New Hampshire Motor Speedway June 27, 2010 An Interview With: TONY STEWART - 2nd place finisher KURT BUSCH - 3rd place finisher THE MODERATOR: We are joined in the infield media center by our third-place finisher, driver of the No. 2 Miller...
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
June 27, 2010
An Interview With:
TONY STEWART - 2nd place finisher
KURT BUSCH - 3rd place finisher
THE MODERATOR: We are joined in the infield media center by our third-place finisher, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, Kurt Busch. Kurt, tell us about your run.
KURT BUSCH: It was really a great day for us. All in all we battled hard to get where we ended up. To finish third with where we were with 60 laps to go was definitely an overachievement.
Just comes back to where I think with our short run speed we were able to hang in there and put up a good battle. We just didn't have overall speed throughout the day. We saw some guys get out there and stretch the lead, like Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton, the 48. They came up battling through the pack and he was checking out for a while. But for us, to take a fifth to tenth place card and throw it into third place at the end, even giving it a shot to win; that was a great feeling to know that, hey, we can battle these guys and we just came up a bit short.
All in all where we were today and Saturday, we just couldn't quite make the car any better through adjustments. It was just the only speed that we had, and so, hey, if it works out to a third-place finish, we'll take it. It was a great battle at the end and for us to -- we just have to make the car a little better during the race to hold the guys off when we do get in lead position.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by today's second place finisher, driver of the number 14 Old Spice Office Depot Chevy, Tony Stewart. Tony, tell us about your run.
TONY STEWART: It was a long day. We started 25th and got in the Top-10 there on the first run and then we came into pit, we didn't get the fuel in the car. So it put us I don't know, 30-some-odd laps down on fuel window.
So the next two runs go green all the way, so made us have to short pit there and then, you know, we had to stay on old tires there. It helped us at the beginning but it would cancel out because the pit sequence would cycle around. The bad part is when you go early like that, you're having to catch all of these lap cars and catch cars that are slower than you and you just burn your tires off getting through there to makeup some of the time that you're losing because you're a lap down.
Just fought all day and we got to our last fuel window stop there and had to pit I think a lap or two laps I think before Kasey blew up in that post lap down and catch the wave and start at the back and worked our way up.
Q: Kurt, when you kind of pushed the 48 out of the way, do you know that if he got that close to you that he was going to do the same?
KURT BUSCH: Well, I thought it was a great short track battle. It wasn't because he did something that I had to do something, or since I did something, he had to do it back. Driving down into turn three, I saw my window, and it was a perfect time to go for it, because our car was good on the short run, and once four or five laps got on the tires, I knew we were going to have a hard time holding them off and he was still going to be right there. So just a classic, get in the corner a little bit deeper than the guy. We didn't just flat-out wreck them. We didn't cut his tire. We didn't drive over him. It was just a nice nudge that we are all used to seeing and appreciating on short tracks.
Q: A lot of people going into the race predicted paybacks and more action and guys racing rough and it didn't turn out like that. If either of you could characterize the race and how the racing was out there.
KURT BUSCH: You know it was a surprising race with all of the green flag runs. Tony was caught on a different sequence all day and didn't really race hard for position.
For us, we were just sliding back a little bit. We didn't quite have the offense as far as the speed went. So we were just riding. We were a good fifth to tenth place car, and on the short run, we could gain some spots. And so I felt like that was our opportunity to make some passes, but really, it was a nice event that had its long green runs and then had its action at the end.
Q: You were mentioning how you were over achieving there at the end. Did you feel like nudging Jimmie on the restart, especially the way the field was bunched up? Was your only chance to get by him knowing what your speed was, and looking forward, was it important to send a message there and let him know, hey, you're not going to win the races going away?
KURT BUSCH: The thought was ten points winning would look a lot better stacked in our deck than his chip count, that was the original thought. Driving into turn three, I had all intentions of passing him on the inside and trying to cut underneath him at the apex. I just got into him a little bit in the left rear and nudged him up and we were able to squeak on by. Your motive is always to pass a guy clean and you always want to make sure that when you do pass him that he's not completely upset with you and then we'll go and race again if he's going to come back and try to pass me at the end, and he did, he did great.
Q: Were you a bit surprised that the leader didn't go into the pit there to give you the opportunity to go and see if you could get in the front the lead?
KURT BUSCH: Man, it's tough being a leader, and trying to decide if you need two tires or if you need to stay out. Jeff Burton's situation, his car looked good on those long green runs and he probably wasn't happy to see the yellow. Everybody pits, he doesn't; he's a sitting duck.
Our opportunity was we can't win the race with old tires, let's put on two at least and go for it, and so that's what helped our day.
Q: You talked a few weeks back about being in a twilight zone trying to find something with the team; is it a sign things are going in the right direction and what's expected anyway?
TONY STEWART: I think we hope it's a good sign. It's always been a good track to us but last year we had decent runs and we didn't have the run like we had today. So I'm hoping it's a sign that things are turning around a little bit and that we are for sure, we went and did a test to get ready for this race and we think -- I can definitely attribute today to that test.
So I just appreciate everybody's work at Stewart Haas. Nobody has quit on the deal. We have all just dug deeper and, you know, it's hard when you're down like that. It's hard to keep motivated and keep everybody pumped up, and we all kind of have to pat each other on the back and keep each other pumped up. I'm as guilty of it as anybody, but I'm really proud. We go back to the shop tomorrow, I'm going to make sure I'm going to take the time to thank everybody.
Q: Not doing the testing on tracks -- are you starting to change your idea or do you feel like you have to do something?
TONY STEWART: Well, I think when you're behind like we've been, you've got to just go do something. You've got to try, at least and try to find something. It doesn't necessarily mean it's going to pertain to what you do here or anywhere else but you have to at least try and see if you can find something, a characteristic or feel that you like. When you struggle as bad as we have this year, it definitely wasn't going to hurt to go do something like that.
Q: Mark Martin said on Friday that racing has really changed in the last few years as far as lack of respect and lack of being able to trust other drivers out there as much as you used to be able to and trust them to race you the way you race them, and today, really, the closing laps showed the ultimate respect between drivers. Do you think what Mark said is true or it's just the nature of the beast?
KURT BUSCH: Don't look at me.
TONY STEWART: You've already talked to Mark. So I don't know that I need to add anything.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, Mark is correct. It's tough because Mark is a very well-respected guy in the garage and when he speaks, it goes a long way, and we all listen. At the end of this race we saw champion drivers running up front and rubbing each other and bringing it on home.
Jeff is a champion driver, and he had a bad day at Sonoma. Things happen. But when Jeff Burton talked about guys have lost respect for each other and that you have to use your brake pedal or, it's tough because we have double-file restarts all the time and checkered flags now. We had a tenth place car and finished third today, you hope that you can gain spots at the end; everybody thinks that they can gain spots.
I think my little brother finished 11th today. He had a top-three car. At the end it's not every man for himself, you're trying to race hard and smart, but ultimately you want to bring it on home for your team but you don't want to upset other drivers while you're doing it.
Q: For either one of you, talk about what happened on the last lap between the two of you.
TONY STEWART: Oh, that was my fault 100%. We both dove off into one and we both went as deep as we knew we could make it in there, and it's my responsibility as the driver on the inside to keep control of my car, and I lost it, and luckily, the good news is I'm hitting flat and it didn't knock him out or spin him out or anything like that but it was definitely 100% my fault for losing control of my car.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, and it's part of the deal where I had a fifth to tenth place car and I'm running second. It's not that I didn't deserve to be running there, but my lap time wasn't as competitive as it needed to be. So when you're in that position, you have to know that something is going to come and you've got to be ready for it. I think it's fun. It shouldn't be anything exciting about you that's different.
Q: Other than you take away the Sonoma incident, you were essentially, this would have been a fifth straight Top-10 for you, do you feel like your team is where it needs to be, or, even with these Top-10s, still most part, losing some bonus points to Johnson and Hamlin and there's still more you need to do?
KURT BUSCH: We are in the mix but there's guys that are stronger than us. I'm not going to say that we have it all sorted out. There's some areas of our team that I can rate as a B+ instead of an A. Once we correct some of these, whether it's just pit calls during the race or trying to make the car faster or whether it's a little bit in the motor department, you look at all areas and try to make it better.
The 48 is strong. I was hoping to beat them today with some raw short-track racing. He beat us with raw speed. We just need a little bit more of that down the stretch run here, and stay away from those bad days. You finish 32nd one week, you finish third the next week, that's 35 divided by two, what's that, 17 and a half; that's our average finish the last two races. That doesn't get it done in the Chase.
Q: I know you felt like you walked into that finish at Pocono a little bit, but do you feel like that was a momentum-builder? I know you talked about the test, too, but after that seems like you flipped on the light switch and have been taking it up another level since. How much does luck push forward and help add to the momentum of the team?
TONY STEWART: Today is over and we have to start tomorrow for next week. Everybody talks about momentum and it's a theory, I guess, in all reality. Still doesn't matter what we did today or last week or two weeks ago when it comes time next Friday to go on the racetrack, we have got to do our job and do it right. Just seems like if you start doing things right, I mean, we just never got track position at Pocono, and that's the part where I didn't run up there all day but we had a fast car when we did get up there. It's just a situation where you have to go out and keep working each week and trying to make your stuff better and better.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time. Congratulations.