Pontiac Racing Michigan Race Quotes

TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "I'll tell you what. I didn't win this race. The guys won the race for us. The guys did a great job in the pits all day. We had a bad one (pit stop) at the beginning, but they sure made up...


"I'll tell you what. I didn't win this race. The guys won the race for us. The guys did a great job in the pits all day. We had a bad one (pit stop) at the beginning, but they sure made up for it there at the end.

"I'm really happy for this Home Depot team, Coca-Cola, Pontiac - everybody has worked so hard. We had a really good car yesterday and then the weather changed on us and we've been chasing the race car all day. We had a tire that equalized. We've just been all over the board today. But finally when it counted, we were there at the top."

(WHO WOULD HAVE WORRIED HIM THE MOST IF IT HAD GONE BACK GREEN WITH FIVE LAPS TO GO?) "The black '3,' for sure. I know the '18' is not going to hurt me. He may go by me. But the '3' wouldn't have a problem roughing you up a little bit on the way by just to say 'hi,' and he'd smile and laugh as he was doing it. I didn't really like seeing him back there at the end."

(HOW MUCH DID CLEAN AIR MATTER TO HIM?) "A bunch. I needed a lot cleaner air without anybody behind me to run where I was running on the racetrack. I seemed to be the only one that could run down on the bottom and stay there. But there were guys that were running the middle and the top that were really quick, too, so I didn't want to see this thing go back to green."

(ON RACING DALE EARNHARDT AND DALE JARRETT FOR THE WIN) "Those two guys will race you harder than anybody. It's fun to be able to race those guys like that and race hard at the end and have a shootout. We'll take them any way we can get them."

(ON WINNING TWO IN A ROW)  "It's either impressive or lucky, which ever way
you want to call it.  The fact is we won.  That's all we care about."


(DID HE HAVE ANYTHING FOR THE TWO CARS IN FRONT OF HIM, HAD IT RESTARTED?) "I don't know. It would have taken a few laps. It's kind of hard to say. But we were definitely good before the first caution came out there when the '12' car blew up."

(WHAT HAPPENED ON HIS FINAL PIT STOP TO COST HIM TRACK POSITION?) "I guess maybe a lug nut got crossed up or something like that. It just happens sometimes. These guys do a great job every weekend, week in and week out. This is just one time where it bit us. No fault of theirs; it's just one of those things."

(DID HE THINK HE COULD GET BACK TO THE FRONT AFTER THAT?) "I didn't know. I didn't know if we would. Even if you start up front you still don't know what everybody else has, so it's always a crapshoot. It's just one of those deals. Maybe we would have been good, maybe we wouldn't have. But I thought we had a good shot at it.

"It was just a good run for us all day. We had a good race car. I think we learned a little bit on this configuration of racetrack again. Maybe we got a little bit better than we have been in the past."

(ON THE RACE IN GENERAL) "I thought we had the best car there before that caution came out when the '12' car blew up on the front straightaway. The adjustments we made before the rain weren't as good. After the rain, we kind of backed it (the set-up back up and it was a lot better.

"Then when the caution came out we had a lug nut get jammed on the right rear and we came out sixth. You can look at it two different ways. I look at it like I'm glad we got back to third. We had something for them and had a good car all day."

(DID THE CAR FEEL BETTER WITH THE NEW TAIL?) "We came back to this track with the same car we had last time, this is a new generation tire that Goodyear brought and we've got a new tail, so I ain't got a clue to be honest with you. I ain't got a clue if I felt it or not to be honest with you."


"We took two tires on the last stop and that was definitely the right move. We were decent all day, but we got way loose after the first stop and lost a lot of positions. That left us with a lot of ground to make up. We made up five positions in the final stop and that was the boost we needed. We came home with a decent finish, but definitely not where we wanted to finish."


(ON THE RAIN) "If it was going to rain, I was hoping it would rain when the '77' was leading. He (Robert Pressley) and his family have worked hard in this sport. I was hoping if somebody was going to get a big break and Mother Nature wasn't going to cooperate that he would have been 'the man.'"

(ON HIS DAY) "We found one code of Goodyear tires, which we had two sets, that were pretty good. If we varied from that set we were horrible. We were really fighting the inconsistency there. The car was pretty good. We'd do nothing but change tires and we could either be a half a second faster or a half a second slower. That's been our problem the last four races, counting The Winston, so we've got to figure out where we're at on that."


(ON THE SECRET TO HIS SUCCESS AT MICHIGAN) "I don't know if I have any secret. I say it's more Greg's (Zipadelli's) and Jimmy Makar's secret than anybody. They have given me good, stable, comfortable cars when we've come here. This is place that I don't feel like I've really figured it out yet. There are things that other guys do that I think make them more consistent throughout the day. If the car is right, then I'm pretty good during certain segments. But there are times during each of the races where I've struggled to try to figure out where I needed to be on the racetrack and what to do to keep my momentum up. It's just one of those places. I think you need to run this track a long time before you really figure it out."

(ON WINNING BACK-TO-BACK RACES) "It sure won't hurt anything. I feel like the attitude that the guys have got is the same attitude as the team that I had last year. We've had a lot happen to us this year on the racetrack, and it was starting to get the guys down. They've all stuck with us and kept working hard, and have never given up. That's the attitude that winning teams are made of. It makes me proud to be a part of them. They were the guys that won it for us today. I didn't win it on the racetrack. They won it for me and for all of us, in all reality. That last pit stop, they got us out second. We had four tires and we knew Robert Pressley had only taken two. Robert was strong all day, so we didn't count him out, by any means. But we figured with the four tires we ha d a pretty good shot of getting by. We just needed to do it as quickly as possible and try to get a little bit of a gap because of the line I was running. I needed some open racetrack to run where I needed to run."

(ON THE PASS ON ROBERT PRESSLEY) "I got a decent start. I didn't really get a jump on him, by any means. We both got the throttle at the same time, so I didn't really pull him. What helped was the fact that there was a lapped car on the inside and that ran him too wide into one. You play the drafting game and it punches a big hole with two cars in front of you. I was running the outside and as soon as he started turning down, it gave me enough room to get between him and the wall I started around the outside to get a run on him. I figured he'd block me, to be honest, and if he would have it would have been a fair play to do that. He went down and ran the line he was comfortable with and it left me the top. Greg was telling me on that yellow to be patient and I told him, 'I don't think we're going to have time to be patient.' He goes, 'Well just don't beat the fenders off of it doing whatever you're going to do.' I tried to make sure I gave myself plenty of room, but at the same time I felt like that was an opportunity we couldn't pass up right there. I didn't really want to run the top on that restart. I wanted to get down to the bottom as soon as possible. But with that run we got I felt like it was one of those deals where you cross your fingers and stand on the gas, because with 15 laps to go and that group of guys that was behind us, they weren't going to wait, by any means."

(WAS HE WORRIED ABOUT DALE EARNHARDT GETTING BY HIM?) "If the yellow wouldn't have come out, I think we were going to be OK. When the yellow comes out Earnhardt is the master. He's always been good on restarts and good at doing what needs to be done. Like I said, I wasn't sure that I knew everything I needed to know about this racetrack to know exactly what to do with him there. I was prepared for it. I wasn't going to give it to him, by any means. I felt like we had a good enough car that if I could make the first lap and get through those first two sets of corners that we'd have a shot of getting through and getting away from him again."

(HOW DOES A THREATENING SKY AFFECT HIS APPROACH DURING A RACE?) "We talked about it as soon as that yellow came out. We knew the clouds were coming and Greg had said that there was another set of showers on its way before the restart after the first rain delay. We knew it was on its way. We just didn't know where it was at. When that yellow came out and we came through three and four and my spotters told me they were going to give us the 'one-to-go' signal and I saw it raining, I thought, 'Hey it's raining down here,' and it was drops similar to what it was that started the big wash-out the first time. At that point I thought, 'Hey I may not have to race him hard at the end. We may get a little 'Jeff Burton luck' on our side for once."

(CAN THESE TWO WINS ERASE THE EARLY SEASON DISAPPOINTMENT?) "I'm happy winning two in a row. I don't know anybody that wouldn't be. But at the same time, do I think that this is the automatic cure? No. We've got to keep racing hard like this every week. I think I'm probably just encouraged about the rest of the season. I feel like this has turned a lot of things around for us. I know the guys are pumped up. I can it on their faces. I've raced 21 years, I've worked with a lot of people and I know what momentum does. Joe (Gibbs) can testify to that. He's been part of winning teams. You win a couple games or you win a couple races, and it can changes things around. But doe I expect it to or do I think it's going to happen? I hope so. But we've still got to go out and do our job each week. We're still down on downforce compared to everybody else and we can't stop. We got a little help this weekend and it made our car more stable, and kept it from being as twitchy as it was in the fall here. It brought us back to the level that everybody else was at here. Now we just need to keep working with it. I guarantee you when it gets hotter here, aero is going to be more important. We're going to have to keep working hard to make up the deficit that's still there."

(DID THE RAIN CHANGE THE TRACK?) "It's like taking an eraser on a chalk board after the teacher has gone through about a 45-minute session in class. It wiped everything off. All the rubber was gone. It let people go back at spots on the racetrack where they wanted to go to begin with. We talked during the rain delay. Greg and I sat down, and it was Greg's idea to kind of go back to what we started the race with which was definitely the right idea. We basically started over and that's basically what the track did. It started over. That's to Greg's credit for paying attention to all that and knowing the way we ended the day yesterday and the conditions that we had. The sun came back out and the surface temperature was coming back, and he was thinking about that, too. We put the car back to pretty much where we started, which the way we ended 'Happy Hour' yesterday. It drove the way it did at the end of the 'Happy Hour' session."

(ON JOE GIBBS INFLUENCE) "Whether we're winning or losing, he is always giving us pep talks and he is always behind us. The great thing about Joe is that he knows how to motivate people. Even when we were running good last year he was still motivating us to try to make ourselves better. That's what we have to do as a race team to stay on top. Even though we were having some tough times this year, he goes, 'I know you guys can bounce back and can bounce out of this.' He knows about all this. A lot of it was racing luck. He knows the races that we should have won or that we should have run better at, and just had something happen. But he's always been behind us and he's the guy that is always smiling at the end of the day. His attitude and his approach to everything that we do, it just trickles down through the whole system at our race shop. When you've got a leader like him it's easy to go out and do our jobs on the weekends because we know that we've got the right leadership, we've got the right equipment, we've got everything in place the way we need. It's because it starts at the top with Joe and works its way down."


"It's kind of like Winston Cup every week - something different an happen to you, and I think for the first part of the season for the '20' car, it seemed like everything did (happen). I thought we had a win at Richmond and a couple of other places running real well. It's Winston Cup. Something can happen to you and that's the reason this is so rare. You need to enjoy these. I was real proud of Tony's team and the '20' car and Tony himself. They kept swinging at it and now things are starting to go their way, so it was really exciting for us today.

"We got Mike Lingerfelt hurt at Daytona, everybody knows, changing our front tires for us. We had to replace him. I think that last pit stop today was like a 14.50 (seconds) or something, so the guys are back. The whole team deserves a lot of credit. Mark (Cronquist) in the motor room, and everybody back home - it really is a team effort at our place. Ninety percent of the people at our race shop work on both cars. I think it's a true team feeling when one of our cars can win."

(ON TONY'S TEAM BEING CAPABLE OF WINNING EVERY WEEK) "I think Tony's team is the one you picture right now running for a championship. You picture them as being an exciting team that can win almost any race at any time. Bobby (Labonte) has kind of proven himself at the top. But I think Tony's is the kind of team that definitely can win races. There's not a racetrack I go to where I feel that he is going to run poorly. I feel like he is going to have a chance every week when I go."

(IS HE SURPRISED TO SEE TONY WIN TWO IN A ROW?) "Yes, it surprises me because in Winston Cup you just don't get to win many, particularly two in a row. It always surprises me. I think I try and enjoy each one of these wins because the Lord doesn't give you that many, and it's exciting for us to get the chance to win one, much less two in a row."

(DOES HE FEEL LIKE HIS TEAM IS ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD AFTER RECEIVING THE RULE CHANGE FOR THE REAR OF THE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX?) "I was really happy that NASCAR made a move there and gave us some help with that rear tail. If anybody could see the wind tunnel numbers, we're still considerably behind. But I think it puts us in a much better position with our cars. I think today we ran well. I think if you looked at it you would say that the Fords are a little faster - a couple of them - but things worked out for us."

(DOES HE FEEL BAD FOR THE FANS DUE TO THE RAIN-SHORTENED EVENT?) "I think you always feel bad on a deal like that. You would like to win it racing on the track. I will say this: it's happened to us a bunch, but in any case you take what you can get and today it kind of went our way with the rain."

(ON THE TEAM'S FOCUS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON) "What we're focused on is obviously the championship with the '18' car, and we would like for Tony to be up there. If I can give you some idea how hard this is: it's been nine years. This has been a nine-year effort and last year was our closest to the championship."

"When I looked out there today, what I saw was (Dale) Earnhardt and (Dale) Jarrett and people like that that have won championships, and you notice where they are. Even some days their car may be off, but they're still up there. I think that is what we're facing is with other people. We've never won a championship. They have, so I think we're going to have to be extra good. I think we've got three cars or four cars within 125 points probably, so that's really nothing. That's one race. I think we're focused on that. It seems like for us there are three races: one is to qualify, one is to win the race and one is to win the championship. We've never been able to win a championship, so that's where our focus is. The Lord blessed us with a great day today.

"We think with Bobby's team - the fact that it's been there for six years, we've got a lot invested in it, Bobby is right at his peak, Jimmy Makar and everybody over there - I think it's no accident that the best two years for the '18' car have been with the '20' car being there. That's a big deal for us. Last year we finished second. That's the first year Tony was there. I think you've got Tony and Bobby sharing information. You've got 'Zippy' and Jimmy sharing information, and you've got twice the tests, so I think they've fed off each other. Like I said, 90 percent of our people work on both cars. We look at it as a total team effort."


(ON TONY STEWART'S SUCCESS AT MICHIGAN) "I just think he likes this track. We came here last year and ran really well. We had Bobby Labonte and Jimmy Makar to fall back on. They've always run really well here. They are a big credit to us in getting up to speed and coming here and running as well as we have in the past. And Tony likes this racetrack. It's fun. There is a lot of room to race, and you can pass. If they pass you, you can pass them right back. Probably more racetracks should be like this."

(ON JEREMY MAYFIELD) "They ran awful strong. We got off in the middle there because of the tire problem. But I think we had a car that was capable of running with them. Now whether we could have adjusted on it and gotten it as good as it seemed like they were on track to be, I don't know. We were able to catch him, pass him for the lead and then he passed us back, and then he kind of hung right there until we got that caution. Then we got off with our adjustments and the tire problem. When we got back on, I think we were as good as anybody after that 50-lap run. He would be coming through traffic real well, but it was hard to look at his lap times because he was always in traffic. I'm sure he was going to be tough if he didn't have the problems he did."

(WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FRIDAY'S QUALIFYING RUN AND TODAY) "We just have never really qualified well here if you go back. That's (26th) the best we've qualified here in three races, so we were kind of proud of that. It's a difficult track to qualify on. It's so wide if you miss you line just a little bit, you give up so much time. I felt very comfortable once we went to race trim that we'd be good, and we were yesterday afternoon. Tony likes to race. It's hard to get pumped up to go out for one lap and put it on the edge. That takes some of the fun out of it. But when it comes time to race, he's my man."

(ON THE NEW BUMPER RULE) "I'm sure it didn't hurt. We were happy to get it. It was something that we needed. It was probably 50 percent of what we needed to be as good as the other cars. All that we wanted to do was be fair, as far as aero numbers go. We were able to overcome some of the differences with the depth of the race team. I think it affected us more than it did the '18' car, probably due to our inexperience."

(ON WORKING WITH THE 18 CAR) "We're fortunate that we have a very strong race team with a lot of depth. Me and Jimmy share a lot of information back and forth. As a young team we don't have a lot of years or notes to look back on. When we get to certain situations I can always run over there and Jimmy is always eager to help."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bobby Labonte , Robert Pressley , Mike Ling