it's ever been. Everybody is pushing the envelope and pushing the yard stick up on how hard you've got to run on the restarts; especially with the green-white-checkered, you don't have to worry about pressures coming up and things settling in. You've got to get everything you can get in those last few laps and that's where you see it more than ever."
I DON'T KNOW IF THE RIGHT PHRASE IS SCARING YOURSELF-- "No, you just put yourself in positions that you wouldn't do the first half of the race."
WHEN DO YOU ANALYZE THAT TO DECIDE IF IT'S A GOOD MOVE OR NOT? "You analyze it when you do it. Nobody goes into it saying, 'Man, I'm going to take an unnecessary chance here.' You just get down to the corner and you see what that scenario is and you make your decision on what you're going to do after that."
YOU'RE STUCK IN TRAFFIC AND YOU KNOW THEY'RE OUT HERE PRACTICING--IS IT NERVE-WRACKING? "I was here before the practice session started. I just had to change. It really isn't that big of a deal. I'm pretty sure that since we're sixth on the board, we're probably all right."
-source: gm racing