Pocono: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: You saw the perfect model over at Hendrick Motorsports with the 24 and 48, but sitting here looking at the points, Ryan and Tony are 1 and 4. I mean, that's winning a race is a huge deal, but looking at the ...

Continued from part 1

Q: You saw the perfect model over at Hendrick Motorsports with the 24 and 48, but sitting here looking at the points, Ryan and Tony are 1 and 4. I mean, that's winning a race is a huge deal, but looking at the points, that's pretty much what stands out. Can you talk about, you know, what you learned at Hendrick that you were able to bring over here, because I won't say it's so much a love fest, but the respect between these two drivers and the way they build each other up, it's pretty amazing. And Tony if you can fool up on that, it's pretty amazing.

DARIAN GRUBB: It's not just what I learned form Hendrick Motorsports but they definitely are an example and on top of their game, and they are the ones you build your model to beat. But I came from Hendrick, Tony came from Roush, Tony Gibson came from Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated; Bobby came from RCR and DEI, Matt Borland from Penske. We have been able to pull from every one of those experiences to say, what do we need to do to make the best decision.

So when you have that many different views on any problem, it's pretty easy to say, if you can sit down and explain what your reasoning is behind a situation and everybody is going to back you on that, you come together as a team, because you have to be able to explain yourself, or nobody is going to buy into it. They always think what they do is better, but if you sit down and explain it and you understand enough about it to explain it, then it's easy to build that, the whole team rapport, the way everybody is going to work; it's great to put all that together.

All of these guys work so hard and we have had a lot of late nights like Tony was saying, long meetings, a lot of decisions to be made on what to do. I just feel like we couldn't be any stronger with the position we are in and the people we have behind it.

TONY STEWART: It's one thing that Bobby Hutchins tells us when we started the season and when we started our competition meetings: The thing that he stressed to us was we check our he emotions at the door when we go into these meetings and it's like Darian said, when you have that many different sets of examples of how to do things, it's easy to get in a pattern and think what you are doing is right and think that it's the only way that you can do it. And you realize there's four different four other guys that came from four other different places that are seen from a different angle, and they did it another way and he thought their way was the best way.

It's kind of a nice perspective to be able to sit there and say, well, there's no dead set way of doing any one thing. You realize that you could sit there and analyze five different approaches and say, okay, this is going to be the right application for us.

Q: Start of last year, did you think you would be a crew chief again and how does this compare to the other stints?

DARIAN GRUBB: Honestly I was not planning to be a crew chief at all. I was very happy where I was at at Hendrick Motorsports. Like I said before, we were on too of the game. We were having fun racing for wins every week in championship. Jimmie was able to win three straight and just to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports as an organization was great but when Tony came to me and gave me an opportunity and just kind of put that bug in my ear, hey, think about this, we are going to build Stewart Haas as an organization and do it from the ground up and I want you to be a part of it; it's kind of hard not to get chill bumps from that and say, hmm, do I really want to that.

From the first meeting I had with him and I asked him point blank, why should I do this, and then he just told me, he wanted me to do it. He wanted to go out and he wanted to build a team to win races and championships. And then he walked out of the room and Jarvis (ph) and I talked and just one of those things that when you can read it in somebody's eyes and you know how much it means to them, then you just want to be a part of it. You want to take along that ride it might be good, it might be bad, but you know at that point you have to make a change and try it.

Q: Is the camaraderie and friendship with Ryan growing, and how is your relationship different now that you're a boss and teammate, and have you tried to like get him to move back Indiana?

TONY STEWART: Have I tried to get him to move back to Indiana a? No. They have got an awesome piece of property north of Statesville and after the Charlotte race, after the 600 was over, they had a huge picnic for everybody that they had planned anyway. But this is their home now. North Carolina is their home, and our relationship just gets stronger and stronger every week, but he was one of the first people up there to congratulate us when it was over.

So he goes, I'm not really a guy that likes hugging guys, but gave me a hug and said he was proud of me. (Laughter) I didn't really mean it that way. Just that's what he said. It was his words, not mine.

But we are, we are really close. His wife is helping me build my house. It's just little things like that that shows the relationship we have with reach other. It's not just Ryan and I, it's his wife and myself and his people and our people get along really well. Like we said, from day one, we have so many common interests; it's a combination that the deeper you got into it, the more you realized how perfect it really was. Just gets stronger and stronger every week.

Q: How do you think the double file restarts worked? Did you know where you were supposed to be each time?

TONY STEWART: The good thing is, and everybody knew it was going to be an adjustment period and it still is. It worked great today. To the best of my knowledge there were not any hiccups with people not understanding where they were supposed to be or anything. But I thought it was great. It was awesome not having to deal with lap cars on restarts.

You know, it was nice knowing that everybody you were around was for position. You know, this was a perfect place to try. It next week at Michigan is going to be another great place to go through that. I think Bristol or Martinsville would be a enough weekend to try to debut this system.

But I think the great thing is we got a sanctioning body that is proactive. I mean, they are listening to people and realize that people want to change, and so they have really worked hard in a short amount of time to make that happen. And you know, it reminds me of the change that hockey had a couple of years ago when they made some rule changes. We are fortunate to have a sanctioning body that listens to its fans and cares.

I thought the system worked really well today and it will work good in the future and I think it's something the fans are going to enjoy, and it's pretty easy to understand. You don't have a restart and people are going: Is that guy a lap down or is he not a lap down. It seems like it's probably going to be a lot easier for everybody to understand every time we go on the racetrack.

Q: We saw you overcome the issue with going to the backup car, and you overcame the issue with the engine we saw both of your teams overcome issues, and this isn't the first time. What is it that makes your team helps your team overcome those issues better than some of the other teams out there?

TONY STEWART: I think it's just preparation and having a group of guys that have the confidence that no matter what the challenge is, they are not going to panic. They are not going to freak out. They just know that you are going to have situations like that.

Nobody got upset. Nobody lost their heads yesterday when I crashed the primary car, and you know, they just do their job and they are efficient at it. It that's half the battle is just having a group of guys that have the same confidence that I have behind the wheel. They have that same confidence as crew members, and the preparation at the shop before we come here, it'S not like they all of a sudden had to roll a backup car out and try to set it up from scratch. It was basically ready to go when it came off the trailer.

There's little things that you have to do here and there to finalize getting it ready but like I say, we only missed the first five minutes of happy hour yesterday and that shows the preparation of the team and the organization of the shop before they get to the racetrack.

Q: Were you shutting down the engine over the closing laps there to save fuel, and if so, did you have a concern that it might not fire backup?

TONY STEWART: I couldn't tell you that secret without killing you, and I actually like you, so I can't tell you that. There's tricks that you learn and everybody thinks I really haven't been in that position a lot, so like I said, I'm not sure if I was doing the right thing.

But it worked at the end of the day and whether there's a better way than what I was doing, but you don't know what everybody knows about how to save fuel. So not sure I really want to say what I was doing, but you know, it's a situation that you try to sit there.

And I know at Gibbs last year they took Joey Lagano over to Rockingham and actually did a test to see whether shutting motors on and off was better, whether to stay in gear and not accelerate, just went through a whole exercise of trying to figure out what's the most efficient way to save fuel. And we really have not been through that exercise yet, and I have not been in that position a lot. So I am not sure what I did was best thing but it was what I thought was the best thing at the time.

Q: You certainly know what it's like from last year to be out on the track and be assured that everyone is going to have to pit and find out four or five guys don't and you lose the race you dominated. Carl Edwards said, that he thought that if this race he had to make a decision whether he was going to try to win it on speed or on fuel and if he thought the race had been won on speed he could have won. It what is your view if the race had not come down to fuel, could you have held him off? Was your car getting better or was he cat are to beat?

TONY STEWART: He had been the car to beat all date. It was definitely going to be a battle between the two of us obviously. There's no doubt about that. We were able to hold him off for, I don't know, the whole duration up to the point where he made that decision to start saving fuel. So I mean, I feel like we had just as good a shot as he had at that point. If it went back to a re start and we didn't get a good jump, the outcome may have been different. But you know, I feel like we had a shot at it.

Obviously he felt like he had a shot but you don't know how hard he was running. I ran as hard as I could to stay ahead of him and we were able to do that and he were steadily kind of inching away there until they started in the fuel mileage part of it, so I feel like we had a shot to stay ahead of him. We had the track position which was key to do that.

Q: With all the wins, in terms of satisfaction, where does this particular victory rank?

TONY STEWART: Why does everybody say that after every race, they want to know where it ranks, we don't keep rankings. We keep trophies, they are on a shelf and you scoot one over and slide the next one to it. You love having that opportunity to do that. It's not about rankings. It's just about enjoying the moment. Next week we could be 43rd at the end of the day and sitting there going, man, we appreciated the day that we had today and it's not about where they rank with each other.

Obviously special races like the Brickyard and Daytona 500 and Indy 500s, obviously are marquis events that mean more but a win is a win, man. I mean, I felt like I had won the race last night at El Dorado when I ran 6th in the Dream; to just make the starting field, I felt like was an accomplishment.

So you know, it's just the personal satisfaction at the moment that you have for it and the appreciation that you have for how hard everybody works to get you in a situation like this to go out and have a day like we had today.

Q: I know the number is very special to you from an emotional standpoint, were you aware of the history of the number and how long it's been since it's been to victory lane in?

TONY STEWART: No, but I know it wasn't born yet, that's kind of cool.

You know my attachment to the number is obviously through A.J. Foyt and my relationship with him. But I can't say that I've researched the history of the number in this series that far. But you know, this is something that hopefully I'll retire with this number. It means a lot to me, and to look up in the stands every week and to drive in the facilities and see the 14 flags flying and see people wearing 14 hats and 14 shirts, that's something that means a lot to us. That's our identity. So you know, it's something we are proud of, and you know, good thing is we are adding to the history books every week now.

Q: When you were putting this together, did you have any kind of a realistic timetable where you thought, okay, this point in the season or this point in the time where you could be contending and winning races?

JOE CUSTER: No, it was more of a business. Everything was predicated on they are going to run a race at Daytona whether we show up or not, so we need to have stuff that was it was a nut and bold the it was getting down to making financial decisions and hiring and getting everything structured more than sitting down and saying, where do we want to be when.

We felt like once you're in, you're in. Now it's kind of interesting, we haven't had to tune on it much. We have kind of taken it and there's challenges. That's the thing that's exciting. We can get better. There's a lot of areas that our program can improve.

TONY STEWART: We didn't draw a line in the sand and say this is where we expect to be on want to be. I don't know how you realistically do that. You know, you look at the resources, you look at the tools in place and you look at the people in place; after we hired people, the key people in the fall of last year. And you look at it on paper and you say, okay, we got Chevrolet on board, we have got Office Depot, Old Spice, U.S. Army, Haas Automation, we got all of these key partners in place that want to be a part of this with us.

And on paper, you've got Darian Grubb, and before we even got to the track we went to one test with each other and was a great test but we didn't know how we were going to work together at Daytona when we got there it was literally a week to week deal, and that's the approach we've had from day one is our hope was having two cars in the Chase. And it's more like a dream. It's not necessarily a benchmark of saying this is where we expect to be or necessarily want to be. But that's kind of the goal and dream to be in the Chase for the first year.

But realistically we all as a group have taken an approach of a week by week attitude and our competition meetings on Monday we discuss what we did right and what we did wrong and we discuss things that we did right but we think we might be able to do better the next week, and I think that's the attitude that you have to have is just sit there and run each week and analyze where you are at and try to figure out to make what you've got that much better the next week.

Q: I know you say, you don't like to rank the wins and all that, but is there a time that you think years down the road sitting in a rocking chair, whatever, this is a pretty big deal, winning your first as an owner/driver and first time it's been done that long time, do you think there will be a time where you are sitting there and you will look back and it will be something pretty special.

TONY STEWART: Absolutely. And I'm not trying to down play what happened today because I am very proud of what's happened. But we are still in the middle of the season and we are going to race next week still, so we are going to VIR tomorrow at nine o'clock in the morning, well, nine o'clock in the morning I'll probably be waking up, I won't be there on time. I'm never on time for a test.

In the morning I'm going to get dressed and get in the car and test and try to be ready for Sonoma in two weeks. You don't bask in the glory for very good in this series and the time you spend doing that, there's somebody else back at the shop working on a way to beat you. We'll enjoy it tonight but tomorrow we are going to go back to work and you're one hundred on the money, the good thing is I hope I'm not going to be in a rocking chair any time soon, but there is going to be that day and we are going to look back on that moment; and it's like I told Gene Haas at Charlotte, when we were up there taking pictures, we were there till one o'clock in the morning doing stuff and I told him: There's only one first and doesn't matter how many races we win, there's only one first time that you go to victory lane with a new organization, and you know, that was it, and this is the first one with a point win.

So this is the only first that you're going to have in this situation and the rest of them are just going to be a number and a stat down the road. It will be. And it is special. It's special for the organization. There will be a banner hanging in the shop that marks this day in time, you know, in history for the organization. But you can't sit there and sit on it too long. I mean, you've got to keep working forward to try to add to that.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for joining us and congratulations.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Carl Edwards , A.J. Foyt
Teams Hendrick Motorsports