Daytona Duel: Stewart, Riggs, Logano press conference, part 1

Gatorade Duels Post-Race Transcript February 12, 2009 An interview with: TONY STEWART SCOTT RIGGS JOEY LOGANO KERRY THARP: We're going to go ahead and roll into our post race Gatorade Duel at Daytona press conference. We're joined by our...

Gatorade Duels Post-Race Transcript
February 12, 2009

An interview with:

KERRY THARP: We're going to go ahead and roll into our post race Gatorade Duel at Daytona press conference. We're joined by our top finishing Raybestos rookie of the year candidate. He finished fourth in today's duel.

Joey, congratulations on an outstanding finish out there today. Your thoughts about today's race and your thoughts about running in your first Daytona 500 on Sunday.

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I think we accomplished everything we needed to do with The Home Depot Toyota. Our main goal was to go out there and finish the race. That was more than we got in the Shootout. Just kind of keep going, gain some respect from these guys like I've been saying all week.

I feel like we accomplished that. We can work on our car a little bit more and get ready for the 500.

KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for Joey.

Q: How much of a relief is it to get a race under your belt in the 20?

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I think it's a really big deal. Just working with those guys, getting used to, from what I say, to adjustments, you know, just working like that. It takes a little bit, but I feel like we're getting there.

Q: Joey, could you comment on how the education process continues. Did you have another problem on pit road? How was the experience on the racetrack?

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I had another problem on pit road (laughter).

I think these speedway brakes lock up quicker than you would think. You're slowing down, you think you're good, and then you go to really stop and they just lock up.

I feel like I've got that kind of calmed down now at least. I thought it was going to be a little better than that ARCA car, but I guess not.

Besides that, I learned a lot. Just, you know, the handling of the car, what to do to keep your run going, drafting. Just learned a lot about all that stuff.

Q: Joey, talk about the handling in the draft. When you got to the front, did you feel more comfortable running up there with the guys who had that experience? When you helped push Jeff to the front, any thoughts about passing him at that point?

JOEY LOGANO: Well, I was going to plan on getting there, then planning on what I was going to do from there.

The handling of the car is so much better in the front than it is in the back. Once you get in the back, especially on old tires, it's a handful and a half. As you get closer to the front it gets better. It's just a matter of getting there, which is not the easy part.

Once we got up there, only a few to go, I made a last ditch effort there at the end going into three, hoping someone would go with me. Figured I'm that close, might as well go for a win. Overall, I think it was a good day.

KERRY THARP: We're also joined by Scott Riggs. Scott raced his way into the Daytona 500 today, finishing eighth. Outstanding effort, Scott. How do you feel about getting into the 500?

SCOTT RIGGS: Man, we're elated. Very happy with all the guys. This is grass roots right now for us. I mean, you go to the shop, it's a lot of guys are just volunteers, passionate about racing. They're addicted to the racing bug that we all are addicted to. They put their heart and soul into it from faith in Tommy, the whole organization.

To be able to scrap something together from a month and a half ago to nothing, to be able to put something together, come here, run good, be pretty strong in the pack, get ourselves in the race, it speaks volumes for us.

Q: Scott, you're obviously in a difficult spot. It appeared it's a perilous thing finding people to draft with you. You're here with a team and a car that's not familiar to other cars. You've had a good record. How frustrating is it for you when you know you can't afford any mistakes and you have to try to find somebody out there who will run with you and work together with you?

SCOTT RIGGS: I mean, it is definitely hard. You get frustrated at times when you have a run, you try to make something happen, somebody doesn't go with you to make it work, or just peel off and leave you hanging.

I know from the other side of the shoe, too, it's hard being out there. It's one thing for everyone to come down to Daytona and try to figure out, Okay, this guy's in this car, this guy changed this car, and try to figure out who is in what car these days and what sponsor is on the car.

I know it's even more difficult to have a car and a car number and car colors that no one else recognizes. So it takes a little while for everybody to get used to it, figure out who's behind the wheel, who you can trust, who you can't. You have to know your competitors.

We had a fast enough racecar. Some people saw it. Hats off. There was a handful of guys out there that I had a chance to practice with yesterday. Those were the same guys that got behind me and gave me some good shoves today.

KERRY THARP: We're also joined by our second place finisher in today's duel, Tony Stewart. Back to back strong finishes with that new race team. You have to feel good about that.

TONY STEWART: Yeah, real happy. Kind of picked up where we left off the other night. This car is a little better than our Shootout car was. It drove great today.

Just really proud of Darian Grubb and the Old Spice Office Depot team. They've done a great job. Still amazes me how much they got done in such a short amount of time to come down here.

Q: Scott, you said it was about six weeks ago this team was formed. I'm assuming you're getting paid, you're not volunteering to drive. If you wouldn't call this miraculous, you getting in the 500, what would you call it?

SCOTT RIGGS: Well, I mean, Tommy pays me attention. He pays me some attention, for sure (smiling). Came down to a point that I had to make a decision. Am I going to sit at home and stay on the phone and call people and hope that something opens up to give me an opportunity to get in the car? Or am I going to go down to Daytona and start the season off with somebody, like Tommy, who in my situation has more experience than anyone I've ever worked with as a crew chief?

What really made the decision for me is when I talked to Tommy and heard the passion in his voice, heard it just talking to him several times on the phone, how dedicated he was, how positive he was. We're going to do this. Stick with me; we'll do it.

I think that's the turning point for me that I said I'm going to go fight this good fight and make sure that this team is going to give me this opportunity. We're going to try to make the best of it.

I hope things can go further and we can continue to race. Tommy is committed to go to every single race and try to qualify for every single race. The more the sponsorship comes, the more opportunities we have to get our races paid for, the more races we're going to try to race.

So far we've got the first three paid for and sponsored. Real proud of everyone that's out there hunting for us, as well. Also real proud of Red Bank Outfitters coming on for this weekend's race and next week's race in California.

Q: Scott and Tony, you came out on the topside of this qualifying situation here. Could you each comment a little bit about this qualifying format. Do you think it's fair? Do you think people understand it?

SCOTT RIGGS: I'll let Tony answer that.

TONY STEWART: I don't understand it fully. I mean, the part I do understand is that the guys that are trying to race their way in are split up evenly. That part I think is really good. It's not fair to have nine guys on one side and one guy on the other side that's trying to make the race and have to race in.

I'm not sure that I fully understand exactly how we ended up where we did, how we started in our starting spot. But that's the great thing about NASCAR: there's smarter people than us that figure that out for us. They give us a lineup and tell us where to go.

Q: Joey, you don't have a lot of experience here yet. How do you feel other drivers are approaching you out on the racetrack? Do people want to work with you, stay away from you? Do you think you've earned any trust yet?

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I think I have a little bit. I think it's just going to take time, too, at the same time. I think this run helped that a lot. Getting up there at the end helped a lot.

But, yeah, that stuff just takes time. I understand if someone wouldn't, there's an excuse why not to. But at the same time, I feel like I'm getting treated fairly. I'm not getting dumped out there or anything like that. Pretty fair.

Q: Tony, you expressed happiness with the car yesterday, how it handled. Did it meet or exceed your expectations in traffic out there today?

TONY STEWART: It was better today even. You know, even at the beginning of the run when we were back about seventh or eighth spot, it wasn't hard yesterday to get back that far and have a car that wasn't very happy.

So I was pretty pleased with it today. I mean, obviously the further forward you get, the better it's going to drive. Still, to be able to work our way up there the way it did, to drive the way it did, I was real pleased.

I think we made gains over yesterday. We made a couple real small changes for today, and the car really liked it.

Q: Tony, you're an intense guy. You seem subdued after this race. Is your dominant emotion that you're happy that you were second or frustrated you were that close?

TONY STEWART: I was real happy. I guess I'm worried about Ryan right now more than me. Obviously them getting ready for the second qualifier, I was really happy with the way it turned out.

Jeff and I had a great battle there at the end. It wasn't one of those deals where, you know, everybody's trying to run each other all over the racetrack at the end, which makes it a little more enjoyable. But I think that's part of knowing we're in a qualifying race where we got to bring these cars back on Sunday, and you just have to take care of them is part of it.

We got a lot of respect for each other, too. That's what made it fun. If a guy got an honest run, he was going to get that spot. We ran right with him all day. We ran second and third for the majority of the day, and then ran first and second the rest of the day.

I wasn't at all disappointed. I mean, you still want to win, obviously. That was our goal. But more so it's knowing that we need to bring this car back on Sunday. Guys like Matt Kenseth that got involved in wrecks today, that's the stuff that hurts you going into the rest of the week, makes a lot of extra work for the guys.

I am really happy. I guess I'm still in shock about the fact that this week has gone as well as it has. With the exception of losing the motor on Ryan's car yesterday, it's been awesome. But all the Hendrick guys, especially from the engine shop, yesterday when we had that problem, they were right on top of it. By this morning we found out exactly what's cause of that failure was.

It's just unbelievable to have the support from Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports, have the week we have had.

Q: Tony, do you think the racing has been better this week at Daytona? And if so why?

TONY STEWART: Obviously every year the qualifying races, the middle of the race, it gets kind of single file, strung out a little bit, and there's multiple battles throughout the field. At the end of the race there nobody knew who was going to end up where. Guys were all over the place as far as shuffling back and forth, lead changes like we had.

It's nice to be able to do that, not be in a big melee.  I thought the races
have been good this week.  I thought the Shootout Saturday, it was
definitely exciting.  It was exciting to watch.  It's been exciting to watch
the replays.  It was exciting to be in it.

I don't see Saturday night being any different. I think another year of time with these cars everybody is getting more comfortable with them I think everybody is figuring out how to get them driving a little better. That gives us a little more flexibility as drivers to move around the racetrack. It helps us put on a better race.

Q: Joey, two rookies in there. Dale Earnhardt, toward the end of his qualifier as a rookie, kind of felt like, I know what I'm doing. He took off with A.J. Foyt and finished fourth. A few years later Jeff Gordon tucks in right behind Earnhardt and stays there. You made that last ditch effort. Was there a point where you said, I got a handle on this stuff, I can go with these guys?

JOEY LOGANO: I don't know about all that. As I was going to the front well, I guess a little bit (laughter).

I think, you know, let's just do something with it instead of letting it die out. I just went for it. I was hoping for the best. Hoping some cars would go with me. I don't think I had a big enough run to get to the front. Trying to do something, trying to learn more.

I don't regret that move, because I did learn a little bit about that stuff. After I get done with the Nationwide race, I'll be even more comfortable out there.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Scott Riggs , A.J. Foyt
Teams Hendrick Motorsports