TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed his thoughts about getting the Chase underway, what it would meant to win a championship as a car owner, having fun...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed his thoughts about getting the Chase underway, what it would meant to win a championship as a car owner, having fun this season and much more.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING ON THE TRACK AND GETTING THE CHASE UNDERWAY? "I am excited. We had a busy week in New York with the last two days. Glad to get here to Loudon. This is a place we have always run well at. Couldn't think of a better place to actually start the Chase for us."
WHAT ADVICE COULD YOU GIVE KASEY KAHNE REGARDING THE CHANGES HE IS FACING AND HOW THAT MIGHT AFFECT HIS CAREER WITH HIS CURRENT ORGANIZATION? HAVE YOU EVER FACED A SITUATION LIKE THAT? "I did, but that was clear back when I was in my open wheel days and at that level, when you have that kind of a conflict, you just switch teams. It is not something at the level that you handle that way. There are a lot smaller organizations down at that level. I don't know, I haven't really been in that situation at this level so I don't really know what kind of advice to give him in that situation."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR TEAM IS NOT QUITE IN THE RECENT WEEKS ON THE STRIDE YOU WOULD LIKE IT TO BE? WOULD THE SAME APPLY TO THE NO. 48 TEAM? "I can't say that I have paid as much attention to the No. 48 side as I have ours. I think we got in a unique situation where it was either win it or it didn't matter that we were even there. For us, it is a situation where I don't think we kept the intensity up quite as high as we needed to. The good thing is that we have all sat and met each other this week and said 'Hey, it is game time again.' The good thing is that even though we didn't really have a stellar four weeks, we have had a break and it has given us a chance to kind of catch our breath and get ready for this last 10-week stretch whereas some guys have been fighting all the way through last week. I feel like we are ready to go."
HAVE YOU ASSESSED HOW YOUR EXPECTATIONS HAVE BEEN MET THIS YEAR WITH BOTH CARS IN THE CHASE, WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP AS A CAR OWNER? "You summed it all up except for what the championship would mean. Obviously to win a championship as a driver is a great feeling but to win it as an owner and driver adds to that. You get the sense of satisfaction knowing that you were directly responsible for helping put the package together. Even if we win it there's so many people it's not I feel like I did it, I feel like Bobby Hutchens, Darian Grubb, Tony Gibson and Ryan Newman, the entire organization did it together. That's something that I'll be proud of is to be the guy that watched all these great people come together and do something extraordinary."
DID YOU FEEL THAT YOUR FIRST YEAR OUT OF THE BOX THIS WOULD BE POSSIBLE, BOTH CARS IN THE CHASE? "We didn't really set expectations. We literally said that we were going to go one week at a time and evaluate what happened on Sunday when we sat down on Monday. Trying to figure out what we did right, what we did wrong and what we could do to make it better and see where it took us at the end of the year. I'm happy. The whole organization is ecstatic to have both of these cars in the Chase and so is Gene Haas and Joe Custer. That in itself has made it a good year so far."
EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT MARK MARTIN PHYSICALLY BUT MENTALLY HE'S HAD TO GO THROUGH LOTS OF CHANGES IN THE SPORT AND ADAPT TO THEM, HAVE YOU HAD TO DO THAT? "Sure, just like your career. You just didn't start at Sirius, you've had changes in your career. Ed Hinton has had changes, everybody has. We all go through that. You don't just start your career and it goes one nice smooth path all the way through. This is a sport where there are constant changes and its constantly evolving and you learn to adapt with those changes so to speak."
YESTERDAY IN THE FAN SESSION AT THE HARD ROCK YOU SAID THIS WHOLE SEASON WAS GOING TO BE ABOUT HAVING FUN, HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT? "I've always liked the people that I've worked with. I still get along great with the guys at Gibbs that I worked with last year. But I'm having fun with the guys I'm working with this year and I think our attitude has just been different verses the pure results of this sport. We said we're keeping this simple, we're taking a step back and we're going to have fun with it and we feel like that's been part of the key to our success this year. We have fun at the race track. We joke around. We have a good time. We make sure that we're having fun doing what we're doing because if you're not you can make yourself miserable doing this just like you can in anything else you do in life. We just simplified it and made it fun. Ryan (Newman) is having a good time, I'm having a good time because of that our entire teams and organization are having fun too."
DO YOU FEEL MOMENTUM, DOES IT MATTER WHEN YOU GET TO THIS PARTICULAR PLACE? "Absolutely, but I don't think we feel a sense of urgency that we got off track and we're scrambling to try to find it. We pretty much knew those four weeks were just odd weeks and the good thing is we haven't had them during the season. We almost looked at each of those bad days as man we're glad we had them now to get them out of the way before the Chase starts. We do believe in momentum and having that good set of runs but some of those circumstances were in our control that we messed up but we had cars that were fast. If we had cars that we were struggling with we'd be that much more concerned."
DO YOU SEE THE INTENSITY LEVEL STEP UP THIS WEEK FOR THE START OF THE CHASE? "I don't think so. I think everybody does the same thing that got them here. If you say we're amping it up this week its means for the first 26 weeks we were all just cruising around here and weren't working hard. I'm pretty sure that everybody was amped up as they could be for the first 26 weeks and it will stay that way for the last 10."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO BE A LITTLE MORE INSULATED TO FOCUS ON THE CHASE AS OPPOSED TO THE EVERY DAY OWNERSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES? "No, not at all. I don't think so. We seem to do all right doing what we've been doing up to this point. Why would you change that now? When the formula has been working, you don't change it. That's how people get themselves off track. They get off of what got them to that point. No, we're not changing anything with it. What we've been doing we're sticking with and my responsibilities during the week stay the same."
IS THERE ANYTHING AT THIS POINT OF THE SEASON THAT YOU'VE LEARNED THAT IS PART OF THAT ONGOING PROCESS THAT YOU DIDN'T SEE EARLY IN THE SEASON? "I've been asked the same question about 4,000 times that's about the one thing that's been the most noticeable thing. There's about four questions that circulate every week when we come in here that are phrased a little different but every week end up being the same. That's the only thing that I've noticed of being a constant this year as an owner and driver."
JIMMIE JOHNSON WAS TALKING ABOUT HOW LONG IT TOOK HIM TO EMBRACE THIS CHASE, WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE NEWS CAME THAT THEY WERE CHANGING THE FORMAT ON HOW TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "It didn't matter. The thing is NASCAR has always done a good job of taking a step back and looking at what can we do to make it better for our fans. The whole concept of the Chase was to do that. I was a little confused by it until I understood exactly how they were doing it but once they made that decision it was like okay it really doesn't matter what we think about it, this is what it's going to be and this is how you've got to start thinking about how to make it work for you now. I think once we all went through the first year of it we realized that it was a good idea."
DO YOU THINK THAT MANY MORE PEOPLE HAVE EMBRACED IT NOW AND IS THERE ANYTHING IN YOUR OPINION THAT CAN MAKE IT BETTER? "I think you've got to ask everybody else whether they think it's better. I think it's better but I'm one vote of the deal. I don't know. I think they've done a good job of rewarding drivers for their wins and giving those guys the bonus points going into the Chase. I think the Chase format is pretty good the way it is. I'm sure there is constant ways of trying to make it better but that's not what my focus is on. My focus is on how to win the Chase. My job is not the sanctioning body to try to figure that out. That's where you need to go to NASCAR and ask those guys if they have ideas to make it better verses asking the drivers if we have ideas."
WAS JUST WONDERING WHAT YOUR IDEA WAS. "My idea is I don't have an idea. My idea is trying to figure out how to win it. I know that's odd to think about isn't it."
-credit: gm racing