Rockingham all about rhythm and eggs for Tony Stewart

TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (MANAGING TIRES TOMORROW) "I really enjoy racing at places like this and Darlington. You get a guy that will go out and run a tenth or two faster than you at the beginning of a run. But...


(MANAGING TIRES TOMORROW) "I really enjoy racing at places like this and Darlington. You get a guy that will go out and run a tenth or two faster than you at the beginning of a run. But you get 40 laps into the run and you've evened up, and then the next 40 laps you may beat him by three tenths. It's kind of a neat cat-and-mouse game to see who is leaning too hard, too early and who is being real patient and making sure they are saving their tires. I like this kind of racing. I think this is stock car racing, at a place like this."

(MANAGING THE THROTTLE TOMORROW) "It's all the same. It's all directly related. You're asking the tires to push the car forward, and if you're asking the tires to do too much too soon, you're going to be hurting late in a run." (PRETENDING THERE IS AN EGG UNDER THE GAS PEDAL) "That is exactly the way I was taught when I came here with the Busch Series. My crew chief kept saying, 'Just squeeze the egg. Squeeze the egg.' That's the way you have to treat it. You have to treat it like it is a fragile egg under the throttle and make sure you're not leaning on the tires too hard, too early."

(WHAT HE DOES BEHIND THE WHEEL TO SAVE TIRES) "I think about what I'm going to have for dinner. The more you can get your mind off of driving hard, the more you can make yourself relax and try to not abuse the tires anymore than you have to, the better off you're going to be. I think about what I want to have for dinner or something silly like that. It gets you in a rhythm and once you're in a rhythm, if you stay there, you're normally in pretty good shape. But as soon as you break that rhythm and you have to try to hustle the car at all, then that's when the tenth you were going to gain at the end of a run, you lost it by two tenths there. You just think of something silly. You might sing a song in your head. Just anything to get yourself in a real calm, smooth rhythm. Once you get yourself in that rhythm, you do everything you can to stay in it."

(CHALLENGE OF STARTING 15TH TOMORROW) "I think if you get your car driving good, it really isn't going to matter a whole lot. You just have to be real patient here and have to be real careful not to lean on the tires any harder than you have to at any point in the race."

(CHANCES OF EITHER KENSETH OR EARNHARDT, JR. WINNING TOMORROW) "I think both of them could win a race this soon to be perfectly honest. I'm sticking to my guns with what I've said all winter. These guys could overshadow easily what I did all last year." (ON MATT KENSETH) "Give me one reason why he couldn't [win]. Nobody can give me a reason. I don't think anybody has a reason why he can't win. He is capable of winning anyplace, anytime right now."

(ON RETURNING TO REGULAR SHOCK RULES) "We're back on our normal packages. We're running the same type of set-ups we ran last year the two times I was here. I can't speak for Bobby, but it's back to business as usual as far as working with your shocks and springs and track bar and everything else we normally go through on a regular race weekend. I throw Daytona out of the equation anyway. I'm not a big fan of superspeedway racing anyway. I don't like it when other people determine your own fate. I'm happy about coming back here. At this place you kind of race the racetrack. You don't really race each other as much as you race the racetrack and that's the way I kind of like it. I like having to worry about my own car and worry about my own set up on the car."

(ON ADJUSTING TO PIT STOPS WITHOUT INJURED CREW MEMBER MIKE LINGERFELT) "All of our guys have done a pretty good job making adjustments for this week. We brought a new guy in and he's been working everyday at the shop. He's been working real hard to make sure we're up to par for this weekend. I miss Mikey already. This isn't even the time of the weekend when he's here yet, but I really miss him already. I spent a couple days with him on Monday and Tuesday this week. [Gordy Arbitter, 27, of Panorama City, Calif., will replace Lingerfelt this week as front tire changer. His status in that capacity is race-to-race.]

(CAN ANYTHING BE DONE TO KEEP CREW MEMBERS SAFER) "You have two tire carriers that carry two tires in. Why can't they carry two tires out? They talk about us not driving through each other's pit boxes, and it's hard. With the way we have to run the pumps [on a superspeedway car], the power steering almost goes away when you get down to that low of an RPM. It's hard enough getting into your pit box, let along getting in, getting squared up and being able to get out without having to drive through somebody else's box. When you have to drive through somebody else's box, you need help with the tires. Like I say, if two guys can carry two tires in, the same two guys can carry two tires back out with them." (ON MIKE LINGERFELT) "I think it's a stupid reason to have a guy get injured like that. He was doing the best he could to keep me from hitting another tire going out of the pits. He threw his body at that tire to get it out of my way. The problem with Mikey is he is so small. He is such a little guy. He's real stout for his size, but he is so little, I never even saw him down there until I hit the tire and it knocked him up a little bit. He was more worried about me being upset about the whole deal than he was worried about himself. He is a tough guy. He did everything he could do to make sure I got out OK."

(COMMON TEMPLATES) "From where I sit every Sunday, it all looks the same from the inside. It doesn't matter to me. I don't really care. As long as it's even for everybody, that's all I care about. NASCAR does a pretty good job of making sure the playing field is level for everyone. It doesn't really concern me either way. Everybody makes such a big deal about it. Let NASCAR do their job, and let us go on and worry about racing. You guys ask us about body styles and all this-and-that. I thought all this was about showing up and racing, and seeing if you could beat the other 42 guys that you start with on Sunday. I didn't got to college and study aerodynamics or anything, so I don't really know. I just worry about driving the car in all reality."

(ON TOPPING HIS PERFORMANCE FROM LAST YEAR) "I'm not going to try. I going to go out and do my job every week just like I did last year. We'll take the results that it gives us. We didn't have some great master-plan last year that got us where we were. We just went and did our work each week. It's one of those situations where if it's not broken, don't fix it. We don't think it's broken so we're not going to try to fix it right now."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart