Continued from part 1 Q: Scott, you said yesterday you did not want them to tell you how you stood against the other guys. Did you stick with that plan? Were you aware the whole time how you stacked up? SCOTT RIGGS: Pretty much. I ...
Continued from part 1
Q: Scott, you said yesterday you did not want them to tell you how you stood against the other guys. Did you stick with that plan? Were you aware the whole time how you stacked up?
SCOTT RIGGS: Pretty much. I mean, the one car that I saw the entire day that I wish I could have got by was the guy beside me right here, the 14. I kept seeing him up there running well. The only time I took a notion to count the guys and see who's in front of us, where we need to be, how we need to position ourself, was the last restart, 'cause so many guys had taken two tires or no tires.
I knew that was going to really be a mess when the restart got into turn one. First lap was going to be something. Sure enough, I saw Jeff starting to get the momentum run and start to weave through all the guys up front with the different tires we had.
That was the only time I really took note of who it was, what car numbers were in front of us. I was really worried about trying to get by the 09. I looked up there the very last time and I saw Tony, Jeff, Jimmie, the 09. I knew were pretty much Hendrick related.
I thought that was going to be trouble for me. I guess the new tires definitely paid off for us. I think it sort of failed for him when he started to fall back. I try not to pay attention to it, as little as I can. You try to make your way to the front as far as you can.
Where the cards fall, that's where they fall. The only time I looked in my mirror to see what I needed to do was the last couple laps with the 87 behind us, just to make sure he didn't sneak in there somehow on me.
Q: Tony, if you were to be completely honest with us...
TONY STEWART: That will never happen, not in this lifetime (smiling). But let's just pretend.
Q: Would you say that you are genuinely pleasantly surprised by the way everything has gone this week? To a certain extent, you didn't know how things were going to work out of the box. Would you say even you are a little surprised they've gone as smoothly?
TONY STEWART: I guess I came into it with an open mind, not knowing what it was going to be. I didn't come here saying, We're going to struggle, or, We've got a shot to win every race every time. It was more taking a step back and saying, Let's just see what happens.
But I have been pleasantly surprised. I've been obviously very ecstatic that we've run the way we have. Ryan's car obviously was good in qualifying. We qualified well. We've had two good races now this week. It's been an awesome, awesome week for the organization.
So, you know, it's like I keep going back. I know I sound like a broken record. You are probably sick of it. I'm just so happy. When you're at the shop every day, you see the progress being made, it's different than normally I've been in Indiana for a whole month, forget about it. I guess when you're there every day, you see what's going on firsthand, you see the effort.
It makes me think back to Christmas Eve. We had to kick guys out of the shop at 1:00 in the afternoon to spend time with their families. They wanted to stay and work on racecars. When you show up and have a week like this, it makes you very pleased you've had those results. It's not just for myself, it's for everybody in the organization, because I know how hard everybody has worked.
Q: Tony, did you feel a little bit of a sense of pride seeing that 20 car up there toward the front?
TONY STEWART: Yeah. I just couldn't figure out what took him so long (smiling). I knew he'd get there. I mean, obviously Joey has a lot of talent. He's with a great race team. I know that firsthand. It's going to be a good combination of Joey being with those guys. The great thing is, Joey didn't get a lot of time in the Shootout the other night. To come here today on a day when this race normally is a little more difficult because of the weather, you know, to have a run like he had today, I'm proud to see that those guys aren't having problems, and proud that Joey's really made some big gains in a short amount of time. You can tell he's getting more comfortable. You can see it when you're out there with him. Every lap he gets more comfortable than the one before.
Q: Scott, does this seem to be a continuation of what you did last year in the 66 in terms of really having to push hard to keep the car in the race? How satisfying is it to do well when you're not expected to?
SCOTT RIGGS: It's very satisfying for us. I mean, considering how fast we've come together, all the things that we've put together in one little shop, the guys there working that are volunteers, working on the cars to get them to the racetrack.
I don't think anyone has any high expectations of us. We want to under promise and over deliver. I think with Tommy's ability, how much experience he's had in the past, it was tough last year for me. This year will probably even be tougher.
It's more rewarding on a day like today when you come out showing your strength and showing what you can do with the people that work so hard, you know, behind the scenes with Tommy.
Q: Joey, the last lap, you're coming off the second turn. I was thinking that you were going to give Tony a bump draft by Jeff into three. You were waiting for him to make a move and he never made a move so you made a move. What were you thinking the last lap about Tony?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I think if I was to hit him I had a big old run with Jeff. If I was to line up and hit Tony, I think I would have sent him out of the track. I had to keep going with the run I had and follow Jeff through there.
But, you know, I think at the same time, you know, it just depends on the scenario where you're at. You know what I mean? I feel like I had to do what I had to do at that point.
KERRY THARP: Joey, thank you very much. Congratulations. We'll continue with questions for Tony or Scott.
Q: Tony, I know you were briefly asked about Joey and the 20 car. Was that surreal to look in your rearview mirror and see your old paint scheme coming up behind you?
TONY STEWART: It's a different paint scheme. You still see the same logo on there. I guess I don't know. I guess being at the shop all winter, seeing red racecars and black racecars everywhere, I got pretty used to it in a short amount of time.
On Sunday after qualifying, I went over and walked up in the 20 trailer, plopped down like I always have, sat there and talked to Zippy and Adam for 35, 40 minutes. Sat up there like we always did. Talked about the same stuff we always talked about. That side of it I'm really proud of, that we still are able to do that, that we still have those relationships.
But it wasn't. It really wasn't as weird as you would think it would be. It's still another racecar on the track that you got to race with. It's exactly like what Scott said. Everybody's out there in cars that look different this year. It was just another adjustment.
Q: Tony, the TV camera showed A.J. up on your pit box with the headphones. Can you tell us, was he set up to be able to talk to you?
TONY STEWART: Oh, God, no. No, no, no (laughter).
We actually had a special radio sitting there just for him. It had the button on it and everything, but it didn't do anything when you pushed the button. I'm not joking.
Q: A pretend radio?
TONY STEWART: Yeah. Can you imagine having to sit there and drive with him yelling at you all day long? I've kind of done that in Silver Crown cars a little bit. I've learned my lesson. I know better than to give him a radio he can yell into.
The best part about it was when we were coming to the media center. He stopped me. He said he gave me an A minus for the day. I said, Coming from you, that's as good as an A plus from everybody else. He's your toughest critic, but at the same time he's one of our biggest fans, too.
It just means a lot that he cares enough about what we're doing to want to spend the rest of the week with us here and be a part of it.
Q: Scott, what are your expectations for Sunday? How did today's performance impact those expectations?
SCOTT RIGGS: Well, I mean, we sort of take every day one day at a time. Coming down here this week, the first thing we wanted to do was try to qualify in on time. We didn't do that. The next thing we wanted was to make sure our car drove well and was fast enough to be able to race our way in. Today that's all we concentrated on: making sure we can race our way in. Once we did that today, now we're into tomorrow, thinking about what we need to do adjustment wise, what things we can do to try to make our car a little better, handle a little bit better, especially when it's in a bigger pack on Sunday.
I don't know if our expectations have changed. I think that we come to the track every single week now, and we're going to come to the track and try to show speed, show our strength, try to qualify well, be as strong as we can in every practice and every race we're in.
I don't know if it's changed. I know that I'll probably sleep a lot better tonight just knowing I'm in the show. There's a little bit of anxiety the last couple of days thinking about what our car is going to be like, how it's going to drive, who's going to work with you, who's not.
It was definitely rewarding today to have, I'm not going to say a rag tag team, but to have guys that are there because of their love for the sport and the faith in Tommy and each other, to come here and to be able to do, show our strength. I hope we've earned some respect from other guys out there that saw how good our car drove, how good we ran.
Hope we can get a little more help Sunday when it comes time to really get paid.
Q: Tony, you've talked about how pleased you are with where you're at. Could you have gotten to this point without the aid of Hendrick and his group? Talk about the bond you have with those guys.
TONY STEWART: No, there's no way we could have got this far, for sure. Scott can tell you that from being at Haas last year. It's a support system. You really rely heavily on that organization 'cause they're doing your chassis for you, they're doing our engines for us.
Obviously those are two of the biggest components and key components of producing a racecar. So definitely couldn't have got to this point without them.
Mr. Hendrick is such a great guy. He's been the biggest supporter of us doing this, making this change. There's times he's called me at 11:30 at night saying, Hey, is there anything I can do? How is it going? How are you doing? He knows it's been a stressful off season. He's kind of been the calming hand on my shoulder saying, Hey, it's going to be all right; you're doing a good job.
Q: Tony, you've had two races with Darian on the pit box, a new spotter. How is that going communication wise?
TONY STEWART: Bob Jeffrey is our spotter. I worked with him before in the past. I've always been comfortable with him. Working with Darian has been a small adjustment. I was talking to Mr. Hendrick earlier today. I said it's really amazed me at how calm he is. He's so even keeled.
I almost want to start messing with him just to see if I can get him off center a little bit. I haven't seen him get mad yet. You barely can get him to laugh sometimes. He smiles a lot, but he doesn't laugh a lot.
He's just very monotone about everything. You can hear his confidence on the radio. From a driver's standpoint, if the guy that is calling the race for you, making the calls for you is confident, it adds to your confidence and boosts your confidence.
You know, it's been really good. It's obviously been a big adjustment going from Zippy to Darian. But, you know, it's not been an unpleasant change by any means, to me.
I miss Zippy, but at the same time, I feel like I've stepped into a role with a guy that it doesn't seem like the first week we've worked together at a race. It seems like we've worked together a lot longer.
Q: Scott, you're a chip on your shoulder kind of guy. Tommy Baldwin is a chip on his shoulder kind of guy. You both have that "me against the world" sort of mantra against you. When the team was announced a month ago, there were probably a lot of eye rolls. What are they trying this for? How motivating is that for you, him, everybody that's working there, Hell, they don't think we can do it?
SCOTT RIGGS: That's the entire reason it feels so good to be able to be successful today, race our way into the Daytona 500.
Tommy is definitely a high-strung individual. I think I can be very high strung at the same time. So far we've worked together and talked things out so easy. I'm sure we'll have some bumps in the road. But so far it's been great.
You know, it's not the ideal situation. I don't think Tommy or myself looked at last year and said, Hey, let's go race next year on a shoestring budget with no major sponsors and see if we can race all the races. That's not what we want.
I think we both have the kind of mentality that we are backed into the corner and we are here to try to prove ourselves and fight our way out.
Right now it's been fun fighting that good fight with Tommy, somebody like Tommy, who is so strong, so confident, always positive about what we need to do, always thinking forward about what we need to do next time to be better, things we need to think about during the race. He's got a long history of being a crew chief. He has a pretty deep notebook about things he's learned in the last few years. Hopefully we can continue to work on those things, prove ourselves together.
KERRY THARP: Guys, congratulations to both of you. A great performance out there today. We wish you all the luck on Sunday.