Loudon II: Bowyer, Stewart post-qualifying interview

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 2ND TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD: TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT; YOU GET A GOOD PIT SELECTION AND HOW WILL THAT COME INTO PLAY ON...

CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 2ND
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD:

TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT; YOU GET A GOOD PIT SELECTION AND HOW WILL THAT COME INTO PLAY ON SUNDAY?

BOWYER: "The importance of qualifying is so big. It's very hard to pass here. I'm just very proud of the guys. That was a team effort. We were off in practice there and made a couple of adjustments and the car really came to life and got us a good lap. That's the stuff you've got to do to compete with the elite crowd that we're in in this Chase. You've got to be able to pick it up when you're down and it was a good step in the right direction, there."

STEWART: "I was happy with it. We didn't really make any changes after practice. It felt pretty balanced. We ended on top of the board there and not necessarily sitting on our hands thinking that what we had was good enough, but I just didn't really know what to ask him for to go faster than what we ran. I felt like my balance was good, it was just a matter of what the track was going to do. I think there was a little driver error (laughs); I tried too hard but I didn't lose too much time and had a good run."

THERE ARE ONLY FOUR CHASE DRIVERS IN THE TOP 10 (STARTING LINE-UP). DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A LEG-UP ON EVERYBODY? IN TERMS OF THIS RACE TRACK, WHAT'S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HOW THESE CARS WILL RACE VERSUS HOW THEY QUALIFY?

BOWYER: "We've got a leg up on them for Friday (laughs). After that, they'll run you down and it will be a race. The same old guys there always is. That's why they're in the Chase. But I tell you, it keeps getting closer and closer. I think the level of competition just keeps getting tighter and tighter with each and every race. I think that's why you're starting to see guys that don't normally sit on poles, sit on poles and everything else. This is a track where it's time to go. A lot of people are making big strides at their set-ups and their chassis and it's showing.

STEWART: "I agree. It's never an indication of how the race is necessarily; it never has been so I don't know why anybody would think that now. You've been to enough races. You know this isn't the way it is."

DO YOU FEEL WITH THAT SEPARATION IN THE FIELD THAT IT COULD CREATE SOME HAVOC FOR THEM TRYING TO MAKE THEIR WAY UP? THE TOP TWO SEEDS ARE LOOKING LIKE THEY WILL HAVE TO START PRETTY DEEP IN THIS FIELDS

STEWART: "We're not reinventing the wheel, guys. It's the same thing we do every week here. This is no different than everything that everybody has done to get in the Chase. So, you're seeing the same thing that we've always seen here. There are always guys that race a lot better than they qualify and just miss it in qualifying. Its two laps to hit or miss, but you've got 300 laps to make it right for the race. Don't over think this. It's not that complicated."

BOWYER: "To answer your question, you hope so but probably not. (laughter)"

STEWART: "Right; exactly. It's always easy to start up front. It's easier the first 26 races if you start up front. That theory hasn't changed for 60-plus years in NASCAR. It's always better to start up front in any form of racing."

HOW DOES COOL, DRY WEATHER AFFECT YOUR DECISION-MAKING DURING A RACE?

STEWART: "It's much easier than cool, wet conditions (laughter). It makes me a lot happier. I don't like it when my shoes get wet.

BOWYER: "You tend to get hot when it's hot outside and it's not much fun. But they gave the track a lot of grip. That was a track record I think so it just shows you how much you pick up the race track. Once you get into racing conditions, all that goes by the wayside. You've got to be able to handle on lap 25 and not necessarily on the first lap. So it's going to change, big time, throughout the weekend."

YOU'RE NOT TRYING TO REINVENT THE WHEEL. IS THERE ANY TEMPTATION IF YOU'RE NOT RUNNING AS WELL AS YOU'D LIKE TO MAKE BIGGER CHANGES OR TAKE BIGGER SWINGS?

STEWART: "I think if you're not in the Chase, then yeah, you have the flexibility to do that. I don't think there's a huge sense in pride in being 13th in points. I might be wrong but I think guy, at this point in the season, that aren't in the Chase, are already looking toward next year. Obviously there is a reason those guy didn't make the Chase. So those guys are trying to find a chunk and trying to experiment and figure out things in these last 10 weeks that they can do to help their program for next year and hopefully give them an opportunity to be in the Chase. I don't think at this point anybody that's in the top 12 is going to do anything really radical outside the box than what they've been doing that got them here."

TONY YOU ARE ONE OF THE FEW GUYS IN THE CHASE WHO DIDN'T BRING A NEW CAR THIS WEEKEND, IS THIS THE SAME CAR YOU FINISHED SECOND WITH JUST A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, OR HAS IT EVOLVED SOME?

STEWART: "I'm sure it probably has. I didn't know about that until somebody else asked that question. Again, to me, it is whatever car is in the garage when I get here, that is the one I am driving so that is the one I am going to concentrate on. I'm not going to worry about something that is sitting at the shop or something that we are bringing here for the first time. You know, there are pros and cons to bringing new cars out. The pro to it is obviously if it is a new car, it's something that you think is better. The negative to it is that you haven't ran it so you don't know if it's not a guarantee that just because it seems better or you think it is better that it is going to be better when it gets on the race track. Some cars historically, I mean they all come out of the same jig and they are welded all the same, but sometimes you get cars that you just like better than others. That is the negative to bringing a new car to a race in the Chase like this. It doesn't affect me either way. If Darian (Grubb, crew chief) said hey, we are going to bring a new car, I trust his judgment that there is a reason we are doing it. The car that we brought only has one race on it so it is relatively new, it just has one race. We at least know what the history of this car is over that one night and how it reacted to change."

-source: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup