TONY STEWART , NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd: ON THE RACE: "I survived. It wasn't anything real spectacular. We, for the most part, just kind of rode around all day and at the end of the race when it was time to go, we went....
TONY STEWART , NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd:
ON THE RACE:
"I survived. It wasn't anything real spectacular. We, for the most part, just kind of rode around all day and at the end of the race when it was time to go, we went. We got the lead with about 13 (laps) to go and got the caution. So it was just a matter of trying to hold Jeff (Gordon) off on the restart and there is no way you're going to when you get out 10 or 15 car lengths away from him. It's tough when they get that run like that and I got shuffled all the way to about 12th or 15th and then just spent the last 8 laps working our way back up. So I'm really happy.
"I think this is our 6th second-place finish in 11 races here. So average-wise, I don't think there is anybody I know of who can beat us on the average of finishes here in the last 10 or 11 races. So I'm pretty proud of what this team has been able to accomplish. We had an awesome day."
IS IT FRUSTRATING TO FINISH 2ND THAT MANY TIMES?
"It's still better than third. There are 41 guys who wish they had run as good as I did, and 42 of us who wish we had run as good as Jimmie (Johnson, race winner). So, as volatile as this place can be with getting in a wreck and this or that, for us to say in the last 11 races that we've finished 2nd six times is something in all reality to be proud of because this is not a race track that you can do it all on your own. You have to have help. When you're going up against three Hendrick cars there at the end, and the rest of the group we were there with, it's hard to do it all by yourself. So to be able to get to second, I feel like we have a lot to be proud of."
ON THE FINAL RESTART, IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU THINK JEFF GORDON MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH ONE BY LAYING BACK A LITTLE BIT THERE. IF THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN, DO YOU NOT GET SHUFFLED OUT?
"You never know. You don't know what's going to happen but it seemed pretty obvious what was going on there. It's hard to do that when you've got two team cars lined up and when you go, they don't go and you end up out there all by yourself like that."
DID YOU NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN DRIVING STYLES TODAY WITH THE SOFT BUMPERS?
"I didn't get hit, nor did I hit anybody near as hard as what we were doing at Daytona. I spent most of my time in the back riding around in clean air and letting everybody get aggressive up there. There were two or three guys in particular that were up there today that are fairly young that were guys I did not want to be anywhere near on the race track. None of these guys have figured it out. It's amazing. "They raced their guts out all day and I always end up going to the back and riding around all day and keeping my fenders straight and at the end of the day, we always end up in the top five where we need to be. But there are a bunch of those guys who just beat themselves to death up there all day and end up putting themselves in bad positions. I didn't notice. I don't think it was near as bad as it's been here in the past. It definitely made for a lot more enjoyable race for us."
WITH 20 LAPS TO GO, DO YOU TRY A FEW THINGS AND SEE WHO YOU CAN WORK WITH AND WHO YOU CAN'T, AND THEN TRY TO USE THAT KNOWLEDGE IN THE LAST 10 LAPS?
"No, I pretty much just go with 20 laps to go. I make that decision that I'm ready to go. I think history speaks for itself. Guys historically know who does what and when. Dale Jarrett and I ran together there in that last 20 lap stretch there that got us to the lead, but we didn't stay together all the way to the front. But we hung around the back all day and when it was time to go we were lined up together and we went. So it's just a matter of when you decide it's time to go. Pretty much everybody knows who's got good cars by then and it's just a matter of going."
AT THE END WHEN YOU AND JOHNSON GOT AROUND VICKERS, DID YOU PUSH JOHNSON TO THE LEAD? AFTER THAT, WERE YOU IN THAT SITUATION WHERE YOU COULDN'T DO ANYTHING ELSE HERE?
"Jimmie got the run on Brian and obviously with a run like that when you're taking the white flag, you're not going to jump to the line that's slower. You just can't afford to break that momentum when you know that he's got the momentum and got a run on Brian like that. You know you've got to go with that line and I probably did help push him through the rest of the way but that was where the momentum was at the time. And with one lap to go, if you stop and try to pick somebody up, you're probably going to drop back to 6th or 7th. So you you've just got to go with that momentum. Once we got through there, I couldn't ever really get a good strong enough push to get me in a situation where I could get that run on Jimmie. But it wasn't for a lack of effort, that's for sure."
IS IT STILL THE BIG PICTURE FOR YOU NOW THAT YOU'VE MOVED UP TO THIRD IN POINTS VERSUS NOT WINNING THIS RACE?
"Well, there is not much I can do about not winning the race today. But you take what you can get here obviously.
"We come here with the attitude of winning the race, not looking at it as a point day. But if you can't win, if you can finish second, it's still a good day like we had last week in Phoenix. You still have the same feeling of satisfaction. But when we get done here in the press room, we'll go back and look at the points sheet and that's the other side. Initially your thought process is not on the points, it's on winning the race. So if you can't win but you finish second, that's still a good day."
ON J.J. YELEY BEING THE ONLY ROOKIE NOT INVOLVED IN A WRECK OR CREATING A WRECK TODAY:
"Oh, there were rookies that were in the top 10 today that were part of the reason I decided I wanted to be in the back. I don't think it's so much about where you're running on the race track, it's how you're running on the race track. It's the decisions you make and the patience you show. It's simple things like how quick you change lanes. There are guys who change so fast that if another guy is coming in another direction, he's going to get himself in a bad position by not being able to get out of that guy's way as fast as he's coming over. There were rookies making it three-wide early in the race when we've got 160-some laps to go. It's just the thought process. Even the veterans know what it was like to be a rookie. You want to be up front and lead laps and show everybody you belong. Even when they're not patient, everybody understands where they're coming from and why they're in such a hurry to get there. It's just a matter of taking care of your car at that time and not letting them put you in a situation you can't get out of."