CHEVY NSCS AT KENTUCKY: Tony Stewart Kentucky Speedway Teleconference Transcript

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, was the guest on a NASCAR/Kentucky Speedway teleconference in advance of the inaugural race at the track, the Quaker State 400 on July 9, 2011. Full transcript:


WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SIGNIFICANCE WILL BE TO BRING THE CUP SERIES TO KENTUCKY?: “Definitely long overdue for sure. Ever since the speedway opened, we all wondered when we were going to have a Cup date there and definitely think it took a lot longer than all of us anticipated. Just the tri-state area there has such deep racing roots with dirt track racing and pavement racing. It’s a perfect market, it’s a perfect area and the race fans that go there are true diehard race fans.”
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WHAT IS THE INTENSITY WHEN HEADING TO A NEW TRACK?: “I’m excited about going to Kentucky. I like going to new places that we don’t have history at. Obviously, there’s a lot of drivers that have run the Nationwide Series there and do know the track and what to look for. It’s kind of fun for a lot of us. None of us have raced there that don’t run the Nationwide Series on a regular basis. Even though at some point over the last seven or eight years, we’ve tested there, none of us have raced there. That kind of makes it fun. It’s neat to go in there and not have an idea of what to expect. It always makes it fun the first time.”

ARE YOU FRUSTRATED AFTER LAST WEEKEND?: “I don’t really fee that frustrated anymore about it. I pretty much stood my ground and I’m still not happy about the outcome obviously, but I kind of knew that was potentially what could happen out of it because of what happened earlier in the race. It’s like I said, I don’t race guys that way and I’m not going to let anybody else race us that way – it’s doesn’t matter who it is.”

DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE A LOT OF TONY STEWART FANS AT KENTUCKY AND WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THE FIRST CUP RACE AT KENTUCKY?: “We definitely are going to have a lot of our friends and family that are coming down. I know we’re going to have those fans there. We’ve got a lot of followers with our dirt tracks racing and pavement races. The market is really good for us fan base wise. There’s only one first race and you can only win it once.”

WHAT IS THE PROCESS WHEN YOU RACE A TRACK FOR THE FIRST TIME?: “The first thing you do is try to figure the line out around the track and when we’ve tested there in the past, we didn’t have a lot of rubber down because there weren’t a lot of cars running a lot of laps. It was a lot harder to really get a gauge on what the line was around there. That’s what you’ll spend the first part of the day on – on Thursday, the practice day. You’ll just work on the line, figuring out your braking points, where you need to be getting back in the gas and at the same time the crew chiefs and the engineers are going to be trying to figure out how to get ride heights where they want it. The standard things that they do every weekend. The drivers are going to have to take a little bit of time in learning the race track. We’ve all had to do it all along the way, but that’s the first thing to do is just literally try to figure out where your reference points are for braking and accelerating for entering the corner.”

WILL THE CUP SERIES COMING TO KENTUCKY HELP THE LOCAL TRACKS IN THE AREA?: “I don’t think so. I don’t think it really matters either way. I think dirt track fans are diehard dirt track fans and to be honest, our race is on the same night that we would race at Eldora. We’re kind of going head to head against it to a certain degree. There’s such a deep fan base of race fans in the area anyway that I think it’s nice to have a race like the Cup Series coming to Kentucky and coming to an area where these race fans have been – their lives and their weekends are engrossed in racing. To have a Cup race there I think is just a nice weekend during the year that we can finally get to race in front of those fans.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON JOEY LOGANO’S SUCCESS AT KENTUCKY IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES?: “It’s definitely been fun to watch because Joey (Logano) was somebody that I was really high on and taking my 20 car when we made our decision to switch organizations. It’s been fun to watch him there. He’s obviously found something in that track that he likes and it matches his driving style. I think he’s somebody that when we go back there next weekend, we’ll definitely be watching for and I’m sure if we get a chance in practice to follow him, we’re going to be trying to figure out what he’s learned that’s made him so successful there. It’s fun. I know it’s going to be a lot of fun for him because he knows that track inside and out and it’s going to be one of those few places that he is going to get a chance to go to where he actually knows more about it than the veterans do.”

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR NOTES FOR A TRACK YOU HAVE NEVER RACED AT?: “Oddly enough all the years that NASCAR’s previous testing policy we were allowed to test anywhere we wanted that the Cup Series didn’t race. It made Kentucky an ideal race track for a lot of the race teams to test at during the season for mile-and-a-half tracks. Oddly enough, even though we’ve never brought the COT car there, there is a lot of track data as far as where the bumps are on the race track, what the corners are like, what the elevation changes are like on the straight always. A lot of these big teams have data on the race track itself and it’s just a matter of now how to apply it to the COT car and even though some of these guys have tested here, none of us have the practical knowledge of what the track conditions will be like during race situations and how racing at night will be different from the test sessions during the day that some of us have had there. It’s not entirely and totally a clean slate, but it is going to be a lot of adjustment going to a new race track like that with a new car.”

IS IT NICE TO GO TO A RACE TRACK THAT PUTS IMPORTANCE INTO THE DRIVER’S ABILITIES AT THE RACE TRACK?: “I look forward to opportunities like this. You always as a driver want to be more in control of your destiny than just relying on what the car is capable of doing. You still have to have a great handling race car to get it done. Tracks that are driver’s tracks and tracks where you can move around a little bit and have the flexibility to help yourself out if your car is not 100 percent the way that you want it. Being able to move around and have that flexibility as a driver is something that we definitely look forward to. It will make that one of the aspects that we’ll be looking for sure.”

DO YOU EXPECT TO HAVE MORE FANS IN THE STANDS AT KENTUCKY?: “I don’t know if we’ll have more. I think you still are going to have fans from the area that are going to pull for their drivers like they always have on the weekends. I don’t think it will be more or less necessarily than what we typically would have. The good thing is that I know there will be a lot of the fans in the stands that are pulling for us that we actually know. That makes it fun being able to race in front of your friends and family and people that we’ve raced against in dirt late models and sprint cars. We know some of those guys are actually going to the race too to see it for the first time. Being able to show them what I do on the weekends that’s different than what we used to race each other against in that type of car will be fun to show them what we do on the weekends every week.”

DOES THIS RACE FEEL LIKE A HOMECOMING?: “It does a little bit. It kind of feels like a home track to me even though we’ve never raced there before. It’s close to home and I’m a southern Indiana guy so the track is not very far from where I grew up and where I currently live there. It is, it’s kind of a home track to us and that’s kind of the feeling we have going into it. You always want to run well at your home tracks. Even though Indy has always been my home track in the past, now having Kentucky Speedway there, it’s as much home to me as Indy is. We’re definitely looking forward to it.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FANS SHOULD EXPECT AT KENTUCKY?: “The good thing is that it’s hard to anticipate who’s going to be really good during the race weekend. Trying to pick four or five guys that you think are potential winners is really going to be hard. There’s going to be guys like Joey Logano that have had really good runs in the Nationwide Series are going to be a favorite. Guys that have typically been favorites at that track will be favorites in the Cup Series versus the guys that are typically favorites on a weekend that haven’t run there yet. It brings more guys into the mix. It’s going to be hard to predict what the finish or outcome will be and who will be your guys that will run in the top-five all day. Just the buzz around the race already. The race fans – friends and family that I’ve talked to that were colleagues or friends that they know are going to the race. Just the atmosphere is going to be awesome. Anytime you can go to a first event at a new venue, just the excitement and the atmosphere is unbelievable. If you’ve never been to a Cup race and you’ve got a chance to go now, I highly recommend it because it’s going to be an experience you’ll enjoy.”

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