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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Toyota/Save Mart 350

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Tony Stewart
June 24, 2012


THE MODERATOR:  We now welcome Tony Stewart driver of the No. 14 Office Depot Mobil1 Chevrolet who finished second in today's race.  This is Tony's ninth Top‑10 finish in 14 races here at Sonoma, his eighth Top‑10 finish in 2012.  Talk about your run out there today.
TONY STEWART:  I was really pleased with it to be honest.  The last two days we have not been real happy with our balance and just couldn't seem to get the speed that a lot of the guys that were putting up big numbers at the top of the board were able to run.  We couldn't even run within a second of them the last two days.
To end up running second like this is just a really good effort for all of our guys.  Really proud of Steve Addington, never gave up this weekend.  Nobody ever gave up on trying to find something that was going to be a little bit better.  So him and Jeff Meendering and Greg Zipadelli and all of these guys on the team, just really proud of the effort they put forward this weekend.

Q.  I didn't hear you on tape, but could you take us through the last restart and how you passed Kurt?
TONY STEWART:  He had something break in the rear end which made it really difficult for him.  I was watching him, and it was honestly, I don't know how he kept it on the racetrack with how much the rear end was moving around on that car.  I thought he did a really phenomenal job of just hanging on to what he had.
So we just‑‑ you know, every time he would go in the corner, the rear end would shift, and it was running him to the outside of the track on entry and it was screwing his corner up.  So you know, kind of got it by default there to a certain degree.  Once we got by there, we just were not close enough in that last lap to get to Clint.

Q.  Are you surprised at all about Clint winning this race, and when you think of road course guys, do you consider him one of the top road course racers in among y'all?
TONY STEWART:  I don't think anybody had in the past.  But all weekend he had had good speed.  So it didn't surprise me to see him up there leading the race, and I don't know how many laps he led.  I think led the majority, didn't he?

Q.  Probably 70.
TONY STEWART:  70 laps; that's pretty impressive to see him have the run that he's had.  I don't think any of us are really road course racers, per se, but we do it twice a year and somebody has got to be good at it and somebody is going to win the race each time.
He didn't make any mistakes, and you know, we kind of had a little misfortune that turned out to be fortunate at the end when we had our last scheduled pit stop and didn't get all the fuel in it.
So we ran I think eight or ten laps there and the caution came out and we came in for fuel and tires, and you know, watching him and Kurt have the battle they had was pretty fun to watch; even we were trying to catch them all obviously, but every time we would go into 11, it was fun to be watching ahead and seeing what was happening.  I don't think there was a lap somebody didn't lock up a front tire or something.
So I thought they had a pretty good battle.  It was fun to watch.  But honestly, when you have an opportunity like that, you can force yourself into mistakes, and I thought Clint did a good job because of that; didn't make any.

Q.  Could you imagine, all of the talk coming in, how rough this race was going to be; could you have predicted that there was only going to be two cautions and no real temper tantrums out there?
TONY STEWART:  No, but I was happy about it.  (Laughter).
It was a fun race because you weren't just having to‑‑ the restarts, the field is typically so tight, and there are so many corners that you go from high speed to really low speed on entry that once you're about the fourth or fifth row back on a restart, if you can just find an empty spot on the racetrack, you can gain some easy spots.
Unfortunately that's what leads to guys trying to take advantage of that, and it puts a lot of guys in bad positions.  But you know, even though it gets aggressive, it's not necessarily because guys are trying to be aggressive physically with each other as much as it's just easy to over commit to a corner and then once you get there, and if somebody moves, you have no ability to back out of the situation.
So you know, not having all of those cautions made it fun because you could actually race guys one‑on‑one a lot today versus, you know, having to worry about getting those big packs and big groups and having to worry about whether you're going to get run over or not.

Q.  Bowyer finished third or fourth three times here before, so he sort of broke through today.  You and Jeff, when you got your first win on a road course, it was the first of many for both of you; is there something to that once you break through on a place like this, you get more confidence and start winning more?
TONY STEWART:  Well, I mean, obviously, what you've said there, he's shown consistency, so it was a matter of time before he would get one.  I don't know.  I think once you get the feel of it, it makes it a little easier.  It seems like guys that have not won, it's a harder time of trying to figure it out and trying get accomplished on that.  But it seems like once you get that first win, you get a lot of confidence.

Q.  As a team owner, can you talk a little about what Michael Waltrip Racing has done this year and the huge strides they have made?  You came in and were successful quickly as a team owner but took them quite a while.  Talk about what they have done this year and how they have done it.
TONY STEWART:  It's impressive.  Michael started that organization from scratch and every year they just get better and better.  This year, they have been solid everywhere they have gone.
Obviously their off‑season, they were very productive and gained more than a lot of the other teams I think from that standpoint.  You know, it's cool to see a guy like Michael get results like this finally.  They have been knocking on the door and been so close so many times; to have a day like today, and he had two cars‑‑ well, three cars, that were just phenomenal all day long.
Aside from the win, all three of his cars were fast.  It speaks volumes for his organization.
THE MODERATOR:  Tony, congratulations and thanks very much for your time this afternoon.

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