Pocono II: Pole winner interview

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/SWAGGER IMPALA SS STARTS ON THE POLE YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT RAIN EARLIER THIS MORNING AND THE SKIES OPENED UP AND YOU WILL NOW HAVE THAT FIRST PIT SELECTION, YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING ABLE TO DO THAT HERE AT ...

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/SWAGGER IMPALA SS STARTS ON THE POLE

YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT RAIN EARLIER THIS MORNING AND THE SKIES OPENED UP AND YOU WILL NOW HAVE THAT FIRST PIT SELECTION, YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING ABLE TO DO THAT HERE AT POCONO.

"Well since I've had some down time I've got to go back and revisit the question here (laughter). How much was it again? One hundred million and he doesn't run the whole Chase. How much of a collection would we have to take for you just to retire from NASCAR? . . ."

I'LL DO IT FOR ONE.

"One dollar?"

NO ONE MILLION.

"How about something realistic because I'm pretty sure I can go through the garage and have it by five. (laughter). I mean I'm thinking 30 or 40 thousand I'll have in ten minutes. (Mike) Arning, can you walk around with a hat please and take the donations from our media members. How about 50, will you leave for 50 thousand?"

TAX FREE?

"Oh yeah, I'll give it to you in cash." . . . "Am I excited about qualifying being rained out, yes. Would I pay one hundred million dollars for Jimmie (Johnson) to not run the Chase, no. Because first I've never seen that kind of money and second because I will probably never see that amount of money and last I want to beat the best for the championship. Would I pay 70 thousand dollars to get you to retire yes I would do that. It's up to 70 now. I'm going to be sending out a petition tomorrow and donation forms to see how much we can raise for you in that case. So now that I've wasted everybody's time like we did earlier with your question we'll go back to the people that are working today."

LAST YEAR KYLE BUSCH WON EIGHT OF THE FIRST 22 RACES AND HAD ALL KINDS OF MOMENTUM GOING INTO THE CHASE AND FELL APART DURING THE CHASE, YOU'VE GOT A DREAM SEASON GOING ON RIGHT NOW, IS THERE ANYTHING AS A TEAM THAT YOU CAN DO TO TRY TO PROTECT YOURSELF THE SORT OF THING THAT HAPPENED TO HIM?

"No, it's just preparation. You look at all the variable that are involved in our sport and just the simple fact that there's 43 cars on the race track and you're in control of one of the 43 so that's proof there are a lot of variables that aren't under your control. All you can do as a race team is like what we talked about this morning, all you can do is all the preparation and do all the things that you know were right and double check everything and make sure that the variables that we do have control over that we do the best job of making sure that we don't put ourselves in problems. If you get in somebody else's wreck there is nothing you can do to change that. It's just racing luck. That can happen any week for 38 weeks. It can happen multiple times a race so there's absolutely nothing you can do to prepare for that. It's literally just controlling the variables that you have control over and hoping the rest goes your way."

WHEN YOU CAME IN HERE TO THE FIRST POCONO RACE YOU WERE ALREADY ON THE VERGE OF WINNING, YOU GOT YOUR FIRST VICTORY HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW, JUST AS GOOD AS THEN OR EVEN A LITTLE BIT BETTER?

"I think so. I've seen a progression. Obviously this is where we got our first win of the season but it seems like since then and when you look at Chicago we ran fourth, we ran third at Indy last week, the team has been very consistent and that's something I'm extremely proud of. I would trade in the couple of wins for the consistency right now with the exception of the 10 bonus points. As far as having a couple of more trophies on the wall and having more sporadic finishing I would gladly change the consistent top-fives for that. I'm really proud of our guys. I don't know how I could ask for any more. I'd love to have five wins like Mark (Martin) has but other than that I'm extremely satisfied with what we have done."

IS IT IMPORTANT AT ALL TO BE ON THE POLE?

"You don't have to be on the pole to win here. We started from dead last in the last race. It's obviously a lot easier if you can start up front and don't have to pass 42 cars to get there but it's not a deal breaker if you have to start 43rd. We proved that the last time."

HOW IMPORTANT IS TRACK POSITION HERE THEN?

"Well considering we started in the worst track position possible I don't think it was quite that important. We're not reinventing the wheel here. It's the same as it always is. At the end of the day when everybody's cars are good you can't start 43rd the last segment of the race and expect to win but if you start the day and you work and gain that track position as the day goes on its no different. We're not doing anything different this week than what we normally do here."

LAST WEEK WE SAW CLEAN AIR WAS HUGE ONCE YOU GOT OUT FRONT, ARE WE GOING TO SEE THE SAME TYPE THING THIS WEEK?

"Well we're not at Indy this week. What you saw here when we were here last time I think is what you're going to see this week. Every race track is different. Every style is different. This track gets wide enough that you can pass. Indy is a unique shape, you know the groove is right on the bottom and you don't see a lot of two-wide racing in Indianapolis and you don't see it in any division there. So the style of racing is just different. I don't think anybody has ever started 43rd in Indy and won the race so I think that kind of shows you are going to have a different race this weekend."

WHEN PEOPLE LOOK AT THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS THAT YOU'VE HAD WITH THIS TEAM THIS YEAR AND THEY SORT OF DISCOUNT IT BY SAYING IT'S A HENDRICK SATELLITE TEAM, DO YOU THINK THAT SELLS SHORT THE QUALITY OF PEOPLE YOU'VE HIRED AND THE THINGS THEY'VE DONE TO EXPAND UPON THE ENGINES AND BASIC CHASSIS THAT YOU GET FROM HENDRICK?

"I can tell you from being in the shop with those people they don't car. They say look at the point standings right now. They're happy with it. You can call it what you want. We get technical support and we get our engines and chassis from Hendrick and we share information back and forth. I don't think it matters to an of us what we're called. Hopefully at the end of the year they call us champions."

YOU HAVE SOME GREAT PEOPLE THOUGH.

"Oh yeah. We have a lot of great people. You can be handed the best equipment and you can be handed the best driver but if you don't have good people to work on and good people to make decisions and good people to make business decisions it all falls apart. So you have to have that foundation and that starts with really good people at the top of the chain. I don't mean me at the top of that I mean the Bob Hutchen's, Darian Grubb's and Tony Gibson's."

IN THE CHASE THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, THE GUYS HAD TO STEP UP THEIR GAME NOTICEABLY, ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT THAT AND ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TO STEP UP YOUR GAME IN THE CHASE TO COMPETE WITH JIMMIE (JOHNSON)?

"Yeah, obviously when the Chase gets here I think everybody is a little more relaxed the first 26 weeks but obviously it's all on the line those last 10 weeks. Once people get comfortable and know that they're going to be locked into the Chase everybody kind of relaxes a little bit. You know that's the calm before the storm so to speak and you know that once those last 10 weeks start you can't afford to have a mistake. We can have a mistake this weekend, we can blow a motor the first lap, I can crash the first lap and it's not going to hurt us in what we're doing. But if that happens the first week of the Chase obviously the effects of it are a lot more dramatic. The preparation is the same so I don't know how you do anything any different. You do the same things that got you there in my opinion."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup