TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
June 8, 2012
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed his assessment of the re-pave at Pocono, the Goodyear tire, speeds, Prelude to the Dream, and more. Full Transcript:
YOU ARE 8TH ON THE BOARD. TELL US ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE SESSION “Yeah, not bad so far. We didn’t to any qualifying runs yesterday, so I’m pretty happy with the way that the day started here. I think our race pace is fairly reasonable. We’re still trying to figure out things to do to keep it good for a long run. But for the most part, we’re pretty happy with it so far.”
ARE YOU CHANGING A TRANSMISSION? THEY JUST BROUGHT SOME BIG PART OVER
“I don’t think we are. We haven’t had any trouble with one so far this weekend. I don’t know if they’ll change one for the race or anything like that but I’m pretty sure what we start with we’ve got to stay with for the weekend.”
THIS IS YOUR THIRD DAY HERE. WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE TRACK?
“It’s definitely an improvement over where it’s been. It needed a facelift eventually. It’s still challenging. It’s got a lot of grip right now. But the thing I was probably most impressed with wasn’t necessarily the track, but Goodyear brought a tire that is stable right off the bat. That’s something we normally fight when we go to a track that’s been repaved. It has a lot of grip, but you also get a lot of instability and I think the tire they’ve brought here has made everybody pretty comfortable right off the bat.”
HOW DO YOU THINK 200 MILES IS GOING TO CHANGE STRATEGY HERE THIS WEEKEND?
“Not very much. Four hundred is a lot better deal for all of us.”
DOES THAT MAKE FOR A BETTER RACE?
“I think so. Five hundred miles here just for some reason just seems to get drug-out and drawn-out. I think you’re still going to have the same quality of racing, just you don’t have to wait that extra hour for that exciting conclusion.”
SPEEDS YOU ARE CARRYING INTO TURN 1 AND THE FACT THAT A LOT OF GUYS ARE SAYING IT’S FAIRLY SINGLE-GROOVE DOWN THERE, IS THAT ANY CONCERN REGARDING RESTARTS OR LATER ON?
“I think it’s going to keep getting wider. We’re going to have an ARCA race they’re going to go through the same thing. I would say during their race it’s going to widen-out some and just the more we run on it, just like anything else, it’ll build a second groove. But you’re definitely going to be on your toes on restarts. You aren’t going to see four and five-wide going down in there like what we used to I don’t think.”
ARE THE PASSING ZONES HERE SIMILAR TO THE WAY THEY WERE OR HAVE THEY CHANGED?
“They’re still going to be the same. It’s just like I say, you’re not going to run three and four-wide into there now. It’s just not rubbered-in in those areas. So guys are going to be, I’m thinking they’re going to be a little more selective about when and where they try to make their moves.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON AND DALE EARNHARDT JR. SAID THEY DON’T RUN USING THE MARKS. DO YOU?
“I think every driver is different. At every race track you go to there’s something distinct in the race track that you would use as a reference and we’ve still got the reference numbers on the side of the catch-fence, so I think everybody is pretty much using those, if any. But every driver kind of has their own different deal they look for. It can be something really small. It can be just a variation in the shade of the asphalt that gets used as a reference sometimes. So, obviously looking at the speeds everybody is running, they’ve all got their marks figured out and where they want to look.”
DO YOU HAVE NEW ONES HERE NOW?
“Yeah, when they repave the track, the old ones are automatically gone. So, you’re obviously going to have new ones (laughter).”
NO I MEAN HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT THIS QUICKLY?
“Yeah, you have to. You’ve got to find it really quick. Like I said, I’ve used the 3-2-1- signs on the fence versus looking for character marks in the track. Those are pretty easy and a lot of the bigger tracks will have signs like that.”
ANY INDICATION ON HOW SUCCESSFUL YOUR PRELUDE TO THE DREAM WAS THIS PAST WEEK?
“No, but I was really, really excited about it. I appreciate everybody he helping with it. It was an awesome event. To have our eighth annual and our sixth different winner was pretty cool, I thought. And it was probably some of the best racing we’ve ever seen at the Prelude. So I thought I was a huge success. Hopefully the pay-per-view numbers will reflect that too.”
YOU WERE STRONG ON THE INTERMEDIATE TRACKS LIKE LAS VEGAS AND FONTANA. CHARLOTTE WAS A LITTLE BIT OF A BLIP. DO YOU COME HERE FEELING GOOD OR FEELING YOU YOU’VE GOT SOME WORK TO DO?
“I think today I feel a lot better about it. Texas was a big bump in the road too and both at Charlotte were pretty big disappointments. But I think you kind of don’t really know what to expect. I think after we get done on Sunday, we’re all going to know a lot more about what’s going on with this. But this week and next week are kind of two question marks really. We really don’t know what to expect.”
IN THE PAST, BRAKES HAVE BEEN AN ISSUE WITH THE SPEEDS. NOW, YOU’RE GOING TO BE GOING EVEN FASTER. DO YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR BRAKE SET-UP FROM THE PAST?
“I think you keep getting better. The brakes packages keep getting better and I feel like our brake package is good. We haven’t done any long runs yet so I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. But as far as actual stopping power, I’m real comfortable and confident with what we’ve got so far.”
DALE JUNIOR SAID THE TIRES DON’T REALLY FALL OFF THAT MUCH. HE PRAISED GOODYEAR FOR THAT. HE ALSO SAID WHAT THAT MIGHT DO IS MEAN POSSIBLE FUEL MILEAGE RACE WHERE YOUR LAST PIT STOP IS FOR A FULL TAKE OF FUEL. DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT DEVELOP?
“Any time you go to a two or 2.5-mile track, you’re always going to be in the scenario of fuel mileage just because of the physical size of the track. The tire does fall off a little bit, which is good. It doesn’t just totally fall off and fall off in two to three seconds, which is great. But it does fall off a little bit, which is good. It’s going to keep guys from strictly just playing the fuel mileage game. You’re never going to eliminate it on a two or 2.5-mile race track.”
FROM AN OWNER’S PERSPECTIVE, GUYS LIKE KURT BUSCH HAVE A LOT OF TALENT. IF A GUY LIKE THAT KEEPS GETTING HIMSELF IN TROUBLE, WILL HE ALWAYS STILL HAVE A RIDE BECAUSE HE’S SO TALENTED, OR WOULD YOU EVER SHY AWAY FROM SOMETHING AS AN OWNER?
“You definitely have to look at that, for sure because you know half of the battle is getting a good partner and sponsor. And if the sponsors are leery, then it puts you in a bad spot as an owner unless you have unlimited funding and can just put in there whoever you want, it’s definitely a huge concern.”
IS THERE A CONCERN WITH HOW HIGH THE SPEEDS ARE GETTING AT POCONO AND MICHIGAN?
“I don’t think so. The safety of these cars has come a long way and race track safety too with the soft walls. So, you know, I don’t think you are ever really concerned about it until something bad happens. But, I’ve been to race tracks and I’ve seen crashes at 60 mph that hurt people a lot worse than 160 mph. So, I feel pretty confident with the safety package that we have, with both the race track side and with what NASCAR has done with the cars.”
WHEN YOU HAVE UPS AND DOWNS, HAVE YOU LEARNED NOT TO GET FRUSTRATED BECAUSE IT’S BEEN A ROUGH STRETCH FOR YOU?
“Yeah, especially the last three weeks. Two weeks in Charlotte we struggled and then again last week at Dover (where) we obviously had a problem early in the race. I think the big thing especially for these first 26 races, you’ve got to treat it as an average and know that you’re going to have a bad race here and there. You’ve just got to figure out if the lack of performance is because you’re not running well and not getting the cars right, you’ve got to figure that out. But if it’s because you get in a wreck on lap 9 that shouldn’t have happened, you just kind of shun that part off.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ALAN KULWICKI? IT WAS 20 YEARS AGO THAT HE WON HERE
“I really didn’t know Alan and don’t know near as much about him as I would like. But I still say that he did something that nobody is ever going to do again. There’s never going to be a driver that’s going to start from scratch and go out and win a championship as an owner/driver. He still stet a bar that I don’t think anybody will duplicate.”
WE ARE HALFWAY TO THE CHASE. YOU ARE 8TH IN POINTS WITH TWO WINS. IS THERE MORE OF A SENSE OF URGENCY, OR DO YOU FEEL WITH THOSE WINS IF YOU GUYS DROP, YOU’RE PRETTY SECURE?
“Well, you feel better knowing you have two wins. But the thing is you don’t really think from that standpoint. You always go in there every weekend with the intention that you’re going to win the race. So you’re focusing on what you’ve got to do to keep your program good so when you get in the Chase and you get four or five weeks closer you start paying more attention to it. But for right now it’s just kind of the same thing we always talk about every year at this time. We’re taking it one week at a time and you’re just trying to make sure that every track that you’re going to you’re getting the 100 percent out of what your package is. You just keep working toward that and think about that until you get four or five races to the Chase.”
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