Martinsville II: Tony Stewart press conference

TONY STEWART, NO, 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 3rd, his fifth straight top-five finish. HOW WAS YOUR DAY TODAY? "If you came here yesterday morning and asked me how I felt we'd be today, I would have been trying to figure out...

TONY STEWART, NO, 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Finished 3rd, his fifth straight top-five finish.

HOW WAS YOUR DAY TODAY?

"If you came here yesterday morning and asked me how I felt we'd be today, I would have been trying to figure out how many laps down we were going to be. We went from the first 45-minute session to the second one yesterday, and we talked about wholesale changes. Zippy changed everything but the steering wheel and the driver's seat. They changed basically everything on that car. We went out for that second 45-minute session and the car was a ton better and today it was even better yet. I'm really proud of Zippy and Jason Shapiro, who is our brake guy. He has worked so hard on trying to get a brake package that would last 500 laps here and not fade. I never had one ounce of brake trouble today. It makes it a lot easier to go fast when you don't have to worry about that center pedal in the car."

THERE WERE A LOT OF CAUTIONS TODAY. DID YOU HAVE ANY CLOSE CALLS?

"There were a couple of them early, but for the most part, we didn't really have any dramas. We never even slid into anybody. In one of the wrecks, we had to check up and got hit from behind. For the most part, that car doesn't have a scratch on it, which is very good for here. With the way the first run went, I thought we were going to have a pretty quick day here, I didn't think we were going to have any cautions at all because it went so long right off the bat.

Normally, we'll get two or three really quick cautions early in the day and then everything smooths out. It was a typical Martinsville where you have a lot of cautions."

WINNING AT CHARLOTTE, A THIRD-PLACE HERE TODAY, THAT MUST MAKE YOU FEEL PRETTY GOOD GOING INTO ATLANTA.

"Yeah, Atlanta's always a big weekend for us with Home Depot's headquarters being down there, and Coca-Cola's headquarters being down there. It's a big weekend for us. It's where I got my first 500-mile win and I have a lot of friends down there. It's a track I like, it's a driver's track even though it's 1.5 miles and fast. It's still one of those places where tires give up, which is good, and it gives us a chance to move around on the race track and actually race each other."

HOW DRAINED ARE YOU AFTER 500 LAPS HERE? IS THIS THE TOUGHEST TRACK YOU RACE ON?

"I don't think it is. It's not really physically demanding. There's not enough banking here to put a lot of g-loads on you physically. You can mentally wear yourself out here during the day, but physically, you could run 1,000 laps here and not be worn out as long as it's not hot."

SEVERAL OF THE TOP DRIVERS STAYED OUT ON THAT CAUTION IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RACE AND THEY COMPLAINED THEY DIDN'T SEE THE FLAG. DID YOU SEE IT?

"I saw the flag. I didn't see when it came out, but I did see the flag and told them I was coming. Two or three cautions before that, we had run a lap or two before the pits would be open and that was the first time we came around that the pits were open. It caught me off guard and I'm positive it caught the top three guys off guard, but it worked out for us."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart