TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed racing at Infineon, road course racing in general, being a car owner and other topics. TALK ABOUT BEING AT INFINEON RACEWAY...
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed racing at Infineon, road course racing in general, being a car owner and other topics.
TALK ABOUT BEING AT INFINEON RACEWAY AND HOW YOU WERE IN FIRST PRACTICE: "Not happy with first practice but we have two more sessions and we'll see what we've got. We never even got a qualifying run in, we were still working in race trim, so it will be a big question mark where we qualify. I like coming out here. It is one of my favorite places to come."
TALK ABOUT YOUR SPECIAL OFFICE DEPOT PROMOTION: "We have the Official Small Business of NASCAR Courtesy of Office Depot Sweepstakes that goes through July 10, 2010. At the fall Dover race, myself and Greg Biffle will both have two small businesses on the TV panel on the back of our cars. The business with the highest finishing driver at Dover whether it is Greg or myself, will named the Official Small Business of NASCAR. If Greg or myself happen to win the race, then it is a one million dollar bonus to that small business. It is pretty cool. You can go to OfficeDepotRacing.com and submit your entry for any small business. It is something like hitting the lottery for a small business. It gives you a chance to really have a big day."
AT MOST TRACKS YOU TRY TO SET YOUR CAR UP TO HANDLE WELL AT A PARTICULAR POINT, WHEN YOU GET HERE OR WATKINS GLEN, WHERE DO YOU WANT YOUR CAR TO WORK REALLY WELL AT? "Everywhere. Because as crazy as these guys will be driving on Sunday, you have to be good everywhere. If you are weak at some point, somebody is probably going to go in there and probably door-slam you or something. I was watching tapes this last week, if you get back, fourth on back, it is no holes barred wrestling match. We have been working on trying to get it good everywhere and we have it good nowhere so far. That will be focus for tomorrow."
WHAT IS LEVEL OF COMPETITION AT ROAD COURSES NOW AS COMPARED TO WHERE IT WAS FIVE TO SEVEN YEARS AGO? "Yes, it is definitely getting better. There are more guys putting more effort and emphasis on their road course programs for the two races. Looking at the sheet today, guys that have struggled in the past are really going good today, so it shows that it has definitely picked up quite a bit."
GREAT FINISH LAST YEAR WITH YOU AND KASEY KAHNE BATTLING FOR WIN, ANY THOUGHTS ON HOW YOU COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING DIFFERENT OR THOUGHTS ON DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS? "To be honest, we did everything we could do. I think there was something that we felt like setup wise we missed starting the race but that wasn't anything during the race we could fix. It was something that had to be done before the race. I felt like we ran as good of a race as we could run, just Kasey was that much better."
YOU HAVE BEEN CRITICAL IN THE PAST SAYING THIS WASN'T THE MOST FAN FRIENDLY RACE BECAUSE IT IS DIFFICULT TO PASS, DO YOU THINK IT WILL DIFFERENT THIS YEAR? "I don't know. We'll see what we have got when we run Sunday. If I knew the answer to that, I would be a bookie in Las Vegas if I had information like that and knew what it was going to be like. Every race is different here. They are not all the same. The scenarios are always different so the face of the race kind of changes each time. Whatever race I was talking about, that particular year, it probably was."
DO YOU FEEL PRETTY GOOD THAT EVEN IF YOU DON'T QUALIFY WELL, YOU CAN MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH THE FIELD? "If your car is driving good, you can get there. It is just a matter of how much carnage are you going to have to drive through to get to it. There is just a lot of stuff that goes on, especially the restarts. The corners that you have high speed then you go to a slow speed corner, it seems to get stacked up and a lot of congestion. A lot of guys get themselves in bad positions in those areas so if you get stuck in the back at the start, if you can take care of your car, you can definitely get there. I don't feel like it is a situation where you can't get there, but it is hard to do with a straight race car. You will get it bent up in the process of going through."
RYAN NEWMAN SAYS THIS RACE SEPARATES THE MEN FROM THE BOYS AND CLINT BOWYER WATCHING SOMEONE SCREW UP IN FRONT OF YOU AND LAUGHING THEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED TO YOU HERE AND HOW PHYSICALLY GRUELING IT IS TO RACE HERE? "It is definitely one of the places where we get the least amount of down time as far as being letting your arms relax and your mind relax for a second. You don't really have long enough straighaways here where you aren't doing something. Whether it is shifting or having to get ready for a big braking zone. It is a very, very busy race track and it is one of those tracks where physically at the end of the day, you are tired. You don't' feel tired in the car, but when you get out of the car you are like 'Man, I feel tired now'. Mentally you have to be sharp all day because it is easy to make a little mistake and a little mistake sometimes can be really big here. You drop off on a certain spot on the race track and you are going to have a pretty bad day out of it. It is one requires that you don't lose your focus."
DO YOU LIKE HUSTLING THE CAR HERE? "Yes, I love the hustling of the car. That is what I do. I drive race cars. I love to drive race cars and I like being in situations where I have to push myself where you can do that. You have to be on your game and you have to push all day long. At the same time there are times when you watch guys and like Clint said, you see them make that mistake and you laugh at them because you know they are going to keep doing it over and over and five laps later you are going to drive by them. It is one that you have to be aggressive but at the same time, it is easy to drive the tires off of the car at the track. With that there are guys that want to manhandle them and wrestle them around. They can do that for four or five laps but when their tires wearing out then they are in trouble. Yes, I like the manhandling part of it but at the same time, I like being good for the whole race here and I think our history and our track record here shows we have been pretty smart about doing that."
WILL THE SPOILER MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE ON THE ROAD COURSE? "It won't make any difference."
DO YOU HAVE TO COMPROMISE BEING A ROAD COURSE DRIVER IN ORDER TO BECOME AN OVAL RACER AND DOES THAT MAKE COURSES AND RACES LIKE THIS KIND OF A DRAG FOR SOME DRIVERS? "I think it depends. If you want to be an oval racer, you go oval racing. If you want to be a road course racer, you go road course racing. The cool thing about our series is we add two road course races to the schedule which I like. I have always enjoyed it. A lot of it is just logistics. We don't have a lot of time to spend. You have to think about the percentage of time that you spend at the race track and 36 races we run a year, we run on an oval. Twice we run on a road course so how much time would you spend on the road course races that aren't in the Chase. So that is why you see it that way."
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST PART OF THIS TRACK FOR YOU? "I think every year it changes. The technology changes and you always end up fighting a different spot on the track. It seems like from the time we leave until the time we come back, we work on a certain area and try to make it a little better because that is where we felt like we were weak. Then you come here and it is a different corner that you are struggling with. I'm not sure it is ever just one particular section or one particular corner of the track. You are always looking and saying 'Where am I the weakest', we need to work on that. Then when you get that fixed, even if you have picked everything up, there is still a corner where you are weak. Then you go to work on that one. You just focus on whichever one it is that particular weekend. The conditions change, the technology changes, everything changes so you are constantly in a stage of having to adapt to it."
IS THE CHANGE BETWEEN QUALIFYING SETUP AND RACE SETUP MORE FOR A ROAD COURSE? "I don't think it is. I don't know for sure, but I would say if I had to guess that it is probably a little bit less. A lot of it is just air pressure of trying to make the tires be at their peak for one lap versus trying to make them last good for 33 or 35 laps. Your balance is pretty much going to stay the same. You are not going to make up the big difference like you would make up on an oval in two corners. I don't think it is that much different really. I don't 'think the change is that much different, every bit is critical but I don't think it is that big of a change."
WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF ADDING A ROAD COURSE TO THE CHASE? "I'm still trying to get them to add a dirt race to the Chase. That is going to be my focus before I worry about getting a road course in the Chase. I would be in favor of getting a dirt race first. I don't care, it doesn't matter."
HOW HARD IS IT IF YOU NEED TO CONSIDER FINANCES AS A TEAM OWNER WHEN TEAM SAYS YOU NEED SOMETHING? "That is easy. I've never even had to have that discussion with them because they always know they have to do what they have to do. My job at the race track is to be the driver. They are the crew chiefs and the engineers and we go from there. They know that is there job and my job on a race weekend is strictly to drive the race car so I let them do what they need to do. They don't tell me how to drive and I don't' tell them what to do with setups."
-source: gm racing