TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, the double-file restarts, the tire test at Indy and more. WHAT IS IT ABOUT JOE GIBBS THAT LETS HIM BE SO ...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, the double-file restarts, the tire test at Indy and more.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT JOE GIBBS THAT LETS HIM BE SO SUCCESSFUL WITH COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CASTS OF PEOPLE? "Joe's strength is he knows how to assemble the right people to do the right jobs. That's proof of what he's done in the NHRA and the NFL and in NASCAR. No matter who it was and even in their motor cross team now they've been successful. Joe just knows how to assemble the right group of people at the right times and when he gets them hired he lets them do their job. He doesn't micro-manage them. He's a great leader but at the same time part of that is knowing how to get the right people there and letting them do their jobs."
ON THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS. "The good thing is with the way they changed the rule everybody kind of has to stay in line so it kind of brings some sanity back to it. I think there are many more pros than there are cons in this equation. There are so many times you get back to eighth or tenth and now you're starting 16th to 20th on the track but you're not that far in track position. You're racing guys that are absolutely racing their guts out trying to get a lap back and you can't blame them for that but at the same time its right in the middle of what you're trying to do racing with guys that you've earned the right to race with. I think it works out great for the lead-lap guys to race with the lead-lap guys. The lap-down guys have the opportunity to directly race against those guys head-to-head that they're racing with for a lap back. I think it's an equation that works good. I don't think that the trick part is any different than what you do on any other Saturday night short track and the same things that we did to get us here. I don't know that it's got that far yet. I think it's going to be pretty sane from that side."
WE SPOKE WITH JACK ROUSH EARLIER AND ASKED WHAT HE THINKS OF YOUR SUCCESS AND HE JOKINGLY SAID HE THOUGHT IT WAS A HONEYMOON PERIOD FOR YOU AND THAT HE HOPES YOU GET A DOSE OF REALITY THIS WEEKEND. "That's a shocker from Roush. I mean the guy never smiles so what do you expect. No, I like Jack and I've got a lot of respect for Jack and we joke around a lot. It's been a honeymoon to this point. We haven't had to go through the lows yet and he's right. We will get a dose of reality at some point in this equation. Every race team does. It's been a honeymoon where I don't have to worry about giving half back right now so I'm going to enjoy it as long as we can at this point."
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BOBBY HUTCHENS IN THE SUCCESS OF YOUR TEAM? HAS HE TAKEN THE HEAT OFF OF YOU AS OWNER IN THAT TEAM? "He has and that's going back to what we mentioned about Joe (Gibbs). That's one thing that I learned from Joe Gibbs is making sure you get the right core group of people. That was the hardest part of my job in the fall getting the group assembled, getting Darian Grubb and Tony Gibson and Bobby Hutchens and Ryan Newman. Those were those four key pieces that was the hardest part for me to get done. Once you get that done you let them do their jobs. Bobby has been around this sport for a long time and he's been a part of a lot of great race teams so he knows what it takes to be successful at this level and I get the luxury of learning from him every day. It was amazing and it's been this way my whole career, I've been very, very lucky to get the right people at the right times and be associated with the right groups. Bobby and I have so many similarities even though our racing back grounds are different. Our passion and desire, he still sneaks off and goes and runs Bowman Grey on Saturday nights and he knows my love, just like what I'm doing tonight going to Eldora to run. We just have similar personalities, passions and we agree a lot on everything."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE NO. 14 ON THE SIDE OF YOUR CAR, REQUESTING THAT NUMBER, GETTING IT ASSIGNED AND HOW MUCH THAT MEANS TO YOU? "Obviously when we had this decision we were going to start our own team and join with Haas Automation racing it was a matter that we wanted kind of to have a fresh start. They had the No. 66 and No. 70 but we felt like it was a time to give it a fresh identity and when it came time to look for numbers our first thought was to try to get the No. 4 and the No. 14 because No. 4 was my first number I ever started go-kart racing with and the No. 14 obviously my history with A.J. Foyt it made a lot of sense. We didn't realize that Morgan-McClure was still going to try to compete in some races so when we found that out we decided to go to Ryan and say hey is there a number that is really special to you and that's why the No. 39 replaced the No. 4 from our side. Fourteen is a number that is passionate to me and 39 is passionate to Ryan. They don't look right when you put the cars together and the teams together, they don't have that identity that you see with some of the other race teams but the passion behind those numbers is something that means a lot to both Ryan and myself."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE AFTER THE TEST AT INDY THAT THEY'RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK AND YOU GUYS WILL HAVE THE TIRE THAT CAN LAST A FUEL RUN WHEN YOU GO BACK FOR THE 400? "I can't tell you what is going to happen when we go back. I can tell you the other day we ran a full fuel run on a set of tires and didn't have a problem with it. I was pleasantly surprised. I know Ryan (Newman) had went and done the first two or three tire tests there and they hadn't made it that far. The other day, and I don't know if it was because it was right after the Indy 500 or what and if there was still rubber down from that, but the tire wear was great. There was cording early in the session but no more than what we've always seen in the past there. It didn't take long at all with four cars running to get it to where you could run 20 to 25 laps pretty easily and by the end of the day you could run a full fuel run. If the conditions stay like they are now I'm confident they've got a tire that we're not going to have to worry about. Obviously there is a lot of time and a lot of weather that is going to come in between now and then and I don't know how that is going to affect everything. If we had to race this weekend I could promise you that we would have a tire that could make it the whole way."
-credit: gm racing