Tony Stewart , No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet (Winner) ON HIS STOMACH CRAMPS "It started about the 15th or 17th lap when we had that caution. I started noticing the pain. There's nothing you can do. There's nothing I can do sitting in the car.
Tony Stewart , No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet (Winner)
ON HIS STOMACH CRAMPS
"It started about the 15th or 17th lap when we had that caution. I started noticing the pain. There's nothing you can do. There's nothing I can do sitting in the car. I kept getting worse and worse. I let Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and the guys know what was going on so if the lap times didn't come down to what they needed to be at least, they knew why and what was going on. I let them know what the problem was. I had them try and find somebody and see if there was something I could do. Being in the car there was not much we could. If there was something I could drink or a pill I could take or a Tums or anything to help the stomach cramps. They gave me something. I don't even know what they gave me. It was the worst tasting thing I've ever had in my life through a straw. I got as much of it down as I could swallow. I got back on the water again. It was a real painful day from a stomach standpoint. The car was good. Physically I felt good in the car as far as strength wise. I was just going through these stomach cramps. They'd get bad for a while then they'd subside for a while. The good thing is the last 20 laps where I needed to be focused, that's the one part of the race where they went down a little bit. As soon as we took the checkered and slowed down they came again. I'm glad it was over when it was over."
DID YOU HAVE ANY SENSE BEFORE YOU GOT IN THE CAR THAT THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?
"We had had some problems yesterday afternoon in the motor home with it. I pretty much thought we got through it all. I got through the evening and felt like everything was getting better. I woke up this morning and didn't feel bad. I ate breakfast and didn't seem to have any problems with it again. I thought we were through it then 15 or 16 laps into it I started noticing something. When that caution came it started getting real bad."
DO YOU THINK IT COULD BE FOOD POISONING?
"I don't think so. Krista (his girlfriend) is a pretty good cook. I ate her food yesterday and she's a pretty good cook. I don't think it was anything she fixed."
ON THE QUALITY OF YOUR CAR
"We started the race and knew Jeff (Gordon) was probably going to be the car to beat. Being able to stay with him, I was pretty happy with. Our car was a little bit loose yesterday. I knew Zippy was going to make some changes. Right after we got going we ran with Jeff, caught him, got by him. I thought he's probably not pushing too hard right now. We didn't drive away from him. He stayed right there. He got a good run on us. I let him go. That was the fun part about it. Jeff saw me coming the first time. He let me go. I saw him coming. I let him go. It made it easier on both of us. We didn't have to beat up our race cars to stay up front like that. I rode behind for a while and he pulled out. He never really drove away from us. We kept riding there seeing what we could do to get back to him. We'd run him back down and get by him again and then started to actually drive away. At that point I felt like we had a car that had potential to win the race."
ON HIS PEFORMANCE IN RECENT RACES
"We battled at Pocono with the crash. Obviously Indy was a big week for us. It was a weekend that sentimentally was big for me. We came away with a top five there. The top fives are where our team is getting confidence now. You can tell guys that you don't give up on them as the race goes on. When they know you are sick like that and to put on a performance like we did today shows them you aren't giving up on them. These guys have never given up on me no matter what has happened. I'm never giving up on them. There's only a couple of times I've ever had to get out of the car. It's something that you don't ever want to have to do. With a car like we had today, I wasn't going to take a win away from those guys knowing we had a car capable of winning a race."
HOW CLOSE WERE YOU TO GETTING OUT OF THE CAR?
"I guess there were a couple of times I felt I was going to have to get out of the car. The one time they gave us the one to go, when we went back to green, I got concentrating on something else again. It's hard to say how close you really are. You either get out or you don't get out. You're either in or out. There's a couple of times where I seriously thought I'd have to get our before the race was over."
DO YOU FEEL THE SAME CONFIDENCE AFTER WINNING THIS RACE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO?
"With the new points structure I definitely feel like a contender now. Not so much because of the win today but because of the top fives the last six weeks. We've been putting together string after string after string of consistent runs. That's what it's going to take to win this thing at the end of the season is being consistent like that. I feel like that's the indication that gives me the feeling that we're really a strong contender to win this thing."
DID THEY TELL YOU WHO WAS SECOND?
"The only thing Zippy said was the 1 car was behind us and that he was two cars behind us. He said he was the only guy running lap times like we were. Once we got in the lead I wasn't trying to push the car too hard. I knew I had the oldest tires out there since we came in as soon as we knew we could make our window. Once Ron got by everybody else and got behind us I knew that I was going to have to get everything I could get out of it. It's so easy to look on the lap board and see you have 12 laps to go and think, man twelve laps is not a long time to go. On a road course it is a long time. I kept trying to remind myself, hey twelve laps is a long time still. I kept trying to run a pace that would make him have to really work his car hard to get to us and hope that if he got to us by the time he got to us his stuff would be wore out. We got to a point where we started pulling away again. Then the last couple of laps I made sure I wasn't going to miss my mark and try not to make any stupid mistakes that would take us out of the win. That let him catch up a little bit but there was no way I was going to let him win this thing."
WERE YOU STILL FEELING ILL IN THE LATTER STAGES OF THE RACE?
"I was feeling a lot better but I still didn't feel good. It had pretty much subsided for a while. It never ever totally went away. It went away enough that I could fully concentrate on what I was going. I don't know what it was about cautions but it would come back right away. You'd start feeling bad. For the last 20 laps it really tamed down enough to where I could concentrate on what I was doing and not have to worry about my problem."
RARELY IS THERE A DRIVER SWITCH THAT RESULTS IN VICTORY. DID THAT COME INTO YOUR MIND AT ALL?
"Knowing it was Boris Said, he'd get the most out of any car. I knew I had a good car. I knew that if it came down to it, I knew he'd do a good job in the car. Everybody has different driving styles. The way I have my car setup may not be the way Boris wants it set up for him. Even though I knew we had a good car and had a good back up driver if we needed, it's still not necessarily a perfect combination to put in a car like that. Knowing that we had such a good car was extra motivation to suffer through it and get through it."
ON DANNY LASOSKI'S WIN LAST NIGHT
"It was pretty cool. I finally fell asleep around two thirty this morning which is pretty late for a race morning. You've got your World of Outlaws Sprint Car team in Iowa and know it's their biggest race of the year. Knoxville to Danny is like Indy is to me. Being able to watch that in the bus, my adrenaline was going last night just watching him. He told me good luck last night. Last time I talked to him he said he was going to call back when they got through at the media center. I know how that place is. When he tried to call at about four o'clock probably, I already turned the phone off and wouldn't let him wake me up again. It's nice that we both had a good weekend like this. This is a big weekend for the team momentum wise. It's a big weekend for our Outlaw team and a big win for Danny personally. I don't think you could ask for much more from our side this week."
DOES THIS MAKE UP FOR FRIDAY NIGHT?
"I had a good time Friday night. You can't control everything that happens. We're going to get a win in that car. The biggest thing that was satisfying to me was that I was running times quicker than the leader at about lap 20. Considering I didn't have any practice in the car, I'm pretty satisfied with the way it went."
ON REPORTS YOU MAY HAVE HAD LEG CRAMPS
"No, my legs were fine. It was just in my stomach. Physically I felt great in the car. My neck felt good. This is one of those tracks where your neck is pulling the opposite direction that we normally have it go on an oval. Normally neck fatigue becomes a factor late in the race. My neck was good all day. I felt fine in the car except going through the pain of the stomach cramps."
BORIS JOKED ABOUT YOUR TRACK POSITION INFLUENCED HOW YOU FELT IN THE CAR AND WHERE HE WOULD REPLACE YOU
"I still felt the way I felt. There's no substitute for being in the lead. That's for sure. We were in a similar situation in Sonoma a couple of years ago. I was real dehydrated for some reason. I'm still not sure what happen to have us dehydrated like that. We took the lead and Scott Pruett spun us out. We changed drivers right after that. I still felt bad. Even before we talked about putting Boris in the car, I knew we had a car capable of winning. At that point I've worked too hard to get myself in this position and I'm not going to give it up like that."
Greg Zipadelli , Crew Chief for the No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet
ON A FINDING A REPLACEMENT DRIVER
"When he (Tony) started complaining of stomach cramps and not feeling well, we did start looking for somebody. The only person we could find was Boris and he's obviously a little taller than Tony. We sent him back with our truck driver to the truck and he climbed inside the back car to see if he could get in it first and see if the belts would work for him. We were trying to find a smaller steeling wheel. The only thing bothering him was that the steering wheel was going to hit his legs. We went back to green before we could get everything all together. At that point, I think it was a turning point and he was committed to staying in. We had a great car. He was doing a great job. We were stalling and doing everything we could so he didn't get out of the car. We were trying not to make it too easy on him."
WAS THERE A POINT IN THE RACE YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT HIS STOMACH CRAMPS?
"We were way better off when we went green. Your body is moving. You're doing so much. You're focused on so many other things especially here at a road race. It was definitely better for us. His stomach cramps got worse under caution. The longer we went green the better we were. I knew that once he knew as the laps went on if he could get his car back to the front athletes doing amazing things sometimes to look past there aches and pains or whatever is bothering the. Today was a great testimony of that from Tony."
WERE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT FUEL MILEAGE?
"Our fuel mileage is off from a little bit from a lot of the guys we were racing. Our game plan was to stop at those specific laps and not to get off of it. Two of the cautions fell four to six laps shy of it. We looked at each and I asked Tony and he said 'just stick to your game plan.' So as long as he was with it I was OK. As it was our game plan worked out. It's so easy sometimes you say I'm four for five laps and everybody else comes and now you have to pass all those guys and we had to bank on a certain number of cautions. We just stuck to our game plan. It worked good. We had really good pit stops. When we came on pit road we were by ourselves. We had a really good on and off exit pit road and didn't loose a lot of time like a lot of other people we were racing. Our strategy worked today. Our car worked really well. Our team did really well."
WAS TONY SICK PRE-RACE?
"Just talking to him he said at lunch he didn't feel very well. It wasn't anything alarming. He just didn't feel great. He didn't say anything until that one caution. We were 18 laps or better into the race. That's when it really started bothering him. I didn't know anything about it before."
WERE YOU CONCERNED WHEN YOU SAW THE 24 AND 48 HAVING TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS SINCE SO MANY OF THE CARS HAVE THE SAME TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS?
"No, not at all. We haven't had a failure. We do run something different than the majority in the garage."