Tony Stewart Note: Stewart announced the sponsor, DLP HDTV, for his ...
Note: Stewart announced the sponsor, DLP HDTV, for his #19 Busch car from Joe Gibbs Racing for Friday evening's race.
IS THIS YOUR LAST BUSCH RACE OF THE SEASON? This is my last Busch race for the season, yes. ANY PARTICULAR REASON FOR THAT? Nope. This is a program that came along I think, probably just past the middle of the summer and we already had our ten Busch races I was running for Kevin and DeLana already figured out and scheduled. This was something that came up last minute and we wanted to be a part of it. We just added one that we had to our schedule. WILL RUNNING THE BUSCH RACE HELP YOU PREPARE FOR THE CUP RACE? I think it will help a little bit. Obviously practice during the day is still practice during the day-you're still tuning for the conditions. It's not different from what we always do here. We're always used to that. Before the grinding, and if I'm predicting what's going to happen accurately, with the rubber that they're dragging to get in the race track, it's probably going to change less than what it would a year ago when it was the old surface. I don't think it's going to be a huge difference but everybody's been used to racing at Charlotte for so many years that they are used to that. RE: TIRES ON THE TRACK That's a really good question. I don't know the answer to that. I don't know. I don't know if it's too hard or not. I'm not a tire engineer, obviously. The Goodyear people would be best to ask about that. They know what the wear issues here are and what we're up against. I think it's the same tire that we ran in the spring, yes. WHAT MORE COULD THEY DO? I'll be honest, I don't know what they could do. When we had the problem we had at the Cup test, we went to Humpy (Wheeler) and said, what can we do? There weren't very many options to do. The option was to take and drag tires around the track. We came back the next week with the Busch car and it was 1000% percent better. I don't think, and obviously I don't know until I get out there today, but I don't think it's going to be as big of an issue when the Cup test ran here. They had a car show the week before and there wasn't any rubber on the track when we all went out there and nobody had been on the track yet. So, even though it had been reground, nobody had been out there. That was part of getting the track broke in to where it was race-able again. I give Humpy credit-as much as I've filleted him and gave him a hard time about how he's ruined this race track, he hasn't just sat on it and said he wasn't going to do anything. He took what we had in May, he tried to make it better. You have to give him credit for trying to make it better. At least, dragging tired around-if that makes it better, great. He did that, we had the Busch test, nobody had problems in the Busch test and hopefully we won't have problems this weekend. But I think a lot of it was that it was such a green race track. Freshly ground and after a car show. You guys know if you have old cars sitting around, you can't tell me none of them were leaking oil on the race track. With that being said, I think the race track is probably in 1000% better than what we tested. RE: FUTURE OF THE TRACK SURFACE I think that, after listening to (Humpy's) interview the other night, we'll have fresh pavement when we come back here. I don't think we'll have to worry about it-it's how fast we'll go when we come back here. HOW SMOOTH/ROUGH IS IT? It's smoother than what it was before. He took a lot of the bumps out. The most fun part of the track for me was going into turn 3 and you had the big wavy spots in there and the car moved around a lot. They're still there, they're just a lot smaller. Basically, you take the bumps and they're a quarter or a third the size they were before. The speeds we are going to run today-you guys are going to shake your heads, going, man, how are these guys doing this. We ran 29 flat in the DLP (Busch) car in race trim. We ran the Cup car at 28.98 when we were here the week before. Two hundredths of a second off with the Busch car. It will be interesting to see how fast we run today. If they repave it, it's even going to be faster yet. It's going to be interesting. If you hit the wall this week, it's going to hurt, for sure. It's going to leave a mark. HOW FAST DO YOU NEED TO BE? I'll let you know. I'm not moving too fast right now so I don't have to worry about it. But for the next four and a half hours, I'll let you know. HOW COMFORTABLE IS A 75 POINT LEAD? I don't know, I'm not even worrying about it. We've got six more races left, so I'm not even worrying about it. Obviously it's a nice position to be in after four races, but until you can get a full race lead on somebody, I don't think anything is a comfortable lead at this point. HOW MUCH OF A GOAL IS IT FOR YOU TO PUT THIS THING AWAY BEFORE WE GET TO HOMESTEAD? I don't care how it gets done-I don't care if we win it by one point as long as we get it done. That's the whole goal. Nobody will remember ten or twenty years down the line how much we won it by, it matters whether you got it or not. That's why I say I really haven't been paying attention to it right now. I'm not letting that points sheet monopolize my week. I'm into figuring out what we need to do each week to be fast. At the end of the day look at the points sheet for five minutes and that's the end of it for me.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO KNOW THAT THERE ARE 8 GUYS OUT THERE WISHING YOU BAD LUCK? That's a great spot to be in. I'll be honest, I don't think any of them are wishing us bad luck, but in the back of their mind if it happens, they're not going to be disappointed by it by any means. That's the great thing right now; that's how competitive the Chase is right now-it's going to take something for guys to get caught up in this situation. Hopefully we can keep doing what we've been doing and stay in the top 5 and hopefully we can go out and lead a lap each race and keep our performance where it's been the last four months, we've got a good shot at it.