Talladega: Tony Stewart post qualifying interview

TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 2nd How impressed are you with this No. 20 program? "I'm really proud of Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and all the guys on the Home Depot team. It's been...

TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Starting Position: 2nd

How impressed are you with this No. 20 program?

"I'm really proud of Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and all the guys on the Home Depot team. It's been a great weekend so far, obviously. This car felt really good in race trim. I had no idea it was going to pick up this much in qualifying. The qualifying deal, you hear all of the drivers talk about it and it doesn't change this year. It is strictly about what the crews and what these guys behind me pushing the car away -- it's their hard work is what goes into today. It's tomorrow when my job comes into play. Today I got to be the passenger riding in the car and the speed is due to the crew guys."

Will you better your best Sprint Cup start of second here today?

"I don't know. I'm excited about it. Everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and on the Home Depot team did a great job for qualifying. The car drove really good yesterday in race trim and with this being an impound race we just take the tape off and start racing tomorrow. I'm excited about that part. If it's showing speed now, hopefully it's going to show that speed again tomorrow."

Were you surprised at how fast your first lap was?

"I didn't even know what it was actually. I just knew that Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) said it picked up a bunch. I don't know whether the wind being calmer today helped us out a bunch or what. It definitely drove better today for sure and it was faster."

Can you talk about getting bumped from the pole?

"Still happy -- that's the best that we've qualified in a long time and all three cars are fast. The good news is we're all starting pretty close to each other up front. Obviously, we would have loved to have been up on the pole, but I'll trade the pole in for a win tomorrow any day of the week. We never even did any mock qualifying runs yesterday so we didn't have any clue what it was going to run today. I'm excited that it ran as well as it did."

How will you try to position yourself tomorrow in the closing laps?

"I don't know because all the decisions I've made so far haven't worked out. I don't know what to do -- with the last restart you hope you're in position close to the front anyway. As much as you can get shuffled back at this place, you just try to be in the right position at the right time to be there at the end and then hope you have the help you need to get the rest of the way there. There's no perfect strategy or at least I don't know it. You just hope you're close enough up front there that you have that opportunity so that if you do get that push you can get there."

Is there any pattern you've learned to finishing in the front here like you have so many times?

"It's been a little different each time. Two or three or four of those second place runs have been teamed up with Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. -- the second place runs still gives you second in points and those still pay second place points. Being at a track where you're dictated by what's going on around you and we've never really had a position here. When it was Bobby (Labonte) and I, when Bobby and I were teammates or even last year we never got in a situation like the Hendrick guys have been able to get themselves in numerous times to win. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. and I were always a combination that could get together and run up front. It always would work out to where he was the lead guy and I was the second guy, but I think he will even tell you that the important part of that equation was that he had the confidence knowing that I was going to go wherever he went and that lead us to a third of the races we've run here -- we've run second. And over a nine year period, to say that a third of the races you've ran at a particular race track, you've finished in the top-two. When you look at the big picture -- it's not that disappointing of a stat. It doesn't mean that's my goal for tomorrow -- my goal for tomorrow is to go out and win this race and it has been those six times that I ran second too. There hasn't been a pattern, the scenario has always been different. It's just like practice yesterday, it's so hard to make changes and go practice and know if you made the right changes or not because you can't hardly get yourselves in the same scenarios and duplicate the scenarios to know if what you did was right or wrong. The race is the same way because there's no way of predicting how they're going to play out at the end. It's all instinct and being in the right place at the right time at the end."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing