TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed the new tire, pulling into pit boxes at different tracks, rituals on race day and more. Full transcript. HOW IS THE...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed the new tire, pulling into pit boxes at different tracks, rituals on race day and more. Full transcript.
HOW IS THE NEW TIRE WORKING ON THE CAR? "I think good so far. The big thing is we are not hardly seeing any wear which is really nice right now. Obviously we'll have a better idea tomorrow when we run but I think they've done a good job so far."
A LITTLE MORE GRIP? "Yeah, we definitely got more grip. I mean it doesn't feel like you got to, you know last year and two years ago in particular, you felt like you had to go out and run two or three times before you really got the grip in the tire. This one, it feels like as soon as you go out you've got grip. The second run seems to be better but it doesn't feel like you've got to hold your breath so it's really nice."
ON HOW HE'S RUN SO FAR AT VEGAS: "I'm excited about it. We went out and our first run we were in race trim and we were fifth on the board at the time when I came in so that's at least a decent start. We'll just keep working at it here and see where we end up but I feel like we've got something really good to work with so far."
CAN YOU EVALUATE WHERE YOU ARE AT ONLY TWO RACES IN? "No. We're two races into it. We're going to have to wait until half way through the season before we can sit there and really evaluate anything. It's just going to take a while. You can't do it off two races already and with one being a restrictor-plate race and the second one being California."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT PULLING INTO YOUR PIT BOX AND HOW MUCH TIME CAN BE SAVED THERE? "I don't know that you do anything different. You pretty much do it the same way every time. The only thing that's different and how you change it depends on how much grip pit road has. Like Daytona is always easy to slide through your pit box. There's some other tracks that are easy to go through there. California is a relatively easy one. They have big boxes and a lot of grip. It just depends on how much grip each of them has as to how much you've got to be easy on the brakes or how hard you've got to charge the box."
HOW ABOUT HERE? "I haven't even pulled into one yet today."
DESPITE THE ADDED RESPONSIBILITY YOU HAVE WITH BEING A TEAM OWNER, YOU SEEM A LOT MORE RELAXED WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF HAPPIER? "Everybody is wanting to reinvent the wheel and theorize on that so let me get through half of the season and I'll tell you whether I'm happy or not. Everything has been nice and smooth and everything has been good so far.
"I haven't had any complaints about anything that we've went through. Like I said at Daytona I was really proud with how the guys handled all the crisis situations we had. We've only had one race since then so relax on the theorizing guys. Give me about four months and we will go over this again. Then we'll have some real logical answers that make sense for you."
AT DAYTONA YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO BE AN OWNER UNTIL THURSDAY THEN YOU WOULD BE A DRIVER, WERE YOU ABLE TO DO THAT? "Yep, I did exactly what I said I was going to do."
NOT EVEN DURING PRACTICE WITH ALL THE CARS? "No, I was the driver all weekend."
DO YOU DO ANYTHING BIZARRE OR SUPERSTITIOUS OR HAVE A RITUAL ON THE DAY OF THE RACE? "Not really."
DO YOU PUT YOUR SHOES ON THE SAME WAY? "Yeah, but I do that every time. You just kind of get in the habit. I think the way everybody gets dressed in the morning, they always get dressed the same way it seems like. It's kind of the same thing we do when we get to the race track. We kind of go through the motions and when it comes time to get dressed and go out you just kind of go through the same steps every week because you do it 38 weeks a year."
HAVE YOU HAD ANY TIME TO ENJOY ANY POKER? "No, I haven't played any poker. We've had our dirt track teams out here the last two nights which was pretty cool. Donny Schatz won last night at the World of Outlaws race with our Chevy cars so really happy for Armor All and Chevy last night."
KYLE BUSCH SAID TODAY THAT HE WOULDN'T BE OPPOSED ONE DAY AFTER HE GOT A CHAMPIONSHIP GOING AND TRYING F1 OR TAKING A SHOT AT IT. HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT THAT? "When I got a stock car team I pretty much eliminated wanting to do anything outside of NASCAR for quite a while. When you start becoming an owner in a NASCAR team you kind of have to pay attention to that. Being a Formula One driver doesn't really make a lot of sense when you've decided to be a Cup owner."
DO YOU UNDERSTAND MAYBE HIM (KYLE BUSCH) DOING THAT? "I'm not him. You've got to ask Kyle about that. If Kyle wants to do that, that's great. I'm convinced that Kyle can get into anything and be good in it. If that's what he chooses to do then great. I think he would be successful in anything he got in. Right now I'm worried about two race cars and that's it."
DESCRIBE HOW DAYTONA CAN KIND OF BUILD CONFIDENCE AND WHAT NOT. LAST YEAR MATT KENSETH AND JEFF GORDON DON'T WIN AND ALL OF US ARE LIKE THEY'RE DONE. "That just shows how smart you guys are some times. You've got to remember that none of us forget how to drive. When any of the drivers get into a slump it's not because they forgot how they drive, it's not because they lost it, there's something in the equation that's missing. I can about promise you that nine times out of ten it's not the driver that forgot it's just there's something in the package that isn't making them comfortable in the car. It's the matter of the crew chief and the engineers finding what that driver wants and then once you find it again and get that confidence back then you can go out and have two races like Matt's had."
HOW FINE IS THAT LINE? "Well I don't know that it's a fine line. I mean either you're comfortable or you're not. Nothing is happening this year that hasn't happened for 100 years in racing. It's always the same old thing over and over. I mean everybody wants to reinvent the wheel here and there's nothing magical or mysterious going on here. Everybody is going out every week and we're working with technology but still at the end of the day you've got a driver that's driving the car. No matter how fast the computer says that car is going to be if that driver is not comfortable driving it then they're not going to go fast. So you've got to tune these cars to the drivers and their feels and that's what makes them go fast."
DON'T DRIVERS AT SOME POINT HAVE A DECLINE IN THEIR ABILITY? "The reality of it is that eventually that happens but not at the age of the Jeff Gordon or Matt Kenseth last year. You don't take guys that have won championships within the last five years and say they all of a sudden lost it. It doesn't happen that fast. You get older in your career and their priorities change and their desire changes and that's when you start losing that edge but not to guys like Jeff and Matt right now."
WHEN YOU HEAR ABOUT PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT DRIVER'S ABILITIES DECLINING WHAT IS IT, THE HAND-EYE COORDINATION OR CONCENTRATION? "I haven't got there yet so I'm not 100 percent sure I hope. I think some of it is just their desire. I think after you do something for so long you start losing that drive to be the best and to do whatever it takes every week. I think there's still guys that get to the age where they still have that desire in their mindset but like you said either their hand-eye coordination changes a little bit and there's parts that get them off of their game."
SO YOU DON'T GAMBLE? "I do gamble. I started running race teams. (laughter)"
-credit: gm racing