Friday practice quotes Martinsville Speedway Tony Stewart -- ...
Friday practice quotes
Tony Stewart -- #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet
HOW WAS PRACTICE TODAY? We just went out there and started in race trim, knowing that the weather might be bad tomorrow. We were laying some decent laps there and Zippy was comfortable. We didn't want to get ourselves in too much of a bind on qualifying runs, so we switched back to qualifying trim and our first run was third quick on the board. We put tires on it that we had scuffed and went to the top of the board. Got out of the car and kind of got the car on scaled to make sure where we're at and gave the tires a good opportunity to cool down like we'll have for qualifying and went back out and bumped that time up again. So, I'm really happy with the way things are going. We're just going over things right now to figure out what we've got to do for the race.
Jeff Gordon -- #24 DuPont Chevrolet
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMING INTO THIS RACE, BEING THE SPOILER FOR THE GUYS WHO ARE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT? Well, in some ways I'd love to be that. I still think that Jimmie Johnson is a big priority for us and Hendrick Motorsports. With the track, there's not a whole lot you can do to help your teammate but we want to come in here and run well and build on something for ourselves as well. And, you know, this is an important race for us. This is an opportunity for us to shine and take advantage of a track that we do run well at. We won the last race here and you know, we'd love to have something good happening for us because we certainly haven't had a lot of that happen lately. Something like that-even just a top-5 for us would be fantastic-to come out of here with.
YOU HAVE A GREAT RATE HERE JUST IN TERMS OF FINISHING THE RACES, WHICH IS VERY HARD TO DO HERE. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? Well, here you're able to maneuver your own car around here a lot different than at Talladega, Daytona or those types of race tracks. It's a short track and even different from Bristol. The speeds aren't as high. You have a little bit more than one groove here and the toughest part is keeping the fenders on the car in the pits. It's so narrow, it's so small and tight there that qualifying is important. And we have qualified very, very well here in the past. And I think that's helped our chances. And we've run up front a lot. That's certainly helped a lot, too. But, 500 laps is a long way. You've got to be real patient. The last time we were here, we were two or three laps down and we were up front the whole time trying to make up those laps. So, we weren't really caught in the back until late in the race and had already been a lot of cars that had been taken out of the race.
PIT ROAD IS VERY NARROW HERE Well, it is tricky. I've seen some intentional things happen here on pit road. Maybe you're coming around somebody and might cut the right front tire changer off a little bit too much, and the carrier-all he has to do is just bring that right front tire around and hit your fender. So, things like that, I have seen happen. Not very often. You don't have to do anything to already create an issue here because it's small. The pit boxes are just so tiny. This is one of those tracks where you're much better off giving up some positions on pit road to save your front fenders or trying not to hit or run into somebody else on there. But what I do see happening is that, as the race goes on, the attrition picks up in the first half. But in the second half, it's actually pretty clear. Surviving that first half is a big part of it.
RE: WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK AT CHARLOTTE Well, from what I understand, they're repaving the race track and I think they've learned that the levigating is not the right way to go about it. That might work at an Indianapolis or even a New Hampshire-a very flat race track. You can't do that at a high-banked race track. It's just too much abuse on the right front tire. So, I think that just repaving the race track is the fix and they're already planning on doing that.
It's going to be fast, but it's going to have a lot of grip and it's going to be fast. I don't think it's going to be as grippy as this was. And we might have tire trouble there the first race. But eventually it should go away.
IS CHARLOTTE AN EXAMPLE OF A SITUATION WHERE NASCAR NEEDS TO ESTABLISH STANDARDS FOR EACH TRACK, NOT THE TRACKS CREATING THEIR OWN STANDARDS? Absolutely. When they're either building a new race track, or redoing an existing race track, there should be certain policies that they have to live up to, whether it be information sharing-type policy (or) whatever it is, and I think that was just another perfect example of race tracks basically feeling like they can do whatever they want to do to the race track without really understanding the circumstances that can come along with that. I don't think that anybody wanted to anything dangerous-we knew that. They had every intention of doing the right thing. But, I think you get the right engineers, the right people, drivers and people from NASCAR, you're not going to see as many of those things pop us as we have been seeing.
SHOULD THEY REGULATE THE TIRE PRESSURES GOING INTO ATLANTA? Well, I think they're paying a closer eye to air pressures in general. I don't think that's a bad idea. But Atlanta is an old, worn-out race track. We don't have that issue there; the tires fall off in two laps there. At Charlotte we were going faster on our sixth or seventh lap than we were on our first or second. So, it's much different conditions. At Atlanta, we're not going to have tire issues that don't go along with normal issues: a guy running too much camber, too low air pressure. If NASCAR wants to try to regulate those things-which they currently are-great, but it doesn't matter how much you regulated it at Charlotte-it was going to happen no matter what.
IT DOESN'T FIGURE THAT THE PROBLEMS TAKING PLACE AT CHARLOTTE WILL HAPPEN ANY OTHER PLACE YOU ALL GO IN THE REST OF THE SEASON I believe so. The levigating just created so much grip and it smoothed the race track out and the track was just way too fast.
IS THIS THE SAME PROBLEM WE HAD AT CHICAGO? No. Totally different situation.
WHAT ABOUT REPAVING? WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ABOUT REPAVING THERE? There's nothing that can be said or done. He's just got to do the best job he can do to repave. It gives proper time to NASCAR and Goodyear to spend enough quality time to do tire testing there to build a tire to make sure it can withstand the temperatures, the abuse that you're going to put on the tire there. That's why I say, the first time we go there, with new surface, it's probably going to be really fast and tires are always going to be an issue when the surface is brand new. Once the surface is through that, I don't think we'll see any more issues.
DO YOU THINK A BIGGER SPOILER AND HARDER TIRES WOULD HAVE SOLVED IT AS HAS BEEN MENTIONED BY ONE CREW CHIEF? Well, that was a pretty hard tire there. If you put more downforce in the car, we're just going to continue to go faster. Can we run a harder tire and be able to not have tire trouble? Yeah, but we'll just be single file all the way around there and we won't be able to do much passing, pit strategy won't be an issue. Let's not get too far out there. It's an isolated issue with Charlotte, in my opinion. It's not an issue we have everywhere we go. Some places, some guys push the limits and get themselves in trouble. At Charlotte, it wasn't one team or one car, it was numerous cars-and that shows you there's a problem. It's something that the track and Goodyear have to focus on.
IS GOODYEAR MAYBE NOT AS PROACTIVE AS THEY HAVE BEEN? Well, definitely I feel like after Humpy did some more levigating at the race track, they should have been there. I know a lot of teams tested there. And, so that should have given them a lot of information. I felt like they brought a good tire there. The only harder tire they had was the Talladega tire and I don't know if that would have been any better. I think it was more of a track issue than a tire issue. I really do.