TONY STEWART CAPTURES BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT VICTORY IN THE NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS Daytona Beach - Tony Stewart gave Chevrolet the opening win of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series by putting his No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS in Victory...
TONY STEWART CAPTURES BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT VICTORY IN THE NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS
Daytona Beach - Tony Stewart gave Chevrolet the opening win of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series by putting his No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS in Victory Lane for a career third time (other victories were 2001 and 2002), and scored the fourth Budwieser Shootout exhibition race win for Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart led twice for 11 laps, including the final eight laps.
Team Chevy drivers Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch finished fourth through seventh, respectively, to give Chevrolet five of the top seven finishing spots.
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO: Winner
LET'S START WITH THAT PASS FOR THE LEAD - "I was wondering if two and four tires were going to be a factor. We finally got Kyle (Busch) to where we could give him a big push into (Turn) 1 and that was with a tailwind so that was where the least amount of downforce was. We went in there and got him lose getting in and then we caught him and got him loose again. So I don't know what he's mad at me about. I did my job and did what I could do to win this race. This race is to see who can win. It's not about just sitting there and riding in line. Before that, I kept making sure that I was running a line that he knew I wasn't going to do anything until the end there, but with less than 10 laps to go there, you've got to make your move."
LAST YEAR THE BOTTOM WAS THE PLACE TO BE BUT THIS YEAR IT LOOKED LIKE YOU COULD PASS ON THE HIGH SIDE JUST AS WELL: "Yeah, we worked hard yesterday and got it decent there toward the end of the night in the practice session. I'm just really happy. Zippy and all the guys and this Chevy is just awesome. It's the same car we've always run here and it's just always been fast."
HOW DOES THIS CAR STACK UP TO YOUR DAYTONA 500 CHEVY? "The other one is better, believe it or not. Everybody says that. Nobody brings their best car to the Shootout. Everybody in the field has a car that they are going to qualify tomorrow for the Daytona 500 that's a little bit better than the ones we ran tonight."
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN TAKE FROM TONIGHT'S RACE AND TRANSLATE TO THE DAYTONA 500? "Absolutely."
YOU'RE JUST NOT GOING TO TELL US WHAT IT IS? "Not until after the 500 is over."
TALK ABOUT YOUR FRAME OF MIND AND THAT GUTSY MOVE ON THE NO. 5 CAR TO GET PAST IT - "We were really good. Speed-wise, we were unbelievable. With two Chevys up front like that and a Ford behind us, I was a little nervous. But I was sandwiched in between some Busch brothers before the caution came out. I knew when we came out of the pit and saw that the No. 9 car took two and I knew the No. 5 took two, but that at least got us back with the No. 5 and that's who I wanted to run with. We were a really good combination together. I was wondering if the tires were going to become a factor and I finally got a chance to really push him real hard into Turn 1 once and it got him loose. He went up the track a little bit and then when he tucked it down, I caught him right there. I didn't touch him, but just caught him enough that.. Goodyear has really put all of us in a bind with this hard tire. It's just so hard to drive these things after you get laps on them. But that was the save of the year. Kyle did an awesome job. I don't know how many guys could have saved that car. He did an awesome job of catching it."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 14th
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE ON THAT LAST LAP? "I got into the back of Elliott (Sadler) trying to help him. It was my mistake. It got him sideways and bumped him a little bit too early. He wasn't up on the straightaway yet. I'll take the blame for that one. I was trying to do all we could there, but we didn't really have what we needed tonight. We'll definitely have a better car for the 500. This ain't no indication on how good we are for that. I just hate it for Evernham who builds them cars and come down here and race and I tore it up for him so I'm sorry about that.
"It was self-explanatory if you watch the tape. I got into the back of Elliott trying to bump-draft and he wasn't up on the straightaway yet. So I got into it too early and wrecked him and wrecked both of the cars. I'm sorry about that. We were just back there doing what we could do and I was trying to help a friend of mine and I just overdid it."
"It was my fault. I was really trying hard to help push Elliott (Sadler) and I got into him too soon. It was my mistake, and I apologize and take all the blame for all of the cars that got wrecked."
WHAT DID SADLER SAY TO YOU WHEN YOU TALKED AFTER THE CRASH? "He knew what happened. I mean, he's a great guy and we're too good of friends for me to do that to him. I was trying to help push him, and I just hit him before we were on the straightaway. I hate that it happened to him and guys like Denny (Hamlin) that are friends of mine as well.
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FOR (NEXT WEEK'S DAYTONA) 500? "Yeah. Don't do that again."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL MONTE CARLO - Finished 5th
"It was a lot of fun. It was eventful at times, but that's what this race is all about. Our Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet was pretty good. It drove really good and handled really well and I wasn't really not very excited about coming into the race speed-wise, but man, it came alive in the race and I'm looking forward to the 500.
"We had a good car. I got us a little too tight we made a small adjustment; I shouldn't have done that. Got a little loose, got shuffled to the back, made our back to the front so all in all it was a good night.
"I got tight, just got the car too tight and got stuck back there. But we got to lead some laps and feel out the draft. I am looking forward to Thursday and the to the 500. This race is just fun for us. We have a good time out there.
"The tire and plate combination we have now puts more driver in it and I like that aspect."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S MONTE CARLO - Finished 7th:
"It's just a tough break for the Carquest / Kellogg's Chevrolet. These guys gave me an awesome car. It's definitely fun out there. I had a blast racing with these guys. Stewart was the man there for a while pushing me and helping me and keeping me up there. I guess he got tired of reading Carquest or something and decided to get me out of the way. But that's racing. We'll take our lumps with that and go on into the 150's and the 500."
"We had a good car, actually a great car. Our Kellogg's Carquest Chevrolet was fast. We just got shuffled out there and couldn't get back in line, couldn't make any more moves back to the front, it was too late in the race anyhow so just a bad deal."
ON LEARNING SOMETHING FOR 150 AND 500: "Yes, we tried that two tire deal but it didn't work out the way we thought it should. I didn't think I wasn't going to have a whole lot of grip there at the end, but I wasn't expecting to get bumped quite that much. I will take the good with the bad, and go on. We saved a pretty good race car there, not only on that save, but the front stretch wreck at the end of the race."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 4th:
ON HOW AGGRESSIVE EVERYONE WAS IN THE FIRST SECTION: "The reason everyone was so aggressive early was because it seemed like it took about 10 laps to get any position then as soon as the tires built up some temp in them, it was like the front tires were on ice. Frustrating, but a couple of guys got it right in clean air which is why it was so aggressive early and then got kind of boring. We got some good ideas on what to do in the 500. We changed this car up a ton and it still barely made a difference. We have a new package to work with this tire this coming week."
ON THOUGHTS ON TIRES IN 500 MILE RACE WITH THIS RESTRICTOR PLATE: "We can deal with it, we are just going to have to let off, use the brakes. The way the car is driving now, I think we could have used the other plate that we had here last time. You need something to get this car to recover and drive up on to the straight-away. You let off the gas, turn the wheel and let the front slide, eventually you can get back in the gas and hope that got behind you will push you down the straightaway."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 6th
I am just thrilled to be with this U.S. Army Team. I love working with these guys and to run good is a bonus. The car was so fast through the corners. We didn't have a ton of help out there, but if they can make our primary car run that good on Sunday we can be a contender in the 500. We almost had a big wreck with Boris (Said) there at the end with five to go and we went to the back and I thought that was it, but we could just roll through the corners so well that we just started passing cars without much help.
I had a blast -- I am living large right now. I was loving it out there. It was a great way to start off with Ryan (crew chief, Pemberton) and the U.S. Army Chevy. I am really more encouraged right now than I even was beforehand. I know we have more work to do to get where we would like to be. But the way this car handled I think we can have a shot at the 500 and that's what we all want. I cherish the opportunity the Army has given me. I had a blast, the most fun I had in a long time. I love these guys so much. They have their heart in it. It's an honor and pleasure to work with this team. If it gets hot and slick on Sunday and we have a car that handles like tonight, we can be a contender.
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 9th
WERE WHERE YOU WHEN THE WRECK HAPPENED? "I was right behind it. I was in the right place at the right time and got through."
ON YOUR RACE: "I was pretty happy with the way we ran. We weren't as fast as we needed to be but the car drove okay and we got ourselves up there; ran in the top five most of the night. I got to like, fourth, with five laps to go and made a move that I knew I shouldn't have made but we weren't going to win if I didn't push the issue. So I pushed the issue and I just wasn't fast enough to do what I was trying to do. I think we learned a lot and I had a good time."
"The second segment we pretty much ran in the front draft the whole time so every now and then I'd make a dumb move and get shuffled out but I was a little more aggressive than I needed to be with the car we had. That's what the night was about though - to get a little bit of the winter aggression out of me and be a little more aggressive than I needed to be. Nonetheless I think we learned a lot and I'm still pretty optimistic about our 500."
NOT A LOT OF PASSING HERE. DO YOU THINK THE DUELS AND THE 500 WILL BE LIKE THIS RACE? "Yeah, there will be probably less passing then we saw tonight. There's just not much grip out there and it's hard to get the car to handle well. You just can't run three wide on old tires; you can't run double-wide on old tires. It's just difficult to get a handle on the car. So yeah, this is going to be a very, very big handling race in my opinion. I mean, it's going to mean everything."
-credit: gm racing