TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON TIRE MANAGEMENT HERE) "Tires are a battery. If you use too much at any point they never come back. You just have to make sure that you're not overdriving the car. You've got to do ...
NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
(ON TIRE MANAGEMENT HERE) "Tires are a battery. If you use too much at any point they never come back. You just have to make sure that you're not overdriving the car. You've got to do everything that you can to make sure that you're keeping in the back of your mind that you may have to run on those tires for 60 or 70 laps. You have to plan your mindset accordingly and don't go out and run too hard, too quick."
(DO YOU HAVE TO MORE CAREFULLY PLAN PASSES FOR POSITION WHEN TIRE MANAGEMENT IS AN ISSUE?) "There are times when you know you are faster than a guy and you want to move and you want to try a different spot on the track, but you've got to remind yourself to be patient and wait until they actually fall off. You have to make sure you don't use your tires up too soon trying to get by a guy. "It's definitely a driver's game here. The crews are still just as big a part as they normally are, but the driver can really make or break himself. He can have the best race car out there, but if he overdrives it in the beginning of each run he is going to wear himself out. He's going to wear his tires out and guys that may not have as good a car as he has, if they take care of their tires they're going to be better. It definitely puts more of it in the driver's hands."
(WAS THIS SPRING'S TOP FIVE FINISH HERE A BREAKTHROUGH RUN FOR THE TEAM AT THIS RACETRACK?) "We always ran good here in the Busch car when I ran with Joe (Gibbs) and it was a track that I felt we would always have good success at. It took a little longer than what we thought. Both races last year we struggled a little bit.
"Then in the spring we finally got on track and found some things that made the thing feel like how my Busch car drove here a little bit. I don't think that was necessarily a breakthrough race. But it was a race that we finally felt like we were starting to get close enough to where we could fine-tune and make small adjustments to try to get where we needed to be and concentrate on some areas and get in that mindset that we were fine-tuning instead of throwing springs at it every run and this and that. We feel like we're close enough now to where we've got the spring issue pretty much under control. Now we're working a lot with shocks and those things to try to keep the car balanced."
(YOU SEEM A LITTLE MORE RELAXED NOW ON FRIDAYS AS COMPARED TO THE START OF THE SEASON. HAS YOUR MINDSET CHANGED A LITTLE BIT WITH REGARD TO QUALIFYING SINCE YOU HAVE WON SOME RACES FROM BACK IN THE PACK?) "I guess this year we've put a lot more emphasis on what we're doing for the race. Last year we got in the mindset at the beginning of the year that we had to qualify well, at least in those first four races, to get provisionals. After that we just kind of stayed in that mindset that we really wanted to qualify well each week.
"The guys and I still want to qualify well, but if we don't have the perfect day in qualifying I really don't get too uptight about it anymore because I know how good our race cars are and how good our race set-ups are."
"We've won a lot from midway through the pack and back, and I feel like I'm getting the confidence in myself, in the guys and in the cars that they bring to the racetrack that the qualifying really doesn't matter as much as it used to in my mind. There are some places that you do want to qualify up front because of track position and this and that. But some of these tracks it's not as big of an issue and this is one of them."
(ARE YOU READY FOR A BREAK IN THE SCHEDULE NEXT WEEK?) "Normally I am ready for a breather this time of the year. But this (Rockingham) is a place I like, Homestead I like, Phoenix I like and Atlanta we're starting to get a better handle on. The end of the season - these last four races - three of the four tracks are tracks that I really run well at, I feel like. Even Atlanta, I feel like we're making better gains there each time we go back there. So, I want a break, but at the same time I look forward to going to the racetrack because I feel confident that we have a shot at winning each week at these last four shows."