Phoenix: Stewart post-race interview

TONY STEWART , NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd: "I'll be honest, I didn't conserve fuel too well. But the thing is we were just so loose that you had to from the standpoint that you couldn't get in the gas, so you had...

TONY STEWART , NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd:

"I'll be honest, I didn't conserve fuel too well. But the thing is we were just so loose that you had to from the standpoint that you couldn't get in the gas, so you had to be really, really careful. But I'm just so happy and impressed with this whole Home Depot team and our Monte Carlo SS and being able to go from 43rd to the lead and finish second, I'm very, very proud today.

"We were really good when we got the lead and then when we came in we made one more adjustment in the direction that we had been going and got it a little bit too loose. I told (crew chief) Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) the last 30 laps I was just burning the right rear off the car. So it was just lucky that we finished second, but I'm just very proud of this team. I just really happy with the performance we got today from our Monte Carlo SS."

IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO START FROM THE REAR, DO YOU WONDER WHAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE?

"Well, no. We got ourselves to the lead and then came out second and finished second. We got there in plenty of time, we just couldn't hang on there again. We made one adjustment that got us too free and got us too far over the top."

WERE YOU AFRAID YOU WOULD RUN OUT OF FUEL?

"I knew that Zippy was telling me we needed about a half a lap. I was trying to keep the heat on Greg (Biffle) so he couldn't conserve fuel and figured that what I was doing was helping a little bit on the fuel mileage by it. But we just got so loose we couldn't do anything at the end."

WERE THERE TIRE PROBLEMS?

"I didn't know of any tire problems. Obviously there at the end, we were all guessing about who was going to do what on fuel. But I'm so happy with these guys and where we had to come from to get to where we were. And then at the end of it at the last 30 laps, the right rear was gone. I asked for a little bit more of an adjustment and I finally got us over the top so it was probably my fault there. But I'm just really happy with this Home Depot team and our Monte Carlo SS was really good today. We did what got us to a championship last year. We worked our way from the 43rd spot and finished second, so I'm pretty happy right now."

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE TIRES THAT MADE YOU START ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK?

"I'll be honest. I'm not sure. It had something to do with our tire guy and how you round-up the tires. With the fact that we all lease tires now, when they return those tires back to Goodyear, except for the qualifying tires, they drill them so you can't put air back in them. Once they had done that, everybody figured out what the mistake was, there was no way we could remedy the mistake and we had to go to the back. It was a fair judgment because we didn't start on the stuff that we qualified. So we just didn't think about it much. Before the race we were laughing and watching the hockey game on TV and all just giggling and laughing like nothing had happened. So I'm just really proud of this team. It was just good all night.

"So we had to start 43rd and just be patient. We got quite a few spots at the beginning and then kind of got stuck there for a while because the car was tight. We just kept working on it all night and got up there and led a couple of laps. And when we came in on that last pit stop we just asked for one more adjustment the same direction we'd been going and it just put us over the top just a little too much and got us too free. About those last 30 laps I was sideways off of (Turn) 4 every lap whether I wanted to be or not. But it was a good thing during the off weekend last weekend that I ran Late Models so I'm used to it. I didn't really want to be like that there at the end, but I was actually hoping we would get a caution with maybe forty to go to where I knew everybody would come in and put tires on we'd get a chance to put it back and try to run Greg (Biffle) down."

ON COMING FROM THE BACK TO THE FRONT, HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

"Well you pass the guy in front of you and then you pass the next guy in front of you (laughter). I mean you try to take care of your car and you try to be patient. But you've got to work your way through there the best you can. We just never got in a hurry. We got in spots to where we weren't really catching people any more and couldn't get by people and we were having to work too hard and punish the tires too much to try to get by guys, so you just sat and waited until you had an opportunity to pit and work on it. So it was 312 laps and I think we utilized the first 200 real wisely to get to the front. I think by lap 210 or 220 or something, I don't even know what lap it was, we finally got the lead. The car just kept getting better and better and obviously track position was huge. The further forward we got, the better the car drove all day. You just had to be patient. That's something that Zippy and I talked about a lot before the beginning of the race and I was really proud of the job those guys did."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup