Darlington Raceway 500
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET met with media and discussed improving race car issues, last week’s race at Richmond, upcoming races at Dover and Charlotte, Mother’s Day, and more.
We didn’t really get a chance to do a long run so far today.
HOW WAS YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE? “Well, we only ran 15 laps, but I think we’re all right. We didn’t get out right away. We didn’t really run more than about four or five laps at a time so I’m not sure we really know 100 percent yet; but at least it looks decent on the sheet right now.”
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THAT OR WERE YOU HOPING TO GET MORE OUT OF IT? “So far I’m pretty happy with it. It seems pretty balanced. We’re just trying to figure out a couple of little things to try to anticipate what we think it’s going to do on the long runs. We didn’t really get a chance to do a long run so far today. But I think we’re okay.”
ON THE EXCITEMENT OF THE ALL-STAR RACE “Yeah, everybody amps it up so much (by) saying there’s nothing on the line but money. Trust me, we all think of the trophy first and the money second. But it’s fun to know that you can take extra chances in that race and you know that everybody is going to do it so it just takes the whole level of racing and just takes it up a whole new level that we don’t get a chance to do when we’re racing (the normal schedule).”
ON CHANGES THAT NEED TO BE MADE TO THE RACE CARS TO FIX THE ISSUES “I wish I knew, bud. If we knew what we needed to fix, we would have already fixed it. That’s the hard thing. And I don’t know. I’m not smart enough to know that stuff. I’m the driver. Our short track stuff we definitely need to work on right now. We’re not where we need to be, for sure.”
DO YOU CONSIDER DOVER A SHORT TRACK OR DO YOU HAVE SOME TIME TO WORK ON THAT STUFF BEFORE IT REALLY WOULD COME INTO PLAY AGAIN? “Well, I don’t know if we really consider Dover a short track. But I don’t know. We’re trying to figure out what we’ve got to do to be better and not just there, but everywhere. We’ll look at Dover I’m sure, also. But that’s probably a (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) question more than I’m going to know.”
AS THE TEAM OWNER, IS IT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO RALLY THE TROOPS AND JUST SAY LET’S GET BACK TO BASICS? “Yeah, we had that meeting Monday with the crew chiefs and Bobby Hutchens. It’s hard for me to sit in the meetings and speak on the owner’s behalf. I’ve got to speak more from the driver’s side and Bobby is doing a really good job from the Competition Director’s side of getting us all together and us all trying to figure out and knowing that we might be missing something; and it may be something we’re doing that we’re self-inflicting. We know we’re missing something. We’re just trying to figure out and find what it is right now”
YOU SEEM TO HAVE KEPT YOUR COOL PRETTY WELL AT RICHMOND LAST WEEK. HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO MAINTAIN YOUR COOL AND GET A TOP-10 OUT OF THAT? “We were busy all night. We really didn’t have time to get too frustrated. That’s probably the hardest 400-lap race at Richmond I ever had to run because we just never had a break. We started far enough back at the start that we had to push hard to try to stay on the lead lap. And then that didn’t work. So then you’re fighting to get back on the lead lap and that took another 200-plus laps; and then finally when we get on the lead lap, it’s time to go and start working your way through the field toward the end. But we never had a break to where we could actually just run a pace that was easy on the tires and easy on the car. We had to push hard for 400 laps.”
SO THERE WAS NO TIME TO YELL AND SCREAM? I’M SURE YOU WANTED TO “I just had to stay focused. Yelling and scream has never fixed a race car yet, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t want to do it. When you guys (the media) get frustrated, you want to yell and scream too. It’s how you vent. But I don’t know why I didn’t. I was too worried about driving the race car. I had enough stuff to worry about.”
ARE YOU JUST TRYING TO GET YOUR CAR TO TURN? “I was trying to get it rotated in the center of the corner. It was really tight in the center-third of the corner.”
IS PART OF THAT THE NEW CONSTRUCTION OF THE TIRE? "If you can figure it out, you are hired at Stewart-Haas. You won't have to do this crummy, miserable job any more. You can work for me and be equally as miserable just working for me instead."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT DOVER? "It is really similar to Bristol, it is just bigger. The same variables that you fight at Bristol, you fight at Dover. The guys that normally have a good car at Bristol and normally pretty good at Dover at the same time."
I feel like I have the sweetest Mom in the world to be honest.
WHAT IS A NICE STORY OF YOUR MOM WITH MOTHER'S DAY THIS WEEKEND? "I feel like I have the sweetest Mom in the world to be honest. A lot of people look at me and say what happened because they know it wasn't her. She has been very supportive of everything that we've done with the racing and she has worked for us at our office. She runs our foundation. I feel pretty lucky that I get to keep her close that way."
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL MEMORY THAT HAS TOUCHED YOU MORE WITH YOUR MOM? "Not necessarily. She has been there for all of it. She was there when I ran my first go-kart race. She was there when I won my first IndyCar championship. She has pretty much been there for everything. She has been a Mom. Every Mom is special. There is something that everybody's Mom always does. But it is hard to single out things because it is Mom."
WHAT DOES THE MONTH OF MAY MEAN TO YOU BEING FROM INDIANA? DOES IT FEEL DIFFERENT EVERY TIME THE MONTH OF MAY ROLLS AROUND? "The only thing that feels different is that everybody still, every May, asks me about Indy. No, nothing has changed. I still pay attention every day that the cars are on the track. I still have the TV on two hours before the race starts on race day. Nothing has changed. I always watch. That is what I always do."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SCOTT SPEED RACING THE INDY 500? IS THAT TOO TOUGH A PLACE TO GO FOR YOUR FIRST INDYCAR RACE? "For Scott I don't think it will be a big deal. He is still pretty current on what he was doing with the F1 stuff. He has not been out of it that long I don't think that he won't be able to adapt to it. I think he'll probably be fine. I really don't know scott that well, but I would say doing what he did on the Formula One side that he'll probably just fine when he gets to IndyCar over there."
WHEN SOMETHING BIG GOES DOWN WITH THE MILITARY, HAVING A MILITARY SPONSORSHIP, DOES THAT HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE ORGANIZATION? "I don't know that it did at the shop. It probably did, I wasn't there the next day to see what the shop talk was. But I know that I was pretty proud sitting there watching TV and watching the announcement and hearing that the military, the Army, had gone in there and kicked their butts. That was a pretty cool feeling knowing that we are associated with them and we feel like we are a part of their family and they feel like they are a part of ours."
ANY THOUGHTS ON YOUR BIRTHDAY LATER THIS MONTH AND THE SIGNIFICANT NUMBER? "Yea, because I can't change that part, no matter what. Yea, I've got no choice in the matter. I learned my lesson when I turned 30, the sun came up and I woke up the same as I did at 29, the day before. I'm sure when I turn 40, it will be the same thing."
ASIDE FROM THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR PRIZE, HOW WOULD YOU DIFFERENTIATE THE ALL STAR WITH THAT OF OTHER SPORTS? "If you look at the Pro Bowl and some of those events, I don't feel like those guys give 100% and I can promise you that everybody gives 100% at the All Star race. They don't leave anything out on the table for sure."
DID YOU GET ENOUGH TIME IN SHORT PRACTICE TO GET A GUAGE FOR THE HOW THE TRACK IS? "I got 15 laps so, probably not."
-source: team chevy