TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at California Speedway and discussed coming back to Auto Club Speedway, how important track position is, the earlier race starts and much more. YOUR THOUGHTS ...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at California Speedway and discussed coming back to Auto Club Speedway, how important track position is, the earlier race starts and much more.
YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT COMING BACK TO AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY. "Excited about it. We're obviously coming off of a good weekend last weekend so it's always good no matter where you are going the next week to know that you've won the week before. I'm excited about it. We've been kind of on both sides of the coin on balance for this first practice here so at least we feel like we can adjust both ways and hopefully I'm in the middle spot for qualifying."
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR GENERAL REACTION, YOUR OPINION OF THE STANDARDIZED START TIMES FOR NEXT YEAR? "I don't exactly know what they are yet. I know what they were talking about but it doesn't matter to us."
IS IT DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING HOME AT A REGULAR TIME? "I don't have anybody to go home to so it's not a big deal for me, unfortunately."
THEY ARE GOING TO START 21 RACES NEXT YEAR AT 1:00 P.M., WILL THAT IMPACT WHAT YOU DO GOING OFF TO A RACE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT IF YOU HAD ONE OR TWO FEWER HOURS OF TIME HERE? "Not really. If you're going to do it you're going to do it. It doesn't really matter what the time is. Obviously if we started at 9:00 in the morning it would be different but that's not the case."
AS A CAR OWNER DO YOU FIND IT HARDER TO HAVE A YOUNGER TALENT COME IN WITH THE WAY THE ECONOMY IS AND GETTING SPONSORS AND EVERYTHING? "I don't know I haven't had to bring in any young talent yet."
WOULD YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE? "Yeah, I would think so to a certain degree because any time you bring somebody young and new in they're kind of unproven products until they get here and are established so yeah I could see that from that standpoint."
DOES THAT MAKE IT HARDER HOOKING UP WITH THE SPONSORSHIP THEN? "Yeah."
WITH YOUR RACE PREPARATION, I HEARD DIFFERENT DRIVERS WATCH RACES AND DO DIFFERENT THINGS TO PREPARE FOR THE WEEKEND, DO YOU DO ANYTHING OR DO YOU JUST BASICALLY SIT IN THE CAR AND WHAT THAT CAR TELLS YOU IS ALL YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW AND WHAT DO YOU DO POST-RACE IN THE SENSE WITH DARIAN (GRUBB)? "The post race side of it you have to do face-to-face because there are no computers to tell you what happened. I mean I'm the only set of information as far as what the balance of the car was and what it was doing out on the race track.
"Preparation wise I don't watch videos and do all that. It's more like you said, its more what the balance is because we can come here from what we did in the spring here to now and its totally different because it's a different time of the year plus the technology has changed from spring to now. Things have advanced even so. But it's always off of what you did in happy hour. That's what you're basing everything for Sunday on. I think it's all dependent on what you want to do. Every driver has got their own different way of doing things. I guess I'm the old-school part. We didn't watch videos then and we don't watch them now."
THERE WAS A SITUATION AT KANSAS WHERE NASCAR WARNED A NON-CHASE DRIVER ABOUT HOW HE WAS RACING A CHASE DRIVER, DO YOU THINK THAT NON-CHASE DRIVERS ARE AS RESPECTFUL AS THEY'VE BEEN IN THE CHASE IN THE PAST? "That really wasn't the scenario. It was more of a young rookie driver that was racing like he was in the Nationwide Series or the Truck Series. That's how you race on Friday or Saturday but that's not how we race on Sunday. I mean guys realize it's a longer race and there's more give and take and there's more patience. In his situation, he's young, he's aggressive and he wants to do well, he wants to earn respect but he's got to understand that you've got to be patient and you've got to give and take at different time of the race especially early in the race like that to get that respect. I think it's good that NASCAR at least mentioned it. They're not telling him how to drive his car but at least that plants the bug in his ear that hey maybe I'm not doing something exactly the way it's done in this series. It wasn't about anybody being in the Chase or not being in the Chase, it was a matter of him being a rookie and how he was racing."
WITH YOU WINNING LAST WEEK WITH A TWO-TIRE CALL LATE IN THE RACE, HAS TRACK POSITION BECOME TOO MUCH OF THE STORY DURING THE RACES? "It's more difficult now than it was 11 years ago when I started. It used to be that if you could make it 50 laps on fuel and you had to run a full fuel run you could not run 100 percent and be fast for 50 laps. You would be fast for 25 laps then you would fall off the face of the Earth. The way the tires are now you can run 100 percent for 50 laps and you're going to be in pretty good shape. With that it's made track position a little more important. Unfortunately it's just technology. It's not anybody's fault. There's nothing that's drastically wrong it's just technology. It's like I've said before it happened to Formula One, it happened to Indy Car racing and it's happening to us. There's no easy solution to that. Yes, track position is important but still in our situation last week my car liked two tires where some of the guys when they put on two tires their cars got too tight. It still comes down to balance of the race cars but there's going to be situations where at places like Kansas especially the tires were better for us. It didn't work out for some of the other guys that did the same strategy we did but for us it worked out."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAR IN TRAFFIC? "It's always rougher in traffic. It's always going to be the best in clean air. It's always going to feel worse in traffic and it was that way when I started too. All race cars that you drive are that way. They're always not going to feel best when they're not out front."
YOU'VE GOT A GOOD EYE FOR TALENT, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TREVOR BAYNE, HE'S KIND OF COME IN LIKE A BALL OF FIRE IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES AND ON THE OPPOSITE END OF THE SPECTRUM WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT A GUY LIKE MORGAN SHEPHERD? "The little bit I've seen of Trevor he's done a great job so far. He came into the deal right away and was fast. It's hard to teach guys how to go fast, or it's not hard to teach guys to go fast that's something that it comes more natural then you've gotta teach him to race smart. He seems like he's got both so I think from that side he's going to be in good shape.
"The thing with Morgan is you've got to applaud him every week. The guy does it with absolutely nothing. He has no help and he is his own crew basically. He has some guys that help but he has to pretty much watch everything that's going on and that's something it would be easy just to walk away from that scenario and he still plugs along and still make the effort to be here every week. He's not missed a race as far as showing up for every race on the schedule so you want to see somebody like him be successful because of the effort he personally puts into it."
JUAN (PABLO MONTOYA) WAS IN HERE EARLIER SAYING THAT HIS GOAL WAS THE NEXT THREE RACES WAS TO LOSE AS FEW POINTS TO JIMMIE JOHNSON AS POSSIBLE, DOES IT FEEL BECAUSE JIMMIE HAS BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL HERE AND MARTINSVILLE THAT HE'S STILL SORT OF THE GUY TO BEAT? "I don't know it's hard to take away anything from those three guys in front of us and a couple of guys behind us. I don't feel like that's the only guy we're worrying about. I feel like we've got to worry about Mark (Martin) just as much and Juan just as much. Right now we've got a bunch of guys that are consistent every week. You can't just narrow it down to one right now."
HAVE YOU NOTICED ANYTHING SINCE THE CHASE HAS STARTED THAT'S DIFFERENT IN JUAN (PABLO MONTOYA)? "No clue but he's been good. With the way he ran at Loudon was awesome. He had the best car all day there. I don't know what it's due to. I mean they've found something obviously that timing wise was perfect for them but they hit on something that's working for them right now and most likely it will work all the way through the Chase."
I REMEMBER TOWARD THE END OF LAST YEAR THAT YOU THOUGHT DAVID RAGAN WAS ALMOST THE DRIVER OF THE YEAR, HOW SURPRISED ARE YOU WITH THE ROUGH TIME HE'S HAD THIS SEASON? "I have to admit, I've been kind of surprised by that. Especially by the growth that he had last year in this series I thought we would see a lot more out of him than what we have this year. It's been kind of a shock and I have no idea why they've had the trouble they've had but it's been kind of consistent all year. They really haven't had any races where they've really shined that I can remember but I don't see him doing anything wrong on the race track that's keeping that from happening. There is just something that's just not clicking over there right now."
-credit: gm racing