Charlotte II: Stewart - Thursday media visit

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed the Hall of Fame inductees, the reality of his first year as an owner verses his expectations, the difference between crew...

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed the Hall of Fame inductees, the reality of his first year as an owner verses his expectations, the difference between crew chief Darian Grubb and former crew chief Greg Zippadeli and more.

YOU GOT YOUR FIRST WIN AS A DRIVER/ OWNER BACK IN THE ALL-STAR RACE SO YOU'VE GOT TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT COMING BACK HERE TO LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY. "Yeah it's exciting to come back obviously. It's a special place to the organization obviously getting our first win here. We are excited about it. The weather today is not what we're wanting but hopefully we can figure out whether we are staying or going and at least come back tomorrow and get busy."

DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON THE HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES YESTERDAY? "There are so many good candidates I think the first class should have been more than five then five each year after that. It's hard. How do you pick just five for the first year like that? Obviously the five that got inducted were well-deserving but there were a lot of other drivers and members that didn't make the first cut that still I think will make it."

ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT THROUGH THE FIRST FOUR RACES THE TOP-THREE GUYS ALL HAVE FINISHING AVERAGES OF 3.5 OR BETTER AND DO YOU THINK THEY CAN SUSTAIN ANYTHING NEAR THAT OVER 10 RACES? "I would about guarantee one of the three will. It's hard to think that after four races when you've already got three of those guys that have made it that far somebody of those three won't go ahead and finish it that way. That's what makes this Chase cool. To have a Chase that's that tight and that competitive nobody is going to back in to this championship. If you win it you've got something to be proud of this year."

LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW IT DOESN'T LOOK GOOD FOR TONIGHT; DO YOU CARE WHETHER YOU GET OUT THERE TONIGHT? "No, not really. I'll be honest I won't qualify fourth or better so it's probably better off if we do get rained out for qualifying. I would like to get in the Nationwide car obviously since I haven't driven for the No. 5 car team over on that side. I'm more excited about getting in the car tomorrow and getting race practice than I am qualifying."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR FIRST YEAR AS AN OWNER AND HOW THE REALITY COMPARES TO THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAD COMING IN? "At this point it's easy to say we've exceeded our expectations for what we thought and what everybody else thought we could do. We're happy about it. I don't know that I would change a thing so far to this point. It's been a pretty smooth ride for the first 32 races of the year. I'm like a proud father of our organization. I'm proud of the people that we have. I'm proud of the effort they put forth. Extremely proud of the results that come with that but it's not because of me it's because of the people we have."

THERE WERE SOME PEOPLE WHO QUESTION HOW SUCCESSFUL YOU WOULD BE THIS FIRST YEAR; DID THAT IN ANY WAY FUEL YOU TO PROVE PEOPLE WRONG? "No, not at all. Contrary to everybody's popular belief we don't really care about that much what everybody says in the media center. It doesn't motivate our life. It doesn't change the direction of our life. We do it because we want to do it not because people say we can or can't do it. We just go do what we think is right."

WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE TO YOU THIS YEAR IN YOUR MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY PART? "Obviously with the success we've had this year, I think it's seeing the people that were at Haas before I got there and seeing how happy they are to finally have results. Without being there the last six years and seeing what they had to go through, to be a part of seeing these guys have success for the first time, the most pleasant part of it coming in there and seeing these guys smiling every day and happy that they're finally seeing results out of that organization. I think that's the most gratifying part."

JIMMIE JOHNSON IS ON HIS THIRD REAR TIRE CHANGER OVER THE LAST NINE RACES, AS A DRIVER/OWNER DOES THAT MAKE YOU NERVOUS HAVING A PERSONNEL CHANGE AT THAT SPOT? "Not if they get the job done when it comes time to do their job on the pit stops. You can close your eyes as long as when that jack drops you go and it's the time that you want it really doesn't matter."

TALK ABOUT THE DYNAMIC THAT YOU'VE HAD WITH DARIAN THIS YEAR AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIM AND GREG ZIPPADELLI. "I've always been fortunate to have good crews and good crew chiefs to work for. Darian is more of an engineer type, Zippy (Greg Zippadeli) was more of a practical racer knowledge type. I don't think there's any negatives to either one of them. They both have their strengths. I don't think there's weaknesses, either one of them. Zippy and I were both very similar personality wise and Darian and I are quite a bit different personality wise but he still has a good sense of humor and that's why it works well for us. Darian just doesn't get wound up over anything even when we have something dramatic happen he just doesn't get wound up and that's the only real difference I see."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup