Watkins Glen: Winning team press conference, part 1

Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips At The Glen Post-Race Transcript An interview with: TONY STEWART DARIAN GRUBB KERRY THARP: Let's roll into our winning press conference. Our race champion today is Tony Stewart. He drives the No. 14 Old Spice...

Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips At The Glen Post-Race Transcript

An interview with:

KERRY THARP: Let's roll into our winning press conference. Our race champion today is Tony Stewart. He drives the No. 14 Old Spice Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart Haas Racing. This is Tony's 36th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. This is his fifth win at Watkins Glen International, his third win of 2009. He ups his lead in the points by 260.

Tony, just a great performance by your team today. Your thoughts?

TONY STEWART: I'm excited about it. Obviously it's a great day for Stewart Haas Racing and an awesome day for Office Depot and Old Spice. Finally got Old Spice in Victory Lane. Office Depot, Old Spice and now Burger King. It was an awesome day. We weren't as strong as we needed to be at the start, till the end of the first run. Came in on the first stop and I asked for a lot of changes there. I appreciate Darian and the guys. They did an awesome job. There was a lot of stuff to do that was lengthy time wise. Awesome spot. I think we only lost six spots. To do what they did in that short amount of time was pretty phenomenal. That kept us up good enough in track position to where we could start working our way through there.

We just had a good car where we could stay there all day. Darian did a good job of knowing where we needed to be on fuel mileage. Tried to do as much as we could in the parts of the track where we could shut the car off and save fuel.

Everybody was doing their part, the drivers were to go green with NASCAR today, trying to be economically friendly. I think everybody did a good job.

It was awesome that last both the restarts where we were able to stay ahead of Kyle. Both on the outside and inside we were able to get good jumps, beat him to turn two, up to the top of the S's. That was really key for us, especially when we did it the second time, the opposite side when he chose the opposite side as he did the first time, we still beat him there, I thought that was a pretty big moment in the race, showing our strength. At that point it was just a matter of when Marcos got to second making sure on the restart we didn't give him an opening. Protected our spot like everybody else did all day. We were able to pull away, get enough of a gap where I could run my line and pace and do the things that I needed to do to make my car good.

There were spots on the track he was a little stronger than us, but I thought there were equally the same amount of spots that we were a little better than he was. I felt like lap time wise they pretty much evened out. It was a matter of not making mistakes, not giving him an opportunity to get there. I was pretty happy with the day.

KERRY THARP: Darian, your thoughts about the performance of the team and some of the things that went into making this win happen.

DARIAN GRUBB: We spent a lot of time at the shop, Stewart Haas organization, as a whole, preparing for the road course races because they are different, knowing how good Tony is, coming to Watkins Glen, knowing his past record here. We knew we had to have good equipment for him to go out there and show his talents. Really proud of everybody there. Did a great job. Brand new car we built this year. Ran it at Sonoma and here. Been really happy with the performance and with Tony's feedback, being able to do some tuning on it, make the car better over the weekends.

We've always unloaded both places, needing to do a little work. He gave us the feedback we needed to make the car faster. The pit crew has done, like he said, a phenomenal job. They came in backwards on pit road and everything from what they're used to, still were flawless and made many adjustments and got the car better. Did everything we needed to do.

Fuel mileage was great.  The engine department from Hendrick, can't pat them
on the back enough.  We had all the power we needed, all the fuel mileage we
needed as well.  Really proud of everybody.

KERRY THARP: We'll take questions.

Q: Darian, you kind of called the shot late in the afternoon, saying it was going to be hot and slick, could play right into your hands. Is that essentially what happened? Could both of you elaborate on how that played out for you.

DARIAN GRUBB: That's exactly what happened. Definitely track temperature and everything went way up today. We kind of planned ahead for it, made some adjustments. Some of those adjustments didn't work, and we had to back out of during that first pit stop. Pretty proud to say that we made a good prediction, but we made the wrong adjustment, was able to know what it is, back out, fix the car. Tony got to where he was happy with the car after that and the lap times picked up for sure. We were able to keep the momentum and track position going after that.

It was pretty stressful with all the cautions coming out, trying to sit there and hope you're gonna be in the right position at the right time. Luckily we did come out on the good side of that.

TONY STEWART: I like it when it gets hot and slick here. It seems like it's that way anywhere. It kind of has played into our hand for the last 10 years it seems like. This part of the year when the temperatures are at their highest, we tend to pick up, I believe. I think we can handle the slicker conditions sometimes a little better than some of the guys around us.

You know, I'm excited about it. It's nice to be able to be in that position where you know when it gets hot like that, a lot of guys panic because it's going to get slick. I get excited when I know it's going to get slick.

Q: Does that come from running in dirt, being more comfortable sideways?

TONY STEWART: I think I'm comfortable with it not being locked down and having a ton of grip. I'm used to not having as much grip as some of the other places or some of the other guys are used to. I think I enjoy that part.

Q: You've had a 10 race run with three wins, a couple races out of the top five. Are you ready to declare the championship, too?

TONY STEWART: That's way too early to do that. There's so much that can happen still. I feel like we're in a good shot to be a contender for it. I'm not sure I feel like we're a dominant contender yet. It's hard because there's so many good teams. The 48, the 24, the 11, they've been really, really strong here in the last couple weeks.

I think those are the three guys that we're worried about the most right now. But I think, you know, if you look at the past in the Chase here, I don't think that you can count anybody out that's gonna make the Chase. They're strong and there's a reason they got there. I don't think at any point you can really count anybody out till mathematically they're getting behind.

I feel like, you know, today's 10 points were huge for us. That cuts the deficit down that we're going to be behind at the start of it in half. We're gonna be in better shape here. We'll keep working hard. I mean, that's what we have to do. I mean, everybody asked if we're going to get off track and try things and get way out of the box. I'm not sure that we'll do a lot of that. I think we'll try different things, but I'm not sure we're going to totally get away from what got us to this point. I'm scared to get away from that. Sometimes you try different things and you get outside the box. When you try to come back, you never hit it exactly right.

I think from our standpoint we got to kind of do what got us to the dance here and stay that course, but at the same time not be afraid to try little things here and there to try to make sure we're doing everything we can to be as good as we can be for the Chase.

Q: Were you surprised Kyle chose the line he did on the restart?

TONY STEWART: No. I mean, we lined up out there and beat him on the first one. I think I would have done the same thing. But, you know, it gave us a lot of confidence. After we started on the inside, we were still able to get back to the lead on the second turn, we were strong.

I think it's a hard decision when you're a leader to decide exactly where you think you need to be. But for here, it's a matter of how good you think you can get into one that's going to dictate what side you want.

Q: Are you talking about the 10 points you'll get once the Chase begins or the bonus points today? Were you aware the trouble the 24 had and the 48 wasn't able to keep up with the front pack?

TONY STEWART: Where we were at in turn two, there was a jumbotron. We got to see the replays of what happened. The good thing is I'm glad nobody got hurt. When Jason Leffler had that problem on Friday, man, that had a lot of potential to be bad. So it kind of replayed itself. This time there were two guys right behind him. But it was good to see that everybody was all right from that.

I can't say that I'm worried about getting 10 points for today as much as I am for the Chase. At this point of the deal, you know, I guess I got my eye on the bigger prize. You don't get any prize money. You don't get a trophy for leading the points after 26 races. Whatever we accomplish by doing that other than pride. I think our pride winning the championship will mean a lot more than leading the points when the Chase starts.

We keep the eye on the prize at the end of the year and those 10 bonus points could be a big factor at the end. In Bristol we ran good. We can run good there. We're going to places that we like. This stretch seems to be a stretch coming up that we really enjoy every year.

Q: Darian, with the chance of rain obviously yesterday, if you had gotten started, chance of rain today, do you have a big chart of what you need to do to do fuel mileage wise or do you not get bogged down in that kind of thing?

DARIAN GRUBB: No. You can go about 30 to 35 laps on fuel here anyway. If there's anybody that can predict exactly what lap the rain is going to come on, how many laps of caution NASCAR is going to run to get it in, they're fooling you there. It's more you have to run to try to be in position to be in the front at that point. It doesn't really matter whether you can make it on fuel all the way through the rain or not. We just stuck to our game plan from the way the race started. We changed it up a little bit because Tony needed some adjustments in the car. Luckily all those things were able to work, keep getting the car better, have to race till lap 90. There is no other way to get away from that, and hopefully stay in front the whole time.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler