TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, AND HIS TWO TONY STEWART RACING WORLD OF OUTLAWS TEAM DRIVERS, DONNY SCHATZ (THREE-TIME AND DEFENDING WoO CHAMPION DRIVER OF NO. 15 ARMOR ALL/CHEVY/PARKER STORE) AND KRAIG KINSER (DRIVER OF NO.
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS, AND HIS TWO TONY
STEWART RACING WORLD OF OUTLAWS TEAM DRIVERS, DONNY SCHATZ (THREE-TIME
AND DEFENDING WoO CHAMPION DRIVER OF NO. 15 ARMOR ALL/CHEVY/PARKER STORE)
AND KRAIG KINSER (DRIVER OF NO. 20 BASS PRO SHOP/CHEVY/JD BYRIDER)
met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed A.J. Foyt, Tony as a boss, expectations for 600, business partner Gene Haas and other topics.
STEWART - ON HAVING WoO HERE IN NORTH CAROLINA: "The schedule works out really well. We have our Cup practice and qualifying today but the Cup Series has the day off tomorrow so I get to watch these two guys who are much better in a winged sprint car than I will ever by in one, I get a chance to go out there and watch them and support them tomorrow night. Hopefully, those guys will get a win too. It makes it a lot of fun to have Friday off."
SCHATZ -- WHAT IS IT LIKE TO HAVE THE BOSS AT THE TRACK: "It is great for us to be back at Lowe's Motor Speedway at the Dirt Track. Kind of glad Tony isn't running this weekend because the last time he got in my car, he actually went a little better than I did so it is a bonus not to have him in one. It is just great for us to be here in front of all the people and try to get some NASCAR fans over there. We obviously have to get out of here on Friday night and go race in Virginia and then to New York on Monday. It is kind of the start of a big week for us through a long grueling summer."
KINSER -- TALK ABOUT BEING AT LOWE'S: "Tony gets to see us race at the very beginning of the year and then we get away from him a little bit, so now we have to shape up a little and run good for the boss here this weekend. I know this track here at Charlotte, we ended the year here last year real good, now just really hope we can finish one-two at the end of the year Friday night for TSR."
STEWART - TALK ABOUT WHEN YOU FIRST BECAME A FAN OF THEN GOT TO KNOW A.J. FOYT AND WAS IT HIS DRIVING STYLE, HIS PERSONALITY OR WHAT? "It started with his personality. Remember whatever year it was he got out of his car with his helmet on and was whacking on his car with a hammer and then climbed back in it and went out and drove around there. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable smacking my car with a hammer and then going around Indy at 200 plus mile-an-hour. His personality, his interviews and everything. That caught your attention. As you get older and gain more respect for him, you start realizing what he has done in the history of the sport and how our paths were similar as far as our backgrounds of starting in midgets and sprint cars and champ cars. Then through the Indy Car ranks and so on and so forth. You realize his accomplishments and what he has been able to do in his career. I think as time went on, there were a lot of comparisons about what we had done in our career with our career paths and changing and the luck we have had in being able to win a lot of races in different cars and people start comparing us. Our friendship, when we met each other, when I was driving for him and Snider (George) in the Silver Crown Car, from day one, we have had a great relationship and it has grown ever since."
SCHATZ -- WHAT IS TONY LIKE AS A CAR OWNER? "He is a great person to be around. He has had a World of Outlaws team for some time and I am kind of new to the picture, last year. Starting a team from the ground up, he allowed me to have the equipment that I am used to racing, with a different chassis manufacturer and a different engine builder and some different components says right there that he wants to give you what you feel like you need to win. Even though we are one team, we run different things because different driving styles. That is what he is about. He is fun to be around. Sometimes there is always good and bad when you answer this question and I think I already answered the bad with he can get in these cars and make us look bad by going quicker than we do, that is not good for us, but it a highlight for him."
KINSER -- WHAT IS TONY LIKE AS A CAR OWNER? "My relationship really grew with him my first couple of weeks on the job, I think I tore two or three of his race cars up right at the first three races of the year and I was really down on myself. I really didn't want to start my career with him tearing everything up, but he was ok with it and just talked to me and got me really feeling confident that I was going to get on track. We ended finishing the year really good and just hopefully we can get on a roll this year. I know he has our back, and like Donny said, he will do whatever it takes to get us to victory lane."
STEWART -- TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH DARIAN GRUBB AND WERE YOU APPREHENSIVE ABOUT HOW IT WOULD GO AFTER ALL THE YEARS YOU SPENT WITH ZIPPY? "You are always apprehensive and you always wonder. Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) was a security blanket for me because we knew for 10 years what we were able to do and he knew me better than most people do. Obviously making a change like that and having to try to find that package and find that combination and relationship was something that you don't know that even if he is the best crew chief in the world and if he has the best driver, you don't know if that means you are going to have success personality wise. But the thing right off the bat at Daytona and when we went and did our first test before Daytona, it didn't take long to realize that this was kind of like putting on an old pair of shoes. There were a lot of similarities between him and Zippy but there were some major differences too. But, the major differences didn't scare you, it was like, it is all right. It is comforting. It is the same, but different and we go forward. But, we talk to each other all the time. We laugh about things. He's got a great personality, he likes to have fun while we are racing and that is what leads us to the success we are having."
STEWART-WHAT TIME DID YOU GET TO BED LAST SUNDAY? "I got to sleep at 6:30 (a.m.) and I actually woke up and got up at noon. So I don't know who wins the pool over here from last weekend, but pick up your money at the counter I guess. (LAUGHS)"
STEWART -- WERE YOU GUYS TESTING THINGS IN THE ALL STAR THAT WILL BENEFIT YOU IN THE 600? "You have practice on Friday, then Saturday night comes around and if you are pretty good on Friday, you aren't going to stray too far off that package for Saturday night. We had the ability and we were kind of in a different scenario, our first half of the practice we had a problem that once we found it, then the second half of the practice we were chasing our tail trying to get back and get the balance right. We ended up exactly where we came off the truck setup wise, it was just basically like we didn't get anything accomplished. So it was a matter of Darian calling me and said hey, this is what I am thinking about doing and it wasn't so much that it was a test for this weekend. It was something that he wanted to try just based off where we were in practice. It wasn't saying hey, this is something we want to try for next weekend and see how it works. As the scenarios of the stages of the race changed, there toward the end, it wasn't like hey, we are going to restart sixth in this, but we are going to go ahead and change everything and see how it helps us next week. It is still try to see how it helps you for tonight."
KINSER-- WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DIRT TRACK HERE AT LOWE'S AND THE TWO YOU WILL TRAVEL TO AFTER THIS RACE? "Charlotte is definitely a one-off track. It is so quick around here, it is sweeping turns. For a sprint car, it is about as big of an aero place as you can go to. You have to tell yourself, because we punch such a big hole in the air, it is hard to follow someone in a turn. Little things like that you have to think of when you come to Charlotte that doesn't have as big affect as other tracks we are going to run at."
SCHATZ - WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DIRT TRACK HERE AT LOWE'S AND THE TWO YOU WILL TRAVEL TO AFTER THIS RACE? "The surfaces are so different every where we go. They can tell you when they build a facility they are going to find this dirt or that dirt and they get it there and find out, I don't know if there are two chunks of dirt that can be the same anywhere in this world. They all have different characteristics. We come here and it can be wet one week and can be dry the next and we can go one place and have that same scenario, the color. The ability that it has to change throughout the night is probably the biggest difference, the shapes. We go to Virginia Motor Speedway on Saturday night, its got great big straightaways and short little corners, so your whole setup and mindset going in a corner is a lot different than it is here. Here you are caring a lot of speed. Come Monday, we haven't raced there in probably eight or nine years, I don't remember actually what it is like and that is the fun part where we can go places like that then not go to them for awhile, then go back."
STEWART -- WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GENE HAAS PRIOR TO BECOMING A PARTNER WITH HIM? "If I would have tripped over Gene, I wouldn't have known it. I had never met Gene before, had never spoke to him before and probably saw him at a race track and just didn't realize that it was him. Man, it has been awesome. After the win Saturday night, he was at the shop Monday and Tuesday, in fact I think he has been at the shop every day this week. Came to my birthday party the other night. It has been a lot of fun to hang out with. He has a good sense of humor. I think he has kind of taken aback a little bit by how it has changed the last time he was at the shop to this time. I'm excited.
"To see him walk around the shop and talk to all the guys, that is something he hasn't had a chance to do for a while, so I was happy to see that. He is just real mellow. He sat in the team meeting with us Monday and competition meeting and actually came up with some good ideas on a couple of variables we were having trouble with. He is a very, very smart individual. He has a lot of knowledge. Obviously, to build a company that he has with Haas Automation is pretty impressive. You don't just come up with that out of nowhere.
"He is a real intelligent guy, you can tell. He has an engineering background like Ryan has. Sitting in the meeting there, he was pretty quiet through the whole thing. When we got in a spot where we trying to find a solution to a problem, he chimed in and actually had a solution for us that was pretty impressive. It is kind of neat to have him back. I am excited for him."
TONY WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED THIS VENTURE ALL OF US WONDERED IF YOU COULD DO IT, CAN HE WIN AND THEN YOU CAME OUT PRETTY STRONG AND WE WONDERED WHEN YOU WOULD WIN AND THEN YOU GET FIVE TOP-FIVES IN SIX WEEKS AND WE'RE ALL OF SUDDEN WONDERING WHY YOU HAVEN'T WON YET, HAD YOU STARTED TO GET ANSY BEING THAT CLOSE AND HAVING THOSE TOP-FIVE RUNS AND A COUPLE OF SECOND-PLACE FINISHES, NOW DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT EXPECTATION THAN YOU DID? "Honestly the thing that is important in this series especially when it comes time is just being able to be consistent in the top-five. When we started doing that, that's where we want to be every week. You know on a particular night when the scenario is working out right eventually if you're running up front like that you're going to get that win. You don't feel like you have to push and try to make something happen because you know if you're running that consistent in the top-five its going to happen. It's just a matter of time when. I think for us it was we got consistent, Ryan (Newman) is getting consistent up there and we know that's what its going to take to win a championship. To us it was more important to be consistent in the top-five each week than it was to try to worry about when that first win was going to happen. Really our mindset isn't changed. We're doing the things we need to be doing now. I feel like we're doing things right. We're consistent in the top-five. We've got that first win out of the way. We have to stay consistent and do what we're doing right now. We're right on pace."
DONNY AND KRAIG, A LOT OF PEOPLE THIS WEEK ARE TALKING ABOUT HOW GRUELING THIS RACE IS, YOU GUYS HAVE ONE OF THE MOST GRUELING SCHEDULES OUT THERE, HOW DO YOU MANAGE RACING ONE NIGHT, GOING TO A TRACK AND RACING THE VERY NEXT DAY? HOW DO YOU PHYSICALLY MANAGE THAT AND MANAGE THAT WITH YOUR FAMILY?
SCHATZ - "For me it's something that's been hard to learn. It's not something you can come out here and do it your first year or your second year. I spent the better part of 10 to 12 years out here trying to race with the World of Outlaws and didn't really mature and understand how to race at that level and at that pace until the last three or four years. Once you figure it out you kind of sit back and go why didn't I figure that out before but its something you have to learn on your own. You're right its not easy but its part of the deal. It's a great thing to be a part of and just glad we were able to figure it out and have all the people stand behind us like they have."
KINSER - "For me being around my dad and I traveled when I was really young all the time so it really wasn't that big of an adjustment the scheduling and traveling for me because it was what I lived when I was younger and growing up. Probably my biggest part was when I did start a family and got married and had a son. That really was an eye opener. How my mom and dad did it as long as they did. Me traveling and my wife at home here in Mooresville. We're out for a long time and actually right now is going to be our busy season. You just got to put that away and go race every weekend."
TONY I KNOW THERE ARE ONLY SO MANY HOURS IN A DAY AND YOU OBVIOUSLY HAD TO PUT A LOT OF TIME TOWARD OWNERSHIP FOR YOUR CUP TEAM, HOW DO YOU KEEP THESE TWO GUYS FROM BEING NEGATIVELY IMPACTED BY YOUR TIME YOU PROBABLY COULDHAVE BEEN SPENDING WITH THEM IN THE PAST? "I think the biggest thing that we did was we moved some people around at the end of the year last year. Jimmy Carr who was the crew chief when we started the team with (Danny) Lasoski in 2001, he's been with me from day one when we started the open-wheel program. I really think Jimmy is one the guys that is pretty well rounded as far as knowing how to put a whole organization together from that side. We shifted his role from crew chief last year to being a competition director kind of the same role as Bobby Hutchens has for us here on the Cup side. We put Jimmy Carr in that position at the end of the season last year and that gives me somebody that I know and that I've trusted for year that I can call and say how's things going and these guys know that they have the confidence to go and work with their crew chiefs and whether the drivers or crew chiefs need something they know they can go to Jimmy and he's going to understand it because he's been a driver and a crew chief. He understands it from their side and he knows how to have a winning organization. Jimmy is now taking care of our USAC operation and the World of Outlaw teams. These guys are pretty self-sufficient on the road. You don't road 90 to 100 dates a year without being efficient. The good thing is just having Jimmy in that position where if they need something, if I'm busy and on the road they go to Jimmy anyway and Jimmy is better about it than I am. So just having Jimmy Carr in that spot just helps from that standpoint."
STEWART - HOW EXCITED ARE YOU EVERYDAY COMING TO THE TRACK AS AN OWNER/DRIVER? "It is awesome. It is something that was supposed to be so stressful to do this this year to take this on. It was supposed to add stress, it has actually taken stress away, I don't understand why. I don't really have a good answer for it. Every day when I wake up, I look forward to going to the shop. I look forward to going to the track. I am having fun. I haven't had this much fun for a long time. I loved where I was at, I loved the group of people I was with, I guess it is a situation that you see with pro athletes all the time, drivers, teams, crew chiefs. Just sometimes you just need a change and this was a change that apparently I needed and didn't realize."
STEWART -- IS THERE SOMETHING SPECIAL YOU EAT ON RACE DAY? "If you have looked at me recently I am sure you have realized I am going to be on the cover of GQ any day now. (LAUGHS). No, I don't in all honesty. I am one of those guys, whatever I am in the mood for, I might go to the concession stand and get lunch before a race. I'm probably not the biggest health food nut in the group."
STEWART -- DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD COMPETE FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP IN YEAR ONE? "I am not sure that I sat there and thought we could win a championship the first year. It is like we said a million times, you look at everything on paper, you look at the resources, you look at the equipment that we have, the shop that we have. All the pieces of the puzzle, it makes sense that yes, you have a shot just like everybody else does. But you get to the track and see they guys you are up against and the competition we are racing against, there is no slouches. I mean there hasn't been slouches in this series for a long long time. There has always been car owners that have been on top of their games. As the sport has evolved and times have changed and technologies, these car owners have evolved with it. You don't become success by not adapting to that. We have a long way to go, We are up against some tough competition. When you have two cars in the top-10 in points and you have a day where you go out there and beat them, you may not be the super team necessarily, but you have a shot. The great part is we are aligned with a super team and that gives us the opportunity to have the success we are having. We keep working well with Hendrick Motorsports and their engine department and chassis department are a critical part of how we have been able to do what we have been able to do so far."
STEWART -- HAVE YOU ENJOYED WINNING THE ALL-STAR RACE EQUALLY AS AN OWNER AND A DRIVER? "Does it matter? As long as you are enjoying it, you are enjoying it. Probably the oddest part to me I guess and something I guess was a little different than it has ever been was all I cared about was getting back and seeing those guys. I think why I wanted to be there so bad is we knew from the beginning of the season and I didn't really even realize it until after we had run third in the Shootout at Daytona in February, the first event we ran, couple of the guys came up and were high-fiving each other and said hey, that is the best finish we have ever had. It was like, you guys have never run in the top-three in a Cup race ever? That was what was so exciting about Saturday was knowing that there is a group of guys in this organization that have been there from day one and guys on my team, guys on Ryan's team that had never been to victory lane. That, from a driver and owner standpoint is just cool that you were part of getting them their first win and being there to celebrate with them."
STEWART -- WHAT ARE THE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL CHALLENGES OF THE LAST 100 MILES HERE SUNDAY NIGHT? "It is really no different, you are in that mode. You are used to running 500 mile races at Atlanta, here and Texas. What is boils down to is there is 67 more laps. 67 laps is a long time but at the same time once you have made it to 500 miles, you are in good enough, drivers are in better shape than they have ever been excluding myself. The cars, they do everything they can to make you comfortable and try to control the heat. NASCAR over the off season has made the teams leave a naca duct to help blow fresh air in the car to help circulate the air and keep the heat out and some of the fumes out. At the end of the day it makes you a fresher driver. Really the last 100 miles isn't that big of a challenge, it is more the condition of the track, the temperature and the race track is what you are shooting for at that point to make sure when that last 100 miles comes around you have a car that is balanced and one you can hopefully get track position and get yourself in position to have a shot to win at the end."
-credit: gm racing