CHEVY NSCS AT MICHIGAN ONE: Tony Stewart Press Conference Transcript



American Muscle


June 17, 2011

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed swapping cars with Lewis Hamilton at The Glen, repaving Michigan, the upcoming Sonoma race and other topics. Full transcript:

TALK ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE SESSION: “We ran through a couple different packages so it should be interesting. We got the next hour and a half to figure out what we want to end up with. But definitely working through some stuff for sure.”

TALK ABOUT THE CAR SWAP YOU HAD WITH LEWIS HAMILTON: “It was cool. I am still excited about it at night going to bed. I know it was only four laps but it was pretty cool opportunity and a lot of fun and it’s like I told Juan (Montoya) this morning when he came and asked me about it. I said I think I could run a 100% of what I could do and it was still not going to be a 100% of what the car is going to do. I think in a whole day you could kind of get an idea of what it is really about. It’s hard to learn it all in four laps but that was one of the coolest four lap runs of my life.”

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE TO YOU IN THE DIFFERENCE OF THE CARS? “I think the brakes really. I think the rest of it…..I never got a chance to run the IndyCars on the road courses so I was used to he downforce and was used to what it felt like in the high speed corners as opposed to low speed corners and getting slowed down. To have a car that had that kind of braking ability it was something. When we go back to Watkins Glen I will probably burn the brakes off in the first couple laps thinking it’s going to stop and it’s not.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF LEWIS HAMILTON AND WHAT DID YOU SEE IN HIM? “He is a class act. He is a really nice person and really enjoys racing and doesn’t matter what it is. Not just Formula One, he enjoys all of the motor racing. It was really cool because in a relatively short amount of time we developed a great relationship. He is one of those guys that you would feel comfortable with going anywhere with him and having a good time.”

HE LIKED YOUR CAR DIDN’T HE? “I was surprised. I thought he would be a little disappointed in it after being in an F1 car but he really liked the acceleration of the car and he thought it was fun. And like he said it was fun because he had a chance to slide the car around a little bit. He called it drifting but we call it sliding around but it was fun to watch him figure out what he was capable of doing with the car.”

TELL US ABOUT THE STEERING WHEEL AND ALL THE TECHNOLOGY BUILT INTO IT: “It amazed me about what all they can do on the steering wheel. We think about last week and the fact that we were shifting and thought that was a pretty big deal. These guys are changing differential settings and all kinds of programs that they can go through on the steering wheel and that is all on a

lap. So it was impressive to see what they are capable of and all the technology that is involved in it and I am grateful that NASCAR keeps us under control on the technology because it wouldn’t take long for us to get out of control and you would only have about five car owners that would be able to afford to go racing here.”

WAS THERE NERVOUSNESS OR EXCITEMENT BEFORE YOU GOT IN? “Fifty-fifty. I was both and I was real nervous because anytime you have never done anything you are nervous about it. Especially at the Glen where there is not a lot of runoff and a lot of room to make mistakes and then you throw wet conditions on top of that and that definitely didn’t play in to my hands either. It was a lot of new variables for sure.”

THEY SAID THEY SPOKE WITH YOU ABOUT THE REPAVING HERE. WHAT DID YOU TELL THEM? “I told them I was fine with the repaving I just wanted them to promise that they would build new garages. It’s one of the biggest tracks we go to, and Martinsville is the smallest track we go to and it’s got the best garages on the circuit for a half mile track. So I am good with them paving the track as long as they build garages next.”

WHAT DID THEY TELL YOU WHEN YOU ASKED THEM THAT? “Never heard a response on that for some reason. A lot of it was off of what happened at Daytona and they don’t want that situation happening here and you have to pat them on the back for being proactive and not reactive.”

ABOUT ASKING DRIVERS ABOUT PAVING: “Even if we told them no, they were going to do it anyway. It is nice that they care about our input and they don’t want to go and do it and we crucify them for it, so spending a little time with the drivers doesn’t hurt them.”

GIVE US YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON JEFF GORDON BEING TIED FOR THIRD MOST WINS OF ALL TIME AND ABOUT HIS CAREER: “I got a chance to watch him before I came here and you look at everything Jeff has done in his career..the wins, the championships and there probably won’t be anybody else other than somebody like Jimmie Johnson who might have a shot at it because of the championships but there is going to be very few people that accomplish what Jeff Gordon has. The thing is that he is a guy that works at it and nothing was given to him and he works hard for it and he has put in the time and effort to make that kind of record happen.”

REGARDING THE OIL PAN CONFISCATION BY NASCAR OF THE GIBBS CARS AND BEING AN OWNER AND ALL THE THINGS YOU HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR: “It makes you cringe a little bit. I mean you realize that NASCAR has to keep a tight fit on the rules and I don’t know exactly what it was so it’s hard to comment on it but you know that NASCAR has to make their stance on it and the teams have to make their stance on it, but at the end of the day I like to have a sanctioning body like NASCAR that is going to make sure that things go the way that they are supposed to be and that they aren’t pushing it too far.”

HOW ABOUT AS AN OWNER? “The good thing is that it comes from Hendrick. So we don’t have to worry about that part of the checklist. (LAUGHS)”

REGARDING THE PART OF WATKINS GLEN YOU GOT TO RIDE ON AND SHOULD THEY ADD THAT PART IN FOR A NASCAR RACE: “It would be nice to do a test there and see if that would happen because that is a fun section of the track and it’s kind of a shame that we haven’t been able to run that section of the course. You can see where it can be challenging and what I told Brett Bodine who was there from NASCAR was that was the one variable that would make it possibly not happen and not feasible. But from a driver’s standpoint, it was a lot of fun to run that section.”

TALK ABOUT GOING TO SONOMA NEXT WEEKEND: “I always like it. There is just something about Sonoma there that is awesome. It is a NASCAR weekend, but it gets us out of our box and it is almost half a vacation and half a race weekend for us. All the teams and the crew guys, the drivers, the girlfriends and wives, everybody has a good time out there.”

HOW BIG IS IT ON YOUR RESUME TO HAVE TO HAVE SEVEN ROAD COURSE WINS ON YOUR RESUME? “I enjoy it and I am proud of it. It is nice. I have always taken a lot of pride in hopefully trying to be good at a lot of different things. A road course is definitely something different for sure. Even if is in a stock car so having seven wins on a road course is something I am pretty proud of.”

HAS THE FUEL MILEAGE AND GETTING ALL THE FUEL IN THE CAR BEEN A BIG ISSUE FOR YOUR TEAM? “It kept us from winning a race at Kansas. It is part of it. All the teams are trying to learn it at the same time. We just have to figure out how not to make that mistake and keep ourselves from having that opportunity to win again.”

TALK ABOUT COMING TO SHARON SPEEDWAY FOR DAVE BLANEY: “I do it for Dave, that is exactly why. For Dave and his family. We have a lot of fun there. I love sprint car racing as much as I love anything. To get a chance to go have fun and drive cars that we love to drive and to do it for the Blaney family, Dave is a great guy and Dale and the rest of the family, they are awesome people. They have always been good to us. I just appreciate the fact that they want us to keep coming back.”

DOES HE HAVE AN ADVANTAGE BECAUSE HE OWNS THE TRACK? “(LAUGHS) I don’t know. There is something about having a race track that it is always home field advantage or home course advantage. He may not run it very much, but trust me, he knows his way around it.”

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