TONY STEWART met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed the racing groove at MIS, Danica Patrick’s return to the Cup Series and other topics. Full Transcript:
HOW ARE YOUR TIRES OUT THERE AS OPPOSED TO THE LAST TIME WE WERE HERE AND THEY HAD TO CHANGE THE COMPOUND?
“The biggest difference right now is that we haven’t run the soft tire this weekend to get a bunch of rubber in the race track so it’s really hard… I mean it’s one lane wide right now. It’s going to take a lot to get it any wider than that.”
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE? IS THAT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE ALLEVIATED WITH THE TRUCK RACE AND PRACTICE?
“I doubt it. I mean everybody is going to hunt for the best spot on the track and the cleanest spot is going to be the best spot. It would be nice if they could get that tire ‘monster’ and drag some tires around or something just to try to get it clean and get rubber in the race track to where you can run on it. It doesn’t take much to get off the groove right now, below it or above it and have to have a big lift.”
DOES THAT CHANGE YOU AND STEVE’S (ADDINGTON) APPROACH JUST KNOWING IF PASSING IS THAT DIFFICULT HOW IMPORTANT QUALIFYING IS GOING TO BE?
“No, we try to qualify on the pole every week. We don’t show up ever and say ‘ah you know I think we will try to qualifying 20th this week’. We pretty much came with the approach that we were going to try to qualify as well as we could.”
ON WEDNESDAY IN TEXAS YOU SAID THAT YOU WERE HOPING AND PRAYING TO GET THE (RYAN) NEWMAN DEAL DONE. IT ALMOST SOUNDED A LITTLE BIT GLOOMY IS THERE ANYTHING TO THAT?
“There is nothing different. There is nothing new than what I have told you in the past and as soon as we have something different than what is going on we will be the first to tell you guy.”
TALKING TO DRIVERS JUST ABOUT HOW MUCH SEAT TIME IS AN ADVANTAGE TO THEM JUST TO HAVE THE EXTRA SEAT TIME IN A RACE CAR. SOMETIMES DRIVERS WHO ARE IN THE NATIONWIDE RACE CAN BE A DISADVANTAGE BECAUSE IT TAKES YOU AWAY FROM THE CUP DEBRIEF AND STUFF. YOU RACE AWAY FROM THE CUP TRACK, SO HOW MUCH OF AN ADVANTAGE IS THAT FOR YOU?
“I don’t know if it’s an actual advantage as much as it just is refreshing to my mind. It’s something I really enjoy doing so the extra time it takes to do it…I get to focus on one car during the day here versus trying to bounce around between two divisions and then trying to split that focus up. At the end of the day when my Cup stuff is done for the day that is when I get to do the second part of what I do. It’s totally separate so it’s probably a little bit more of an advantage to do it that way than to have to run two or three divisions all in the same down and bouncing between car to car at the same track.”
WE TALKED TO KASEY KAHNE THIS MORNING AND HE SAID THAT HE HAS BEEN IMPRESSED WITH WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO IN THE OTHER CARS AS WELL. HE WAS SAYING THAT HE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A CHANCE TO DO THAT. HE SAID YOU TWO HAD TALKED ABOUT SHARING A TRAILER. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO CONTINUE TO DO OR PERHAPS EVEN DO MORE OF IF THAT IS POSSIBLE?
“Yeah I’m having fun doing what I’m doing. I think we have proven over the last year in particular that it is not a distraction it’s not something that is a detriment to what we are doing on the Cup side it just seems to make me better. Like tonight, I don’t have a race tonight and I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s the first night in about a month that we have been to a Cup race and haven’t had a dirt race to run in the evening. Tomorrow morning ought to be interesting. I will probably be pulling my hair out because I’m bored probably from watching too much TV tonight.”
IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF THAT KASEY (KAHNE) JUST SAID IT WAS THE TIME…
“Yeah and a lot of it is just getting there especially on the weeks that we have all the practice on Friday and then qualifying on Saturday we don’t normally get done with that second session until 5:00 p.m. So by the time you get done with the debrief and then head to the airport you are struggling to get to the Friday night race on time. Saturday we have a lot more time obviously to get there so Saturday is a little easier.”
WHO ARE SOME OF THE YOUNG DRIVERS THAT WE MAY NOT HAVE HEARD OF THAT YOU HAVE SEEN BECAUSE YOU ARE INVOLVED IN SO MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS OF RACING?
“I’m not telling you that until I get them signed.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO BRISTOL WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING OUT OF BRISTOL?
“I’m not exactly sure what tire they are going to bring. I know we got to do the tire test there and they had some stuff that I thought was a little better. Goodyear and NASCAR ultimately make the decision on what the tire is going to be when we get there, but we will see what the tire does.”
HOW MANY MINUTES, HOURS OR DAYS DOES IT TAKE TO PUT A RACE LIKE LAST WEEK OUT OF YOUR MIND?
“About the three hours it took to get home. After that there is nothing you can do about it, it’s over. You put it out of your mind and work on the next week. We started thinking when we got home about what we were going to do this weekend.”
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU REALLY HAD SOMETHING GOING THERE UNTIL THAT HAPPENED?
“Yeah, I just made a mistake. I was embarrassed about it, but it happens.”
STARTING NEXT WEEK DANICA (PATRICK) IS GOING TO BE IN THE CUP CAR FOR THE NEXT SIX WEEKS, THREE OF THOSE TRACKS SHE’S ALREADY RACED AT THIS YEAR IN THE NATIONWIDE CAR WILL THAT HELP HER?
“I’ll be honest, I wish everybody would get off her back and just let her go race and let her learn. Everybody is putting so much pressure on her and so much focus on her. Going to a place that you’ve been to is obviously going to help, but everybody needs to take a step back and let this girl learn and do what she is trying to do there. It’s kind of a double edge sword. It’s been great from the publicity side, but for her, I don’t know how she handles it. It’s making me nervous having to talk about her all the time, let alone, she is the one that has to actually do it. I just hope everybody respects her enough to give her the room to know that whether she makes three laps or whether she finishes the whole race the whole goal is to just learn.”
WHAT ADVICE HAVE YOU HAD FOR HER?
“Go out and learn that is exactly what I told her. It’s not been rocket science. The biggest thing is every lap you run in a car the better you’re going to get and the more you are going to learn. Even if you are running fifth or 25th you are learning something. The goal of these 10 races, which is exactly what we said back in the media tour, clear back in January was that these races are designed to give her laps in the car and get her more time and experience. The good thing is she is excited about it and that is the attitude you have to have going into it.”