TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media and discussed racing at Darlington, how much it means to win Southern 500, progress and success of SHR and other topics. HOW BIG OF A DEAL IS IT FOR YOU TO WIN...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media and discussed racing at Darlington, how much it means to win Southern 500, progress and success of SHR and other topics.
HOW BIG OF A DEAL IS IT FOR YOU TO WIN A RACE HERE? "It is big to win everywhere you go. This is one of three places left that I haven't won at so that makes the importance a little more than normal."
YOU HAVE SAID YOU WOULD WIN A DAYTONA 500 ON YOUR ROOF IF NEED BE, SAME THING HERE? "I would win on my roof and on fire here. I'll take it anyway I can get it. We won the Nationwide race here last year and it was an awesome feeling to finally win at Darlington. To win a Southern 500, that is a big event."
WOULD GETTING THE HANDLE ON THIS PLACE IN A NATIONWIDE CAR TRANSLATE TO CUP? "I don't think it hurt us last year. It took a couple laps to get going. You could tell the guys that were running Nationwide cars were pretty good today. This place is just a matter of getting a rhythm down. Just getting any laps on it I think helps you here. This place is so narrow, it is like driving down a bad alley."
HOW MUCH IS THIS SPORT GOING TO MISS DAVID POOLE? "We are already missing him. The great thing about David, I was a lot like David, I should say, David wasn't a lot like me, I was a lot like David. We spoke our mind, we called it the way we saw it whether it was popular or not. We stuck by our guns. That is what we need here. He wasn't one of those guys that just went for the topic of the week. He actually went out and worked and did his homework, it is a dying breed. There are more and more people that just pick up whatever the hot topic of the week is and that is all the further the depth of journalism goes."
TALK ABOUT YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL RIGHT NOW: "We're pretty high right now. To be third in points and to run like we are running right, I mean it gives you a lot of confidence going in to....Especially at a weekend like this. It is important to come off a good Richmond weekend to be ready for here and feel like you are right where you need to be."
HAVE YOU KEPT UP WITH THE INDIANAPOLIS TIRE ISSUE? "I haven't. I know that Ryan has been there for every test. I know it has been a work in progress. Sounds like, from what I've been told, sounds like it is as much a problem with the track itself as it is with the tires.
WHAT WILL BE IMPACT IF QUALIFYING IS RAINED OUT? "For the guys that have to qualify on time, that is the biggest. For the rest of us, you have 500 miles to get to the front. It is a bigger impact on the guys that aren't locked in. Obviously, those go or go home guys that have to make it in time, it is a huge deal for those guys like it is every week."
WHY IS DARLINGTON TOO TOUGH TO TAME? "Like I said, it is like driving down a bad alley. As fast as we are running and the way the corners are here, it is just not very wide. There's guys using the apron like we would use it in the race and they are using it in practice now. That is just how fast we are running around here. We need that extra room to run the speeds that we are running. It just makes it tough. It is tough enough to run by yourself and then when you start with 42 other cars around you, it makes it a handful."
IS THE RESURFACING BREAKING IN NOW? "I would love to see it be about a second or two seconds slower than what it is. But, they did a really nice job. It is nice and smooth and that is what is letting us run the speeds we are running."
WOULD A WIN HERE BE A GOOD TALKING POINT FOR YOU WITH A.J. (FOYT)? "Any time I can do something the Old Man didn't do, I am always happy. Because I will say 'I won this race' and he'll go 'Yea, I won three of them though'. So it hard to get one up on him so that even would make it that much better."
DOES THIS PLACE KEEP CHANGING ON YOUR GUYS? "Yea, definitely when they repaved it, it changed it a lot. Like I say, any time they resurface anything, it picks up so much speed, it makes it hard when you have to run in traffic around guys to find a way to pass versus when tires used to give up and the pace used to slow down from the beginning to the end of a run and you had to take care of your tires. Now it is who can get their balance right and who can get up front."
IS IT FASTER THAN IT WAS LAST YEAR? "I feel like it is. I don't know if the actual lap times are quicker, but it sure feels like it."
SO YOU HAVE TO RACE THE RACE TRACK, YOU HAVE TO BE PATIENT AND YOU ARE GOING REAL FAST? "Yes, the only difference is now instead, we had a little bit of room so if you made a mistake to catch your car. Now you don't have any room to catch it. You are going so fast, you saw it in Nationwide practice, you saw it in Cup practice, if you have a little mistake, you run out of real estate with your car."
ARE YOU ENJOYING THIS VENTURE EVEN MORE THAN YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT? "Yes. Everybody asks me that every week. That is a weekly question and it is the same. For something that should be extremely stressful, it has been extremely relaxing and a lot of fun at the same time. I have had fun watching our organization grow. I have had fun watching all these people come in from different organizations and make this company what it is right now.
"There have been so many good people from so many different organizations. It is neat to come and watch them working together. The great thing is everybody was open minded coming in. They weren't in a pattern of this is how we did it here or this is how we did it there.
"They brought all that knowledge but it wasn't set in stone that that was how it had to be done. So, we have had the luxury of taking the best of all these different organizations, or at least what we feel like is the best and trying to incorporate them all in to one."
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN KYLE BUSCH MATURE ON THE TRACK? "He's the guy that everybody has to beat right now. He is on such a confidence high. Every week when he shows up at the track, he is like 'everybody has to beat me to win the race'. That is the position you want to be in as a driver is knowing that everybody is chasing you not worrying about everybody else."
DOES A WIN IN THE SOUTHERN 500 NOW MEAN AS MUCH AS A SOUTHERN 500 ON LABOR DAY? "It is still the Southern 500. It doesn't matter what the date. It is still the Southern 500. You could run it on December 31st and it would still be the Southern 500 and it would still be a huge win. Doesn't matter what the date is, we still want to win here."
-credit: gm racing