TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed racing in the Phoenix area, Manzanita Speedway, the importance of brakes at PIR, differences between Talladega and Daytona, and more. ON BEING IN PHOENIX AND HOW MUCH HE ...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed racing in the Phoenix area, Manzanita Speedway, the importance of brakes at PIR, differences between Talladega and Daytona, and more.
ON BEING IN PHOENIX AND HOW MUCH HE LIKES IT "We've spent a lot of time out here because I used to do a lot of tire testing with Firestone out here in the IRL days, so this is where we did the majority of the testing. When I was doing that, Buddy Jobe and his family owned the facility and they always made me feel like I was part of their family. So other than going to Manzanita (Speedway), which they took away from us this last weekend (closed), those were about the only places we went when we'd come on a Cup weekend, but they've taken that away from us now."
DID YOU EVER HAVE A THOUGHT ABOUT SAVING MANZANITA? "No. In case you haven't noticed, I've got plenty of projects (laughs). And as much as I would have liked to do something like that, there is no way I could have done it and done it right. And I didn't even know about it until after it happened. So, we are all sad about it."
HOW MEANINGFUL WOULD IT BE TO HAVE YOUR FIRST WIN WITH STEWART-HAAS BE HERE IN PHOENIX? "I'll take it anywhere right now. I don't care where it's at. It doesn't matter to me where it's at, I just want to get that first one right now."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN A DRIVER SAYS HE NEEDS TO BE MORE PHYSICAL? "You've got to be more forceful with the car. We call it horsing it around a little bit and throwing it around and just making it do what you want it to do. You can't always just be really smooth with the wheel and rely on the car to do the work. And there are a lot of places where we have to do that because if you try to throw it around then you get yourself in a really big problem. Phoenix has always been a track that's just small enough that you can do that. You can throw it around and the surface has given up enough to where you don't just lose grip and crash. So you can throw it around. You can slide it around and still have control, and it makes it more fun for the drivers because of that."
HOW IMPORTANT ARE BRAKES AT A TRACK LIKE PHOENIX? "Well, you've got a gas pedal, a brake pedal, and a steering wheel and you're using all three a lot of times during each lap. So, it's a balancing act. That's what makes this place fun. The worst thing they could ever do is repave it because it's fun right now the way it is. It makes you have to be real careful on the brakes and not use too much to get your balance front to rear right. It makes you not necessarily be able to just jab the throttle when you want. You have to roll into the throttle. It makes the drivers have to do their jobs."
KNOWING YOU'RE GOING TO SEE PHOENIX, TEXAS, AND TALLADEGA AGAIN IN THE CHASE, IS THERE A TENDENCY TO EXPERIMENT A LITTLE? "It's a little early in the season to be worrying about things like that. I'm sure for some guys it probably is. But we're only eight races into the season right now so you're just trying to get your program going. I'm not sure we've ever been in that situation where we felt like we had that luxury. You're still just trying to do the things that you have to do to win the race. And you're trying everything that you know to try.
"So, if you've got something in your bag of tricks that you didn't try during race weekend this week, it's almost an injustice to yourself to not try."
HOW SATISFYING HAS THIS YEAR BEEN FOR YOU FOR ALL THE NAY SAYERS WHO SAID WHO SAID YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO BE COMPETITIVE IN THOSE CARS? "I don't listen to them anyway. I'm worried about our team. That's my focus, my guys and our sponsors that believe in us. That's all I've been focusing on."
GIVEN HENDRICK'S HISTORY AT TALLADEGA AND THE FACT THAT YOU WON THERE IN THE FALL, HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ABOUT GOING BACK TO TALLADEGA? "I'm always excited about Talladega. We've always run really well there. We've got a great history there. We won the Nationwide race last year in the spring and then we won the Cup race in the fall, so it was a pretty cool year for us."
HOW ARE YOU RUNNING HERE, TODAY? "I'm pretty happy with it. I feel like in both qualifying trim and race trim that we have a balance that I feel like is going to be good for qualifying and for the race. I'm really excited and happy about our practice session today. This is a long day, but I think the crew guys like it even though it's a long day for them, It's nice to know that we're all going to be able to be home on Sunday.
"We've had a really good day today. I feel like we were competitive in both sessions and had really good speed and good balance. So it was just a matter of the second session of fine-tuning, but you're fine-tuning to the condition because we're going to race in a totally different temperature than what we practiced this afternoon."
WOULD YOU PREFER MORE TWO DAYS RACES? "Don't get me in the political battle.'
YOU APPRECIATE SATURDAY NIGHT-STYLE RACING. HOW COOL IS IT THAT THIS IS OUR FIRST SATURDAY NIGHT RACE OF THE SEASON? "No, this area is fun no matter what time of day you run. I'm not biting on it (question)."
HOW HAS YOUR TEAM COME TOGETHER SO FAR THIS YEAR? "Great, so far. It's hard to believe that a totally new combination like this has been able to do what we've done so far, but it's because we've got great people. I'm the last piece of the equation that makes the puzzle work. We've just got a really good group of guys and they've been working well together. Ryan (Newman) has got his guys where they need to be now. I think they've got their bad luck done and that's what we needed to have happen."
FOR THE FANS WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND, WHAT ARE THE BIG DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TALLADEGA AND DAYTONA? "Daytona is a handling track and Talladega is a speed track. Nobody has a bad-handling car at Talladega. They all drive good. Whereas at Daytona, ninety percent of the battle is getting a car that handles good there. Everybody's car drives good at Talladega. So it's more of a chess match at Talladega where at Daytona, it's still a race and you've still got to make your car handle."
ON THE HANDLING DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA "It' means that I can throw you in the car at Talladega and you can do just as good a job as I can at Talladega."
WHY IS THAT? "I think it's the fresh pavement. It's such a smooth track. Daytona is old. It's got bumps in it and the surface is worn out and it takes grip away and that's what makes having to have the mechanical set-up of the car be so much more important, where at Talladega it's so smooth and such a fresh surface that it's got a lot of grip to begin with. So the bumps are what normally start taking the grip away. As soon as you start having to work on your suspension, then that's what gives up first. With Talladega being so smooth, it doesn't matter. You can go anywhere you want to go and you've got grip."
ON TWITTER "Somebody asked me about that last week, but I don't know anything about it. I'm not on it."
SO PEOPLE ON THERE WHO SAY THEY'RE TONY STEWART, ARE IMPOSTERS? "Oh, they do that on the other two sites two. We ran into that forever. Those people need to get a hobby."
-credit: gm racing