Stewart talks with media about helping Patrick adjust to Darlington

Team Chevy Racing

Stewart talks with media about helping Patrick adjust to Darlington

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and discussed helping teammate Danica Patrick adjust to the track, Jim Hunter’s induction into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame and other topics.

Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

HOW WAS YOUR PRACTICE SESSION? “I think we are alright. We definitely have a different balance than what I had here last year for sure. I know we came with a different package than what we had here last year. We are trying to tune on it, but I think when it cools off its going to be a pretty good package I think.”

YOU’VE BEEN WORKING A LOT TODAY WITH DANICA. IS THERE STUFF YOU CAN HELP HER WITH? “I was talking to Mike Helton earlier. I told him it reminded me of the first time I came here in 1999. The comments that she had are very similar even though the track was a lot more worn out then. This is a hard place. That is why we picked this as one of the 10 races for her. It’s not an easy track. It’s one that just the more laps you can get the better. It’s going to be a long weekend for her. It’s like I told her, I said ‘you are going to hate me by the end of tomorrow night’. She goes ‘yeah, but I’m going to love you next year when we come back and run this full-time.’ She understands the value of why we picked this as one of the races. I think she is keeping the big picture in mind. I think she is doing a really good job of taking it all in stride and not letting her position on the time sheet get her down and realizing that the whole weekend in a learning experience and trying to just get that time. We are just trying to be there to where she says ‘what can I do to help myself here?’ It’s stuff that we have already had to go through. That is part of having two teammates that have ran here a long time. It’s just being there to be able to try to help her with the information of stuff that we have done to try to help shorten that learning curve for her.”

IS THE GOAL FOR HER TO COMPLETE AS MANY LAPS AS POSSIBLE OR DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE FROM HER? “I want her to just as run as many laps as possible. The more time she can spend on track the more experience she is going to get. The good thing running both divisions she is getting a ton of track time both practices, already to this point of the day she had got a lot of laps under her belt. If she has a good race tonight and good night tomorrow night and can run the whole day and not have too many problems then it’s a lot of valuable experience that when we come back here next year doing it full time should be very valuable when we come back.”

YOU SAID SHE IS NOT GETTING CAUGHT UP IN THE SPEEDS TODAY. COULD SHE GET FRUSTRATED TOMORROW? “Sure, anytime you go somewhere new it’s hard. The races that we picked this year were not meant to be easier races. They are all harder races that we think are valuable for different reasons. It’s very easy that this weekend could be a frustrating weekend but it’s all a part of a bigger plan. I think that is part of what will keep it from being frustrating is that she knows that this is set out to be a tough weekend. It’s with a bigger picture in mind and a bigger goal in mind at the end of the day.”

ISN’T THERE A RISK IN THAT? IF THINGS DON’T GO WELL THAT CONFIDENCE STRUGGLES WILL ENSUE? “I honestly don’t think so. That’s a valid point. I think when you don’t set your expectation high right off the bat I think it’s easier to keep that from happening. She knows this is a tough place. All you have to do, I think it’s easy for her because she has walked down through the garage and Jimmie Johnson has the right side about half knocked off. There are a bunch of guys that are veterans here that already got big stripes just like she has on the side. She realizes this isn’t an easy place. I think in her head she is smart enough to know that this is supposed to be a hard weekend. This is going to be one of the tougher places next year too that is why it has been put on the schedule.”

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN TELL HER ABOUT HOW TO DRIVE HERE? “There are a lot of things. Bobby Labonte taught me a lot of things when I came here the first time because he was my teammate. It’s part of passing that information down. The good thing is she has Ryan’s (Newman) information, my information and the time in the Nationwide car. It’s nice to be able to answer questions when you have those in your mind and you don’t necessarily know what’s the right answer, having teammates to go to that have been through it and can point you in the right direction helps out a lot.”

IS IT AS SIMPLE AS JUST SHOWING HER THE LINE? “I think a lot of it is what to do on the throttle, on the brake. How much brake pressure. Its things that coming from an indy car to these cars it’s different. It’s just trying to guide her. Everybody is going to have their own driving style and techniques. She will have to find what works best for her. Ryan (Newman) does use his brake pressure different than I do. We keep reminding her that there is no set way of doing it. It is do what feels best to you. It’s helping her find a base. Once we get her on a base then she can fine tune it to what her driving style is like and her techniques that work for her.”

WHAT DID JIM HUNTER MEAN TO YOU? “He’s (Jim Hunter) somebody who has been around the sport a long time and he’s very knowledgeable about it. I think all of his peers and all of us in the garage area -- we all have a lot of respect for him. I think it’s well deserved.”

WHAT WERE YOU LIKE TO RAISE AS A CHILD? “She’s still raising me -- I’m still not raised yet I don’t think. I was a handful. My sister was a handful too. My sister and I were like watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon. You can imagine being the mother of that.”

DO YOU THINK YOU DELIVERED A MESSAGE LAST WEEK AT TALLADEGA? “I wasn’t trying to deliver a message. The good thing is that I’m in Darlington this week and I’m happy to be in Darlington this week. I haven’t won a Southern 500 yet so I’m excited with getting Vegas under our belt earlier this year -- this is a big week for us and I’m glad to be focusing on it.”

DO YOU THINK ANY CHANGES WILL COME FROM WHAT YOU SAID AT TALLADEGA? “I don’t know and I didn’t say anything to try to get them to make changes.”

WHY HAS THIS TRACK BEEN TOUGH FOR YOU TO WIN AT IN THE CUP SERIES? “It’s not a big list of races that we haven’t won at. I’m not ashamed of it by any means. For some reason, I just haven’t figured out how to win one yet so hopefully this year will be the year.”

IS THERE LUCK IN WINNING AT DARLINGTON? “I don’t think so. There are some tracks that have been easier tracks for me and then there are tracks that have been tougher. This one -- not getting a victory here that is proof this is a tougher track for me. It’s one that I like and the good news is that I’m pretty happy with my race balance right now so I’m hoping it’s going to be a good weekend.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK COULD BRING MORE FANS TO THE RACE TRACK? “I have no clue. I honestly have no idea.”


ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT PEOPLE ARE QUESTIONING THE RACING IN NASCAR AFTER THE HIGH THE SPORT WAS ON AT THE END OF LAST SEASON? “I still think it’s on a high. The racing has been awesome this year. The races have been, you look at the whole Richmond weekend, the whole Richmond weekend the races were great. From K&N to the Nationwide race, the Cup race -- they were exciting races. I think it’s proof that the sport is still on a high right now. I don’t think that’s stopped since last year.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT SOME FANS STILL DON’T SEEM HAPPY WITH THE RACING? “Yeah, but when has that not happened? It’s always been that way. I don’t think that trend has stopped either. I don’t think it’s any different now than it’s always been.”

Edwards talks about Darlington with the media
Previous article

Edwards talks about Darlington with the media

Next article

Biffle speeds to pole for Darlington night race

 Biffle speeds to pole for Darlington night race
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

Feb 13, 2021