Continued from part 1 Q: Alluding to what Mike asked earlier about the last 10 races, while it might not lock up things for you in the big picture, it's kind of a pattern that you've had with your title runs that this race has been part of a...
Continued from part 1
Q: Alluding to what Mike asked earlier about the last 10 races, while it might not lock up things for you in the big picture, it's kind of a pattern that you've had with your title runs that this race has been part of a hot summer run for you. Can you describe your approach to these races, including Watkins Glen, how important has that been for you to be this good in the summertime.
TONY STEWART: I can't honestly say that we've looked at it that close. I mean, I think we have the attitude we take it one week at a time. I think that's the way we've always done it. Every time we talk about that kind of stuff, it's always going to remain that way. You just have to take it one week at a time, worry about where you're at that coming week. Now we're done with Watkins Glen here. We'll focus on Michigan. Once we get out of here tonight, we won't think about it any more, we'll be focused on what we have to do next week.
From my side, I won't be thinking about the week after that. Darian does because he's planning ahead on what cars we're going to run where. There's a lot more logistics from his side. From my angle, Monday morning, I'm focused on where we're going the next week. I strictly keep it one race at a time focus.
I don't know that you can sit here as a driver and say, okay, two weeks from now we're going someplace that we're good, we're focusing on it already. You just got to take it wherever you're at that day, that weekend, do the best job you can from there, and on Monday go to the next place.
Q: From where you sat there coming down the last two laps, how big of a concern was the fuel at that point?
TONY STEWART: I wasn't worried. From what I understood, I didn't need to be concerned about it. Under the green, I think we were more about it if we had a 'green white checkered' at the end where we had to run a bunch of laps. Darian can tell you better than I can. From what I understood, we were good to the tend.
DARIAN GRUBB: Yeah, we should have had about a lap or so cushion to make it to lap 90. You're always wondering how much fuel evaporated as you're sitting back there under the red flag, sitting there just vapor. Everything is coming off the carburetor. You're not sure. You don't know whether you got it completely full on the pit stop, there was an air bubble, how much your fuel cell pickup is going to get out of the tank. You always worry about that stumble, especially coming off of turns 10 and 11, there is not a whole lot of room. You can't swerve the car back and forth to get that little drop of fuel. Still concerned, had to be able to accelerate all the way to the start/finish line. Luckily we were able to do that.
Q: Looking at the Jason Leffler part of the track, Sam Hornish, should they move the wall back and put a gravel pit so cars don't come out? From a safety standpoint, pretty bad accidents over there.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, I'm sure NASCAR will look at it. They have a great staff that can analyze what needs to be done. I guarantee you they'll look at that after this weekend I'm sure. The hard part, that's a section of the track where it splits into the long course and breaks off to go to the short course. That kind of presents a problem on what flexibility you really have there.
But the good thing is what they've done there is safe enough it kept people from getting hurt. The bad part is, when those two cars hit, it put them back into the racetrack. That's the part that makes you concerned about it, makes you look to see if there's anything you can do different.
I guarantee that NASCAR will be on top of that this week and try to find a way to make that where it doesn't happen again.
Q: Darian, what changes did you make on that first stop? Was it evident to you in the first run that the car was off?
DARIAN GRUBB: We knew the car was off a bit based on the lap times and Tony's comments. He was struggling to get by some of the guys we thought they were faster than. He gave us some feedback. We knew the changes we made going into the race. We were able to back out of some of those, spring rubbers, wedge, changes along with that.
So no real details, but the changes we made going from Happy Hour to the race, we backed back out of that a little bit, got a lot better.
Q: Your overall reflections of making history up here, five wins.
TONY STEWART: It's awesome. I mean, I think the bigger honor was last year when we got inducted into one of the drivers of the decade here. That's something that means a lot to me. This place has just been good to us. It's a track we've had a lot of success at. It's neat to be a guy that's won the most races here in the series.
But there's something about this place that we've been really good. I know what fuel I need when we get here. That's a good thing. It's just a matter of how do you get to it and how do you get it right? That's where Darian comes in. He did an awesome job all weekend of not letting me get lax on where we were at. We were constantly pushing, tried a couple different packages. Having a crew chief like him that kept pushing it, that gave us the opportunity.
Q: Tony, when you have a guy like Marcos Ambrose in a restart, particularly the last one, what was going through your mind about what he might do? Were you focused on if I can get out there fast, don't have to worry about him?
TONY STEWART: Well, you want to get out quick. But you know on the restart, getting into one, being a road race veteran like he is, he knows how to get the most out of his brakes, he knows how to make the most out of the braking zone. My biggest concern was not letting him get to the inside, getting a good jump on the restart, not spinning the tires, not missing the shift, no mistakes into one. I figured I was going to have to go all the way to turn two before I got it sorted out.
The good thing is, he went from the outside lane and tried to come to the inside. We were able to take that line away from him, force him to go back out. That took his opportunity to get a run on us away. Once we got up through the S's, we were in good shape and never really had to worry about it from there on.
You know, two corners after the restart, we pretty much got a gap we needed to be not conservative but to not have to take extra chances, to make sure I didn't make a mistake.
Q: Darian, the last big wreck with the 20 minute red flag, did that alter or change your strategy? Did it help, hurt or didn't make a difference?
DARIAN GRUBB: The red flag really didn't make a difference. It just kind of puts you in a little bit of a bind where you're not sure how much fuel you're going to be saving on those caution laps. If they'd have stayed going under yellow, we had a lot more caution laps there, would have been no concern for anybody, make it on fuel. They threw the red flag because they needed to to be able to clean that mess up for the safety sake of the workers. I don't blame them at all for that.
Didn't change our strategy. Just kept us from getting a little bit more of a cushion of what we thought we had to get to the end of the race.
Q: Darian, was there really rain coming or did you tell him that to get it going?
DARIAN GRUBB: There was definitely some rain coming. They had the warnings out there a few minutes ago for fans to get out. The thunderstorms were definitely in the area and it sprinkled on us a little bit in Victory Lane. We're definitely watching that all the time. We never know when it is going to be there. Luckily we were in the position we were in the front, so we just had to maintain that.
Q: Darian, the regular season is like one thing. You're fantastic in the regular season. You don't remember what happened at Loudon with Robby Gordon. Are you worried about the championship, the last 10 races, you have to change your thought process? You have a rhythm going now, but in the last 10 races it's different.
DARIAN GRUBB: It is a little bit different. But I don't think you can approach it any differently. You have to do what has gotten you there in the past. We have to be able to understand what he wants out of the racecar. Most of the races in the Chase, we've been to those track one time already in the season. We might not have won there, had the best performance, but took some lessons learned away from there, so hopefully we're going to be able to get stronger. We're not going to do anything out of the ordinary either. You know everybody in the Chase is going to be pushing so hard those last 10 races. You got 12 guys you race for the championship, but you got 43 you're racing for the wins.
Obviously the easiest way to go out and win a championship is to win 10 races, nobody has to worry about anything. So that's our goal, is just go out there and have nice strong performance from everything we do at Stewart Haas. Make sure everybody keeps 100 percent of their game up at that point. If they can step up to 105 or 110%, that's the time we're going to ask them to do. They are doing that now. We are already preparing for that. We've got the cars basically being built. We got to be staying ahead of the game enough to where we're not going to fall behind because those guys are going to work just as hard trying to beat us if we do have our momentum going.
Q: (No microphone.)
DARIAN GRUBB: I don't know. We beat him today. I can say that. Wasn't any part of my strategy or his strategy. Had a spin, fell back. Had a strong car. They were the fastest car all weekend pretty much, they and Ambrose. We were able to come out on top. Chad is a good friend of mine, along with all those guys at Hendrick Motorsports. You know how strong they are. I definitely say they're contenders along with the guys at Roush and Gibbs, and Childress and everything out there too.
There's no one person we're going to be chasing. We're going to race ourselves and do the best we can those 10 races.