TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed Eldora, Thunder Road, the No. 88 crew chief change, his owner/driver status, the new pit boxes, next week's tire test at Indy, and more. HOW DID PRACTICE GO? "It was okay....
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed Eldora, Thunder Road, the No. 88 crew chief change, his owner/driver status, the new pit boxes, next week's tire test at Indy, and more.
HOW DID PRACTICE GO? "It was okay. We made only two runs in race trim and then switched over to qualifying trim, so we're going to go look at Ryan's (Newman) notes here. He's a little faster in qualifying trim, and see if we can gain some speed."
IS DOVER ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE TRACKS ON THE CIRCUIT? "Ah, yes and no (laughs). If your car is good, it's a lot of fun. If it's not, it's a miserable day here if your car is not right."
ON THE NEW PIT BOXES "It didn't matter to me. You always knew about it, but I mean it's definitely going to make it better for everybody. They did a good job."
IS PRACTICE REALLY JUST TO GET A FEEL FOR IT? "Oh, we've got all day tomorrow for that. It's really not moved that much further back. It's an easy adjustment to make from a driver's standpoint. It's not going to be hard. The fresh asphalt down there has more grip, so you can probably almost go to the same spot because you don't have to worry about sliding on the sealer."
ARE YOU GOING TO THE TIRE TEST NEXT WEEK AT INDY? "I am going, yes."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? "What do you want me to say about it?"
WELL, DID THEY INVITE YOU BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY RESPECT YOUR OPINION? "Well, we're going. We'll just wait and see what happens. I mean there are a lot of guys going Tuesday and Wednesday and we're going Monday and Tuesday to do the pre-test. So we're just trying to figure out what we can do to help."
CAN YOU ASSESS THE FIRST 12 RACES AS AN OWNER/DRIVER? "Just look at the stats (laughs). Just read what we say every week. We say the same thing every week. All you have to do is just look at the last nine or 10 weeks and that'll tell you the whole story of what we think on that. We've said that enough, I think."
IS THE TEAM WORKING BETTER WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS THIS YEAR THAN IN THE PAST? "I didn't work with them in the past, so how am I going to know that? When you haven't worked with them before this year, you're not going to know how it was in the past. All I can go off of is what we've done this year with them, which has been great. We've had a great relationship with them and I enjoy working with them so far. So it's hard to say what it was like there before you run with them."
DO YOU GUYS RUN THE SAME BASELINE SET-UPS? "Not necessarily. We all know what each other starts with, but everybody kind of has a little something a little bit different and that gives us all the ability that if one person hits on something, then the other five guys can shift to it. So, it's still a matter of driver feel too, so you could put the same set-up on all six cars and we're not all six going to run the same because we all have a different feel that we like versus the other guys."
ON THE ELDORA TRACK "I think the year that we had the track the hardest and slickest, the most comfortable everybody was because it slows the speeds down. So it gives guys who aren't quite as comfortable running those cars at that track a little bit of a reprieve because they're not having to run a second-and-a-half or two seconds quicker when the track's got a lot of grip in it, but a lot of that's dictated by Mother Nature. But we do everything we can to make it like that every year to where it cleans off and gets slick to where it slows down the pace enough to where guys don't have to run faster than they're comfortable running."
YOU'RE A GOOD DRIVER BUT ALSO AN ENTREPRENEUR. WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY FOR GOOD SUCCESS? "Have good people around you; have good people in the right spots. That's the key in any business is to have good people around you that you can trust and that have your best interests in mind. That's what we've got."
HOW DO YOU FIND THOSE PEOPLE? "Oh, we sit at a Ouija board all day."
DO YOU HAVE A BETTER ANSWER? "No, I don't. We just work at it. I mean it's just like today. We're trying to figure out how to make our race cars go faster and people want me to theorize about this and that. I'm still trying in my mind how to get my race car to go faster right now."
WHICH ROLE DO YOU ENJOY MORE RIGHT NOW, OWNER OR DRIVER? "Both; I'm enjoying both sides of it. Both sides are fun. On race weekends, and today's a perfect example, I'm a driver. I'm not a car owner. I've got to go in there (hauler) and work with my crew chief in a minute and figure out how I can get more speed in my car so I'm not going to be 30th in qualifying like I am in practice right now."
TALK ABOUT ELDORA AND HOW THAT'S SHAPING UP RIGHT NOW "I don't know. The track is in good shape right now. It's just a matter of what weather we get. Unfortunately I'm going to Indy on Monday to do the tire test, which is good for what we do on the Cup side. The hard part is I won't be there to see what's going on Monday and Tuesday to get ready for Wednesday. But I'll get there Tuesday night and we'll go from there."
AS A DRIVER, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES OF THE DOVER TRACK? "I don't know. It's no different than we have any other week. At the end of the day, there still tight, they're loose, you know, you've got to figure out how to get the balance. It doesn't matter whether it's a road course or Dover or anyplace else. It's just another track on the schedule."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THUNDER ROAD (SPEEDBOWL, JUNE 11) IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS AND YOUR DECISION TO GO THERE? "Yeah, I'm excited about it. I don't know anything about it other than it's Ken's (Squier) place and I've seen pictures of it. I know that every week it's a packed house so I'm excited to finally be able to go."
IS IT KEN WHO HAS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE? "Yeah, absolutely. He has all of the influence."
IT SEEMS LIKE IT TOOK A WHILE FOR THE PLANS TO COME TOGETHER "It just takes time to get it in the schedule. We've kind of got a couple of full-time jobs we're trying to work."
WITH YOUR OWNER HAT ON, HOW DIFFICULT WAS RICK HENDRICK'S DECISION TO MAKE THE CREW CHIEF CHANGE ON THE NO. 88? "Well, you know we've had to do that with our Open-Wheel teams and it's never an easy decision. But you make that decision off of what you think is going to be best for the team and best for Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. in the long run. The only way to assess the variables and which one it is, is to make a change and find out. So time will tell."
HOW MUCH DOES DALE JUNIOR NEED TO TAKE ON IN TERMS OF THE LACK OF PRODUCTIVITY? KYLE BUSCH EARLIER SAID IT'S NEVER DALE JR'S FAULT, IT'S ALWAYS THE CREW CHIEF. "You need to ask Dale Jr. that."
DO YOU EVER GET OVERWHELMED WITH ALL YOU'VE GOT GOING ON? "No, I get overwhelmed with all the stuff that I'm asked to do while I'm trying to worry about driving a race car. That's what gets overwhelming. I've sat here and I've talked about Dale Jr. and I've talked about Thunder Road and I've talked about Eldora and I've talked about the business side, and I'm still trying to figure out what I've got to do on the driver's side right now. That's a perfect example of how overwhelming this part of it is. It's always about something else that doesn't pertain to what you're doing a lot of times."
ON THE TEXT MESSAGE HE SENT TO DAVID REUTIMANN "I didn't do that for everybody to know about that. I just did it for me and him. It was more to congratulate him because I like David."
-credit: gm racing