Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media and discussed his off weekend, returning to this track with a win under his belt this season, his relationship with teammate Denny Hamlin and other topics. YOU TOOK...
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media and discussed his off weekend, returning to this track with a win under his belt this season, his relationship with teammate Denny Hamlin and other topics.
YOU TOOK YOUR MOMENTUM ON VACATION AND BROUGHT IT HERE? "I didn't forget to leave it in the bag when I left vacation and came straight here. So it's here."
IS IT EASIER TO COME HERE WITH ONE (WIN) UNDER YOUR BELT? "I think so. It's like I told the guys. If you have to have a string where you don't get a win and then you get your first win the week before you come here is the perfect week to do that. That, plus the vacation time; that's just a bonus for us to get ready for this weekend."
DO YOU SENSE ONE OF THOSE MID-SUMMER STREAKS COMING? "I hope so. I'm not feeling like we are not going to have one. I feel like we've got more opportunity to have one than to not have one right now."
SIX OF THE LAST NINE WINNERS OF THIS RACE WENT ON TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. IS THAT LUCK OR FLUKE OR WHAT? YOU WERE ONE OF THOSE DRIVERS: "I remember that. I don't know. I think it's probably a sign that the type of track and type of program that you have to have to win this race. If you've got a good package for here, it's a good package for the race tracks that we have to run in that 10-week stretch that get you to the end. So if you run good here, you've got a good shot at winning the championship."
DOES THE WINNER ON SUNDAY LEAVE HERE AS THE FAVORITE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I don't know. That's for you guys (the media) to decide. We still take it one week at a time, so I don't look at it from that standpoint. Anything can happen. It's a pretty neat stat though, if you're a betting person. You always bet on the odds and the odds are, yes. But there are no guarantees. I'd rather bet on a guarantee than I would the favorites."
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THIS RACE TRACK? "You're kidding, right? You don't know the answer to that already? You really don't know the answer to that? Do you want me to find somebody to tell you that real quick so we can go on with the stuff that people don't know the answer to yet? If they don't know that by now, they won't figure that out. That's been asked for nine straight years. And it hasn't changed. So if your viewers have watched for the last eight years, they'll know exactly what it means."
HAVING WON AND GOTTEN IT OFF YOUR BACK, DO YOU FEEL ANY DIFFERENT NOW? DO YOU FEEL MORE RELAXED? "I think so. Definitely last year, the stress level wasn't as near as high. It wasn't trying so hard to win. Now we've won. It's not that you don't try to win, it's that you've got that bit of pressure off
your back to win the first one and you have the knowledge of how you won the first one. So it's actually a lot less pressure because you're not sitting here trying to figure out what you have to do to win. You know what it takes to win. You just have to figure out how to make those things happen again."
DENNY HAMLIN SAID HE FELT YOU WOULD BE MUCH STRONGER TEAMMATES GOING FORWARD NOW THAT YOU'VE AIRED OUT THINGS THAT NEEDED TO BE AIRED OUT FOR A YEAR OR TWO. IS THAT RIGHT? "Yeah, absolutely. We worked better at Chicago than we've ever worked in a Cup race and in the Busch Series. The thing about Denny and I is that we both get along really good and occasionally we've got to sit down and hit the button and get back to square again if there are little things that are a little bit off par. But we've never had any big problems and we never will. Denny is a good enough kid and we get along good enough that I don't think you'll ever see us having major problems."
IS THIS A PLACE WHERE HE CAN RUN GOOD? "Oh yeah, absolutely. In my opinion, he's probably the only guy who could win in his second year here."
IF IT CAME DOWN TO THE TWO OF YOU IN A RACE, HOW WOULD YOU RACE EACH OTHER? "If it came down to the two of us, we'll both race hard at the end. But the thing is, we'll race each other with respect. That's the main thing."
WHAT HAS MORE IMPACT, BEING CALLED IN TO TALK WITH JOE GIBBS OR BEING CALLED TO THE NASCAR TRAILER? "Having to deal with guys like you that ask stupid questions like that. That's worse than either one of those two things."
HOW MUCH DID JOE GIBBS HAVE TO DO WITH YOUR MEETING WITH DENNY HAMLIN? "Well, he was there. That's stuff that you guys don't need to know. We take care of that stuff in-house. It's not stuff that you guys (the media) all have to know about. That's how he has become successful as a coach and a team owner. It's by not telling you guys everything that you guys always want to know."
WHAT DID YOU DO ON VACATION? "I had fun. I had a blast. I got to go run the Midget in Macon, Illinois on Friday night and then got to hang out and be somewhere where people didn't know who I was and I had a lot of fun hanging out with my buddies. It was a perfect thing to do before coming here."
CAN YOU TELL US WHERE YOU WENT? "Nope."
IS THIS A TYPICAL BRICKYARD WEEKEND FOR YOU TO STAY AT HOME? "No, I actually stay here at the track. But the thing that's good is that we have a suite over in Turn 2 so my family is here for all three days. My close friends are here and that's something that doesn't ever get to happen the rest of the season."
SO THIS IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT? "Yeah, but we still have a lot of obligations. We have had four appearances in the last two days plus a tire test scheduled, so it's been a busy week. But like I said, having the vacation week coming into it with all the obligations you have to do let's you hit a reset button. That way, when you've got all that stuff you don't feel like you can't get a break and you can't catch your breath."
HOW BAD DOES IT HURT TO NOT HAVE MUCH TRACK TIME BEFORE THE RACE DUE TO RAIN, ETC.? "The biggest thing is that it's the same for everybody. I think with the way we ran at Chicago, I think our package is pretty good. It's not the same setup, obviously, but the approach is the same. I feel confident that the shorter amount of practice time we have, the better opportunity we have of being better than everybody else."
DO YOU HAVE THE SAME SET-UP THAT YOU'VE HAD THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS HERE? "Yeah, we'll take what this new car likes already and translate it to what we've had here in the past, I think."
COMING INTO THIS RACE, IS THIS A GOOD STRETCH FOR YOU? "Every day is just a new day. It's not about really a stretch, you just go out and do what you do and we're having fun as a race team doing the things that we're doing. I'm able this time of year to go out and run a lot of mid-week shows and that's something I like to do. I've had a vacation mixed into it. So it's a good time as far as just having time."
-credit: gm racing