TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway to discuss the Chase, favorites for the Championship, a very competitive NSCS season, and more. THE LEGEND IS THE LATE SEASON IS YOUR TIME.
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway to discuss the Chase, favorites for the Championship, a very competitive NSCS season, and more.
THE LEGEND IS THE LATE SEASON IS YOUR TIME. WITH THE 15-RACE STREAK YOU AND DARIAN (GRUBB, CREW CHIEF) ARE ON, WINNING LAST WEEK, IT STILL SEEMS LIKE YOU'RE STARTING THIS CHASE UNDER THE RADAR. ARE YOU OK WITH THAT? "Yeah. I don't care. When you win a championship ten years down the road they don't remember how you did it, they don't remember what scenarios put you there, all they really see is the paper work and the column that says you won. I'm one of those guys that I don't care if I finish in the top-20 the whole Chase if that's what we have to do to win the championship. You do what it takes and you do what you have to do, but I feel like we've got a lot of momentum right now. I think last weekend was proof of that; that we've been gaining on it a little bit at a time. It hasn't been any big chunks, but it's just been a lot of hard work with our organization and the results are starting to show."
DARIAN SAID BACK IN NEW HAMPSHIRE THAT YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN WORKING ON PIECES THAT YOUR ENGINEERS AND ALL YOUR PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON; THAT IT WASN'T SOMETHING YOU GOT FROM HENDRICK: "No, but we all still work hard together. We all work together as a group and it's nice to have the confidence in our organization that we're not just sponges that are feeding off of the Hendrick organization. We contribute and give back too. It's nice to be in a situation where we're helping control our own destiny also. It's a partnership. It's hard for people to understand that that is truly what it is; and it is a partnership of six teams that are working together to be successful. It's smart is what it is."
DID LAST WEEK SORT OF CAP OFF YOUR KIND-OF 'COMEBACK'--THAT YOU GUYS FELT YOU WERE STRUGGLING OR COMING OFF YOUR GAME, BUT NOW YOU'RE BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER? "Well, I don't know that we feel like we've got off our game as much as we just haven't been finding a feel that I like. For some reason we've struggled getting that all season 'til late. I feel like the last 10 weeks in particular we've really started making gains. I'm really proud of Darian; I'm really proud of our organization for not just getting discouraged. I think after the year we had in year one last year for the majority of the regular season that it would be very easy I think for that group to get discouraged this year and not be able to pull out of it. I think the timing is right, I think we're getting confidence and that's what we've got to do right now."
NEW HAMPSHIRE IS FIRST UP IN THE CHASE AND I KNOW IT'S JUST ONE OF 10 RACES, BUT HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET OFF TO A GOOD START? OR MAYBE, HOW IMPORTANT TO NOT FIND YOURSELF BEHIND THE 8-BALL? "The only way you know is after 10 races. You could finish dead-last at Loudon and theoretically still win the championship, so it's hard to say how much of an impact Loudon really makes 'til you get down to the end and you look at the point standings. I think probably the most important part is just momentum for the team and keeping the morale of the team up. You don't want to start the Chase and get behind and feel like you've got a strike against you for the next nine weeks. If you can get that momentum early and even if you just have a solid, decent run that can make a big difference in the morale of the team."
SEVERAL DRIVERS HAVE SAID THAT THEY FEEL LIKE THIS YEAR THERE IS NOT ONE OVERWHELMING FAVORITE. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? "Yeah, I honestly agree 100%. I feel like we're in a scenario where we've got the opportunity to have the most competitive Chase we've ever had with the new format. There is guys that started off the year strong that kind of have flatten off a little bit and there is guys that had a weak start to the year that are gaining a lot of momentum. I think it's hard. I think it's hard to honestly pick one or two guys that anyone can say are truly the clear-cut favorites. Some is going to go out there and say, 'Oh I said that guy would do it!' But nobody truly knows. I really believe it is the most competitive field. We're sitting here today and we don't even know who is going to be in it yet. I can promise you the guys that are still fighting their ways in still have a shot at winning this championship too."
WE KNOW IT'S HARD TO PICK A FAVORITE; IS IT EVEN HARDER TO PICK A GUY WHO IS A SLEEPER? "Well when you don't know who the favorites are, how can you pick the sleeper?!"
CAN ANY GUY STEP UP AND BE THAT GUY? "That is what I am saying. There is going to be 12 solid teams out there that have a legitimate shot at winning it. Not because they are mathematically in it but because the performance of their teams and their organizations have been good. I mean you look at the guys who are locked in and they are running good so there is nobody that really stands out right now and if you don't know anyone who stands out right now there is nobody that you can say is a sleeper right now."
OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE COMING IN WITH SOME MOMENTUM RIGHT NOW AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT AND HOW HARD IS IT TO SUSTAIN AND MAINTAIN IT? "Obviously it.............all it is, is momentum and I don't know how else to say it in a different way than you guy are looking for because I have said it about five times since I have been standing here. This is a sport where the technology never stops so how can you peak when the next week.....what you have isn't the same as what you need for the next week so there is no such thing as peaking at the right time, all there is, is momentum. And a win.....all that does is create momentum. That is what you want going into the Chase and even if you don't have momentum that doesn't mean somebody can't start at Loudon and get on a roll. You don't just all the sudden...........its not like you build it for five years to get on a roll because it can happen in a week or two so you can turn around and all the sudden its someone you wouldn't expect and could keep building that momentum and have it for ten straight weeks."
DID IT PLAY A PART IN ANY OF YOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS? "I don't think so. I mean you take it a week at a time. I don't think there was a situation and I feel like this is the best situation we have been in especially compared to last year when we were so good at the beginning and then fell off. This year its been the polar opposite as we have started off real slow and we have been every week just gaining on it and that has been what we have to do right now."
IF RYAN (NEWMAN) DOES NOT MAKE IT IN TO THE CHASE ARE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO USE HIS CAR TO TRY DIFFERNET SET UPS IN THE CHASE? "What do you think we have been doing up to this point? Why do you think you have multi-car teams? Come on get caught up here, that is why people build multi-car teams so they can share information and learn from each other. So you are going in the ground that has been covered since Joe Gibbs and Rick Hendrick and all these guys started multi-car teams 15 to 20 years ago. This isn't anything new."
YOU TALK ABOUT MOMENTUM, LETS TALK ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHTS RACE HERE IN RICHMOND. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU GUYS RIDING THAT MOMENTUM TO COME OUT OF HER WITH A SOLID RUN? "You know this close to the race if something were to happen and we were to crash out or something, I don't think it would kill us momentum-wise going into the Chase I think you just look at it as a bad night and I really think the last two-and-a-half-months have set that up and its just one win at Atlanta but it did it. I think when you have built it up over the course of several weeks, I don't think that one bad race could tear it down. And at the same time, I am not sure that one race builds the momentum all the way but I don't think one week makes or breaks it."
-source: gm racing