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Jun 20, 2014 - 06:42 PM
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2014 Sonoma Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Tony Stewart
Posted by: ASkyler on Jun 20, 2014 - 06:40 PM
NASCAR News
2014 Sonoma Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Tony Stewart


TONY STEWART, NO. 14 MOBIL 1/BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed the first practice session, drivers on the road course, tire maintenance, how much he likes road course racing, and more.

HOW IS YOUR CAR THIS WEEKEND?

"I think it’s hard to gauge this early. A lot of guys didn’t do any qualifying mock runs so, we did one there; so I’m not sure exactly where we’re at. We’re just trying to get the car balanced and I think if we get balanced, the speed will be there during the race."

HOW DO YOU THINK THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT IS GOING TO WORK HERE ON A ROAD COURSE?

"By looking at practice, I think everybody will be mindful of whether guys are on lap and guys are trying to come in and cool everything off. So, there’s plenty of places where you can over. So, I think everybody will be fine. It’s going to be a lot more work for the drivers than what it used to be, just from the standpoint that you’re going to try to be courteous; and once your lap is over, you’re going to try to make sure you don’t mess somebody’s lap up."

 

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TALLADEGA AND DAYTONA USED TO BE THE WILDCARDS. BUT WITH THE CHASE FORMAT WHAT IT IS NOW, DO YOU CONSIDER THE ROAD COURSE RACES THE PLACES WHERE GUYS WILL GAMBLE MORE FOR THAT WIN?

"I don’t think so. It’s always the same old debate on whether we’re going to do it in two stops or three stops, so I think we’ll see here this second practice and see if guys do long runs, how much the tire falls off and I think that will give us a better read on what we’re going to do tomorrow. And then I think that will answer your question when we know that."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE ROAD COURSE RACING HAS GOTTEN MORE AGGRESSIVE IN RECENT YEARS?

"It’s gotten more chaotic, that’s for sure. You’ve got first gear corners here that have really wide entries, so if there’s a hole, guys fill it and it creates a lot of problems. There are other guys that just are back in 20th and they don’t care; they’ll just bounce off somebody to get a couple spots. You definitely want to be in the top five on a restart and try to get away from a little bit of that group before you get down to (Turns) 4 and 7. If you can get through (Turn) 7, I think you’re all right. It just seems like getting down to Turn 7 on a restart is where all the action is."

THE LAST FOUR WEEKS, YOU SEEM TO HAVE BEEN FAR MORE CONSISTENT THAN WHERE YOU FINISHED EARLY IN THE SEASON. DO YOU SENSE PROGRESS BEING MADE? ARE YOU HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?

"Yeah, I think so. I value the consistency more than I do having a couple top 3 finishes and then running 20th the next week. So, I do. I feel a lot better about where we’re going right now and the direction across the board; our cars are getting more consistent with all four teams. That’s really what I’m basing how we are as a company right now and I think it translates to each individual team, as well."

DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A PLACE LIKE THIS WHERE YOU ARE USUALLY GOOD?

"If we can get a balance, I feel like I can for sure. This is one of the places I love coming to each year. So, if we get it close, I feel like I can get something done here."

WHY DO YOU LOVE COMING HERE SO MUCH?

"It’s just a road race. We’re not at an oval like we were last week. It’s just something different."

REGARDING HIS CRASH LAST WEEK AT INDIANAPOLIS

"We blew a tire. It destroyed the car, so it was a good hit."

INAUDIBLE

"I think more times than not it’s accidental. I think the intention is to get in there and take a lane away and then try to gain a spot. A lot of times though, the intentional part is they get down there and they are over-committed or the door starts closing when they get there and can’t get out of the scenario they’re in. I think more times than not, especially late in the race, I think that’s not intentional. But there are guys who will get their feelings hurt on Sunday and they’ll take it out on somebody."

ON THE BLOWN TIRE AT INDY

"I’m not sure what the cause of it was. I’ve asked them what the cause of it was, but that’s part of tire testing. That’s why you go to the test. I’m sure they’ll learn something from it and go on."

WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE OF TIRES HERE?

"The Cup series, it used to be years ago, that was the challenge every week. This is a track where you have to budget your tires. You can’t just go run 100 percent every lap and make it run to the end. And that’s what makes this place so fun is you can’t just flog the tires and run a flying lap every lap and expect to do well. You have to budget your tires. It is a challenge. It’s fun where you get in that scenario where there’s times when you want to be that guy on older tires and up front so you don’t have to worry about the chaos on the restarts; and then there’s time when you want to be that guy who has fresh tires that might restart 10th or 12th with ten or 15 lap laps to go and be able to charge your way up through there. I think the biggest thing that becomes the question mark, is what happens on the restarts and what happens behind you the whole time. That dictates whether having those fresh tires work or not."

WHAT DO YOU THINK QUALIFYING WILL BE LIKE?

"I think it’ll be a big drama. Like I said, I think all the drivers will be pretty courteous. Even in practice, nobody knew who was trying to make qualifying runs and nobody knew who was on tires, so I saw a lot of guys that were being pretty patient, which is kind of uncharacteristic for here, but I thought everybody in practice showed a lot of patience and a desire to work with each other to make sure they’re not messing each other’s laps up. I think it will be that way in qualifying as well."

ON KYLE LARSON LAST WEEK AT MICHIGAN

‘He’ll learn it’s not a good idea, too. If he didn’t learn it last week, he’ll learn it in the next couple of weeks. We had a really good car. We had a top 5 car for sure, and a top 3 car in my opinion according to listening to our lap times what the leaders were running. And then on a restart, he swerves over to block us and puts a big hole in the nose that we’ve got to come in and fix. By the time we get it fixed we’re buried so far back at the end of a race like that, we couldn’t do anything. So, I think he’ll learn, just like we all learned when we were rookies, one way or the other. He’ll either slow down enough and think about what he’s doing or he’ll be forced in a situation where he’ll have time to think about it and they’ll still be cars on the race track."

WITH SO MUCH AGGRESSION ON THE ROAD COURSES THAT’S DIFFERENT FROM THE OVALS, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS ‘OVER THE LINE’? WHAT CAN PEOPLE GET AWAY WITH?

"This is one of those places where most of the time you shake your head when you’re leaving here going thank goodness it’s over. The first half of the race is a blast because everybody is being patient and they’re driving like they have sense. The closer to the end of the race, the more that goes away and the more guys just try to take advantage of every situation and every hole that’s available."

HOW PHYSICAL IS IT TO RACE HERE WITH THE HEAT?

"You’re busy. You just don’t get any chance to rest. You go to a track like Pocono and you spend 90% of the lap driving in a straight line and resting. You can actually think about what you’re going to do. Where here, you really only have probably 2 or 3 seconds during the lap that you’re actually not doing something, whether it’s turning or shifting, upshift, downshift; so it gives you plenty to do here. It makes it fun because you can’t let your guard down."


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