An interview with: Tony Stewart - 3rd KERRY THARP: We've got our second and third place finishers. Our second place finisher is Denny Hamlin. He drives the No. 11 FedEx freight Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Our third place finisher to his ...
An interview with:
Tony Stewart - 3rd
KERRY THARP: We've got our second and third place finishers. Our second place finisher is Denny Hamlin. He drives the No. 11 FedEx freight Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Our third place finisher to his right is Tony Stewart. He drives the No. 14 Old Spice Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart Haas racing.
Tony, first of all, congratulations on a nice run. We'll start with questions for Tony Stewart.
Q: Tony, when you're inside the car and you're doing so well, I assume you're getting excited. Then Ryan Newman is coming up and he's into the top 10. Do people let you know he's getting up there and is it hard to, I guess, be excited for you and Ryan as a team owner and a driver?
TONY STEWART: I honestly didn't know. I didn't know till after we took the checkered. We were getting ready to pull back on pit lane where Ryan finished. I never saw him during the day, which was good. We stayed around the top five all day. Not seeing him was a good thing, because that meant he was still on a lead lap, was still coming and gaining spots. On a caution every now and then I could see where he was at track position wise. But had no idea he had had such a strong run right there at the end to get to sixth. I was more worried about myself at the time. It's not that you weren't worried about Ryan, but you got a job to do and it takes a hundred percent of your concentration just to do that.
Q: Tony, you were talking the other day about it wasn't going to be easy to get the feel and rhythm of this place back with a new package. Are you surprised to get it back this quick or could you kind of feel it coming on all weekend?
TONY STEWART: We struggled in one part of the corner to get it to rotate right past the center. That was pretty much what we thought, I would say two thirds of the Friday practice, then that's what we thought the majority of the day today. I could see Denny, Jeff's and Jimmie's car were really good in that area. That's something that I know you got to be good at.
But, you know, to work with a different crew chief, a different package, end up like we did, you know, I felt like Darian made good calls. There were times during the race he was making changes that I questioned, but they were better and made the car work. He's really good. The thing is, he's very sure of himself. He's very sure of his decisions.
They made it hard to not watch it and focus on your line. But I was about three car lengths back to really be where I needed to be to get in the mix of it when it happened. You know, they both were a little bit better at the end of the race than we were. I'm not sure if I got ahead of them I was going to be able to hold it. But we had a solid top five car for sure.
Q: Tony, two weeks in a row we've seen the 14 and the 39 much more on the same page. Can you talk about how the teamwork is starting to gel in your shop.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, I don't know that it's really gelling. We've been like that from day one. It's just kind of figuring out, you know, Ryan's learning a new package, I'm learning a new package, and it's learning what each other wants. Every week when we make changes, we know how much it affects us percentage wise. That's things that each week as it goes on, it makes it a little easier. I think we changed like six or seven things before the race today. It's just having that confidence and knowing that from his input and his feel, my input and my feel, plus the four Hendrick cars, knowing how much we need to make those adjustments to be good. You know, it's coming. It just takes time. It's like we say every Monday in our competition meeting. We just got to build a database first. Once we get that established, then I think the second time we come around, we're going to be a little better yet.
Q: Tony, since the fall 2004, you and Denny are the only winners in a non Hendrick car to win here at Martinsville. Can you talk about the dominance that Hendrick has had here at this half mile oval?
TONY STEWART: Well, I mean, I think for quite a while it's been between the Hendrick guys and the Gibbs cars historically, over the last three or four years. That's something that, you know, I know Denny and Kyle and myself took a lot of pride in last year, was that we've all three been good here at times. You know, it's a track that obviously Denny's really good at. He's led a lot of laps here. I've led a lot of laps here. But it's hard. It's hard to get on a roll like that. Especially with two different type of cars, I mean. You know, we had to do the same thing at Gibbs, to come back and forth between these two and still be good. But, you know, when you get good at a place, it's kind of like what we talked about with Ed on Friday. When you get good at a place, you find that feel, you know how to keep it. That's what the drivers work on each week.