TONY STEWART , No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 2nd Are you happy with the outcome tonight's race? "I'm pretty happy. It's hard to beat Dale Jr. (Earnhardt). He's one of the best restrictor-plate drivers there's ever...
TONY STEWART , No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 2nd
Are you happy with the outcome tonight's race?
"I'm pretty happy. It's hard to beat Dale Jr. (Earnhardt). He's one of the best restrictor-plate drivers there's ever been. He learned a lot from his dad and I'm not sure that he's not better than his dad, in all honesty, now. We can't be disappointed. We were climbing an uphill battle there on the bottom. It was fun and it's fun when you get around guys you trust like that. It made it a lot of fun tonight."
"For the first race with a new car at this track, I think the race was pretty exciting no matter where you were on the track. It seemed really important to be up toward the front. It seemed like it was a lot easier on tires where you could get more air on the car and help yourself out with the aero down-force as much as the mechanical grip. It was just a matter of trying to keep track position. When you run second to Dale Jr. like that, you can't be discouraged by any means. I think he's probably the best restrictor-plate driver that's ever lived. To run with him and the Hendrick guys like that -- I thought we fought a good fight tonight."
Do you feel like this season will be about Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing based on the performance tonight?
"They've definitely picked up where they left off for sure, but I think we did as far as the way we normally run here. I think the part that impressed me the most there at the end was Denny (Hamlin) being able to climb back up there -- it's like I heard the cavalry coming. It was just that we didn't synchronize our watches and get there at the same time. As beat up as his car was, I was really proud of how he got back up there. So far, it looks like it's the usual list of suspects that are up near the front of these things again."
Do you think the 'sling-shot' move is back with the new car?
"Yeah, but I think the difference in it is that you have to have a lot more help from behind than you had to have back then. Back then, you could just have two cars and the guy could 'sling -shot' from behind. Now-a-days, you have to have hel p from behind to get that. It kind of reminds me of when we had the package with the wicker on top of the roof, and we had the one -inch wicker on the rear spoiler. We were able to pull up a lot easier with those than we are with these, but its like once these cars get a run, it's hard to break the momentum. When guys do that push and that run, it's a lot bigger disparity in miles-per-hour than we had with the old cars here. There were runs tonight that I saw coming and I didn't dare pull out in front of it. Because if it didn't knock the helmet over my eyes to where I couldn't see then I was probably going to have my car pointing somewhere and looking at an angle of the track that I didn't want to see. Some of those runs, you just had to let them go -- there was just no way to defend against it. The runs are bigger than what they have been, but you still rely on that help from behind."
Were you surprised to see Dave Blaney's Toyota running as well as he was behind you?
"No, not at all. All you have to do is think back to that last Talladega race where we ran these cars for the first time and Dave (Blaney) was strong all day. I figured he was going to be strong and obviously we got a chance to run with him yesterday in drafting practice. He was really, really fast and his car drove real well. It wasn't a surprise at all."
How much better do you feel about this car for next Sunday's Daytona 500?
"I think they're going to be a handful in the daylight hours. When it cools off, I think it's going to he lp everybody, even though these cars get a bigger run, they don't drive as good as the cars we've had here in the past, but they're not supposed to -- they weren't designed to drive as good as the ones we've had in the past. I think it's still going to be the same deal here at Daytona where you have to work all week to get your car to drive good. It goes back to the Indy (Indianapolis 500) days, where you run everyday and you hope the conditions are different so you can adjust for different conditions. So, by the time Sunday gets here you know what you've got to do. It has put a premium on handling this year for sure."
-credit: toyota motorsports