Watkins Glen: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: This was the first Car of Tomorrow race here at Watkins Glen but you've had success here in the past. What do you think has allowed your team to be so consistent from the old car to the Car of Tomorrow to have that ...

Continued from part 1

Q: This was the first Car of Tomorrow race here at Watkins Glen but you've had success here in the past. What do you think has allowed your team to be so consistent from the old car to the Car of Tomorrow to have that success continue?

TONY STEWART: I don't know. I'm just a driver to be honest. You missed the guy that you should have asked that question to. He just left a minute ago. I don't know. I really don't have a good answer for you on that. It's just a place that, you know, I think through the nine years that we've been here, I know what parts of the track are real important and know what portions of the circuit to place a lot of emphasis on. So I think in itself has kind of helped us and Zippy works really hard to get the areas that I feel like we need to be good at and he figures a way to get the car driving real well. That combination has helped us be successful every time we've been here.

Q: You've won three of the last four, Jeff Gordon has had an ungodly point lead for I don't know how long, you're two are the favorites going into the Chase. Is today a preview of what we'll see the rest of the way?

TONY STEWART: I hope what we've seen in the last four races is what we're going to see in the Chase. I hope for every four races we run we win three of them and the other ones, I hope we run second. I hope so. It's hard to say.

Obviously there's a lot of racing to go on, and you know, you see how easy and how quick a string can end and go just the opposite for you. So you know, we hope that we're getting hot at the right time now, and that we take the next two or three weeks and lock ourselves into the Chase there to where we can, those last couple of races, just strictly go for the win and get those extra bonus points and hopefully once the Chase starts we can be on a run like we are right now. I feel like we're in the best position of anybody right now with what's happened three out of last four weeks. It's just a matter of keeping your fingers crossed and hoping that carries on the rest of the year.

Q: I have two questions.

TONY STEWART: You can only ask one, Ma'am, and then pass it to somebody else. We'll come back to you if we have time later on. (Laughter).

Q: You seem to have a knack and have mastered the ability to get way back in the pack and then finagle your way up in a hurry.

TONY STEWART: Finagle? (Laughter).

Q: Okay. It's a good verb. So?

TONY STEWART: Can you pick another verb maybe? Something that makes me feel like I accomplished something important today rather than just backed into it?

Q: Darted, how about that? Sped?

TONY STEWART: Why don't you just try the rest of your question and see if it works any better.

Q: And I just wanted you to react to the Harvick and Juan Pablo shoving match.

TONY STEWART: Oh, I didn't see it. I was kind of busy. (Laughter)

Q: So how are you? That's all my questions.

TONY STEWART: Maybe next week after I've seen it. Only thing I heard is they still had their HANS and their helmets on so it doesn't impress me. If they are going to do it, take their helmets off, and if not, don't waste everybody's time. I think we covered that years ago at Bristol.

Q: And your art form of battling towards the front?

TONY STEWART: You know, that was the great thing about Zippy today is, you know, it's as much of a hole as I dug for us by one mistake in one corner and taking us from first to 19th, the guys, every time I would pass a car, you would see guys cheering for us on the pit box and you know having that kind of support from the guys, that is what helps you rebound from something like that is knowing that your whole team is still behind you. They knew I was working hard and I just made a mistake. You know, they knew I would give 100% at the end and they were giving me 100% of their support to help me get back to the front. This team has never quit on anything and just because we had one bad lap and went back to mid-pack didn't mean we were going to quit today either.

Q: Patrick Carpentier had his first start, trying to do like you did, going from IRL to NASCAR. He was in front of you, and you had time to much with a him drive a little bit, what's your take on that?

TONY STEWART: I thought he adapted pretty quick in all reality. We were not really letting it ride there much. He was putting some good laps down, so I was pretty impressed, for the time he's had in a heavy car, I thought he did a good job today. I think the pit strategy killed his

chances of being able to run in the top-10 or top-5. But I think the laps that he led up there, I think if it didn't impress a bunch of people, it should have. I think he put on a pretty good display there, the kind of talent he's got.

Q: Can you run through the emotions the last two laps, the last five laps, you challenged Jeff and he got away from you and then he spun and you grabbed the lead and Carl put a nice challenge on the inner loop. Can you run through those last couple of laps real quick?

TONY STEWART: Yeah, we just, the only thing we could do is just keep the pressure on, with less than ten laps to go, no point in saving anything. All we could do is keep going into every corner as hard as we could and not give up any time. Our brakes, I knew we were in good position on our brake wear; we had taken care of it all day. Even when we battled back I was real conscious not to burn the car and brakes up trying to get through there. That let me keep the pressure on him obviously and then he spins, breaks my momentum and let's Carl catch up. And I'm hearing on the radio from the spotter, that Dave Blaney's car is blowing up through the esses, and it's not exactly a perfect spot to have a car blowing up and running a third of the speed that it needs to be especially as fast as we are running there. So I just screwed up and didn't, you know, was obviously not concentrating as good as I needed to be, and gave up time to Carl there and Carl got a run on us and once we were able to hold him off there, we started pulling away every corner. It just forced him to make a last ditch effort with two corners to go and looked at him in the mirrors and looked like he got shot out of a cannon straight across the grass there.

So, you know, I don't know what happened to him other than I know he missed the corner. And at that point, spotter said there was no pressure from behind and had one more corner to make to win the race.

Q: You and Gordon are pretty much the two best on road courses last five or six years, have you ever had a battle like you had with him today in of all the times you raced together on the road courses, this may be the best battle you've had.

TONY STEWART: I think we had a better battle at Sonoma three or four years ago. I think Jeff broke a transmission that day but we had a good battle up front to where neither one of us were saving anything at that point. We both felt the importance of being in the lead and showing the other one that we had a better car at that point. But that's what's fun. It's fun to race Jeff. I mean, when you have a day like today and the laps that we were ahead of Jeff and could drive away from him a little bit, it makes you feel good and you know you're out running the best that's been out here. Any time that you can run with Jeff like that, you have the confidence with race with him, we never had any close moments with each other today, we raced each other with respect and, you know, that's what makes racing with Jeff fun here. You know that when you have a good day here and you out run them that you did an excellent job. You're not going to back into it with Jeff out there.

Q: Can you tell us how your relationship with Jeff has changed since the altercation here seven years ago?

TONY STEWART: Seven years ago? You're going to bring up something that happened seven years ago?

Q: How your relationship has changed?

TONY STEWART: Oh, it's just fine now. I think we have a pretty good relationship now.

Q: Has is evolved? Is there something that helped in your relationship with him?

TONY STEWART: You're really digging deep to try to find something. I mean, obviously I mean, do you have siblings? Did you have brothers and sisters? Did you ever get in fights with him? Didn't it normally work itself out? That's kind of the way it happens here, too. Especially when you're around each other 120 days a year. There's mutual respect.

And it was fun being able to, I felt, a big honor, Jeff deciding to come and run in the Prelude this year. When he had not been on dirt in 16 years and the first time he comes back to dirt he decides to run at an event that I came up with; that made me feel good and honored that he wanted to do that. The best part of night for me was seeing him when he came in after his first hot lap session, when he took his helmet off he was grinning from ear to ear. It reminds you there's more to this racing thing than just winning races and trophies and prize money. There's a day we all quit driving and it's about the relationships you make along the way, and you know, you're going to have battles and rivalries with guys that are strong competitors with you, and you know, that's to be expected. But at the same time, there's a huge admiration and respect when you race guys like that, too. I think we both realize that.

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Patrick Carpentier , Dave Blaney