Tony Stewart - Infineon Friday Media Visit

By Team Chevy

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the manner in which drivers are racing each other now, road racing at Infineon, two-car drafting style at Daytona next week, and more.

REGARDING PRACTICE, YOU GUYS DIDN’T SEEM TO BE THAT FAST EARLY, BUT THEN YOU JUMPED UP LATE. WERE YOU JUST KNOCKING THE RUST OFF OR DID YOU COME IN AND MAKE CHANGES? “We’re just trying to get the car better. We just can’t seem to get it happy right now, but it’s not wanting to do what we need it to do.”

Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR PLACE THAT IT’S NOT DOING IT? “No, the bad thing is it’s all the way around the race track. So it’s not one particular area that we’re fighting right now. We’re just struggling all the way.”

YOU DIDN’T COME FROM A ROAD RACING BACKGROUND, YET YOU ARE CONSIDERED ONE OF THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED DRIVERS ON THESE COURSES. DID YOU HAVE TO LEARN OR ARE YOU JUST NATURALLY GOOD? “I had some road racing background but it was just in Go Karts. The series we were running in Go-Karts was tough. We were racing against good kids and we learned a lot there, but I never really got a chance to do it outside of it. But it’s like the stuff I learned in the Go Kart never went away, it was just learning how to shift with it and that was the variable that I wasn’t used to. But it didn’t take very long when we figured out the shifting part.”

ON BEATING AND BANGING AT INFINEON, IS THERE ANY EXPLANATION FOR THAT? “Yeah, because everybody would just knock each other out of the way on the last couple of laps. So I can promise you there will be a lot of guys that will just crash each other just because they think they can. I’ll bet anything I’ve got in my pocket that in the last two or three laps, somebody dumps somebody just doing something stupid. So there’s no doubt in my mind that’ll happen.”

DO YOU HAVE TO USE A SHORT TRACK MENTALITY? “You almost have to play defense because you know somebody is going to wreck somebody and you just hope that you’re not in a spot when they do it that you get crashed up in it too. It’s gonna happen; there’s no doubt about it. It’s just trying to make sure you’re not in that spot where you’re the guy that’s going to get dumped for no reason.”

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THAT? “No, it’s gotten worse. It’s getting worse every year. Every time we come here, guys are getting worse about it. They put themselves in holes that puts everybody else in bad positions and just wreck each other for no reason.”

WHY? “I don’t know. When you find that answer will you come and tell me because I’m curious the same way you are.”

YOU MENTIONED SOMETHING LIKE THAT AFTER MICHIGAN LAST WEEK TOO ‘It sure seems like it. It went from a give-and-take attitude and approach with drivers to just take, take, take now. So, we’ll learn with it if that’s the way it’s going to be. We’ll adapt to it. But it was a lot more fun when drivers respected each other and worked with other.”

BECAUSE OF THE LOWER SPEEDS, YOU DON’T GET AS MUCH AIR IN THE CAR. HOW DOES THE HEAT AFFECT YOU IN THE CAR? “It doesn’t. If you guys get out of the media center and away from the buffet table once in a while and actually come out here, you’ll learn what it’s like to be in the heat and you get used to it.”

WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT THE DAYTONA 500 THAT YOU CAN USE NEXT WEEK AT THE NIGHT RACE IN DAYTONA? “Well, you just know you’re going to be partnered-up all day. I think it’s a bigger challenge for the crew chiefs going into next week, trying to figure out how to keep the cars cool and try to keep from the swapping down to a minimum and try to figure out how you can stay in line longer without having to do that exchange.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE TWO-CAR-STYLE DRAFTING? “The same thing I did in Daytona when we were there in the spring and the same thing I said in Talladega.”

ON SHR FRONT MECHANIC, CAM STRADER, WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT HIM THAT OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW? “He’s a lot of fun on the team. It’s good because we have somebody that’s been a driver and won a championship (NASCAR Goody's Dash Series 2001) that understands what I’m talking about when I get out of the car. He gets it. He gets everything that we do. He understands why we do it. He’s a lot of fun. He’s one of those guys that it really doesn’t matter how the day is going; he’s going to have something sharp and witty that’s going to make you laugh, even if you’re having a bad day.”

DOES HE HAVE ANY QUIRKS? DOES HE DO ANYTHING UNUSUAL? “Yeah, but it’s something we can’t talk about. Everybody’s got quirks (laughs).”

ON HIRING A NEW COMPETITION DIRECTOR: “We haven’t got anywhere yet. We are still looking at our options.”

IS THAT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO GET DONE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE? “It would be nice to have that person in that position. We definitely want to get that role filled. At the same time we want to make sure just like we did when we hired Bobby (Hutchens), we want to make sure we’re hiring the right person so we’ll take our time on it.”

IS THE LACK OF RESPECT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT LIKE PEOPLE PUTTING EACH OTHER IN BAD POSITIONS? “There are guys out there that are really good at give and take. We followed David Reutimann for four straight laps at the beginning of the race (at Michigan last week) and it was obvious we were faster than him but I guess second must have paid something. It must have paid something for the first 10 laps if you were running in the top two. It’s just little things like that that people used to work with each other and know that it was a 400 or 500-mile race. People don’t use their heads, its either they don’t use their heads or they just don’t care anymore and that’s the part that is kind of disappointing. The series was a lot of fun working with world-class drivers that respected each other. When guys are doing that it shows they don’t have respect for each other anymore and it’s a shame.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , David Reutimann
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing
Tags chevrolet, sonoma, stewart-haas racing