TONY STEWART met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed heading into the Chase, his success in last year’s Chase and other topics. Full transcript:
THE SCENARIO IS PRETTY CUT AND DRIED FOR YOU HERE AT RICHMOND, 14TH OR BETTER AND YOU ARE IN. HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING TOMORROW NIGHT?
“The same day we do every week. It’s no different. You have to run the race the same way.”
WHAT HAPPENED IN PRACTICE?
“I would like to know that too. I would really like to know that. We just are bad right now.”
IS THE CAR IMPOSSIBLE TO DRIVE?
“It’s not impossible. I’m starting to question whether somebody else can drive it better than me at this point in the equation. I just can’t get it to do what I want it to do at any point.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO STEWART-HAAS RACING TO GET NEWMAN SIGNED?
“It is nice going into this weekend to have it done, so it is less stress for me; less stress for Ryan, and the whole organization. We are happy to finally get that done.”
BAD NEWS ABOUT OFFICE DEPOT. WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE YOU GUYS?
“It leaves us without a sponsor right now. It is a big void. It is unfortunate. It’s part of life. It’s part of a bad economy. Been listening to all the politicians speak about how they are going to make things different. I haven’t seen anything get any better yet. It is just hard. I’m appreciative of everything Office Depot has done for us. They were the first company to come on board when we started this deal. It was a hard decision for them to have to back away from it. I understand as a business owner what they are faced with. You can’t blame them. I understand 100% why they had to do what they had to do.”
IS SIGNING NEWMAN SOMEWHAT OF A RISK BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE SPONSORSHIP FOR HIM?
“It is, but, it is something that is important to me. It was important obviously to Ryan. It was important to people on our team to get him re-signed. I’m just glad we got it done right now. You have to start first with something. It’s kind of what is first, the chicken or the egg. It’s hard to get sponsors if you don’t have a driver. And, it’s hard to have a driver if you don’t have sponsors. So, we had to start somewhere.”
WILL YOU TRY TO KEEP SPONSORS YOU WERE TALKING TO FOR NEWMAN AS FOR NEWMAN, OR COULD THEY NOW MOVE OVER TO YOU?
“We have a whole marketing team that works on that right now. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out how not to be 43rd on the speed chart right now.”
ARE YOU HAPPY THAT THERE ARE FIVE MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS IN THE CHASE?
“I will be honest. I’m not happy with any part of my program right now. We have a lot of work to do.”
DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE FOR ANY DRIVER IN THE CHASE TO DO WHAT YOU DID LAST YEAR?
“How does anybody know if that can happen? I don’t know. I really don’t.”
LAST YEAR HEADING INTO THE CHASE THERE WERE STRUGGLES AND YOU SAID MAYBE YOU DIDN’T BELONG IN THE CHASE. THIS YEAR YOU GUYS HAVE HAD SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES. DO YOU FEEL EQUALLY OPTIMISTIC THAT YOU COULD PULL IT OFF AGAIN?
“You learn to not…I mean, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen. I wouldn’t have predicted last year was going to end up like it did. And, I wouldn’t have predicted this year was going to be the way it is right now. I’m just trying to take it a race at a time right now.”
SO SHOULD YOU JUST SAY RIGHT NOW YOU DON’T BELONG IN THE CHASE?
“If that’s what I thought would take for it to work, I’d be right on it, and be pulling up everybody’s transcripts from last year trying to make sure I get it exactly word-for-word. If we honestly think it works, then sign me up for it.”
DO YOU THINK THE STRUGGLES LAST YEAR MADE YOU STRONGER IN THE CHASE?
“No, things just turned around. I wish I could answer why, but for a whole year, you guys have asked me how we did that. I still don’t know how we did that. It is hard to predict.”
DO YOU HAVE A SIMILAR FEELING RIGHT NOW?
“We are just frustrated right now. I’m not even worried about the next 10 weeks because I can’t even get through this week right now. We are trying to get stuff going.”