Stewart finishes 2nd at the Aaron's 499 Talladega Superspeedway Tony Stewart - ...
Stewart finishes 2nd at the Aaron's 499
- #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet - 2nd position
Post-race press conference
WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY AT THE END?
I didn't have a strategy. I never have a strategy coming here because it's, you know, as soon as you try to plan a strategy it's out the window as soon as they drop the green flag. So, man, we just got started, tried to stay up front. Got in a line that worked its way to the back but just didn't get worked up over it. Just worried about getting the car driving good. We were a little tight in the beginning at the exit of the corner. And, just kept working with Zippy and the guys making adjustments trying to free it up on the exit and got it pretty good and just started working our way up. I never really, other than the beginning of the race, that's the only time I just really laid back which was uncharacteristic for me. The rest of the day, I was pretty much just jousting and trying to figure out what I could do to get to the front and pretty much raced really hard all day. I just stayed out of all the wrecks. The big one that happened in turn 1, I saw the #17 spinning and that's when I saw it start wrecking. My spotter said go low so I went clear down on that really wide piece of asphalt down there on the bottom and I was staying to the right of the #17 car but he kept moving to the right, so I just kept slowing down and slowing down and there's guys coming off the banking, wrecking and sliding past us. I just kept on straight, slowing down, downshifting, slowing down, downshirting. Finally I just had to come to a complete stall and had five cars right in front of me, wrecked in front of us without a scratch on mine. I put it in reverse, backed up out of the wreck, drove around it and took off again. That was really the only close moment we had. The rest of the day was pretty smooth.
RE: BUMP DRAFTING
If they want us to quit bump drafting, take the plates off. Then we won't bump draft anymore. But, I think what the point was of what they were trying to tell us in the drivers' meeting was the smart thing to do. Yesterday in the Busch race, the rules package was different from what we had today and that was causing us. You'd get so close to guys yesterday that you couldn't get away from them. You get to a point of where you're kind of pushing somebody with the air with the threshold and then you cross a point to where you're being sucked up to the guy in front of you. Where, today you're always just pushing the guy. So, it wasn't as big of a deal today, obviously, but I think it was a good reminder where the tri-oval was an area in the past where we've seen people have problems. Trying to help somebody in front get a run and push him through there, but it's probably not the best spot to do it. But, I think, for the most part, it was probably a good reminder and everybody took it to heart today.
TELL US ABOUT WHERE YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW?
Um, they're in the garage, going through tech. I don't know. I don't really worry about it, to be honest. The only thing I know is that they're giving a 100%, whether that's good enough each week to get the job done, we have to take that one week at a time to find out. You know, I know one thing that they're doing everything they can. We're still testing a lot. They're still trying new things and taking the data from the test sessions and trying to dissect it and using it to make our program better and faster. As far as knowing where we're at, I don't know if I know where we're at compared to everybody else. The only way to compare it is against your competition. So you know where you're at each week versus where the competition is at.
IS THERE HOPE FOR SECOND OR THIRD PLACE TO WIN ON A GREEN/WHITE/CHECKERED CONSIDERING HOW LONG IT TAKES TO REGAIN SPEED?
We were, what? Fifth and sixth on the restart, and we got to second and third, so I'd say there is, yeah. If those guys are in the right position and get the right push, yes. You know, I had Michael behind me. I had a good car, he had a good car. Michael gave me a great push that got me through those guys and I think we caught a bunch of them off guard, (that) was the big morale of the story. They knew that Jeff was the fastest car and they knew they weren't going to get around him. They went with him. Michael and I got a great run out of three and four and really caught some guys off guard and got by them right away and caught Jamie off guard and got by him. I think at that point, you know, we had a shot. If we had a better car than Jeff, we would have had a shot. Michael pushed me all the way down the backstretch and we still couldn't catch him, so you know, they just had a better car than we had all day.
JUNIOR SAID HIS CAR WASN'T THAT GOOD. IS HIS DOMINANCE IN PLATE RACING NOT WHAT IT ONCE WAS?
I don't think.the times we were together today, we weren't as potent a combination as what we've obviously been there in the past, but I wouldn't say it's over yet. I don't think you can take two races and say that it's over. You've got to look at the situation and see that he's with a totally different team than what he has been with the past couple of years. Maybe it's just a combination they've got to find that's a little bit different, but I wouldn't count him out just yet.
WAS THIS THE SAME CAR YOU HAD AT DAYTONA? WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE IT BETTER?
Man, if I knew what there was to be better, we'd be doing it. I'm not sure what there is. I know we've made gains from Daytona to here. Obviously they made bigger gains than we did, but I think everytime you come, the teams and technology finds stuff that picks it up. It was same car, but we did find some things that made it better, speed wise. Obviously, what they found was better than what we found. But, it was still good enough to get us to second. Even though they won the race today and had a dominant car, I can promise you that they're going to go back and they're going to do everything they can to find a tenth or two more before we go back to Daytona for the July race and before we come back here in the Fall. Make our program better and stay ahead of the game. Everybody's going to be looking for things. Who knows what the area is where you're going to find the speed, but hopefully you find it.
DO YOU LIKE RACING HERE?
I mean, you say it hasn't been kind to me, as many second place finishes we had, there's 41 guys who didn't have it as good as we had it those days. There are a lot of days that we ran second here and it was as good as a win for us. We knew we didn't have the best car. Today, for example. We didn't have the best car but we ended up with a second place finish. So, that's the best we could do. We're leaving here with smiles on our faces. I enjoy it. The whole week here, in the Busch race I had a bunch of fun. We got tore up in a wreck, went to the back, came up to the front and thought we had a shot at winning. A pin in the distributor gear broke. But, end of the day, come back out and you know, we really didn't have a shot to win, but we finished second. We've had a really good weekend, I think. The Talladega weeks are always fun weeks for me because I go fishing and it's a week where I don't turn my cell phone on and I don't worry about the race car and the race team and the guys know don't call me. It's just a week to kind of hit the reset button and by the time I get here on these weekends, I'm fresh and ready to go. I always have fun when we come here.