TONY STEWART, OWNER STEWART HAAS RACING, DRIVER OF NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS IN 2009 ~ MEDIA Q&A FOLLOWING SPONSORSHIP PRESS CONFERENCE: ROBBY GORDON SAID THAT THE ONLY WAY BECOME A GOOD OWNER IS TO GET UP BEFORE 11AM "Yeah, I'm ...
TONY STEWART, OWNER STEWART HAAS RACING, DRIVER OF NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS IN 2009 ~ MEDIA Q&A FOLLOWING SPONSORSHIP PRESS CONFERENCE:
ROBBY GORDON SAID THAT THE ONLY WAY BECOME A GOOD OWNER IS TO GET UP BEFORE 11AM "Yeah, I'm going to start with 10:30am and try to get acclimated to that. It's going to be like an eight-step process to try to get down to a reasonable hour in the morning. But believe it or not for the last two weeks I've been up between 8:30am and 9:00am every morning and that was even on vacation and I was waking up that early. You realize and you budget your time better. Just since Chicago my sleep has been better and I wake up in the morning and I feel more refreshed and I think even after today that will improve even more. That's still the old short track driver in me that can't get used to getting up before 11:00am or 12 o'clock. When I was down in Charlotte, I didn't necessarily go to the race shop every day at Gibbs, but it's a little different deal when it's your own operation and you get up in the morning and you know that you've got stuff that you have to do, so it makes it a little easier to get up in the morning and get going."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT MORE ABOUT HOW MUCH TIME YOU'LL SPEND IN CHARLOTTE VERSUS INDIANA? "We'll spend a lot more time, especially the rest of this year. I still have to take personal time, and if you don't, you make yourself nuts. You know the schedule. It's a tough schedule to maintain, so you still have to take that personal time out. I want this to be successful and want it to be successful right off the bat. To do that, the work has to start now and I'm ready for that and ready to spend as much time between Gibbs and Haas' shop that we have to right now. Whatever it takes to get it done, that's what we're going to do."
DO YOU HAVE TO BE MORE AWARE THAT YOU'RE AN OWNER NOW? WHAT HAPPENED AT THE USAC RACE LAST NIGHT? "You do. But it was a situation where we didn't understand a call they made and our car got put in the wall and there wasn't an official around or a push truck around and we're trying to get back on the track. But we sat and talked to the USAC officials last night and had a great discussion with them until about 12:30am actually talking about how that whole situation could have been different and what can they do in the future. So, the good thing is they have a guy like Kevin Miller there that is willing to look outside the box and Jason Smith. They've got some good leadership there. And they realize there are things that need to be changed and different than what it's been for 15 years ago.
"But when you've got your corporate sponsors there and you've got a car on the race track and it's sitting there on pit lane and they can't get a push truck to it, and you're supporting your team and your guys that work hard and you're trying to get it back out. P
"So it was definitely a disagreement, but that's the great thing about my relationship with USAC. We sat down later in the evening. We talked about it right after it happened and after the races were over and they've got their eyes open and they're doing everything they can to make sure that incidents like that don't happen again."
THERE HAS BEEN SO MUCH BUZZ ABOUT JOEY LOGANO. WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF HIM AS A TALENT? "I haven't been able to spend too much time around him. But the time I have spent with him, I'm very impressed. I think he is one of the greatest young talents that's come around in a long time. No matter what happens and what he ends up doing next year, I think he'll be ready for it no matter what it is."
KNOWING A.J. FOYT FOR AS LONG AS YOU HAVE, SURELY YOU'VE BUTTED HEADS AT TIMES. BEING FIREY GUYS, HOW HAVE YOU MAINTAINED A RELATIONSHIP? "We've got the same personality. I think we have such a high level of respect for each other that when we've disagreed; it normally doesn't last very long. I couldn't count on one time the times we've had disagreements with each other. Normally we're the ones that are starting the disagreements between other people (laughs) and get them going. It's like the commercials that this costs this much ad that costs that much and the rest is priceless. That's what my relationship with him as been like."
DO YOU THINK YOU (AND FOYT) ARE SIMILAR AS PEOPLE? "Somebody was giving me a hard time the other day when I was telling him that about three weeks ago I was on my tractor for about seven hours on my property, and this buddy of mine said yeah, you sound just like my old man. I asked him what he meant and he said oh you don't remember? He rolled the bulldozer over. I'm thinking oh my God, I am starting to get more and more like him as this goes on. And it's not planned that way, that's just what happens. We just enjoy the same things and it's like we were twin brothers that were born 30 or 20 years apart. But I'm proud of that. If you can be a lot like your childhood hero and not try to live that life, and that's the way it works out, I'm proud of that."
HIS CUP EXPERIENCE AS AN OWNER HASN'T BEEN THAT GREAT. HAVE YOU TALKED TO HIM ABOUT THAT? "No, like I said, I haven't had a chance to him yet. I'm excited to hear his perception on it. Obviously he's been involved in Indy Car racing for 50 years now, so he's been through the highs and lows of the car ownership side. Obviously I value our friendship. I'm going to value his opinion on that too and definitely listen to what he's got to say about it."
YOU'VE MADE A LOT OF BIG DECISIONS LATELY. WHO DO YOU GO TO SAY HEY, DO I DO THIS? "I've got Eddie Jarvis, who has been with me for a long time and our business manager and I spoke to my family about it before I made a decision. I spoke to some past crew chiefs that I worked for in open wheel racing that I have a lot of trust in. I asked a lot of people about it in confidence. But after we talked at Talladega, a lot of the car owners (like) Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick came up and said hey, we're here to help so if you need anything, call us. And I think that was probably what gave me the most security is knowing that this isn't a deal where as much as it's a cutthroat industry, it's not a cutthroat business. These guys all want everybody to be successful and understand that everybody's part makes it what it is. And there are friendships that we have with these other owners. Having that support is really critical."
DO THEY HELP YOU WITH A CHECKLIST TO GET THINGS DONE IN TIME FOR NEXT YEAR? "I'm not sure that we've seeked that type of agenda yet from those guys, but obviously you know and I know from owning my teams is that you have to get those key people hired. That's the first step is getting your key people hired right away and letting those people hire what they think are the key people for the rest of the organization. It's going back to what Joe Gibbs always said. You hire the right people to do the right job. You hire that team manager and that floor manager and those people that know who the right people are to get for the race team and hopefully our name attached to it and us driving the cars next year, that's hopefully my side of it and I can help attract some of these people to want to come over and work with us."
HOW MANY MORE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS OR GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP YOU'RE LOOKING FOR? "A lot of good night's sleeps for sure. But if I wasn't stressed out or I wasn't worried about it, it obviously wouldn't mean anything. So this ought to show everybody how dedicated I am to what we're doing."
WAS THE MUSIC THAT WAS PLAYED BEFORE THE PRESS CONFERENCE YOUR CALL? THERE SEEMED TO BE A MESSAGE WITH THE SONGS THAT WERE PLAYED "Actually that was all Mike Arnig's choice, so I can't say I was disappointed with what he did, though. I was pretty impressed."
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL HAVE A.J. IN THE PITS WITH YOU AT THE 2009 DAYTONA 500? "It would be cool if we could get him there. So if there is a laptop that has to be thrown I'll let him do it. Knowing that I'm paying for it, it's a little harder to pick it up and throw it. Plus, I won't be in there to do it anyway, so somebody is going to have to fill my spot (laughter)."
WHEN YOU GO TO NASCAR TO TRY TO GET CAR NUMBERS, WHAT THAT A DIFFICULT PROCESS? "Eddie Jarvis is the one who went through that process. We looked at what car numbers were available and once we decided internally what numbers we wanted to look at, Eddie went to NASCAR and worked through that process with them. But we got our first choice in the No. 4 and the No. 14. So it wasn't a situation where we didn't get the numbers we wanted. It was more making sure that we understood and knew 100% that Morgan-McClure's intentions were going to be and what they had planned. We didn't want to take their number away from them if they had intentions of coming back. That was something that was a priority for us."
WHAT'S YOUR SHORT LIST OF DRIVER CHOICES FOR THE SECOND CAR? "It's about three guys right now. You look out there, and there are not a lot of guys available to begin with that we think would fit the program. It's down to three at the most and realistically two."
HAVE YOU ASKED RYAN NEWMAN HOW HE FEELS ABOUT THE NO. 4? "I haven't asked Ryan or the other two how they feel about any car numbers right now. It's more about trying to figure out if they are going to be the right person for the organization and which one of them is really interested in us."
ARE ALL THE GUYS IN CUP NOW? "Yes. Childress is trying to start another team and Gibbs is trying to start a fourth team now, so we're kind of in the same boat as any car owners trying to get a new driver and going through that process. That's part of the sleepless nights part. You're trying to figure out what can you do to attract the guys that you want and you get down to the two or three guys, it's what you can do to get the one that you really want. If you can't get that guy, you get the guy behind him on the list of the guys behind that guy."
NASCAR'S NEW TESTING POLICY LOOKS LIKE 24 DATES PER ORGANIZATION. DO YOU PLAN TO HAVE A TEST DRIVER & TEAM? "I think a lot of the teams are going to have test drivers that will also be a part of their programs and I think that's what you have to do. That many days on top of the amount of days we're already at the race track is almost unfeasible.
"If you can get a driver in your organization that maybe runs a Nationwide car or Truck or that's been in a Cup car in the past that wants to come and do some testing that you feel would have similar feedback that you have, that would be a huge asset to the organization."
ON RICHARD PETTY REMINDING PEOPLE TO CONNECT WITH THE FANS, DO YOU THINK THAT WAS NEEDED? "Any time Richard Petty has anything to say, it's important. He's been here for 50 years and he's been through some huge changes in the sport and he's able to put it all in perspective in a way that a lot of us haven't seen and can't put into perspective. I think anytime Richard has anytime of advice or input on what's going on, it's very valuable."
-credit: gm racing