TONY STEWART met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed the passing of Chris Economaki and Bob Newton, the first practice session and other topics. Full Transcript:
SAD NEWS THIS MORNING WITH THE PASSING OF CHRIS ECONOMAKI CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT HE MEANT TO YOU AS WELL AS BOB NEWTON?
“It’s definitely been a tough week for sure. We lost two people in this sport that have had a huge impact on racing. From Chris’ side obviously he has covered racing for so long, not only been a journalist but a great announcer at the same time and pit reporter. I don’t think anybody here that has been involved in racing for very long didn’t get Speed Sport News every week. Luckily, Speed Sport News is still going on and then it got turned over to some really good hands. The guy that started it all unfortunately we lost.
“Bob Newton I don’t even know where to start. There is so much I can say about him he is just a great guy. I’ve worked with Hoosier racing tire since I was probably 20 or 21 years old. They have been a sponsor of mine ever since. The thing about Bob is he always cared about the racers more than he cared about himself. There are a lot of companies that you see in these garage areas that don’t think that way. That is something that Bob always did. He was just a great person. He was a great father to his family; you just hate it when you have a week like this where you lose two great people that meant so much to the sport like this.”
HOW WAS THE CAR DURING THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSION?
“Actually this is the best we have been here in a long time. I’m pretty happy with the way we are starting here. We are still not as fast as we need to be, but at least we are knocking a lot of that deficit away. I feel a lot more comfortable in the car. Like I say our speed doesn’t show that we are a great race car right now, but we are so much better than what we have been here in the past.”
DID YOU SEE THIS TRACK AS A ROAD BLOCK COMING IN AS SOME PLACE THAT YOU JUST NEEDED TO GET THROUGH AND GET ON TO TALLADEGA AND THE REST OF THE CHASE?
“Well I mean it is definitely one that we were concerned about and we have been concerned about this race for the last three or four years. We are not exactly where we need to be today, but we are a lot better off than we have been here in the past. I’m at least excited about it. I don’t feel like I’m having to hold my breath every lap now.”
CAN YOU TALK YOURSELF INTO LIKING A TRACK TO BE BETTER AT IT?
“I don’t know I’m the wrong guy to ask that I guess. I don’t get into that stuff.”
YOU HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT ON TUESDAY; I KNOW YOU WON’T TELL ME WHAT IT IS, BUT DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT WHERE THINGS ARE AS FAR AS SPONSORSHIP FOR YOU AND RYAN (NEWMAN) NEXT YEAR?
“You will have to come Tuesday and you will learn some of that. We will see you Tuesday.”
WHEN YOU CRASH OUT AT A PLACE AND YOU COME BACK AT THE END OF THE YEAR HOW MUCH DOES IT HURT YOU OR NOT TO MISS OUT ON THOSE LAPS? DOES THAT HAVE AN IMPACT AT ALL?
“If you miss the rest of the race it is an impact for sure. We got fixed and got back out there. We would go back and let everybody go around before we took the green flag to not impact anybody else’s race, but we would still drive through a bunch of cars once they would get sorted out. There is something you can take from that at least even though you are not on the lead lap. At least we were learning as the race went on even though we weren’t in contention for anything. It definitely helps when you come back here. If you miss the race in the spring and get knocked out early and you don’t get to run the rest of the race it’s definitely an impact for sure.”
SO IN FIXING YOUR CAR YOU MIGHT HAVE ACTUALLY GAINED SOMETHING RUNNING BY YOURSELF MULTIPLE LAPS DOWN?
“Oh yeah definitely every lap you can log you are going to learn something. We got back out there and still got to run well over half the race after the repairs. We learned quite a bit. We got to make quite a bit of changes every caution. We really weren’t racing for position so every time the caution would come out we would come in and change something.”
DOES IT TRANSLATE AT ALL DO YOU FEEL A LITTLE BIT OFF YOUR SHOULDERS WHEN YOU ARE ABLE TO MAKE SOME GOOD ANNOUNCEMENTS AND GET IN A HAPPY PLACE AND HAVE THAT BE ONE LESS WORRY?
“Yeah if you can do that it is a great scenario to be in. You definitely want that for sure.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT NASCAR HOPING TO KEEP ALL THE QUALIFYING SESSIONS ON FRIDAY?
“It doesn’t matter. Whatever the schedule is, it is. It doesn’t really matter to us either way. No matter what it is it’s going to be the same for everybody and that is all that really matters.”
NEXT WEEK WE ARE AT TALLADEGA A LOT OF DRIVERS CONSIDER THAT THE WILD CARD IN THE CHASE WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO THAT TANDEM AT THE END OF THE RACE DO YOU PREFER TO DRAFT WITH A NON-CHASER OR A CHASER?
“I don’t even know that you get a choice at the end a lot of times. A lot of times it is just who you get paired up with. I don’t think it really matters really. I think you just try to get everything you can get. You just have to find a partner. You hope that you have the ability to pick who you want, but if you don’t you take who you can get. The big thing is you don’t want to be left without a partner that is the biggest thing.”