NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
PURE MICHIGAN 400
MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 16, 2013
AUSTIN DILLON, INTERIM DRIVER FOR TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET SS AND GREG ZIPADELLI, COMPETITION DIRECTOR AT STEWART-HAAS RACING, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed expectations for the race weekend, updates on Tony Stewart and much more. Full Transcript:
HOW DOES IT FEEL BEING INTRODUCED AS THE DRIVER OF THE NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET?
AUSTIN DILLON: “It’s pretty exciting. We all know who drives it on a regular basis and that’s one of my heroes, Tony Stewart. I’m super excited to be representing their sponsors, Mobil 1 and Bass Pro Shops and just looking forward to this whole weekend. We had a good test yesterday with our Nationwide car and I’m really excited to be working with Steve Addington (NSCS crew chief) and Greg (Zipadelli, competition director) and hopefully putting together a great run for both of our teams this weekend.”
WHAT IS THE UPDATE FROM STEWART-HAAS RACING AND WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING AT MICHIGAN WITH AUSTIN DILLON THIS WEEKEND?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “Like we said last week, we’re taking one week at a time and trying to do the best we can. Austin (Dillon) had run here before, ran here in the spring and did a good job. He was willing to come here today and give us 100 percent because they had the test day yesterday, which kind of really made the difference as far as making this work for us. With that being said, we’re certainly excited about getting on the race track, getting all this stuff kind of behind us and doing the best we can this weekend.”
WOULD IT BE EASIER TO HAVE ONE DRIVER FOR ALL THE RACES TONY STEWART WILL MISS RATHER THAN CHANGING DRIVERS EACH WEEKEND?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “There’s pros and cons to it. We’re certainly looking at trying probably in the next three to four days, before we get to Bristol everything will be ironed out for the rest of the year. We’ve had hurdles that we’ve had to get through so we are looking at that and we’re working on that. It will be two drivers probably the rest of the year just to do exactly what you said and just try to get them guys to try to build some chemistry and get the best finishes we can. We’re still 11th in owner’s points, that’s a big deal and we can look at that and that’s kind of what we’re focused on right now. We are working on that, it’s just too early to talk about.”
ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS ABOUT TALKING SETUPS BETWEEN RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING AND STEWART-HAAS RACING?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “We did touch on that and it’s very important that we both respect our boundaries from team to team. Obviously, they’re racing for a championship and we’ve got the 39 (Ryan Newman) that we’re trying to get in the Chase to race for a championship and we have the 14 that like we said we are trying to keep as high as we can in owner’s points. We’re just going to talk about what he (Austin Dillon) feels in that car and what he needs. We won’t talk about particulars about what we’re changing and we’re not really going to ask him to divulge things that they did here in the spring. If he’s got a suggestion and feels like he might want the track bar up or down or wedge in or out then by all means he will communicate that with Steve (Addington, crew chief). We’ve got to be very respectful of our partners at Hendrick Motorsports and things so I’ve talked with Hendrick Motorsports, I’ve talked with Richard Childress about it and we’ve all agreed that Austin will just get in and give tight/loose and drive the hell out of it.”
ARE YOU WORKING UNDER THE ASSUMPTION THAT TONY STEWART WILL BE OUT THE REST OF THE YEAR OR IS THERE A CHANCE HE WILL BE BACK THIS SEASON?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “We don’t know that yet. I’m working under the assumption that he’s (Tony Stewart) out for the next month or so or longer. He went to the doctor’s this week, he had a decent visit. No setbacks. Basically, very simple instructions, stay in his bed with your leg up over your heart for the next seven days and then come back and see me. We’ll reevaluate you and tell you what you can do. That’s what he’s doing. I saw him Wednesday night, we spent some time together, spent a couple hours together yesterday just kind of filling him in on all the things that we’ve got going on. He’s in great spirits and they changed some of his medicines and things of that nature. He’s going through a little bit of a transition period, but like I said the doctor’s appointment went well or as good as it can. He said the next seven to 14 days will tell a lot of how it heals, how those things take and we’ll certainly continue to update you guys as we can. It’s going to be a really slow process.”
IS AUSTIN DILLON ONE OF THE TWO THAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT FOR MORE RACES GOING FORWARD?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “Yeah, obviously Austin’s (Dillon) done a great job in the Truck Series and Nationwide Series. He’s got a long-standing relationship with Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shop so we are talking about more races. We don’t have anything concreted yet. We’re looking at that other option and just seeing how many races that they can do. It looks like one more race at least for Austin through the rest of the year with us.”
GREG, WHY WAS AUSTIN DILLON THE RIGHT CHOICE THIS WEEKEND AND AUSTIN, HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE A SUCCESSFUL WEEKEND?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “From our side, like I mentioned earlier, he (Austin Dillon) just ran here and did a great job in the spring race. Runs well here in the Nationwide. He’s done some testing in these cars so we could have found a guy in the Truck Series or something like that who doesn’t have a ton of time in these race cars, which I felt was — not that they wouldn’t do a good job, but I think these cars are a little bit different and the biggest thing is that he did a good job here in the spring. We looked at that, the association with Bass Pro Shop, both sponsors were on board. That is a big priority to us that our partners are on board with everything we do. Obviously, we let them down with Tony (Stewart) not being in the car the rest of the year and we need to do the best we can to represent them and they are a big part of our decisions.”
HOW ACTIVE IS TONY STEWART WHEN YOU VISIT WITH HIM AND WHAT IS HIS MINDSET?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “His (Tony Stewart) mindset is pretty good. He’s in a lot of pain at times. He was in a wheelchair yesterday when we had our meeting with three or four of us over there for a couple hours yesterday going over things at the shop and what we were doing moving forward. For the most part, like I said, he’s supposed to be in bed for the next seven days with his foot up above his heart I guess is what the doctor said. It needs to be elevated just to keep the swelling and things of that nature down.”
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO GO FROM LAST TO THE TOP-10 AT MID-OHIO AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR WHAT YOU DO AT MICHIGAN ON SUNDAY?
AUSTIN DILLON: “A top-10, I want to be able to win hopefully Saturday. From 43rd to first is something that is tough to do, but I feel like with all the strategy and things that are going to play out during that race — I think it’s going to be a pretty wild race. Going to the inaugural race for Mid-Ohio and there are some blind corners and some elevation changes and some really slow corners where people are going to make up ground and mistakes are going to be made. My goal always is to finish laps in these races and that will always bring positions to you and that answers Marty’s (Smith, ESPN) question earlier about our goal for this weekend in the 14. I’ve been able to be pretty successful at finishing a lot of laps in my career. I think trying to put ourselves in position at the end of the race to get a top-15 would be great. We do that by being there at the end. That’s what I feel like we’ll try to do in the Nationwide race.”
WHAT ARE THE LOGISTICS YOU WILL GO THROUGH THIS WEEKEND AND CAN YOU PREVIEW BRISTOL?
AUSTIN DILLON: “I think the logistics are actually not as bad as we all thought it was going to be because the test at Mid-Ohio kind of solved that. I was able to be there all day yesterday. We flew in on Wednesday night, I was there yesterday full time and then came over here last night. Had a good night’s rest and then today I will stay here and even be able to watch the Truck race tonight with Ty (Dillon) in it and stay the night and stay here for a little bit of practice in the morning. Then helicopter to Mid-Ohio before the race Saturday.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE RACING FOR MULTIPLE TEAMS IN THE SPRINT CUP SERIES AND WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER FROM PLAYING IN THE LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES?
AUSTIN DILLON: “This is my third Cup team this year that we’ve run for and it’s pretty special. I think it’s cool to be able to say that I’ve driven for multiple different people. The great thing about it is that you learn a lot running with different guys and learning how things are supposed to be done and what it really takes to be a team leader. I think that’s pretty important. As far as the Little League World Series, it was a great time. I thought I was going to be a baseball player for the rest of my life and I’m sitting in the media center for a NASCAR Cup race this weekend. It was a very special time. The funny thing was that I ran into a bunch of the players from my team this past weekend after our race and I thought that was cool. They are very supportive of my career and I still have some of them come around to the races here and there. It’s a fun time of the year. I always love watching it and I did see on ESPN that Michigan is playing California today, is that the team? It’s special. It’s always a good time for a bunch of 12-year-olds and you get to miss a little school too.”
WHAT IS THE TEAM’S MINDSET ABOUT THE REST OF THE SEASON?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “Everybody has been pretty good honestly. We’ve been so busy trying to work through all these details and seats and seat brackets and all the things that have gone on in the last two weeks that these guys haven’t had time to stop I don’t think really and reflect on what’s going on in the year. Like I said, we’re 11th in owner’s points and that’s the message that we keep driving to these guys that it is business as usual. There’s no reason in the world that we can’t be in the top-10 with where we’re at and that’s our goals is to continue fighting as hard as we can, do the best we can to represent our sponsors and keep the boss smiling at home that we did a good job with what we had to work with.”
DOES THIS SHOW THE STRENGTH OF THE ORGANIZATION?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “Everybody’s been great. We’ve all spent a lot of time together, probably more time than we have in the past and maybe we’ve learned that we can do a better job of communicating and spending more time together. Everybody from Gene (Haas) on his side with his people to Tony (Stewart) and everybody in between have really spent some time together, talked about things and all have come to common ground on what’s best for Stewart-Haas moving forward. To be part of that, I’m proud of everybody for just not putting themselves forward and just looking at what do we need to do to do the best job we can for Stewart-Haas. We’ve got the 39 (Ryan Newman) that we need to put as much resources as we can there and obviously there’s been distractions on my side and things of that nature, but Matt (Borland, crew chief) and those guys are doing a great job digging and moving forward and that is the priority right now.”
IS TONY STEWART BACK TO BEING FEISTY AGAIN?
GREG ZIPADELLI: “He was pretty ornery Wednesday night when I left.”
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