NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference GM Racing highlights July 29, 2003 Part 2 of 3. Q: ARE YOU GOING TO BE ON THE TODAY SHOW FRIDAY AND AS A KID, DID YOU EVER THING YOU'D BE ON THE TODAY SHOW? TONY STEWART: "As a kid, I used to watch...
NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference
GM Racing highlights
July 29, 2003
Part 2 of 3.
Q: ARE YOU GOING TO BE ON THE TODAY SHOW FRIDAY AND AS A KID, DID YOU EVER THING YOU'D BE ON THE TODAY SHOW?
TONY STEWART: "As a kid, I used to watch cartoons about the time the Today Show started (laughs). I didn't get a chance to watch it a lot. I think it's neat. The exposure our series and sponsors and teams are getting is great. To bring it to a national level like that on a show that's so widely watched each morning is great to be a part of as a driver."
Q: WILL YOU FLY TO NEW YORK CITY TO TAPE IT ON THURSDAY AND THEN COME BACK?
TS: "To be honest, I'm not really sure. I know what my schedule is today with the appearances I have, but I'm not exactly sure what the timeframe is. I pretty much go when they tell me to go."
Q: WHAT IMPORTANT THINGS DID YOU LEARN LAST YEAR THAT HAVE HELPED YOU DEAL WITH THIS SEASON SO FAR?
TS: "The biggest things in all reality are a couple of things. There are a lot of variables that you can't control each week and I'll take last Sunday as an example. We started 33rd and got to the lead and had the fastest car on the race track. I am fairly confident we were going to win the race if we didn't have engine failure. But sitting in the trailer after the race was over, Joe Gibbs came in and had his head down, and Zippy had his head down and I said, 'Hey, we had the fastest car here today. We've done something today that a lot of people haven't done and that's coming from that far back to lead the race and have the fastest car on the track.' To be able to do that and find the positive in the negative is what I've really focused on this year. When you have a good day it's easy to focus on the good things, but when you have a bad day it's easy to forget that there is something out of the day that you can take away that was good. I've really focused, not only in the race car, but away from the race car, in just trying to find the positive in any negative that happens."
Q: DOES THAT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE ABOUT THE REST OF THE YEAR?
TS: "Well, I don't know if it helps give me confidence about how we're going to finish or anything, but it's given me a ton of confidence as far as how I react to how everything happens each week. I'm excited about that."
Q: DOES IT FLATTER YOU THAT THERE IS SO MUCH TALK ABOUT PEOPLE WANTING YOUR SERVICES AND AT LEAST MAKE YOU FEEL THAT YOU'RE ALWAYS GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPIEST IN YOUR CAREER?
TS: "It definitely does. The ironic part is that it's still funny because I still get calls every year from Sprint Car teams and Midget teams and many different series asking me to come drive for them if I get a day (off). It's kind of like the old days when I used to try and run as many races as I could because that's how I paid my rent and got my gas money and paid for my groceries. Now, I have an established job in the Winston Cup Series and to have that comfort level of knowing there are other teams out there that would love to have me come and drive if I ever had a problem is very flattering."
Q: CAN YOU EXPLAIN SIDE-DRAFTING AND HOW MUCH IS COMES INTO PLAY DURING A RACE?
TS: "The easiest way to describe side-drafting is if you watch bird flying in a V formation, it's like that. It's like watching a boat go through the water. It's basically the wake of the air. If you can stay in that V, you get a side-draft. Once you get up to somebody's rear quarter panel, it pulls you along and pulls you past. But at the same time, once you pull ahead of that person, they're in the V. It's something that's very tricky and a lot of us have had to learn over the years. I think Dale Earnhardt probably was the first to truly learn it, but it's something that all of us have caught on to by now."
Q: DO YOU GET THE SAME TUNNEL-TYPE RUSH GOING INTO THE FIRST TURN AT THE BRICKYARD IN A STOCK CAR AS YOU DO IN AN OPEN-WHEEL CAR?
TS: "To be honest with you, if I felt like I was going into a tunnel, I'd probably go somewhere else (laughs). I've never seen that. I've driven the Cup car, the IROC car, the Indy car there and I've never really noticed that. I've always just been focused on markings on the track that I've used as reference points. I think the reason a lot of drivers feel that way is because it's such an open entry into Turn 3 as far as not having a lot of objects around the track, versus going into the first turn. It probably just seems like that more so to those guys than to me right now. But I can see where they the can feel that way."
Q: ON JEFF GORDON'S EXPERIENCE DRIVING MONTOYA'S F-1 CAR AT INDY
TS: "I'd love to have the opportunity - especially at Indy - to test there. I was probably the most excited, yet jealous, person of Jeff when he got to do the Formula 1 deal. I was very excited that he had the opportunity to do that considering that he's never had the chance to be behind the wheel of an open-wheel car before. I'd love to have the opportunity to do a test at Indianapolis and to have the opportunity to drive the Formula 1 car finally."
Q: ON THE GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT
TS: "I learned a lot about that from Bobby Labonte and Jeff Burton and Mark Martin and guys I raced against in the Busch Series. I don't really know how to explain what's happened there. I think a lot of it is that there are a lot of new guys coming into the Winston Cup series. The duration of the races are longer and I learned a lot of patience and etiquette from the veteran drivers in the Busch Series that helped me when I got to Winston Cup. Unfortunately, there is a pretty high disregard for etiquette these days, which has taken a lot away from what we do. A lot of it started with a driver that has retired now and sits in the TV booth and does a great job. Darrell Waltrip was one of the first guys to ask on the air why we were letting each other have our laps back. If we look back at the last three or four years of Darrell's career, he was normally, when that first caution came out, he was the one guy begging everybody to give him a lap back. What the Gentleman's Agreement was always been about - the way I perceived it... We all race 36 races together. It's a long season. There might be a day when you cut a tire down. It's not your fault or your team's fault. But you're going to get a lap down changing that tire. When the caution comes out, other drivers have been pretty cordial about letting each other have our laps back. It doesn't mean stopping and letting everybody have a full lap back. But if somebody is close to you, give them a break. I gave Mike Wallace a break the other day at Pocono. You help a guy now and down the road there might be a day when you need some help. That day might make or break your points season. We've always tried to be cordial to other drivers. But it's hard to do that when part of the field is doing that and another half of the field is totally disregarding that. It makes it difficult for everything to be fair. We don't care what we do; let's just make it fair for everybody. If you're going to let some guys have a lap back, let everybody have a lap back."
Q: IS A DEFINITE RULE THE ANSWER TO THIS?
TS: "The end result is probably going to come down to that, unfortunately. Half of the group is racing one way and the other half is racing the other way."
HIGHLIGHTS OF Q&A'S WITH GREG ZIPADELLI
Q: HAS THE TEAM RECOVERED FROM A ROUGH DAY AT POCONO ON SUNDAY?
GZ: "Yeah, our spirits are high. We had a really good race car. Everybody on the Home Depot team did a great job. Tony did a great job coming from the back and dealing with a lot of traffic. We've had some tough luck this year. It's not from any lack of effort on anybody's part. The guys in the motor room have been building unbelievable motors. The guys in the fab shop have been building great cars. We've been doing a decent job at the race track of putting everything together. We don't have a lot to show for it this year. Indy is a place where we've run well at. We've qualified well there. It would mean an awful lot to us - especially our driver - to go there and have a shot to win. As strong as this team is this year, there's no doubt in my mind that we will be a contender."
Q: DO YOU AND TONY STEWART TALK ABOUT HOW PASSIONATE HE IS ABOUT THE BRICKYARD?
GZ: "Every once in a while we talk about how cool it would be (to win). If you don't have a passion about going to Indy and trying to win, you're probably close to (being) dead. That place is kind of like rolling into Daytona. It gives you goose bumps. There's just so much there from the past. He doesn't have to say anything. Everybody knows it. That's something he's wanted to win since we started. We're going to do our best to help him accomplish that."
Q: HOW DID YOU GET OVER THE FRUSTRATIONS OF LAST YEAR AT INDY?
GZ: "In this sport or any sport, you need to be able to react to things and put things behind you as quick as possible. If you let things build up inside of you and work at you, they're always in the back. You always have doubts - whatever the circumstances. That's very unhealthy in a team sport. We went to Watkins Glen and talked as a team and put everything behind us. The way we ran there and the rest of the year and to come back and win a championship just showed we were capable of putting stuff behind us. We had a bad day at Indy. We ran really well and our expectations were extremely high. Things didn't work out the way we thought they should have or the way we wanted them to. Everybody got frustrated. Nobody did anything wrong. It was just a group of competitive people being very disappointed with the outcome."
Q: WITH ALL THOSE COMPETITIVE AND STRONG PERSONALITIES, IS IT HARD TO GET THEM ALL TOGETHER AND GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AGAIN?
GZ: "No. Our group is an extremely competitive group of people. We all have high expectations. We are unhappy when we don't do a good job. But at the same time, I don't know that there is anybody who has more respect for Tony - as a driver and a friend -- than I do. Things test your relationship. The stuff that we've been through has made us much stronger. We can be as brutally honest with each other as we need to be and put it behind us. We're not poking fingers and pointing at each other."