Pocono: Stewart post-race interview

TONY STEWART , NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO - Finished 3rd: Q. Third place finisher Tony Stewart has joined us in the media center. Why don't you give us just a brief account of your day out there today. TONY STEWART: Drove 500 miles, and...


Q. Third place finisher Tony Stewart has joined us in the media center. Why don't you give us just a brief account of your day out there today.

TONY STEWART:  Drove 500 miles, and the damndest thing is I ended up
right back where I started.  I didn't get anywhere today.

Q. Nicely done.

TONY STEWART: We just had a solid day, started 18th. We got by five cars in the first lap, caution came out and then we just kept working our way to the front and got in a series of green flag stops with we were in two different groups out of sequence on fuel stops. Still, the whole time we basically were a top 5 car that whole time no matter what.

I'm just glad to finish and that it ended up the way it did. We were a little worried when Biffle came down how guys behind us would go, but there were enough guys between us that I don't know how many spots he got, but I'm sure he got three or four there towards the end. I'm just glad that we kept the track position we had and finished where we finished.

Q. With the white flag and then the restart, did either one of you think you had anything for Denny?

TONY STEWART: There was no way we were going to deal with Denny obviously. Track position is so important here, and we were with him on the point at the restart. I mean, he got there for a reason, because he was the fastest car. Probably the first lap was the only lap where anything could happen while we were really tight there.

Like Kurt said, when you got the one, there was enough dirt down there still, they did a great job cleaning it up. It was very impressive to see what kind of condition they got the track back in in such a short amount of time. There still was enough dirt down there that it could have gotten pretty interesting. Everybody got through that pretty easy and it really didn't lead to any opportunities like we were hoping for. But in all reality, unless Denny had a problem down there, I don't think Kurt and I could have done anything with him.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Denny's development? Since he's come on the Cup circuit, he's really taken off and had the same kind of success you had since you left Busch.

TONY STEWART: Yeah, it's awesome. It's been a big transformation over the winter and it's not been so much equipment and this and that as much as just losing Bobby Labonte and gaining J.J. Yeley and Denny Hamlin, Denny and J.J.'s fresh attitude and just the fresh attitude in the shop with two totally new drivers coming in like that. It's kept everybody pumped up.

They're both ?? J.J. hasn't taken off obviously as quickly as Denny has, but he comes from a totally different background, too. I think the good thing is days like today are what makes me happy. Even if I would have won the race, without those guys somewhere close, that makes you worry a little bit more, but to have the 1st and 3rd place cars in the group, that's what gets the whole team excited and the whole operation excited. We're doing things right right now, it's just a matter of squeaking here and there and keep going the same direction.

Q.  What about his performance in particular?  What is it about this
kid?  A lot of rookies don't come out and win 14 races.

TONY STEWART: A lot of kids haven't had great cars, and that's the thing. He's got cars just like what J.J. and I have. We all have the same equipment. You know, you put young guys in good cars and they can go out and win right away. That's something you didn't see ten years ago. In this era, everybody is looking for a younger and younger driver, and they can get in good cars right away and do well right off the bat. You've got to have that talent, and he's got that talent and that drive and desire to win races, and that's what ?? you can put really good drivers in there, but if they don't have the drive and desire, they're not going to win, and Denny's got it.

Q. The safety barrier may have saved Jeff Gordon's life. Can you comment on what that has brought to the sport the last few years?

TONY STEWART: It's awesome. I don't know who ?? like I said, it's been so long since we all went through the press announcements of how that all came about, but the group that developed that, we all owe a ton of thanks, and there's no way we can repay them for the added security and peace of mind that they've given all of us as drivers, let alone crew members and crew chiefs and car owners. You definitely know with the speeds that we're running nowadays and the improvements and updates in technology that's involved in making the cars go faster, those walls haven't changed for years. Having the invention of soft walls has been something that is definitely a great addition and complements the speeds that we're now running.

Q. Tony, can you talk about physically how you got through the day and how your shoulder is feeling and so forth?

TONY STEWART: I'll be honest. I mean, I don't know what's going to happen when the adrenaline wears off, but honestly, I feel like I could run another 500?mile race right now and still feel the same. I didn't have any problems all day, even when the car was loose and you had to use your right arm to backsteer the car, didn't have any pain that we had the last two days and like we had at Dover.

I'm excited. I mean, we're going road course testing Tuesday at VIR and I'm real excited to see how my shoulder does through a day of testing. I think that will be a telltale sign. I'll be honest, I think this is the last time we'll talk about the shoulder because I think we're back again. Definitely by next weekend it's not going to be an issue.

Q. Is there something to playing a video game prior to the race?

TONY STEWART: Let's put an end to this right now. They're playing video games because they're 18, 20 years old, just like we did when we were 18, 20 years old. It gives you the physical layout. Are you going to learn a lot? Probably not. These guys are not here because they're dummies, and trust me, a video game did not make them an instant genius on Pocono. The fact that they're rookies in good cars are why they're doing well at Pocono. It makes for a great story so print it the way you want, but video games are video games and race cars are real race cars. There's a difference.

Q. Tony, being the most senior member at Joe Gibbs Racing now, what kind of role have you taken on in terms of talking to Denny and J.J. and guiding their development and giving them a sense of what to look for in that first victory?

TONY STEWART: Basically I'm just there to answer questions, really. They're both really good guys, and you can talk to them about a lot of things, but a lot of it has just got to come from experience. You can kind of give them foresight on what to expect, but until they get out there and do it, it really doesn't click. What we've found is it's better to let them go out and then if they've got some questions about something, come back and ask, and it seems like it's more effective than to say this is what you've got to do. Everybody has got different driving styles so you can't tell them what to do, they've got to do it their own way.

Now, being the elder statesman, I guess, of the group, I'm just there to ?? when those guys have a question about something, most likely I've been through it or will understand what's going on and can help give them that knowledge if there's something that they don't understand.

Q. What kind of sense can you get from Denny, though, about his development, about his potential?

TONY STEWART: Probably that I was going to be able to help him more off the track than on the track. He's wild and crazy like me, which I like. But on the track, I don't think there's anything I need to tell him; he's done an awesome job. But there still may be that day where something might come up and he'll need some help and he'll come and ask.

That's the good thing about these two guys; they got there for a reason. They're talented guys but you can't tell them everything. There's some things they have to feel for themselves and then ask questions.

Q. Do you give them any kind of advice on temperament?

TONY STEWART: I'll have plenty to give them on that, trust me (laughter). Like I said, I want to see what he does here. I think he's on the verge of something big down the road.

No, they're good kids just like I was. I was a kid when I joined the deal, and the good thing is if there's anybody that can tell them how to stay out of trouble, it's definitely me, so I can definitely keep them well?rounded from that aspect.

Q. Historically guys who have run well here tend to run really good at Indy later in the year. How much of what you guys learned today will translate when you get to the Brickyard?

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , J.J. Yeley , Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing