TONY STEWART met with members of the media at Sonoma Raceway and discussed blocking on road courses, the first practice session and other topics. Full Transcript:
WHY DO YOU THINK THESE (ROAD COURSE) RACES ARE WHERE PEOPLE GET MAD AND RETALIATE?
“I think it’s because just so many cars especially on restarts by the time the leaders get to the top of the hill and they slow down everybody that is mid-pack can’t charge off in the corner. So guys that are trying to be patient and do the right thing there are other guys that try to take advantage of it and put the rest of the guys in bad spots when they get there. I think that is what causes a lot of it just the competition is so close. With double file restarts we are not stringing out like we used to here. I think the frustration comes more on starts and restarts than it does anything.”
DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THAT?
“We are going to have to do it no matter what so it doesn’t really matter.”
HOW WAS YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE?
“Obviously at 24th in practice it’s not very good so we have to work on it.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE MARGIN BETWEEN GUYS THAT ARE REALLY GOOD AT ROAD COURSES AND SOME OF THE GUYS THAT ARE JUST DECENT AT ROAD COURSES HAS GOTTEN SMALLER OVER THE YEARS?
“I mean the whole field has gotten better at it. The guys that were mid to back pack of the field 10 years ago now are guys that have got better at it and the fields keep improving and it gets closer and closer. It definitely makes it more fun because of that because you’ve got more guys that are competitive now than ever.”
TURN 11 IS WHERE A LOT OF THE ACTION HAPPENS HERE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MENTALITY AS YOU ARE COMING INTO THAT CORNER BECAUSE THERE IS A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY THERE BUT THERE IS A LOT OF RISK OBVIOUSLY TOO?
“The hard part is you’ve got guys that will race each other then you’ve got guys that will block each other. A guy works hard to make a run off turn 10 he’s done his job he’s done what he’s supposed to do. Then when a guy just blatantly block over there that is what frustrates you as a driver. That seems to happen a lot here for some reason. I don’t know why guys are doing it. They didn’t when I started 14 years ago they didn’t do that here. It seems like every year the blocking aspect gets worse and worse.”
IT SEEMS LIKE THERE IS BLOCKING IN EVERY CORNER, HOW DO YOU TELL WHEN SOMEONE IS BLOCKING OR NOT?
“When somebody runs a different line than what they would run by themselves to keep somebody from passing that is blocking and that is easy for everybody to see. Everybody stays on the outside until they get to the corner then they come down to the inside so if a guy half-way down the straight-a-way changes lanes he is not doing it because it’s a faster line to get him in the corner. He is doing it because he’s blocking.”
HOW IMPORTANT ARE SPOTTERS AT A TRACK LIKE THIS?
“They are important everywhere they always have been.”
ARE THEY MORE IMPORTANT HERE OR LESS IMPORTANT?
“No, they are always important everywhere you go. The degree of it is not greater or less.”
HOW LONG HAS YOUR SPOTTER BEEN WITH YOU?
“I would say probably about eight years now.”
ARE YOU IN FIRST OR SECOND GEAR FOR THE HAIRPIN?
“First gear but it’s not like it’s a secret or anything. We have been able to run second gear in the past but the cars have gotten better and the grip has gotten better so now you have to run in first gear.”