Continued from part 1 RICK MEARS USED TO TALK ABOUT GOING SLOW ENOUGH TO WIN. HOW HARD IT THAT FOR A RACE CAR DRIVER? STEWART: "I think what Rick talked about was just not abusing your car and not going 100 percent every lap. In Indy Cars...
Continued from part 1
RICK MEARS USED TO TALK ABOUT GOING SLOW ENOUGH TO WIN. HOW HARD IT THAT FOR A RACE CAR DRIVER?
STEWART: "I think what Rick talked about was just not abusing your car and not going 100 percent every lap. In Indy Cars it was a lot different. Once you got a comfortable lead, you'd turn the fuel down and then you just ran nice smooth laps. You didn't take any chances. But at this level, there are so many good cars and teams that are so competitive, you don't normally have an opportunity to do that. You can't get in a position where you can take it easy. Jimmie (Johnson) was the only guy all day who could take it easy when he got to the lead there at the end - especially when it comes to fuel mileage.
"If we were by ourselves and not pressured from behind, it would have been a lot easier to do it and do it efficiently. But when you've got guys behind you, it's hard to not get in that throttle and get off of it earlier and go in it slower and later to try to save fuel. So you're still trying to run fast enough to keep the guys behind you. So it's kind of the same type of theory but they work against each other. So you run just hard enough to stay in front of those guys and not give them the opportunity to get by."
YOU'VE COMPETED IN MANY TYPES OF CARS. DID YOU EVER COMPETE IN A SOAPBOX DERBY?
STEWART: "Not as a youngster, no. When Home Depot sponsored a soapbox derby two or three years ago, I got a chance to run in the oil can races. So they're not the neat, sleek cars that the kids get to drive, we get to run in ones that look like you built them about 10 minutes before we got there. And the last time we were there, Nemechek cheated and beat me. Somebody pushed him off the starting line (laughs) versus just coasting off. I did win one there, so. So I'm batting 500 there in soapbox derby races as an adult."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO NOT REALLY HAVE CONTROL THE LAST LAP WHEN YOU JUST COASTED ACROSS THE FINISH LINE?
STEWART: "I don't know, I guess my job was for the most part, over at that point. So there was some sort of relief there that I finished my day (laughter). But honestly, I wasn't on the radio asking who was coming up. I just concentrated on just rolling around the race track and not doing anything to slow the car down and then trying to get down far enough that I was out of everybody's way. So it wasn't that big a deal as I thought it would be, I guess (laughs). I just did what I needed to when we came off of Turn 2 when we ran out of fuel pressure and the motor started to die, I just kicked it out of gear and coasted around there and I figured when I got to the start/finish line I'd know where we finished. I was just sitting there and being patient. I wasn't the fastest lap of the race by far for us, so it really wasn't very dramatic."
ON HIS TRIP TO KNOXVILLE LAST NIGHT
STEWART: "It's been a pretty neat 26-hour period for me. I'm sure Zippy was more nervous about than I was. But we were up at 7:30 in the morning and in the first Cup practice session at 8:30 and finished up at 10:50. We had Busch qualifying and I got a small break to eat lunch. We ran the Busch race and finished fourth there. After the interviews, we went straight to the bus and got a shower and grabbed my uniform and went straight to the helipad and flew to the airport and got in the plane and flew to Knoxville and got to the track and walked across the race track while cars were packing the track in. So we got there in time. We had a 100 green-flag lap Late Model race late last night and got done at 11 o'clock. Then we went to the Media Center and did the interviews there and by the time we got back here it was 1:30 and I pretty much was like a walking zombie by the time I walked in the bus at 1:30am."
ON WINNING A CHASE RACE NOT BEING IN THE CHASE:
STEWART: "It is all good. I get paid whatever first paid today whether I am in the Chase or not. You didn't lose anything whether you were in the Chase or not. If you aren't in the Chase, the only thing you can do is go out and win races, so today we accomplished our goal."
ON WORRYING ABOUT NO ONE NOTICING HIM SLOWING DOWN ON LAST LAP WHEN RAN OUT OF FUEL AND HITTING HIM, CAUSING A WRECK:
STEWART: "I was all by myself so I was really lucky from that standpoint. There wasn't anybody around me. If there had been someone around me, I would have given them room. Actually had a battery problem earlier (turns to Zipadelli and says 'Which I forgot to tell you about') - we actually had a battery go dead on the lap when Carl Edwards and I both went to the bottom. He was trying to get by me on the inside and I was trying to get out of his way. I got the battery clicked over and went to the bottom and didn't even realize he was there. I think I put him in a bad position because I think he was underneath me and I kept coming to the bottom, and didn't realize it until the spotter told me. But basically, I had to switch over to the second battery and I was trying to get out of his way for that reason so I didn't get run over. But when it happened (ran out of fuel), there wasn't anybody behind me and there was no pressure from behind so I had the luxury of getting it out of gear first then get down so the guys could get around me on the outside."
ON RATING TODAY'S WIN COMPARED TO OTHER WINS IN CAREER:
STEWART: "I can't say that it ranks really high, but you are still happy that you won. Any time you can win in this series, it is gratifying. I don't want to downplay this win; a win is a win. Wins where I have had to really get up on the wheel or had to come from behind, those are obviously more gratifying than those that you outsmarted them or had to take a gamble and it paid off. It was a roll of the dice today and we had a little bit of luck on our side too. I can't say that it is in the top-five wins of my career, but trust me, I am not going to turn this down by any means."
ON MEASURING FUEL TO KNOW EXACT DISTANCE:
ZIPPY: "We use scales, we weigh everything, which is way more accurate than a float or a fuel gauge. We have been doing it forever and you just get used to it (BANTER BY STEWART - "Don't let him fool you, he just guesses) ZIPPY - "Well, there is a little of that going on too."
ON EXCITED CONVERSATION ON THE RADIO DURING LAST LAP:
ZIPPY: "I saw him on the big screen start slowing down going in to turn three, I knew. It was quite obvious what was happening, he didn't have to say anything. I was trying to figure out at that time, how much time we had given up on that last lap I was preaching at him to just slow down, hoping the guys behind us were doing the same thing. They were because they were in the same position we were in. For us to run out of gas, coast through the corner and come across first was amazing.
Everybody else was in the same situation. But like Tony said, to me it is so exciting to win, no matter what. Nextel Cup racing has gotten so competitive, that you work all day to put yourself in position to win a race. That is by being in the top-five; having good pit stops; and bolt on a good set of tires. Nothing against Goodyear, but you could lead all day and all of a sudden you are second or third on a set of tires because that is how close this is and how much those little things mean. You work all day to put yourself in position to win and that is what we did today. We kept ourselves in the top-five, we did everything we could do and it went our way. "
ON STRATEGY BEING ANY DIFFERENT FROM PAST FIVE RACES AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY:
STEWART: "Honestly, the strategy wasn't any different. We set down after the end of happy hour and went over the changes we made. Zippy is really good about after practice is over to dissect the information, the changes and my comments to know what changes are going to be good for race day and which ones aren't. I never doubt that going in to a race. He mentioned that he had tightened up the car a little bit and that is what happened, the car was a little too tight at the beginning of the race. He had it adjustable enough and that is the biggest thing from Zippy's side for his strategy is to make sure he has a car that is adjustable enough. That way if it is tight or it is loose, you can do something to correct the problem. From my side, my strategy probably changed a little bit after running the Busch race yesterday. Normally, I am like a catfish, sucking on that white line and running around all day on the bottom-pretty much committed to it. But yesterday, we worked on not being that committed to the bottom in practice and then in the Busch race, I ran a bunch of laps on the top of the race track, so at least I knew there was something there. Today I think we were the second of third car that started moving up. Having the run yesterday helped me to have the knowledge, the laps and the experience to do that today in the Cup car."
ON TONY NOT KNOWNING ALL THE TWISTS AND TURNS THE RACE TOOK IN THE LAST 1O LAPS:
STEWART: "No, I didn't know and honestly, I don't need to know all of that. All I need to know is what is going on with my car. Once we committed to doing what we were doing, that was the end of what the pit strategy might be for everybody else. Once we made that commitment and once we started slowing down to save fuel, at that point we were committed to doing what we were doing.
From Zippy's standpoint, he was much too busy paying attention to the stopwatch and our lap times to tell me what was going on. I am sure when we walk back to the transporter after this, I will ask him and he will tell me what all happened with everybody out there. During the race, when you have to watch the stopwatch and slow yourself down like that, it is hard to focus on anything else but that."
ON RACING IN THE BUSCH SERIES IN MONTREAL NEXT SEASON:
STEWART: "I am going to be in Pocono, I know that. I think it would be great. I ran a race up there about four years ago absolutely had a blast. The Canadian fans were unbelievable, so good to us and so appreciative that we came up on one of our off weekends to run up there. Even the drivers were so appreciative. We had a function a couple of nights before the race where we got to go to a go kart track with them and hang out with them and get to know them and had an absolute blast with them. I am excited that NASCAR is finally going to Canada, I think it is something that is long overdue and I know the fans are going to be excited about it. I am really happy that Canada is finally getting a race."
-credit: gm racing