TONY STEWART, No. 20 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finished: 1st How did your car handle throughout the race? "The worst the car was, was there at the end. That was the tightest that the car had been all day. I think ...
No. 20 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How did your car handle throughout the race?
"The worst the car was, was there at the end. That was the tightest that the car had been all day. I think the caution hurt us because the car didn't like the cycle. It made the balance tight, but this car was awesome today. It was just so fast and all I had to do was run hard. I knew that if I could stay ahead of the 99 for about 15 laps, I would be able to run my pace and those guys would wear their tires down or wear themselves down trying to stay with us. We could just drive on and stay on our own pace after that."
Were you surprised at how strong your car was with the limited practice time? "This car was really good in the little bit of practice that we got Saturday morning. The guys had great pit stops all day and kept us with great track position. We were never any further back that second other than when the guys cycled around there in the pits. I'm really happy to lead 136 laps of 150 lap race -- that's pretty impressive."
Have you ever had a car this dominant?
"No, not at all. We got lucky and won Daytona by being in the right place at the right time, but this was just one of those days that you can count between both hands and both feet the times you have cars this good. You expect it with Joe Gibbs Racing, that's the way their cars always drive. Every time I've been in one of their (Nationwide) cars, they've been unbelievably fast. This one is for all the fans that stuck around for three days of getting soaking wet and cold and freezing their butts off -- this is for all those guys."
Was it a challenge for you to run both the NSCS and NNS races today?
"It wasn't a big deal -- that was easy. These cars drove so much better than the ones we drove this morning -- it was a lot more fun to drive these obviously because they handle so good compared to the Sprint Cup cars. But you can't take it away from Dave Rogers (crew chief) and these guys on this Z-Line team today. They made it handle really, really good -- there were a lot of cars that weren't driving real good out there and this thing drove good all day. They just did an awesome job."
Do you feel like you've had two flawless race weekends in a row?
"I think today was error-less for sure and Daytona wasn't. The reason we even got in a position to go around our teammate wasn't really by choice. We had worked hard all week at Daytona to stay with teammates and I just couldn't stay on the bottom in one and two when we lost second place at Daytona. That's the only reason -- we dropped back and got a good run to get back to the front of the field. But that's the only reason that Kyle (Busch) and I got separated at Daytona in the first place. I don't think Daytona was flawless by any means, but I think today was. Anytime you can lead 137 of 150 laps, you've pretty much had a flawless day. The pit stops were unreal and that's as critical as the way the cars drive. They did everything right in the pits today and it was just flawless all the way around. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) made perfect changes and the car drove great all day. It just made for a flawless day because of that."
Can you talk about the fans that came back for today's races?
"The crowd was awesome. We had hospitality yesterday so we were on the grandstand side and we were watching everybody walking around in the mist. They were soaking wet already and it was 10 o'clock in the morning and people stayed until 10 or 11 o'clock last night. You know they were cold and wet all day and a lot of them came back today. That's pretty impressive and that's who this win is for. It's always nice to dedicate a win to somebody, but I think this one goes to the fans who stuck it out all weekend long. It was a really weird weekend as far as weather and it didn't make for perfect conditions by any means. I think NASCAR did a great job and the track staff did a great job of doing everything they could to get all the dramas fixed to get us on the race track as much as they did. Anytime you have people who are paying for tickets in the stands and they stick it out like that -- it impresses me. That's why at the end of the race, I turned around and pointed to the fans because it was for them. Those are the people that stuck around all day today, through two races, and you want to dedicate it to those people."
-credit: toyota motorsports