Phoenix II: Stewart - Friday media visit

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed Chevrolet's return to IndyCar in 2012, wrapping up the season, going to Australia during the off-season, and more. YOU GAVE RICKY STENHOUSE A RIDE IN USAC, WHAT...

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed Chevrolet's return to IndyCar in 2012, wrapping up the season, going to Australia during the off-season, and more.

YOU GAVE RICKY STENHOUSE A RIDE IN USAC, WHAT DID YOU SEE IN HIM? "He was fast. He was young and he was fearless and knew how to stand on the gas so you know everybody at our shop enjoyed having Ricky and it cost us a lot of man hours for the things he tore up but there was no doubt every time he went on the race track he was giving 110%."

BIG NEWS TODAY ABOUT CHEVROLET COMING BACK TO THE INDYCAR SERIES. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? "I am excited about it. I think it's something that................this Honda program they had over there was a joke anyway. I mean the way that they did it and the way the guys were limited on practice time........it was just a fiasco. So thank God we finally have an American-made engine back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

DOES THAT INCREASE THE ODDS THAT WE WILL SEE YOU IN AN INDYCAR OR AS A TEAM OWNER? "No. No, no, no and no. I don't have any extra time to do any of that right now."

HOW ABOUT MOVING ONE OF YOUR KIDS UP FROM THE OPEN WHEEL SERIES? "USAC has a great program where the national champion is going to get a chance to run in the Indy Lights Series. I think that is definitely going to be a good step."

HOW MUCH OF A SHOT IN THE ARM DO YOU THINK IT IS FOR THE SERIES OVERALL? "Well, I am not in the middle of it. You have to remember that I have been totally removed from it for nine years now, so I haven't been very close to it, I mean it's something I have been passionate about but I haven't been close enough to know to be honest with you."

HOW WERE YOU HERE TODAY? "I think we ended up fourth or fifth so I think we are pretty decent and we were happy with it in both race and qualifying trim."

IS IT DIFFICULT WHEN YOU ARE NOT IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE TO KEEP YOUR FOCUS TILL THE END OF THE YEAR? "Yeah, because all everybody wants to do is talk about the guys that are in it and all we want to do is worry about the stuff that we are doing that didn't get us in it and trying to make our cars better. You know that is the stuff that we are trying to work on and t concentrate on our program and not worry about what everybody else is doing. And it is hard. You want to be in the middle of it and you want to be those guys that are there but at the same time when it doesn't work out you have to sit there are trying to figure out things at the end of the year to try to figure out why you didn't get yourself in that situation and you really work really hard now while they are still trying to fight for this year we are already fighting for next year now."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GUYS ARE MAKING GAINS HERE AT THE END OF THE YEAR? "I think if we had won Texas we would feel that way but I think we have got a ways to go still and it's a sport of evolution and it just keeps evolving so fast you know, the week that you think you got it then something comes out a week or two weeks later and its changed again. It's just a never ending process."

YOU ARE HEADED TO AUSTRALIA AGAIN IN THE OFFSEASON. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THAT WHOLE EXPERIENCE THAT'S SPECIAL? "(Laughs) I get to get away from the media. For a whole month I get to race and I don't have to do media at all. It's just going over and relaxing. Its summer over there and I don't have to sit around in the winter and not be able to be outside and I get to race and visit a real beautiful area so it's the best of all worlds."

SO IT'S RECREATION FOR YOU? "You have got to remember I am going over for a long period of time and I am only running on the track five days. I am doing something that is totally different and it gets me away from this and it's something I like to do and when I get off days it's something that I want to do and it's not like I feel like I have to go do it so it's definitely what I want to do."

WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF RACING HERE THIS WEEKEND? "Nothing in particular. It's no different than it has been any other time that we come here."

4TH IN PRACTICE, IS THAT YOUR GOAL? "We are going to get everything we can get and we are going to do the best we can and get every spot we can and this is a track that has been good to us in the past and our West Coast home away from home. We are going to do absolutely everything we can to get every spot we can."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FACT THAT IN A SURVEY OF YOUR PEERS THEY THINK YOU ARE ONE OF THE MOST TALENTED DRIVERS IN THE GARAGE? "That is a huge honor. It's voted on by the guys that you are racing wheel-to-wheel with every week so that is a huge honor.

WHO DO YOU THINK HAS THE MOST TALENT? "I think Juan Montoya but I am thinking outside the (Sprint) Cup realm too. Everything across the board......I think he is the most talented guys I have ever raced with."

OVER THE PAST COUPLE YEARS YOU GET MOSTLY CHEERS FROM THE FANS WHERE IN THE PAST IT HAS BEEN ABOUT 50-50. WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE HAVE EMBRACED YOU SO MUCH? "Because I have stayed true to who I am and I am honest and say what is on my mind and I don't take crap from anybody and have just always stayed who I am. I have never changed who I was and have never changed my views on things to be popular. I have just stayed the course and I think people respect that stuff."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT CHAMPIONS WEEK AND THE DIFFERENCES FROM NEW YORK AND VEGAS? "I am much happier going to Vegas. There is a lot more for me to do. I am not much on dressing up and I don't think anyone cares what you wear in Vegas. It's just about going out and having a good time. The atmosphere is a lot more laid back and it's not as proper. There are not many of us that dress like we have to dress when we go to New York every day. Those clothes get put up and the next year you get them out to go to New York so I am a lot better being me in Las Vegas."

DO YOU NOTICE ANY MORE FAN INVOLVEMENT? "Yes it's pretty obvious. It's New York City versus Las Vegas and it has always been historically a lot more things to do in Las Vegas."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO ATTACK THE YOUNG DEMOGRAPHIC FOR NASCAR? "I don't know. Go ask Brian France because he can tell you lot better than I can."

DO YOU THINK TRAVIS PASTRANA IS GOOD FOR THE SPORT? "Sure he is. There is nothing negative about having him here so it's going to be a big learning curve for him and he obviously has a natural feel and you can tell that in the confidence in when he rides. So it will be fun to watch."

-source: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup