Talladega II: Stewart post-race interview

Tony Stewart -- ...

Tony Stewart -- #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet
2nd place

We finally got the temperature down where we could start racing again and got working our way through. We had a good finish. We got a really good push from DJ. If we couldn't win, I was glad to see him win it for sure. But we did what we needed to do. We needed to get ahead of the No. 17 (Kenseth) and the No. 12 (Newman).

WALK US THROUGH THE FINAL FEW LAPS

We had to take our lumps there. We had a water temp issue and had to come in and lose track position with that. But everybody on the Home Depot team did an awesome job. And I got a really good push there at the end from Dale Jarrett and it worked out good to where when we got up there, he got back by us. But we did what we needed to do for the points and got ahead of the No. 12 (Newman) and the No. 17 (Kenseth) today. So I'm just really happy with the day overall.

IN THE BIG PICTURE, ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE BIG PICTURE?

Yeah, the big picture is what we were worried about today -- even if we finished 10th and gained points, that was the big thing. I wish we could have won it. We had an awesome car. But second place, we'll take it.

ON THE END OF THE RACE:

I can't remember exactly where I was at from one minute to the next. You shuffled around so much there at the end. I forgot that I'd missed a shift during that period. It's just so hard because so much was changing there and everybody was taking any run they had and trying to take advantage of it and make it work for them. When the caution came out, I'm glad I was where I was at. And I was there luckily because Ryan (Newman) gave me a good push trying to get us both through there. I don't know if we could have caught DJ there at the end, but I had a good push from Ryan to at least start that process.

IS BUMP DRAFTING GETTING WORSE AND IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT?

I didn't think it was any worse, to be honest. At least in the situations I was in I thought it was probably a little tamer than it has been in the past -- at least from where I was for the majority of the day. Even when I was up in the lead or in spots where we were getting bump drafted, I think everybody was pretty conscious of what was going on really.

AT THE END, WHEN DID YOU KNOW THEY WERE ALL CRASHING BEHIND YOU AND WHERE YOU WERE RELATIVE TO DALE JARRETT?

The spotter said the caution was out, so at that point it didn't matter where the light was. They've got all that information up there. We were all wide open and were told the caution was out so we just went ahead and kept going straight just to not check up in front of everybody. So we figured NASCAR can sort it all out.

YOU BOTH (RYAN NEWMAN AND TONY STEWART) WERE USAC RACERS AND YOU FINISHED 2ND AND 3RD. HOW UNIQUE IT WAS TO DO THAT IN THE PAST AND THEN AGAIN TODAY?

Watching Ryan sideways through the tri-oval when I was inside of him was a true testament of what we learned in USAC and Sprint Cars and Midgets and Silver Crown cars. Like Ryan said, car control. A lot of guys would not have saved it like Ryan did there. That's something I think we're both proud of as far as where we came from and what we brought to this series from those series that's helped us so far.

ON THE RADIO BROADCAST WHEN DJ WENT PAST WERE, 'WHERE DID HE COME FROM?' DID YOU FEEL THE SAME?

I'm glad we're getting out of here (in one piece). That's the main thing. Nobody knew. From one minute to the next, guys were getting so much of a run that you didn't know who was coming from where. You knew there were guys two and three wide behind you so you never knew what to expect from behind like that. I thought DJ was still somewhere around Ryan and me. I didn't know he was on the outside there, for sure. It was definitely a surprise when he went by us on the outside like that. But that's a guy who when you look at how much he's struggled here in the past couple of years, it's nice to see him get back on track like that and get back with Todd (Parrott, crew chief) and to have the success they had today. It's tough when you struggle like that. We struggled early in the year. We struggled last year. To see him -- as hard as he's worked and bad a time as he's had in the last two or three years -- have a day like today. You hated to see anybody go by you, but (it was good) to see him go by and know that when the caution came out he was the winner of the race. If you can't win it, you want to see a guy like that win it.

HAVE WE REACHED THE POINT AT THIS TRACK WHERE SOMETHING DRAMATIC HAS TO BE DONE -- CUT THE BANKING OR TAKE THE PLATES OFF OR SOMETHING?

I think the thing you guys (the media) have got to realize is that four times a year we go to a track like this where it doesn't matter what the handling of your car is. It's strictly an aerodynamic chess match. It's not racing like we had last week or what we've got next week. When you're running as close as we are for the duration of time that we're running and when the air is manipulating your cars and you're are manipulating other people's cars with the air like it is, 180 laps is a long day around here. It's more mentally taxing than it is physically taxing. You're happy to get through a day like this when everything is all right. When two guys going different directions get together and cause a wreck -- we didn't get caught up in that and I think that's something we're grateful for. To a certain degree, you are happy you're alive when you come out of here. But at the same time, you're happy you're alive when you walk out of every race track. It's not that this race track is any tougher or any different than the others. And that's what makes the racing so exciting. When we were here on Wednesday, people were coming in with their campers. They come here early because that's one of the races they want to see because of that excitement. But as exciting as it is to watch, it's every bit as exciting in the car but at the same time it's just very mentally taxing on you. When you get through a day like this, you're happy it's over because your brain has had all it can stand for one day of this.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE WAY YOUR CREW SALVAGED YOUR OVERHEATING PROBLEM DURING THE DAY?

We got in a situation where we were somewhere around 10th I think and I guess we got back up toward the top five and I looked at the water gauge and it was about 265 (degrees) at the time and it kept climbing to 275 and we had the fan on and everything. I couldn't do anything else inside the car. I had the fans on already. We could never really get a handle on it. I kept trying to duck out and get some fresh air to it but it never brought it down like it typically does in practice. But we just kept coming in and kept peeling a strip of tape off at a time. We finally ended up peeling all the tape off the car. I'm sure that slowed it down a little bit but at the same time at least we got the heat issue under control. And they did a good job. I'm sure when the temp got up to 275 like that it pushed water out. So when we came in on the stops, we knew we were going to have to give up track position but they filled it back up with water and cooled it off each time. We just kept a positive frame of mind like we did last week at Dover when we were struggling. We knew we were going to have to do it the hard way today. We just kept doing what we could do to take care of the car because if you get that thing to where it hurts the motor at all, you're really in bad shape here. So to be able to get through that was really a good job by the guys.

COULD YOU PLEASE LOOK AHEAD TO THE FINAL 7 RACES?

Absolutely. I'd much rather look forward to the next seven than the last seven.

THIS WAS YOUR FIFTH SECOND-PLACE RUN. IS IT FRUSTRATING TO COME SO CLOSE TO FINALLY WINNING AT THIS TRACK?

No, there's still 41 guys that were trying to be ahead of me that didn't get that done. You've got to look at the big picture. When you come to a place like this where you have to rely on everybody else's help -- anytime you can finish in the top two here, that's a pretty good day. There are a lot of those days that we finished second here that we probably had a 10th place car. But we got ourselves in a position and got with a partner of ours that has won a lot of races here that when we get together, we always run well together and we have the trust for each other and that's why were able to do that so much. But considering the circumstances and what the big goal is at the end of the year, second place was fine today.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Tony Stewart