Daytona II: Pole winner interview

Tony Stewart take pole position at Daytona Tony Stewart ...

Tony Stewart take pole position at Daytona

Tony Stewart #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet
Note: First Bud Pole at Daytona.

PIT LANE COMMENTS:

GREAT LAP OUT THERE

"Yeah, but it wasn't due to me. Everybody-Zippy and all the guys on The Home Depot team-it wasn't anything I did to get us where we are. Those guys. And really, in particular, those guys in the engine department and the fab shop. They put the body back on the thing after the Daytona 500. It was an awesome run there-whether it stands or not, we'll see. If it just stays in the top 5 or 10, I'll be happy with it."

HOW GOOD IS THIS RACE CAR?

"It drove really good today. You know, the thing you'll hear a lot of us talking about tomorrow night is having to get out of the gas. Running the 500, pretty much we can run it wide open around here. But it seems that in July with the heat and the extra heat, it's a little harder to handle and becomes more of an issue than it does in February. Our car drove really good today in practice. All in all we're going to have a good day tomorrow, hopefully."

COMMENTS ON RUNNING THE PONTIAC DAYTONA PROTOTYPE LAST NIGHT IN THE GRAND-AMERICAN RACE

"I loved it; I just wished we wouldn't have had the problems. I know at the end of the race my teammate Andy Wallace was turning laps as quick as the leader and it if we wouldn't have won I think we'd have been in the top-three for sure. We made progress; yesterday at the start of the race was the first time I had run in wet conditions with slicks. And starting on cold tires, nonetheless. It was a learning experience for sure. We had a good run once the track dried up."

DO YOU PLAN ON DOING MORE ROAD RACING?

"Of course-I've had so much fun with the Pontiac brand and everyone at GM has been behind me running a Pontiac even though I'm with a Chevrolet in the Cup side. They are excited to see me back and it's neat to see how everyone at GM rallies around each other like that."

PRESS CONFERENCE EXCERPTS:

REMARKS ON YOUR LAP. HOW IS YOUR CAR IS RACE TRIM?

"I guess it feels pretty good. We ran the whole setup this morning-no drama. No headaches. Everything was pretty smooth. For the most part, pretty excited. Normally when we come to practice here we complain about our cars not having grip because it's so hot, but you know, we went out this morning and had pretty good balance so hopefully it will be that way for tomorrow."

IS RACE TRIM DIFFERENT FROM QUALIFYING TRIM?

"I don't know. I'm not sure if it is or not. I'd love for this to be an indication because that means we'd have a good day tomorrow. But, at the same time, you know, it's a situation where having all those tricks and stuff.maybe it's what we've been missing for qualifying all this time-all those tricks."

DOES THIS POLE MEAN AN EQUALISER WITH ROUSH AND HENDRICK?

"I don't know if that puts us as an equal. If you look at where Jeff qualified, he's not going to race that way tomorrow. So, with that being said, I doubt this is a true indication of how everyone is going to race tmorroow. I think handling is still going to be a big factor like it always is. I think everyone is going to drive well for one lap in qualifying, but when you get 10 laps into a run tomorrow night, I think things are going to be a bit different, especially when you get into traffic where the air is moving. It's a little different."

COMMENTS ON PROGRESSION THIS YEAR; VS. ROUSH AND HENDRICK

"I'll be honest. You know, if you look back to Michigan where we ran second-it was a place where we kind of finally hit on some stuff. We think we may have closed the gap with the Hendrick and Roush teams on some stuff. Then we go to a road course and you pretty much throw all that out-just road course setups. Now this week with a pole, we're here at a superspeedway, so it's totally a different package again. I'd love to believe that we are, but we are all realistic that we had one good week at Michigan, from that side, and I think that's something we have to build off of. This week and last week are just two odd weeks. Don't fit into the total picture of the scheme of things. Even if we're lucky enough to win here tomorrow night or have a second, I'm not going to say we're back on track to where we need to be. It's just two odd races that we would have had the luxury to win, and we've still got to run off that second place finish in all reality."

WHAT WOULD WINNING AT DAYTONA MEAN FOR YOU?

"I mean, this one's no different from any of the other of them on the schedule, in all reality. If I had to trade a win and only get one of them, I'd rather trade it for a February race obviously. Anytime you can win a race, whether it's here or Indianapolis or anywhere else, it's big. Right now, with the competition as tough as it is, a win is a win. You know, it's not going to be any more significant than anything else this year."

ANY CONCERNS WITH DRIVERS WHO AREN'T HIGH IN POINTS, STARTING UP FRONT?

"Not really. I mean, it makes me thankful that we qualified on the pole obviously, but you know, the cream of the crop usually finds a way to get to the top here. Normally find a way of working with each other to get through some of those guys who you may not be as comfortable with. There's not that many of them up there where I feel they are guys I don't want to be around anyway, so it won't take long and it will be the normal cast of characters up front fighting for the win, like usual."

DO YOU TAKE ANY PERSONAL PRIDE IN YOUR VERSATILITY IN THE SERIES?

"Somewhat, yes. It does make us feel that we're not just a team that's found one particular idea or theory of setups on a particular type of track and we're struggling on the rest of them. You know, we've always taken a lot of price on running well in all aspects of the series. But we're not the only ones. Even though Jeff Gordon didn't have a good weekend last week, you've got to take guys like Jeff and Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle and guys that may not have had the last two weeks like we've had and the weekend we're having now, but you can't say that Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle aren't versatile drivers. I'm not the only guy that's a versatile driver on the series. The group does kind of narrow down on the road courses. It's not a place where all of us run good, obviously. It's a handful of the ten of us that run really good on road courses on a given weekend, and those same guys. You guys are the kings of stats in there-look at who has run-Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, we've run really well. It's the same guys all the time that seem to be running well all the time, as far as the regulars. There's a handful of guys that run well on all of them. There's only two road course races on the schedule and the rest is just normal stuff."

AFTER FEBRUARY DID YOU LOOK AT THE TAPES TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

"Yeah, you always wonder what you could have done. To be honest I thought I did everything I could do, to hold Jeff off. I ran it through my mind, watched it on tape and tried to figure out if there was something I could have done different. One idea that came to mind, but I wasn't sure that was going to be the deciding factor. He was real good on restarts. As long as we could keep him behind us for two laps, we were in good shape. From lap 3 on from a restart. But those first two laps of a restart, that was his strong suit. If he got to the lead there, it was going to be hard to get back by."

-gm racing-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Andy Wallace , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin