Tony Stewart , No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet (Winner): "What an awesome day. It wasn't as exactly as smooth as we would like to have had. I still don't know what happened on that re-start with Kasey (Kahne). I got a really good jump, got past...
Tony Stewart , No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet (Winner):
"What an awesome day. It wasn't as exactly as smooth as we would like to have had. I still don't know what happened on that re-start with Kasey (Kahne). I got a really good jump, got past the 40 and got back in line. I don't know if it was his shift pattern or what as far as when he was supposed to shift or what. All the sudden he checked up. We got in the back of him and turned him around. It could have taken us out just as easy. I'm surprised it didn't tear up the car any more than it did. I hate to do that. I hate to have something like that happen. We had such a good car it wasn't going to matter anyway. We didn't need to turn him around to get to victory lane. We were going to win this race no matter what."
DID YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES THROUGHOUT THE DAY?
"We just kept making small changes. Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) and I kept talking about it. We kept trying to be conscious of how the thing was on a long run as far as how the car was handling on the front side, the middle and the end of a run. We were just trying to make sure that any scenario we got in toward the end that we'd be prepared for it."
ON THE RACE TODAY AND THE CONTROVERSY
"The controversy was pretty uneventful. We took two tires on the first stop and got the lead because of it. We had a really strong car even with two tires. We knew track position was going to be important. As far as the deal with the 9, I'm waiting for somebody to tell me what happened. I got a real good run on the restart, got by the 40 car and got back in line behind him and didn't even try to pass Kasey. As we came up to the wall, his car wiggled for some reason before I even got to him. I don't know if he was shifting or missed a shift or what happened, but I had already stopped my momentum of catching up and all of a sudden, he backed up to us and we ran into the back of him. It was my fault that I ran into him, but I don't know why he backed up. I don't know what caused him to check up. It could have tore us up easily than it tore him up in all reality. So, it's not something I was expecting by any means. He had a pretty good run. He had pulled away from the 40 car. Somebody said the 88 got pinched or something. I haven't seen the tape of it see what happened. Something happened that broke his momentum. When he had the break in his momentum we were right on his rear bumper when it happened."
WOULD THIS ALL HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF THE FIRST PLACE CAR GETS TO START FIRST PLACE?
"It's hard to say. Even in that case we could have been third or fourth. I don't know exactly what happened so it's hard to say. Everybody that I talked to said there was something that happened up there and nobody seems to know what it was. I got around him and got to the back of Kasey and slowed down and was going to follow him through one and two. At that point all we needed to do was be with him at that point of the race. We weren't in any big hurry. I just got a big run on the 40 car and that's why we were able to get by him. At that point in the race staying in the top two is where we needed to be. We're not going to start a whole media thing of this is what the next rule change needs to be. It seems to be fine the way it is. Look what happened to Sterling (Marlin) later in the race. Sterling missed a shift and crashed a bunch of cars. For whatever reason it happens sometimes."
WHY NO VICTORY LAP OR BURN OUT?
"I didn't need to. It's late enough in the day. I'm ready to go home. I got the next two weeks off. The sooner I get done the sooner I get out of here. I'm not going to burn up the motor or transmission or anything else. The race was over and I came in."
ON THE SECOND GROOVE HERE
"I was really surprised about it to be honest. I think we had an indication of that happening after the Busch race yesterday. I got up there a couple of times to see what it was going to be like and it had a lot of grip. I think now both Chicago and Kansas have it, since Kansas had a second groove develop last year. It got real wide today. You could run three wide in one and two and three wide in three and four. I think this place is finally come into it's own and now we'll have good races here for the duration."
ON FANS BOOING HIM
"You hear them. I could see it when it happened. It's hard for them to see in the grandstands when there's a concrete wall there to see if a guy checks up. All they're going to do is assume they know what happened. I don't know what happened. I was closer to it than they were and I still don't know what happened. They're going to form their opinion off what they see and at that point of the race that's what they saw."
ON EVERNHAM'S COMMENTS
"To be honest, I'm not even interested in looking at them. We didn't need the accident with him to win the race. We had the strongest car. That wasn't going to make the race or break the race for us. I'm sure he's frustrated, I'm sure his whole team is frustrated, but I'm over that stuff. It doesn't really matter to me. The race is over now and we race in two weeks. To me, I really don't care what he said."
DO YOU THINK IF THAT SITUATION HAPPENED TO ANY OTHER CAR THERE WOULD BE AS MUCH CONTROVERSY?
"Nope, only when we're involved. And it's understandable. We've been the hot topic of discussion about this topic all year, but I'm pretty much a black and white guy. If I make a mistake, I tell you guys I make a mistake. A lot of times I'm not proud of it and proud of what I do, but whatever happened today, I didn't do it. I was there, I was right behind him and all of a sudden, his car slowed down. For what ever reason, I don't know. I can't control all 43 cars out there. I can only control mine."
HOW DID THE BACK UP CAR HANDLE?
"This is actually the car that we got the pole with here last year, the car that we won the race with today. The car we had on Friday was going to be a really good car. I think we ran a half to three quarters of a hard lap before our session ended before qualifying. To have that trust in Zippy and take the information I gave him and make the changes he did and make it that fast. I feel like we could have been in the top rows instead of tenth. We worked with it yesterday all day and tried a little different package than we what we ran here last year. There was just one thing that was a little bit off. We made one pretty big change in it yesterday. We talked about it in the happy hour. It was exactly the change we needed. It was fast all day. We never really made any big changes to the car - air pressure and just a little bit of wedge adjustment."
DID YOU THINK YOU COULD DOMINATE WITH THE BACK UP CAR?
"It's hard to say.
You never know what is going to happen. The good thing about Joe Gibbs Racing is our back up cars are just as good as our primary cars. In this series just about everybody's teams are that organized and that professional so they're not bringing something that is three or four tenths off. This was proof of it. This car was just as good as the car we started with on Friday. You hate to have to go through what we did to get to here. Is it surprising? Yeah. I didn't expect with the first car we'd have the dominating weekend like we did. We learned the combination. When you make really small adjustments and you can feel the car respond to it, you know that you're in that realm that the car likes. I knew that we had a good car for the whole day."
DO YOU THINK TOMMY BALDWIN, KASEY KAHNE'S CREW CHIEF SHOULD BE PENALIZED?
"I got penalized for going and trying to talk to a guy after a race. I wasn't upset until after the guy provoked me down there. If I should get penalized for it, then he should get penalized for it. I'm just happy we won a race today. That wasn't the winning factor in the race. Passing Jeremy Mayfield for the win was much more important than you guys talking about a fight down here. The last time I checked, we were doing auto racing, not boxing."
SHOULD YOU BE SUSPENDED?
"Not at all, because I didn't do anything wrong. If I did something wrong today, I can understand worrying about it. I'll be shocked if anything happens because I didn't do anything wrong. It was just a racing incident today. He could have crashed us just as easy as it did him. It did surprise me because I didn't expect him to check up. That's not a spot you want to have a tangle with somebody."
IS WINNING A RACE AT THIS POINT STILL AS IMPORTANT WITH THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"We're not really paying attention to how far we are away from the leader as we typically would. We feel like the way we ran this year, the last two weeks have been important to us to gain momentum and get ourselves in the position where when the last 10 races start, we feel like we got ourselves on the right track again and we can be in the top five consistently. With ten races you can't have a mistake."
WERE YOU AWARE OF THE SCUFFLE AT THE END OF THE RACE?
"Not at all. I knew it was an unfortunate deal that happened. Listening to you guys I realize it was a much bigger deal than I thought it was after talking to Zippy. Only Kasey and I know what happened. I haven't talked to Kasey. Kasey is really the only one that truly knows what happened. None of us will know until we talk to him."
WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR THE CRITICS TO GET TO KNOW THE REAL TONY?
"I've kind of given up, to be honest. I think the thing I've learned from this sport in the last couple of years is they like a good guy and they like a bad guy and my past has stuck with me. I mean, nobody will let my past go away. Until the deal at Sonoma, I hadn't had any incidents for two years. We kind of blended into the woodwork with everybody else. But the stuff I did in 2000 still gets printed. I guess the way I look at it, I quit reading the papers and quit watching TV because none of what anybody says matters to me anymore. It's one-sided, it's their side. The only thing that matters to me is I'm going home tonight, my friends are going to be there, and as long as my friends and family and girlfriend and our dogs and our monkey is happy, as long as everybody is happy with that -- I mean, the people I deal with, they're the ones I care about -- if they're down on me, then I've got something I need to worry about. But I think that's part of what caused a lot of my frustration up to this year, just trying to please everybody. You can't please everybody. Somebody's always going to dislike you or get an opinion from you from one incident that they see. As stressful as our lives are in this sport, it's made it a lot easier for me just to not worry about what everybody said. The main thing is we won a race today. We worked hard. Our team worked hard all weekend. That's all I'm worried about."
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH KASEY
"He said some pretty harsh things at Talladega. He came and apologized to me. It isn't a problem. If he ever needs anything, he can still come to me on it. We went together and did a charity event in Wisconsin for the Tony Stewart Foundation. I don't feel like there is a rift there. He's one of the last guys I'd want to get in an incident with. I think the kid is doing a great job this year. I sat at Ray Evernham's trailer for an hour with him about Kasey Kahne. If I didn't like Kasey I wouldn't be the one convincing Ray he's the guy he needed to hire let alone get in a scuffle with him. I respect Kasey. Today's the last thing I wanted to happen."