Richmond II: Stewart - Friday media visit

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed the Prelude at Eldora Speedway, racing at Richmond, the success of the Stewart-Hass organization this season, ...

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed the Prelude at Eldora Speedway, racing at Richmond, the success of the Stewart-Hass organization this season, leading the points, the Chase and other topics.

TALK ABOUT YOUR GREAT EVENT, THE PRELUDE, AT ELDORA SPEEDWAY THIS PAST WEEK (THE EVENT HAD BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER FROM IT'S ORIGINAL JUNE 3RD DATE) : "Wednesday night was awesome at Eldora. We still had 23 guys, a couple of guys had to cancel due to injuries. (Dave) Blaney couldn't be there due to a death in his family. We are just so appreciate the guys that came. These drivers and the fans that come there are the two reasons that that event has been such a huge success. Getting the crowds that we have been able to get has raised a ton of money, but getting the fans there and getting these drivers there are the key to that. A lot of these guys had to make changes in their schedules to rearrange things to be able to go Wednesday of which I am very very appreciative and hope they had a good time. It was a great event. Great, great, great battle for the lead half-way through the race and then we got her sorted out there. It was a lot of fun and very thankful we had great weather and great attendance. Hopefully we'll find out pretty soon what the numbers were on the satellite side. It will take months to figure out what happened from the cable company side. But I think after the last couple of years, we should have a pretty good projection of what it was going to raise once we get those numbers."

TALK ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHT'S RACE HERE AT RICHMOND: "I am excited about it. This is going to be probably one of the biggest NASCAR weekend's of the year because of the fact that there are 10 guys that are still trying to bid for eight spots in the Chase. It is definitely going to be exciting. I don't think the focus is going to be on who is leading the race for sure. It is definitely going to be on those guys that are trying to get in. There are some great drivers and great teams and organizations that are still batting for those spots so, it is going to be exciting to see that. But, this is the place where I got my first (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) win and it is still my favorite track and the good thing is I don't have to worry about getting locked in, we are there. So, it gives us the flexibility to worry about just trying to get those extra 10 bonus points and going for the win."

HOW MUCH OF A DREAM COME TRUE HAS THIS SEASON BEEN FOR YOU TO HAVE BOTH CARS AS COMPETITIVE AS THEY HAVE BEEN? "It has been 100% fulfilled dream so far. We wanted to get one guy in the Chase, that was kind of our unofficial goal. We never really set a goal. We just wanted to be competitive each week and to feel like we were making progress each weekend. But I think deep down inside, we felt like Ryan and myself, we could surely get one of the two of us in and had good potential if everything went right, to get two. I am very very happy with the way we are going in to this weekend's race. It is a dream to think that we could go out our first year and possibly get all of our cars in the Chase in the first year. I am excited about it."

KNOWING THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO PUSH HARD HERE, DO YOU NOT PUSH SO HARD HERE KNOWING YOU HAVE TO GO HARD NEXT WEEKEND? "We try to stay with that attitude that we have to get up and go each week. Still, there are 10 bonus points on the line, so even though we have ourselves locked in the Chase, we still fighting to get those 10 points because if it were to come down to seven or eight points that you lose, by and you had a shot at winning a race that you didn't work 100% at once you got locked in, then you would feel like you shot yourself in the foot. I am excited about it. We all know, we have all been getting ready for the Chase. We look at it as this is our last chance to get those 10 bonus points and get us tied with the guys that are 10 points ahead of us right now. If we win it this weekend, that ties us with those guys, if they win, that is going to start them 20 ahead of us. We focused this week just as hard as we would if it was one of the Chase races coming up starting next week."

IF YOU ARE IN A POSITION TO LET RYAN (NEWMAN) HAVE TO PASS FOR THE WIN AT THE END OF THE RACE AND IT IS THE ONLY WAY HE GETS IN THE CHASE, DO YOU GIVE UP THE WIN? DO YOU THROW THE RACE? "Ah, man. It would be awful hard to do. I need those 10 bonus points. The great thing, I don't know that it is going to come down to that. I hope it doesn't come down to that. Ryan ran better than we did here in the spring, so I think he will probably settle that on his own. But, man, you just hope it doesn't even come to that. I think when it comes down it, then you make that decision. That is a tough decision to have to make as a driver while you are out there."

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE NHRA AT INDIANAPOLIS? "I didn't think much about it. I was having so much fun hanging out with Schumacher (Tony, NHRA Top Fuel driver for U.S. Army), I didn't really pay attention."

OF THE DRIVERS WHO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THE CHASE, IS THERE ANYBODY YOU HOPE DOESN'T MAKE THE CHASE? DOES IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOU? "In all honestly, it doesn't matter who gets in. The good thing is that the guys that make it in are the guys that deserve to be in the Chase. They earned their spots there and those are the guys that you want to race for the championship. It doesn't matter who it is and what the scenarios are. Kyle (Busch) getting in would be just as deserving as somebody else that doesn't get. It would be a shame for him to not after four wins to able to make it in the Chase like that. The hard thing is that it doesn't matter who those 12 guys are going to be, they are all going to be tough and there are guys that are already locked in that are tough. So It is just going to be fun to see who it is I think more than anything from our standpoint at the end of the night tomorrow night."

YOU HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL DRIVERS THIS SEASON GAINING POSITIONS ON THE DOUBLE FILE RESTARTS, IS THAT A CASE OF YOU BEING MORE AGGRESSIVE BECAUSE THERE ARE MORE POSITIONS AT STAKE OR BEING MORE PATIENT? "I didn't know we were, but that is a good stat to know. I think it is just trying to be smart and find the right holes. Obviously when you have lead lap cars there, you are a lot more comfortable with these double file restarts knowing that they guys you are around are cars that are driving good. A lot of times when you had lap-down cars on the inside, guys are struggling, that is why they got a lap down to begin with and now they are fighting to try to get themselves back on the lead lap and they make mistakes, make you nervous around them. I think right now it is a situation when you go to a restart you are comfortable around the guys that you are with and you know that you can work hard and try to get those spots early."

SO YOU ARE CONFIDENT GOING AFTER A SMALL HOLE? "Yeah I think so. I think we feel more comfortable going and taking a hole that's opened verses making sure well we're not getting ourself in a bad spot with a lapped car. The lead lapped cars you know that you can get in that hole and not put yourself or the guys you are around in a bad position doing it."

LOOKING AHEAD BESIDES YOURSELF, WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS THE FAVORITE IN THE CHASE? "Whoever is in it. How do you make a favorite? I guess Jimmie Johnson after three years of winning in a row would be considered the favorite but with the field the way it is this year I don't know how you can just pick one guy. This series things can change so fast in the course of one race. The whole complexion of the season can be changed after one week next week."

HOW BIG OF A DEAL DO YOU THINK DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS WILL BE IN THE CHASE? "It will be the same as its been up to this point. They're not doing anything different with it once the Chase starts. I don't think its going to be any different than what its already been since its been in effect."


IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYBODY WORKS FOR THOSE 10 BONUS POINTS WINNING RACES ALL SEASON LONG THEN YOU GET TO THE CHASE AND THEY RANK THEM ACCORDING TO THE BONUS POINTS AND TWO WEEKS LATER ITS UPSIDE DOWN, IS 10 POINTS ENOUGH FOR A BONUS FOR WINNING A RACE, SHOULD WE ADD A LITTLE TO THAT? "I don't think so. It's a bonus. It's not supposed to decide who wins a championship so why does it need to be more than that? You think of a guy that hasn't won and take a guy that's won four races, that's 40 bonus points. That's four points a race that you have to make up which doesn't sound like much but you look at how the Chase came down last year, man four points a race was a lot for some guys that tried to make up to get back to Jimmie. I think it's a good system the way it is. It's a good reward for the guys that have won races but its promoted consistency too which I think is a huge factor in our sport and should be a huge factor for our sport. I don't think we should get so far off track with bonus points and this and that that you get to where we're giving a race to a guy because he won a pole or a race. It's still about good those last 10 weeks."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson