Pocono: Chevy - Tony Stewart Wake UP Call interview

Tony Stewart is the guest at today's Wake Up Call for the Pocono 500. Stewart qualified eighth yesterday in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet and was the winner of the Pocono 500 in 2003. Stewart is currently ranked fourth in the NASCAR Nextel Cup...

Tony Stewart is the guest at today's Wake Up Call for the Pocono 500. Stewart qualified eighth yesterday in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet and was the winner of the Pocono 500 in 2003. Stewart is currently ranked fourth in the NASCAR Nextel Cup points standings.

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I'll tell you the same thing we told everybody from day one. We take each race one at a time. We just try to get the most amount points and the best finish you can get each week. If you win races, the points take care of itself. You just go out and take it one week at a time. You don't worry about what's going to happen the next week. You don't worry about what happened the week before. You do the best you can. When you leave you look at the point sheet. You know where you're at. You can't really plan ahead. As race car drivers and as race teams, our job is to go out and do the best we can each week. With that attitude in mind, that's how we've done what we've done in the Cup series. We've stayed in the top seven for five consecutive years."

DO YOU RACE FOR THE WIN OR A SOLID FINISH: "Any time that you are point racing, if you get yourself in the top five or even if I'm 15th, if I think that I'm going to put my car in danger and not finish in a race because of an accident by trying to get one more position you'll be a little more patient and wait for that opportunity to become a safer opportunity. Whether you're running second going for the win or 15th going for 14th, it's pretty much the same approach. You know that if you don't finish, you'll drop back to 30th or 35th in the race. It's going to hurt you in points. Every position you are going forward for, you have to access the risk and what the liability is. If you are really struggling to get by a guy, you're still going to race him as hard as you can but you're not going to put yourself in a position where you can't finish the race because of an accident."

ON DEFINGING HIS WIN HERE: "I need to get more sleep than I got last night. The same things that we always do here. It's so hard to get your car driving good through all three corners here. You'll hear a lot of the guys get their cars handled good in two of the three but they can't necessarily get it good for the third corner. It's not the same third corner for everybody. Some guys will struggle with the last turn. Some will struggle with the tunnel turn. Just about everyone can get their car driving good in turn one since it's got some banking to it. They have two other corners here that are drastically different from turn one. It's a big challenge to get the car good through all three corners. In about another 45 minutes when I get in my car that's what I'm going to concentrate on."

WILL PEOPLE CHANGE THEIR APPROACH AS THE CHASE GETS NEARER? "If you are solidly in the top ten, it will be business as usual. If you're 11th in points and you're within 50 points of the guy in 10th and it gets down to those last two races, you're going to race just like you are racing in the championship. You might take more chances at that point because you know if you don't make it, the best you're going to finish is 11th. I can see where guys that are on the bubble might race a little bit different in the last couple of races if it looks like they may not make the top ten."

ON THE THREE NEW CHANGES MADE BY NASCAR: "I don't know any of them to be honest. It's basically the same thing as it was when everybody said 'what do you think about the point system?' NASCAR doesn't ask us what we think about it. It doesn't really matter what we think, does it. Whatever they're going to do is what they're going to do. Hopefully we won't run 40 laps under caution. In their defense, the first time we were told as drivers about freezing the field, they said it would be a work in progress. As frustrating as it was for everybody last week, I think we have to be realistic about making rule changes. That wasn't just whacking a quarter-inch off a spoiler or changing restrictor plate sizing. That was a pretty drastic change. Like any time you change a rule like that, you're going to run into a situation that somebody didn't think of. There's only so many different scenarios you can think of. That was probably one that didn't come across their mind. I don't agree with all the changes NASCAR makes all the time but I don't have to. It's not my job."

"My job is to go out and take the rules they give us and try to win races with them. I don't want all of us to crucify NASCAR for what happened last week. It wasn't a good deal by any means. The fans shouldn't have been happy. The drivers weren't happy. The crews weren't happy. NASCAR wasn't happy about it either. At the same time, at least this week they looked into it and addressed it. Whatever these three changes are are obviously to try and make things better for us. We just have to keep in mind it's all a work in progress. It hasn't been a full year yet since they started this (freezing the field). The good thing is these three rules is stuff that will make it better and easier for them. As every problem comes up, they're going to look at it address and these problems each time."

IS IT DIFFICULUT FOR FANS TO UNDERSTAND THE CHANGES? "Yeah, it's difficult for us as drivers, being in the cars to understand what is going on 99 out of 100 times. One of my favorite crew chiefs I ever drove for is Larry Howard, out in Arizona. He called me and said why do they not just do like every other series and every other race track across the country and when the caution comes out, go back to the last lap. It's very simple. It's logged in the system. It's bullet proof. I don't know why they don't do that. Every race fan across the country understands that rule if they are a true race fan. There's an easy solution for the problem. I don't always agree what NASCAR does and this is one of them. I would go back to the last completed lap. Everybody knows where they were when they crossed the line. Every series we have run across before we got to NASCAR, that's what we had to race under. That's not something you would need to re-teach everybody."

ARE YOU HAVING MORE FUN AS A DRIVER OR CAR OWNER? "I'm not sure yet. The big joke with our race team, is my World of Outlaws team driver, Danny Lasoski has won more stock races than I had and that I won more sprint car races than he had. Finally he won two World of Outlaws races last week so now we're tied in sprint cars and he's still ahead of me in the stock cars. I'm real busy as a car owner. I'm busier than I imagined I would be this year. It's kind of a stress relief for me. It gives me a minute to not think about what I'm going to do tomorrow. I still love that stuff more than ever. You wish there were 700 days in a calendar year instead of 365. Then I can go be with those guys at those races and still do my job here."

ON HIS SPORTS CAR RACE AT DAYTONA: "We were seventeen and a half minutes shy of winning a 24 hour race. If you break that down into a Cup race, it's probably a matter of seconds. I had fun with it. I ran the Paul Revere race in July. I haven't ran at Watkins Glen but I'm running both the July race at Daytona and Watkins Glen this year. I'm driving with Andy Wallace again. I feel like we have like we have some unfinished business. It's fun for me. I enjoy getting in different types of cars. I always drove as many different types of cars as possible. It's just one of those cars its nice to kind of break up the monotony of being inside a Cup car 38 weekends."

WOULD INDY MEAN AS MUCH IF YOU DIDN'T GROW UP THERE? "I don't know what its like to not be from around there. That's been my backyard all my life. I can remember being a kid and as soon as the bell rang, I'd knock kids over and knock them off their bikes to get home to turn on the TV and see who went fast and see who wrecked. At that age I was still exited about seeing crashes. I didn't realize how bad they hurt. When you grew up in Indiana, the whole month of may was the (Indy 500). I didn't care about my grades. It's a wonder I even graduated because of (the month of) May. Every day in May when you went home that's all I cared about was what was going on at that speedway from 3 to 6 o'clock."

ON RUNNING STOCK CARS AT INDY: "At first I had mixed emotions because it's such a sacred place. It's kind of started it's own tradition with NASCAR up there. To win the Brickyard is almost as prestigious as winning the (Daytona) 500. Not because of the event itself, but because it's Indy. It's so hard to win at Indy. Anytime you can get a win at that facility it's huge no matter what type of car it is."

WOULD YOU CONDISER BEING AN IRL CAR OWNER? "I never thought I'd own as many USAC teams as I own. Never say never. I've had some discussions in the last 30 days about starting an IRL team. The discussion didn't start with me. It started with other groups of people that approached me about the possibility of starting a team. With our schedule in the Cup series, all my teams are self-sufficient. They don't rely on me t o operate each day. If I were to do an IRL team like that it would take a lot of planning and assembling the right people. The biggest thing would be hiring a team manager and a good crew. If we could do that, I would definitely entertain it. I would love to see the IRL run in conjunction with NASCAR. If they would do that just like the July race at Daytona with the sports car, I could promise you I would definitely entertain that. This place would be a neat place to run an Indy car. I think it would be more fun to run an Indy car than a stock car here because of the speeds that they can run. I think it would be pretty neat to see that happen here again."

ON THE VICTORY JUNCTION GANG: "I'm really excited about Tuesday. I'm probably more excited to get home this weekend and get ready for Tuesday than I am about being here on Sunday. It's so exciting to see Kyle and Patty's vision come to life finally. I think in a way it's going to be a re-birth of Adam. I think it will bring Adam's memory back to life even more than it already has. To see the gratification and satisfaction on Kyle and Patty's face when you see how much thought and planning and how much heart was put into building this camp for these kids. People that don't know Kyle and Patty very well are going to know them like they've know them all their lives when they see this facility."

HOW DID YOU KNOW ADAM: "I really didn't know Adam at all. I met him a couple times in passing. This is my 25th year in racing. In 25 years I think back about the things I've been able to do. The sport of auto racing unlike any other professional sport is probably a bigger family than you can ever image. I say the NASCAR series is like the Waltons on steroids times a million. That's what so special about all this. Racers always take care of races. That's probably the one thing I've been most proud of in 25 years of racing is seeing how much people care of each other when they're involved in racing.

You don't hear or see it as much as auto racing. Racers take care of racers. When this opportunity came, it made sense. When you can be involved with a charity that is this close to home, it makes it even more special."

ON THE RACE: "I'm excited to be back here. This is where we got our first win last year. We're fourth in points. It's a good feeling to come back to a track we've had some success at. We might be able to get ourselves closer in points. We probably can't pass anybody for position in points this week but if we can get ourselves closer. You start eliminating weeks up the 26 races. We take it one week at a time. Knowing we had success here gives you confidence coming into this weekend. If we do qualify well, we race extremely well. Even though we weren't on the front row, eighth was very exciting for me. I think we'll have a good weekend here and I'm excited about it."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Andy Wallace , Tony Stewart