Chevy Rock & Roll 400 Post-Race Transcript An Interview With: TONY STEWART - 2nd in points, made the Chase cut JEFF GORDON - 3rd in Richmond race, 6th in points, made the Chase cut CARL EDWARDS - 9th in points, made the Chase cut KERRY THARP: ...
Chevy Rock & Roll 400 Post-Race Transcript
An Interview With:
TONY STEWART - 2nd in points, made the Chase cut
JEFF GORDON - 3rd in Richmond race, 6th in points, made the Chase cut
CARL EDWARDS - 9th in points, made the Chase cut
KERRY THARP: We have Tony Stewart, driver of the number 14 Office Depot Chevrolet; Jeff Gordon, driver of the number 24 Dupont Chevrolet; and Carl Edwards, driver of the number 99 Aflac Ford. Congratulations to all three. Tony, let's hit you first. You have been up top all year. Talk about being seeded second.
TONY STEWART: It's better than 12th. I'm excited about that. The system I think is a good system. You know, it's not devastating to leave here and be second in the points after leading for so long. I mean, we all knew what the system is going in. It's a fair system. It's an exciting system.
So, you know, we are not leaving here with our heads down because we are now second in the points by any means. We are right there in striking distance and if we can put together 10 great weeks, then we will be the champion. If we don't, then we didn't deserve it.
But as a driver tonight, I'm kind of like where Jimmie was. I'm disappointed with my effort tonight. I made mistakes as a driver that I normally cuss people for doing, and from an ownership standpoint, I'm ecstatic to have us locked in and for Ryan and everybody on the U.S. Army Team and Tony Gibson and those guys to get themselves locked in, I'm extremely proud of those guys. This is a hard night to run when you have to fight your way into the championship Chase. It seems like there's so many ways you can screw yourself up and only a few ways to ensure that you're going to be in. So I'm really proud of their effort and I'm proud of my guys' effort, too.
None of us on our team and none of us at Ryan's or anybody at Stewart Haas know the meaning of quit. So we are excited about ten great weeks coming up.
KERRY THARP: Jeff Gordon, your thoughts about getting ready for the Chase. You certainly had a good run tonight. Your thoughts about making the Chase.
JEFF GORDON: I'm excited. We had a great year. We really had to rebound from last year's effort. We just were kind of a non-factor. And this year, I think has shown the effort -- the effort has really shown in the results. I felt like the first ten races we are were on our game and were strong and had a shot to win some races, like at Texas which is something I never thought I would do and then lost a bit of momentum, and Tony came on strong and Mark and Jimmie. It was a little bit disappointing.
But I feel like the last five or six races we have really been able to get some things turned around and I feel like we are really well prepared for the next ten races and I feel like tonight was something that really proved to a lot of people, including ourselves, of what we are capable of doing. We had a great, great run tonight and best car I've had here in a long time and as strong as Denny was for anybody to battle with him, I think was really saying something. And we battled with him a good bit. So it was a great night for us, and a little bit of momentum for us going into the Chase.
Hate to have a deficit, but like Tony said, sixth is better than 12th, of the final ten races, a lot is going to happen, and I think we have a great shot at it.
KERRY THARP: Carl, great race, your thoughts about the Chase?
CARL EDWARDS: This season is so much different than last season. We had six wins or something at this point last season.
Right now, we have struggled a little bit as a group, Roush Fenway, so I feel like this is our opportunity to only be a few points behind the leader, kind of gather all of our energy and all of the things we have been working on and head into these last ten races full force. So real excited about it and hopefully we can have some good runs and get back up there the way we know we can run.
Q: Denny's confidence has been soaring; as someone who knows him a little bit, do you think he's a legitimate title contender?
TONY STEWART: Definitely. I think nights like tonight prove that, and they have been strong. They have been strong consistently.
You know, I don't think you can count anybody out. I mean, there's obviously drivers that are bigger favorites than others, but the reality is there's 12 great teams that made the Chase and there's reasons they all got here. You can't count anybody out.
But for sure, somebody that's starting the Chase off of a win has got a lot of momentum on their side. You look at him tonight, he's on cloud nine. He just won his first race at his home track leading into the Chase. So I don't know how you could have more momentum on your side than what he's got right now.
Q: The emotion you felt when you won at Indianapolis; can you talk about what he's feeling winning here?
TONY STEWART: I think he's happy. Rocket science. (Laughter).
JEFF GORDON: You have to clarify things.
TONY STEWART: Well... (Laughter).
Q: When you woke up on Sunday morning before the Daytona 500, would you have imagined you would be second and seeded for the Chase?
TONY STEWART: Oh, dude, you have to see some of my dreams. (Laughter) That doesn't even scratch the surface of my wildest dreams. No, it's not even close to my wildest dreams. (Laughter).
Q: Your less-than-wildest dreams. You're seeded second, both of you are in the Chase; do you really think that there's anybody that can beat the Hendrick teams right now?
TONY STEWART: I think we just answered that. Anybody that's in the Chase is a contender. You know, we have seen so many things since the Chase has been here. You know, you can go to Loudon next weekend and this thing can be totally upside down and you can have half the field of the Chase almost eliminated from it in one week. We have seen weird things happen and it's one of those deals that you can't predict what's going to happen in this Chase. Every year, it's been different for any other year.
Would we have bet on this at Daytona? No way. To get one car in the Chase; but to have both cars, we are ecstatic. I can't wait to get to the shop on Monday and shake their hands and pat everybody on the back and say, thank you, to everybody. That's what I'm looking forward to the most. I'm not looking forward to the day off tomorrow. I want to get to the shop and thank these guys. And Jeff knows this because he's been a car owner, too.
This is a tough series, and to get two cars in a Chase is unbelievable. I mean, I'm very humbled by it. But I'm very thankful that we have got the group of guys that we have. And I've always been surrounded by good people at Gibbs but there's something different when it's your own deal. There's a greater sense of pride when you know you have had a hand in making it be successful and that's why I can't wait to get to the shop on Monday.
Q: Is Loudon a really good place to kind of start off the Chase? It's kind of a racer's racetrack where handling and everything comes into play and some of -- a lot of the tracks in the Chase will be mile-and-a-halves. Is that a good place to get started at?
TONY STEWART: I like starting there. I feel like it's one of our better tracks. We don't all win there but we always consistently run really well there. I'm kind of excited about starting there and hopefully get a good run there and get a good start in the Chase.
I like it. I agree with that. It is a handling track. It is a driver's track to where you can help yourself out from the driver's standpoint and move around. It doesn't seem like you can move around a lot but from the steering wheel you can move around a lot and help yourself out.
But it is, it's a fun place to start the Chase, and you know, as we have seen in the past, that can be a place that can either get your Chase hopes off to a great start or they can be wiped out in one week.
JEFF GORDON: It's a good place for us to get the Chase started. There's a great fan base up there. I think we have seen some exciting races there, and so, yeah, I think it's a good place to start it off. There are a lot of mile-and-a-halves, so I think it's good to mix it up.
Q: Yesterday I asked you the position you were in the Chase, were you pushing the envelope or were you actually going hard, still aggressively? You said you were going to push the envelope. You started off strong, a few mishaps. How do you think this propels you as far as winning the championship this year?
JEFF GORDON: We pushed hard. Unfortunately Clint Bowyer pushed a little too hard down in turn one and almost pushed us out but we caught our way back up to third. I did exactly what I expected us to do as a team. Our goal was to win, and we went into it as hard as we could to win. We had great pit stops. We had the best car I've had here in a very long time. I pushed hard when I felt like I had to on the restarts, the double-file restarts, and I think we had a second-place car and we finished third.
I think it propels us very nicely to go into the Chase, actually.
Q: Does it concern you at all that your highest finish in the last few races is 19.5?
TONY STEWART: No, because they are not going to give a championship trophy off the last four weeks, so, no, I'm not.
KERRY THARP: Thank you very much.