DRIVE4COPD 300 Post-Race News Conference February 13, 2010 An interview with TONY STEWART BUTCH HYLTON KERRY THARP: We'll roll right now into our race winner for today's Nationwide Series. Congratulations goes out to Tony Stewart and...
DRIVE4COPD 300 Post-Race News Conference
February 13, 2010
An interview with
KERRY THARP: We'll roll right now into our race winner for today's Nationwide Series. Congratulations goes out to Tony Stewart and crew chief Butch Hylton. Tony drives the No. 4 Ritz Crackers Chevrolet for DeLana and Kevin Harvick.
This is Tony's ninth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. This is his fifth Nationwide Series victory at Daytona. Also for Tony Stewart, this is his 15th win at Daytona in a stockcar. This includes all point races, qualifying races, and selected support races. This puts Tony in a third-place tie all time with Cale Yarborough. Only Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Allison have won more in stockcars than Tony Stewart.
Tony, your thoughts about the victory today?
TONY STEWART: When you put it that way, it makes this even that much more special.
I just want to know if anybody thinks the cars are too safe today after what we saw? I want to know if anybody thought when Dale Jr. was upside down today the car was too safe (smiling)?
No, I'm happy with our day. It's all due to the guy sitting beside me. That's probably one of the most dominant cars I've ever had at Daytona. We felt that way about it the other day in practice. Because of the points situation, we were late getting through tech. The good thing is I worked with Butch before. The great thing about working with these guys, nobody panicked. We only had 45 minutes left, but we went out and stuck to our plan and our program. When we got out there, we felt like we had a great car.
Today you never really get a chance to really get as true a read on your car as what you do in the race. We were really, really loose at the beginning of it. Just kind of took our time, methodically got up in the top 10. Then with the pit stops and everything, got a chance to work on it. That's where Butch does a great job. Kept sneaking up on it. You're a little better being a little free here, but it's a lot of work on the driver.
But, you know, the good thing is we really hit on it right there at the end, and I felt confident that I could go wherever I needed to go on the racetrack and had the confidence it was going to stay with me.
KERRY THARP: Butch, you certainly had a terrific driver and racecar out there today. Your thoughts about the win?
BUTCH HYLTON: I just got to thank KHI. Man, they build some nice racecars. The work that gets put in at the shop, I know you hear it all the time, it's the same old thing, I'm telling you, them guys worked their guts out this winter to build those two racecars. I don't know if we could have beat Kevin. His car is a little newer.
TONY STEWART: We could have beat him. He's at the bus. He's not even listening. We could have kicked his butt.
BUTCH HYLTON: They had two awesome cars. I work for Turner Motorsports. They do the bodies for our trucks. Kevin called me about, I don't know, a month ago and asked me if I'd do this. I'd just been waiting for this day to do this because I knew we'd have a really good chance to win.
Had some issues in tech, but we worked through that. It was all good. Tony drove his guts out. Bob was really a big help at the end spotting. He did a good job catching those runs. So it was awesome, great. Five years ago to the day almost we won this race together, so that's cool.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Tony or Butch.
Q: Tony, all the drivers who have come in this week have talked about how you draft with guys, how you pair up with guys, who you can run with, who you can't. You had a rookie in Justin Allgaier sitting on your bumper. Did you have any concerns about that? Were you worried what he might do since you don't have experience racing together? What did you think of him in general?
TONY STEWART: I've known Justin since he raced quarter midgets. I've known him through Hoosier Tire. I've raced with him in midgets and dirt late models, too. I knew him before he got here. So I wasn't concerned. The biggest thing was on the restart, making sure he was able to get to our bumper and get us a good start.
We worked really well together on that. Honestly, I wasn't concerned about him doing anything wrong. You know, he's a very smart kid. That was kind of an ace in the hole to us. I knew till the end he would stay with us, then at the end he was going to have to do what he had to do to win the race. He knew we had a fast car. We knew he was really good, too, could stay with each other.
Q: Tony, I think it's fair to say, when you were young, you were like many guys at Daytona, all politics, guys would run with you, a lot of it was all car. As you've gotten older, you've learned all those things you don't notice when you're young. Do you ever have a chance to sort of explain what kind of patience it takes to young drivers, you'll get the hang of it if you keep on studying?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, there's no better lessons than just being out there. Trust me, I've done things and thought, Man, I wish I could do it over. But you learn from it.
You're right, I mean, it's easy to get frustrated at times 'cause you think you're doing the right thing, and you make a move, you get hung out. Normally the penalty for making a mistake is you get shuffled back to the back of the pack. It's very frustrating as a driver, especially when you're young, to try to figure out and -- it's hard to know when to do what. As time goes on, as you run each race here, you become smarter about it. You have those experiences from the past to reflect on. So then when those situations come up again, you know what to do.
Trust me, I don't know all the right things to do all the time. But I feel like on most occasions, we make the right decision. But, you know, it's still easy to think you're doing the right thing and still mess up.
Q: Do you think Kevin is an owner, you're an owner, do you think the combination of you two guys gives you an edge, or is it just another day on the job for you?
TONY STEWART: It gives me an edge because Kevin knows what he wants with his racecars. Kevin is very, very educated about a stockcar, whether it's a Nationwide car, a truck, a Cup car. He knows every little bit and every little idiosyncrasy, whatever it is about it. He knows every little detail about his racecars. That's what makes him a great car owner.
He's a better car owner than I am because he's so smart and educated about what's going on. That makes him a great racecar driver, too. That's why we've been able to have the success when we've come down here that we've had, is because, you know, like Butch said, these guys really work hard.
You look at where Kevin and DeLana have come from with their race team when they started, the championships they've wracked up. It's impressive to see what they've done in such a short amount of time. That's because of Kevin's knowledge. It makes it nice. He knows what that car is going to do before I ever get in it. He tells you what you got. It makes sense, because you go out on the racetrack and it backs up everything he tells you it's gonna do.
Q: Yesterday you made the strong point if everybody would just expect Danica to be learning, everything would be fine. Then today she gets experience in first a bad car, then a pretty good car, then gets taken out beyond her control, sort of a no decision. I asked her, she agreed, it might be for the best in that kind of a no decision like this might cool off the spiraling expectations from going out of control. Do you think something like this gives her a little breathing room to continue the learning process without it getting out of control?
TONY STEWART: I told everybody to begin with if they let her do that, she'd be fine. I don't know if that does it today or not. She got a lot of laps in today, and that's what needed to happen. It would have been a disaster if she'd have got taken out on the second lap and didn't get a chance to learn anything. She got a chance to feel a bad car. That probably was more valuable to her than anything.
Just getting the experience and getting the experience in the car, learning what changes to make, how it makes the car react, you know, that's what this week was about. It wasn't about where is she going to finish, where is she going to end up. This week was a learning week, plain and simple. That's what she was here for, was to learn.
Q: Tony, the last guy to dominate this race like this over a five-, six-year period was Dale Earnhardt. Is that a feather in your cap or is this how you and Kevin put together a fast car and go and have fun?
TONY STEWART: It starts with that, but it's a pretty cool stat to know we've been able to do what we've done here, the number of races we've won. Doesn't matter what kind of car it is, it's always an honor to win at Daytona. After 15 of 'em now, there's one I haven't won, and that's the Sunday show. So, you know, I would trade a couple of races, I'd let anybody pick which ones they want to trade out, I'd trade any one of 'em for a Sunday race for sure. It's always cool to be sitting up here after a race and be talking to you about why we had such a good day and why we were able to do it.
Q: Yesterday you talked about all the cars having equal horsepower. You said you wish you had a little more. I think this was a perfect example in the last laps of a driver winning the race. Can you explain, you have to keep your eye on the track, but how many times in one lap you had to look in that rearview mirror to see what was going on?
TONY STEWART: I'll be honest, if I did actually knew the answer to that question, it would probably scare me. I know you probably spend realistically -- I would bet you spend 60 to 70% of the lap looking in the mirror. It's pretty easy to go in a straight line. But even in the corners, you're watching and trying to figure out when guys are getting a run. The only way you can do that is when your car is comfortable, that you have that flexibility to look up in the mirror in a corner like that.
It's probably a much scarier number than I really want to know the answer to.
Q: Tony, I'm counting seven wins now in your last 13 Nationwide starts. You've had a lot of success in this series, but never run a full-time schedule. Why have you never considered it? Is it something you would consider down the road with so many guys pulling double-duty?
TONY STEWART: Honestly, we never had the chance, never had the opportunity to do a full-time deal. You know, I got my start with Harry Ranier and ran eight races I think that first year with him. We made the switch, Harry and those guys wanted to go Cup racing, I didn't feel I had enough experience.
When I signed up with Joe, I was right in the middle of my IRL career, too. I think we ran five races with Joe and in '97, and in '98, we ran 22 races. We ran a lot of races in '98, but never ran the full deal obviously.
Then we moved to Cup in '99. Running those races in Nationwide was supposed to be all about for Gibbs. But we kind of -- it was just kind of circumstances is why we never really ran a full-time schedule. Definitely if I ran then, I wasn't going to have the success I'm having now. I'm a lot better stockcar driver than I was in '97 and '98. I was the guy causing a lot of cautions back then versus now.
Q: I wanted to ask you about tomorrow and your thoughts. You've had Speedweeks before where people had a good sense of how you would be on Sunday. Maybe at times you avoided making a prediction. Based on how you've run this week, your past experiences, what kind of race are you expecting tomorrow? Are you someone that you think can win and has a good shot to get your first 500 victory?
TONY STEWART: I'll be honest, I really don't know what to expect. I mean, I assume it's going to be something similar to the qualifying races. But, you know, with having the full-field, obviously you're gonna have a lot more good quality cars that are right. I think guys from the practice session that I saw this morning and was in, there were guys that struggled a little bit in the qualifying races that made gains.
I feel like we made gains, too. I felt like we had a lot of to gain and we got a lot of it. I'm not sure we got all of it. That's what going back and talking to Darian tonight will be all about, trying to figure it out and make the educated guesses on what we need to do. I wasn't satisfied with my car when we got done. I didn't feel we had a perfect racecar. I didn't see too many guys park their cars early today. That tells me that everybody is still working on them, too.
Q: I guess you could say that today was a prelude to a dream, because your dream is winning tomorrow. Talk about how, if you are able to win tomorrow, how much of a dream that would be fulfilled for you?
TONY STEWART: Man, considering the fact that I'm probably not going to run the Indy 500 ever again, this is now the top priority and agenda. You know, like I said, it's cool when you win 15 times here in so many different things, but you come down here for one main goal, and that's to win on Sunday here. That's what everybody's shooting for.
I don't want it to take away from what we did today. Like I said, winning at Daytona, period, is special. But, you know, every time we win here, it just makes me that much hungrier to win on Sunday now.
KERRY THARP: Tony, Butch, congratulations on today's win. Tony, all the luck tomorrow.
TONY STEWART: Thank you, sir.