Tony Stewart, Driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS Martin Truex, Jr., Driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS KERRY THARP: We are now pleased to be joined...
Tony Stewart, Driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS
Martin Truex, Jr., Driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS
KERRY THARP: We are now pleased to be joined in the media center, we have our 11th and 12th place in points, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick and our runner-up in today's race, that's Tony Stewart. And Tony will be seeded third in the Chase. And Martin will be seeded 7th, and Kevin will be seeded 11th. Let's hear from Martin, Kevin and Tony. Let's start with Tony, our race runner-up, your thoughts about the race and about being back in the Chase again Tony.
TONY STEWART: After missing it last year, obviously as a whole organization, we're excited to be back in. We never in our wildest dreams thought we would have missed last year but just shows that you've got to be on top of your game here, and, you know, if you have a couple of bad races, it can really set you behind. So happy to be back in the Chase obviously.
Tonight, we really didn't set the world on fire at any point in the race but we did keep making the car better and better and better. We got to the lead there and had a couple of stops that were off a little bit and got us back to fourth by the end of the sequence. You know, at the end of the race, it was pretty fun. I had probably the best seat in the house of watching the race between Gordon and Dale Junior there. It was a lot of fun. I felt like I was missing out on a lot of fun stuff and got myself in the mix ourselves. Junior was probably the better of the three of us car-wise, and he had his problem.
But it was fun racing guys like that. It's fun when you can race guys like Dale, Gordon and Earnhardt Junior and you can run that close with them. We were all trying to get by each other but when you can run that close with each other, it shows the confidence we have in each other.
KERRY THARP: Talk about your first appearance in the Chase, has to be a thrill for you
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, just real proud of my race team, what they have done for us you will year long. This is all of our first time in this deal so we're really excited, looking forward to it. I feel like I've got a great race team and feel like we need to step it up and have ten good weeks and hopefully when it all shakes out, we'll be somewhere that we can race for it and looking forward to it, it's going to be a lot of fun.
KERRY THARP: You're back in the Chase, your thoughts, congratulations.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, we haven't had a whole lot go right the last month and tonight on the verge of having a lot of things go wrong as well. Had the whole grill plugged up with grass and everybody did a good job getting it cleaned up. Had a decent car on the front half of the run, but fell off a little bit on the second half of the run. All in all, everybody did a good job and we did what we had to do.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Tony, Martin Truex Jr., or Kevin Harvick.
Q: Kevin, when you started the Daytona, you were 34th and no one paid any attention to you and you had one of the biggest days of your life. Tonight you started 13th and everyone was looking at you. Can you compare the emotions of these two days?
KEVIN HARVICK: I mean, it's really not -- for us, it's really not any different emotion just for the fact that you prepare yourself the same to go into each race. You know, this isn't near as exciting as winning the Daytona 500, I can promise you that.
To get into the Chase is what we needed to do and feel like we've had good race cars quite a few times and got tore up or just had something crazy happen. So, you know, it's hard to complain after we won the Daytona 500, we won the All-Star Race, and now we've made the Chase. Now we've just got to get it together the next ten weeks, and we're capable of winning races and we know that. We've just got to have momentum on our side.
Q: For anybody who wants to tackle it, now that you have to hit a reset button of some kind going into the Chase, it's been kind of -- you've all had different agendas for the past few week, some of you were locked in; is it now hitting a reset button or do we overdo the thought process and it's just another few weeks of racing?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I'm not going to say anything. I'm just going to keep racing. It's just ten more races I think. I'm not going to be saying anything. Just go after it.
KEVIN HARVICK: I know from a team standpoint, we've obviously got different engine stuff and different things. And tonight, you race -- you know, we had to race a little bit guarded the first three quarters of the race, but tonight you're able to race a little harder. The last ten weeks will be a little bit different for us than what we've had this week, last week.
Q: Tony, what value do you put on momentum at this point in the season or how can it impact a team, do you feel?
TONY STEWART: You guys call it momentum. I call it just how is your performance right now at this point.
You know, the teams that are running the best right now are the teams that have a hot at winning the championship. You can call it whatever you want to call it but it's still a matter of performance at the end of the day. It's still a sport that's a week-to-week sport and anything can happen, but even with technology changing as fast as it is, it seems like that if your program has been pretty good the last four or five weeks, you've probably got the best shot of anybody at winning the championship.
Q: Tony, three series champions are starting this Chase, one, two and three. For those of us outside the car, it looks like it could shape up to be a really spectacular battle. Any thought to that or is there any excitement from your perspective in chasing these champions?
TONY STEWART: It makes it fun because you respect the guys that have made it and obviously guys that have won it before, they know how to win championships. That in itself makes it fun to know that you're racing guys that have been in that situation, guys that are capable like these two beside me.
Like Martin said, you put ten good weeks together, you're on that list now. So that in itself does make it exciting. In a way, it's like you don't care who it is. You still just want to beat them all. But at the same time, it does add prestige because of who is in that list.
Q: Kevin, it looked like something was gone on with your engine, you had steam coming out. Were you aware you had engine problems?
KEVIN HARVICK: I didn't hit anything. I just went through the grass. The way these cars are, it's like a shovel with the splitter on the bottom of the car. It just filled the grill up solid and there was water coming out. Once we got that off, it actually ran cooler than it did the rest of the night. Most of the crowd wears red, so that's why they were excited.
Q: Just wondering, now that there's no bonus points for wins, are you scaling back to racing for points, or will you still go just as hard for wins now?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Oh, yeah. (Chuckling)
KERRY THARP: Did y'all get the question?
TONY STEWART: Nope.
KERRY THARP: Now, the next ten races, that there are not any bonus points for wins, will you be having a different strategy over the next ten races as you did maybe for the first 26?
TONY STEWART: You guys can handle that one.
KEVIN HARVICK: It pays more to win, more money, more points, more everything. Obviously you get ten more points than the guy in second, and so that's a pretty big bonus in itself. So the more races you can win, the better off you'll be for sure.
TONY STEWART: (Laughing).
Q: For Kevin and Martin, can you put into perspective with the reset points system, obviously these guys in front of you have been running in the Top-10 will do that most of the time. So how difficult can 50 points be to make up even in ten races?
KEVIN HARVICK: It can come down to ten points, two points, five points, we've seen championships lost by that.
Every point matters and obviously everyone who is in the Chase has run good. You want to gain all you can getting to this point and see what happens. 50 points, it's hard to make up among guys that are running good.
Q: Kevin, were you at all ever nervous tonight when you were back a little bit after having to avoid Montoya and Sorrenson --
KEVIN HARVICK: That's normal, right? Everyone has to do that. (Laughter).
TONY STEWART: Check, please.
Q: And Junior was running up front. Were you ever consciously aware of that and nervous at all?
KEVIN HARVICK: You approach every night the same, and you try to put yourself in positions tonight that were as good as can be. But you still have to go forward and you still have to try to pass cars. At that point I think we were 28th or 29th, and we had to go forward at that point. You hope something doesn't happen, but you just race as hard as you can and luckily everything worked itself out and we had a good enough car to not get kind of mired back in traffic there while they were all beating and banging. Luckily we had a good enough car to get back through there.
Q: Tony, last year, when you weren't in the Chase, you did roll the dice like in Kansas city, how likely -- not necessarily Kansas City, how likely are you to roll the dice to get that win?
TONY STEWART: Like Kansas City, we probably won't have that opportunity now -- well, we won't have that opportunity. We never have. We've never taken that chance in a Chase and we won't take that chance if it presents itself now. The risk versus reward is too great. The guys that headed for fuel and still came back out still finished I think fourth or fifth in that race. If you take that gamble for the win and it doesn't pay off, you're finished in the upper 30s or the 40th place race. The risk versus reward isn't really worth it as far as the points are concerned, and that's what it's going to be about the next ten weeks.
As much as we all want to win races, you have to weigh everything you do, risk versus reward.
KERRY THARP: Guys, congratulations. Appreciate it. We'll see you this week.
-credit: gm racing