NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 21, 2013
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Sonoma Raceway, and discussed the challenges of racing at Sonoma and other topics. Full transcript:
HOW DID PRACTICE GO FOR YOU GUYS?
“No drama so far. Nice, smooth session. Need a little bit of speed, but this is better than we’ve taken off in practice in the past here so somewhat encouraged by it.”
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE AT THE ROAD COURSE WITH THE NEW CARS?
“I don’t think it’s been a big deal. I think you learn the things you learn on the oval that make the car happy, kind of figure out how to transfer all that information over to when we come to the road courses. Hasn’t been a big drama so far.”
HOW MUCH INFORMATION FROM LAST YEAR TRANSFERS TO THE NEW CAR?
“Steve Addington (crew chief) is the guy you need to ask that question. He’s the one that puts the setup on it. I honestly don’t know. I’m not a guy that knows what springs and shocks go in the car each week. I just concentrate on giving him the feedback of what the car is doing and what I’m feeling in the car.”
IS BREAKING THE TRACK RECORD IMPORTANT?
“Does it pay extra? Do we get any more points or do we get a bigger trophy or do we get more prize money? If no, it doesn’t then no, it doesn’t matter to me.”
DOES THE CHANGE IN TURN SEVEN TAKE SOME OF THE FUN AWAY?
“What did they do? It’s new to me. I’ve been here for 15 straight years and I didn’t notice any difference when I got down to seven. I didn’t see anything. I don’t think it’s done anything.”
HOW CHALLENGING AND ENJOYABLE DO YOU STILL FIND ROAD RACING?
“I’ve always liked it. I’ve liked it from day one. I liked it when I did it in go-kart racing. I think it’s really cool that our series gets to do this twice a year. It’s just nice to do something that is outside the box and outside the norm. It’s not something that people just show up to do it. Everybody and the teams take it serious, they do a lot of testing and the competition each year gets better and better. You hear less and less about the so-called ‘ringers,’ it’s the guys that are doing this every week are the guys that are fast in these cars.”
IS THERE ANY SIGNIFICANCE IN BREAKING INTO THE TOP-10 LAST WEEK?
“It’s definitely been gratifying for sure. The thing is that, ‘A,’ we have to stay there and ‘B,’ we got to be consistent. Getting there has been a lot of fun, it’s been very trying to get to this point, but it just shows how quickly you can get things turned around. There’s other teams that can make gains like that too. It’s a constant moving target. You have to constantly keep up with it and I’m proud of our group. The hard work that they’ve put to get us caught back up. The hard thing is you can’t stop and they can’t stop with that intensity. We all have to keep working hard and keep that intensity up to get through the rest of the year.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE ROAD COURSE WIN ON YOUR RESUME?
“I don’t think, to me it doesn’t really matter. To me, at the end of the day it shows up in our standings and it’s in the win column. It doesn’t say where it’s at, it just shows up at the end of the year in the win column. Doesn’t matter whether it’s here or whether it’s a dirt track, a road course or whatever. Just a win against this group is big. You don’t care where they’re at or how you get them, wins are important.”
WAS THERE ANYTHING UNUSUAL AT THE TRACK WHEN DRIVERS WENT OFF COURSE EARLY?
“No, they do that -- maybe you should watch practice every year. They do that every year at the beginning of practice, guys drive off. It’s getting used to the track again and it’s not the easiest track. That’s what makes it fun because it is challenging. It’s not forgiving as far as making mistakes so it’s easy early in the session to get guys that go off course.”
IS THE CHALLENGE WITH TURN 11 NOT GETTING WRECKED BY SOMEONE ELSE?
“If you stay ahead of them far enough you don’t have to worry about it. It just depends on where you’re at in the pack and who you’re around. There’s guys that will run in there and don’t care. There’s guys that have had a bad day earlier in the day and they’re in that mode so it just depends on who you’re around. Hopefully, you’re around guys you respect and that respect you and you don’t have problems when you get there.”
DO YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT BLOCKING?
“They will block here. Just about everybody is going to block here. It’s inevitable. It’s not my favorite part about this by any means. The race track is fun enough, but there is going to be plenty of guys that block this weekend unfortunately.”
DO PEOPLE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE RESTARTS MORE AT SONOMA?
“You have to remember, if you’re 10th in line, by the time guys get to turn seven and turn 11, you can’t run in with the normal pace that you would normally run in there. Guys will take advantage of any available hold unfortunately and it puts guys in a bad position once they do that. That’s what guys are going to do. It’s what they’ve always done.”
IS THAT JUST A ROAD COURSE THING?
“Yeah, it’s just because you’re running so slow into some of these corners that when you have open track you run that corner a lot different. When you’re in traffic, you don’t have the luxury of driving in the corner or when you’re mid-pack of driving as far in as you want because there’s cars already in front of you slowed down. That’s what creates the traffic jam and then guys are going to take up every available space they can.”
ARE THE RESTARTS CRAZY FUN FOR YOU?
“Is it crazy fun? No. Go drive and then tell me what you think and then we’ll talk about whether it’s fun or not.”
DO YOU THINK A CHANGE IN THE SEATS OF SPRINT CARS WOULD BE BENEFICIAL IN THE FUTURE?
“I’m confident in the seat I have. I run Butler seats and a lot of the field does. I’m very comfortable and confident that what we have is the right thing. It’s no different than it is in this series, driver run what seat they are comfortable with and what they’re used to. It’s driver preference. I’m happy with the seats that I run in my cars. I feel like Butler has done a good job to make sure that we’ve got the best seats possible.”
WHAT CAN YOU ATTRIBUTE THE FIRST TIME WINNERS AT THIS TRACK TO?
“Everybody, it used to be when I started in this series 15 years ago it was a place that people kind of dreaded and there were a handful of guys that looked forward to it and were actually competitive. Five or six guys that had a shot to win the race. That was when road course specialists really meant something in the series and then the longer time has gone on, the specialist part of it kind of faded out of it because the teams take it more serious, the drivers take it more serious and it’s as important to win here as it was last week at Michigan and at Kentucky next week. It’s a different race, but the emphasis is still the same. Everybody works just as hard to win.”
HOW AWARE DO YOU HAVE TO BE OF THE GUYS ONLY RACING THIS RACE?
“The etiquette that we have in this series is different than the series they come from so it creates some of those problems that Claire (B. Lang, Sirius/XM Satellite radio) eluded to earlier, just makes it a little more difficult. You do have to be aware of who they are and that they are liable to do things just a little different way than what we are used to week in and week out.”
IS THERE AN EASIER WAY FOR DRIVERS TO GET INSURANCE?
“I’m not worried about that right now, I’m worried about driving race cars right now. I’m not going to get involved in the topic of the week this week. I’m worried about making my race cars go fast and doing what I do every week.”
IS IT HARDER BEING AN OWNER OR BEING A DRIVER?
“Depends on what day it is. Sunday it’s definitely harder being the driver than it is the owner, but Monday it’s a lot harder being the owner.”
More blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)
Blog entries from The Dog Blog
More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie