Tony Stewart became a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion in spectacular fashion on Sunday, winning his way to the title with a come-from-behind victory in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He described his feelings to the media afterward.
Q: Tony, a lot of adjectives describe what you did over the Chase. One I keep hearing is "clutch." Just talk about a clutch performance by you over the last 10 races.
TONY STEWART: I would have lost every bet in the world if people would have said, "Hey, when you got in the Chase, that we were going to win a race or we were going to win five races and win this thing." I would have bet against us. And I learned a big lesson with our organization and, you know, how strong a program we have and people-wise. I mean, everybody has good cars and good equipment, but you know – I'm sure Darian [Grubb, crew chief]'s mentioned it – it's the people you have that make the difference.
When I said at Chicago that we didn't belong in this Chase and taking a space that somebody else that was doing a better job could have done, there were two things that could have happened with our group of guys. They could have hung our head and said, "Our guy doesn't believe in us." But they fought like the Bad News Bears. We were the team that nobody really thought had a shot at the beginning, and you know, the longer this went, we battled adversity at Dover and Texas and we just kept fighting, this whole group up here.
I mean, Darian has done an unbelievable job in this Chase. Just to go and be in the situations we've been in, and tonight, for example, to go in and have to fix a damaged racecar twice, go to the back and come back to the front, and then to make the call that he made at the end there, my – I need to take a nap right now, my nerves are absolutely shot! Because when he said, "Save fuel, but run this pace," I'm like, "I'm running hard to run this pace...
"I go into fuel conservation mode, and it's really, really hard to watch guys just come barreling past you and to stay disciplined enough to just stick to the plan. You know, I didn't question what the plan was or why the plan was. I just stuck to what he told me, and you know, the lap that he called us in, he called us in going into Turn 1, and when I came off Turn 2, the fuel pressure dropped, the motor laid down a little bit but was still running. When I got to turn 3, I shut it off, coasted around to Turn 4, kicked the switch, kicked the clutch. Drove down pit road. We did the spot and he's like, "Keep it revving, keep it running," and I'm staring at a fuel pressure gauge that's not building. It's sitting at two pounds.
And we dropped the jack, leave, get 50 feet from the last time line and it dies. I mean, it's dead. It's out. And I'm like, "We just lost this thing," and we roll about a hundred feet and it takes off and the needle goes up and we are fourth at that point, and Carl [Edwards] has to come back in, and it's like, "Wow, that is the call of the race, the call of the Chase." It gave me the opportunity to do what I love doing best, letting it all hang out and putting it all on the line with the restart.
And that was the one, probably hairy moment of anything that I did all day where I felt like, "Ooh, maybe I just lost this, and got loose underneath the 18 and the 2, and it was a three-wide drag race down there, and the way this thing drove all day, I knew I could bury it down in the corner. I just didn't know if I was going to make the front and stick out the back, and we drive back out with the lead; and at that point you just sit there and go, this is all you can ask for is where we are at right now and whatever happens, it happens.
The funny part was listening to Darian actually get nervous at that point. The hard part is done at that point. We are where we need to be. He's like, "OK, I'm not going giving you lap times anymore, I'm giving you intervals."
The way he said that, it made me laugh, and that relaxed me more than anything the last 30 laps. He's just reading intervals off every lap, and we are just running hard enough to – it wasn't like we were saving much. But we saved just enough that if we had a green-and-white checkered, we would have saved our tires enough to do a good job at the end. But getting in lap traffic, he was able to gain a little bit and we were able to fight through some of those guys and pull back out.
[I was] never more excited to see a white flag waving. You at least take the white and know that if the caution comes out, it's over, and you only have to make it one more lap. I would love to know what my lap time was the last lap. I don't think we gave up much. It just was an awesome ending.
And to get both of these guys [Grubb and co-owner Gene Haas] their first championship, it is an unbelievable feeling. From the ownership side, it's more gratifying knowing that the investment that Gene's made in this sport and Darian's history in this sport and to be a part of getting them their first championship, that on the ownership side for me is the greatest – and if you didn't think this was one of the most exciting Chases to watch from a fan standpoint, you've got to go to a doctor immediately and get checked out. So I don't even know what else to say about it.
Q: You were making three- and four-wide passes tonight that we all were kind of left with our mouths open and then A.J. said that, "I think Tony drove the best race of his life." Was this the best race of your life? And is it fair to say that you've been driving this way for four, five, six weeks?
TONY STEWART: I think so. But as much as I would love to beat my chest and say that I've been just doing something supernatural, I mean, I've had cars that have given me that confidence to do that.
And you know, to go four wide on the front stretch like that and to have the confidence that when you get to Turn 1, that you can make the corner still, I mean, that's a good-handling racecar that gives you that. I've had confidence in these things and you look at the first half of our year and how many things that happened, and lots of things that never happened at the end of the day, we would battle to a respectable finish out of it.
But we are disappointed because we knew there was more there. It's really frustrating. But in the Chase here, it just seemed like finally we got through that bad luck streak, and everything worked like it's supposed to. No curveballs, no change-ups. Just business as usual.
Q: Was this the best race of your life?
TONY STEWART: Man, I feel like I passed half the state of Florida! 118 cars is a lot of cars to pass in one race. I don't care what series you're in or where you're at. To do it under the circumstances and the pressure that we had today, I'm very, very proud of that, and man, I've been racing 31 years, I can't even remember some of the races I've won. But I would have to say that under the circumstances, I've got to believe that this is definitely one of the greatest races of my life.
Q: You drove today like you were not going to lose this race; you were going to either win this thing or you were leaving it all on the track.
TONY STEWART: I think the last five years, the entire NASCAR Nation thought they might never have a shot at another championship again. I think the one thing that I was constantly reminded by in the media is we were the last guys to win one before Jimmie [Johnson] started that string. You look at Jeff [Gordon] and guys that have been successful in this series and had not won, and we had won a more recent one than those guys have; you can't discard it and say that you can't win it.
It's just, what do you have to do to get back on top. You know, I don't think anybody ever has that feeling. The day that you just say, I can't do it any more, you might as well just announce your retirement and find some young kid that will do it.
Q: You just noted that this is one much your best performances of your career. Your hero A.J. Foyt said it was the best. What does it mean that someone you admire to that level considers this performance that stellar?
TONY STEWART: For those of you who don't know, when we were doing one of the ESPN interviews, they had a surprise phone call for us on the line, and it was A.J. Foyt. And to hear him say that that was the best race he's ever seen me run, brings a tear to your eye. I mean, not many people can have their lifelong hero say that and hear you say that.
It's just very, very flattering. The one thing out of the conversation I was surprised, even when I drove Silver Crown cars for him and George Snider, I would still win the race and he would tell me everything I did wrong during the race. For once he didn't tell me I did anything wrong. I'm like, I don't know how I'm going to top this now. My life is complete. If I get hit on a golf cart now, I'm good to go because A.J. said I did everything perfect for once.
It was an honor. That was probably one of the coolest phone calls I've ever had in my life, obviously. You know, to go into a day like today when you know what's at stake – it's the head-to-head battle, obviously one guy versus another; but with 40 other variables out there, and have him leading the first half of the race and dominating it like he did; if he stayed second or third, we still had to win the race, so to have a battle like that, you just sit here you and shake your head and sit here and figure, it was one of the coolest championship battles, but what do I have to do to beat that guy? I felt like I had to throw everything I had in my arsenal out.
And when we were coming around with the flag sticking out of the car, he walked up and he said you're going to have fun with this for the rest of your life. You couldn't ask for a better guy. And he goes, "I hope a year from now, we are in the same battle again just like this." And that – everybody respects Carl [Edwards] for the person he is, and you know, there's been a lot of things that have happened that make you go, "Is there sincerity involved in what he says?" But there were no cameras there when he said that. He just came and talked to me driver to driver, and that means a lot and it shows who he is as a person, I think.
I know there's times he hasn't done everything perfect and he's taken it upon himself to settle scores, but I think deep down, at moments like that and at Texas when he came out there and we had that conversation, it shows who he really is as a person – and he'll win a championship. He'll be up here in our position again, maybe be the guy on the losing end but when he gets it, hope he has to beat us to do it again. I appreciated that championship battle. It was a David versus Goliath battle to the end.
To have the week that we had, and to come here and finish the season running first and second, I just – I don't know how it gets better than that. No matter what the outcome was, there would have been no shame in finishing second to him tonight in the championship. But to have that battle come down to me, that's epic.
Q: You sounded so calm on the radio, reassuring your team, kind of a leader on the team, but who was reassuring you? Did you have some doubts at any point? Did you think, maybe this is just not meant to be?
TONY STEWART: I think this summer has kind of been character-building to a certain degree. The good thing is, I think the guys, when you're in the role that I am, I feel like that there's some added pressure there from my standpoint, even being in the car. Darian is the guy that they feed off in the pits obviously, because they are the – Darian is the guy that they read. But I think we have been a really good team from that aspect of – that was – when we hung the lug nut today, I thought – I thought that was one of the key moments in the race where, you know, you could lose your composure, and I think Darian's calling of the audible of saying, "We are going to make this a two-tire stop now," that was huge. We didn't give up any more track position. We had a car that was fast. And that was big, and I pulled into the stop and had no idea what's happened and that's probably the first time in the Chase I raised my voice: "What the heck just happened?" And Darian's demeanor from when we started in 2009, is he's been calm and you know, he told me it hung the lug nut but the way he says it, in a way, that was just, all right, it is what it is. It's nothing to get excited about. You know, when we had the restart that we had, it's like, hey, you know, you looked at how the first 109 laps went before the rain delay came, it's like, so we hung the lug nut and we are back to 12 now.
I think the way our season went and the way the first 100 laps of the race went, it was easy to put into perspective, it wasn't as good of a drama as we thought. Carl made a pit stop, but that wasn't when they paid the points and dropped the flag. There was a lot of racing to go.
And it goes back to nobody has ever quit on this team and you know, like I said, I think the season has been character-building and when something like that's happened it's easy to feel like you're backing yourself in a corner but the way our day was and to battle back from the back twice in those first hundred laps, I thought gave us that confidence that it wasn't the end of the world and that we could recover from it.
Q: You had to make a tough decision, you said, when you parted ways with Bobby Hutchins...
TONY STEWART: I wasn't responsible for that. I was responsible for getting Darian and Bobby and Tony Gibson. They were the guys that really said, this is what we need people-wise and personnel wise.
So you know, Gene gave me the faith and the trust to go get the people that I felt like that we needed to get, and a lot of that was Rick Hendrick, too. Rick was the one who said, "Hey, this guy is the guy that I think is going to be a good fit for you"
You know, that's the push in the right direction that you need from somebody like that to give you that confidence. But Bobby and Darian and Tony together, I think all three were very instrumental in orchestrating what personnel we needed to take what resources Gene had already established to make it all work and make it all come together.
Q: You've obviously heaped praise on Darian and deservedly so. But he's under the impression that he's out of a job for next season. Can you at all shed some light on his status? I know it's kind of awkward with him sitting right there.
TONY STEWART: I know what his status is for the rest of the night – I'm going to get him drunk. (Laughter).
Tomorrow if we can just pick our heads up off the floor without throwing up, I'm going to be extremely happy, but I'll worry about that tomorrow.
Q: Is there a chance that he could return or can you say anything?
TONY STEWART: There's a lot of things in the off-season and decisions that have to be made. Obviously, we wanted to get through this championship battle first, and we'll sit down as a group, obviously, this week and figure out the direction of our program.
But, you know, the good thing right now is that we are sitting up here right now as champions and I don't think any of us are really too concerned other than having fun tonight and enjoying the accomplishment we have had over the last 10 weeks.
Q: Given that, does that put a different perspective on this championship run that despite that uncertainty and I would assume that created more duress?
TONY STEWART: I think the way this whole Chase has worked out for us, for us to battle through a number of variables to get where we are is remarkable. But it shows the strength of the people that we have and you know it definitely – it definitely makes you go, how did we do this, how did we overcome a lot of variables to get where we are. But at the same time, it makes it very gratifying because you are able to take a less than perfect scenario and have success with it. So, I think we are all up here going to take a lot of pride in that.
Q: Can you talk about your approach and determination and the way it played out, especially in the last two or three weeks.
TONY STEWART: Boy did I look like a genius after doing this! You know, it's one thing for me to have confidence as a driver, but you have to have confidence in your guys and your equipment and the guys making the calls.
I honestly think the turning point for us was Martinsville. We had struggled at Martinsville the three races before this fall, and to battle, to stay on the lead lap, and once we stayed on the lead lap there, to battle back to the lead and to win the race with the drama that we have won the race, I have yet to have anybody tell me who has passed for the lead on the outside to win the race at Martinsville.
To leave there doing something remarkable, I feel that was the turning point in the Chase for us. And we backed it up a week later by winning Texas and not only winning Texas but by beating the guy that we are racing the points for, leading the most laps and really making a statement. You get that confidence that everything is going right and that – it's so much easier when things are going well. Everybody relaxes. Everybody is calm. You're not trying to mentally figure out what the missing piece of the puzzle is.
Martinsville was kind of that step that we may not have had a perfect car that day and we may not have had a perfect race, but we fought through it and came out on top, and to battle like that at Texas all day. At that point, you sit there and you go, we have got as good a shot, if not better, than anybody else out there, and it doesn't matter who is still left. We are a contender now. And that's the kind of confidence you want going into the last two weeks.
Q: This race had an epic feel to it from the beginning, Carl said it was an unbelievable movie the way it unfolded. Did you have any feeling or sense of that in the seat of the car as the night was going on?
TONY STEWART: Gene says I've got to watch the rerun.
Q: It's on at 1:00 am.
TONY STEWART: I'll be up. May not be able to focus on the screen, but I'll be up.
But, yeah, it did. I don't know that it necessarily had that feel, but you know, the storyline was pretty amazing. You've got a guy that goes out and is leading the points standings, qualifies on the pole and is dominating the first part of the race. The guy that's the underdog and the guy that's three points behind is having to jump hurdles and jump through hoops to salvage their day. And then we come and battle back – when we had that red flag at lap 109, I'm sitting out there, I'm just laughing with the crew guys. They're going, "Where are you coming from?" I'm like, "Where else am I going to go? I don't have anything else to do. If I crash this thing on the way to the front, so be it."
And it wasn't that I was throwing caution to the wind. We were trying to be calculated and methodical about what we were doing. But the storylines are total opposites. You have the guy that's got the perfect race going, he's leading laps and when he's not leading, he's second or third, and he is right where he wants to be and he's in the position he wants to be in all day long at that point and you have the other guy that's like, man, can we get there from here. You feel like you have the big fish on the hook and you're running out of line and wondering if you're going to run out soon.
When you sit there and when we took the lead the first time, I think it had to make him go, how did they – you know in the red flag he's sitting there going "What's going on with them? They have come back from the back twice and are fifth now?" You know he's thinking that.
And I'm sitting there with Jack Roush, and I walk by Jack and I say, "Tell your boy to get you will on the wheel because I'm on my way and I'm coming." I've screwed with everybody all week, why am I going to stop now? Jack looks at me like I've got three heads all of a sudden and I don't know it's because he couldn't see me or what was going on, he kind of looked at me. I went about my business and got back in the car, laughing about it. We still have nothing to lose and just keep slinging it at him. When we wind up taking the lead, he has to be sitting there going, how did they do that, they got tore up twice, how did they get there.
Q: This is a little bit of a provincial question in that this is big news...
TONY STEWART: You have to use small words. I have no idea what kind of question that means.
Q: It means back in your home state this is really big news, you winning another championship when you were coming up, everybody wanted to be the next A.J. Foyt and now guys in that state want to be the next Tony Stewart.
TONY STEWART: They should set their standards much higher than that.
Q: Talk about bringing this title back to your home state.
TONY STEWART: I'm proud of where I came from. I mean, you know, my career path made a pretty drastic turn and I don't know how many people actually know. I had a chance to drive for A.J. when the IRL started, and I had been working on a deal with Harry to join the Busch Series at the time and was really close to having that done, and my intention was to do that, and then all of a sudden the opportunity came to drive for A.J. and the IRL and the IRL only had five races.
So I had every intention of doing both. I was used to running Silver Crown car, midgets, all in the same night and I couldn't see why I couldn't run five IndyCar races and the schedule – A.J. kind of put the kibosh to that, he wanted me to be an IndyCar driver or NASCAR driver, and that was a pretty hard decision to make; to tell your hero that you are going to turn down an opportunity to drive his race car to go do something else.
But I had worked with the Rainier family long enough, I didn't want to let them down and I didn't necessarily want to turn down that opportunity – didn't have to worry about what was going to happen. From where I grew up, and my heritage – demanding moments and I take a lot of pride in the fact that we are going to be bringing a trophy back home.
Q: What's it going to be like?
TONY STEWART: I already know that Bob at the Dairy Queen has already been giving away ice cream tonight and he will tell me to the penny exactly how much he lost doing it, literally to the cent, he will tell me how much money it cost him. (laughter).
I live in a town with 35,000 people and I've still got the same friends that I had growing up. You know, when I go home, people let me just be me. They see me in a restaurant, they will come by and say hi. I've been back home long enough now, I think the news wore off, and I'm just another person. It's a sense of pride that when the people in your community come up and say they are proud of you and you did a good job, that means a lot. I'm excited about the day I get to go home now.
Q: Was there ever a moment where in your head there was just a slight bit of doubt or nervousness or whatever it might be that kind of creeped into your head during this whole run leading up to it?
TONY STEWART: There should have been a moment like that. And I can't – that's been the one thing that's probably been the one variable in the equation that I have not been able to understand and get my hands around, is that there just never was that moment of feeling despair and like, can we really do this.
We were in the perfect scenario of coming into this weekend with no possible shot of losing anything. There was nothing to lose and there was everything to gain. And that takes so much pressure off when you know that if anything happens, that you are not going to be any worse than second and considering the fact that ten weeks ago, we were saying that we were wasting a spot in the Chase to begin with, second wasn't so bad, if that's what happened.
But at the same time, I mean, you don't have to dangle the carrot in front of us to get our spurs jingling to get excited about what we can get and what we can reach. It's a dangerous combination when you give a guy a shot at something and he can't lose anything. That's a potent situation to be in for our organization and our team and myself. I honestly can't say that there was that moment that I felt that way. I guess it was just the perfect scenario. I wanted to leave Phoenix with the point lead and I thought that would really be the best opportunity to rattle his [Edwards'] confidence.
But in hindsight, we came here, and there was never a moment where I was wound up – I was up at 2:30 in the morning this morning, couldn't sleep, and I was watching every stupid movie you could think of on TV because I was having fun. And it just – and I couldn't explain it. I don't understand it. But that's where we were at with it. It just felt natural. There was something that felt right with it, and then never had that moment where I felt like we couldn't do this or that something could go wrong. If it did, it did. But we had more to gain than we had to lose.
Q: Darian Grubb said he's felt like the cars have been good most of the season and he mentioned the Atlanta race where you came from like 20th to third, and talking about all of the great changes they made and they told you afterwards there were no changes made at all.
TONY STEWART: You didn't change anything?
DARIAN GRUBB: Not at Atlanta.
TONY STEWART: You liar.
Q: Was this turnaround more about you recapturing something you had lost, a confidence more so than the cars and that?
TONY STEWART: I mean, I don't know. I've been deceived here by my crew chief. I had no idea that that's what was going on in Atlanta.
So maybe it sparked something then, I don't know, but I never felt like anything really changed from that standpoint. I just, you know, I had a lot of fun this year. I mean, Darian and Gene have let me go off racing any night I wanted to race and I got to run 30 nights this year away from NASCAR and had a blast doing it. I think that was as much as it scares Eddie Jarvis and our management worrying about me getting hurt and how many people it can affect, Darian can tell you, when I would come back, it energized me. It was like hitting a reset button. It was fun. I had fun racing again this year. I think it transferred to what we were doing with the Cup car, too. We would have fun Saturday night and Sunday, even if it wasn't right or didn't work out, I still had fun doing what I was doing again, and I think that made a big difference.
So, I don't know if I really thought about it a bunch, but maybe it did.
Q: You've talked before about the history of NASCAR and tonight you've made that history. What do you want the history books to say about you and your season as you look forward for that?
TONY STEWART: They can write whatever they want. The biggest thing to me is we got the trophy and I think the biggest thing is it's not about what they write about me. It's what they write about us. I mean, I really appreciate the opportunity that Gene and Joe Custer have given us, and I appreciate what Darian has done from day one. He played more than a crew chief role.
And there were a lot of really good people that have had to work outside of the box of what their job description was to get us here. I think that's what makes great teams great is people don't just sit there and look at their job as a 9 to 5 job or whatever their hours are and they show up and leave whenever that hour gets there. I know there's been times when he has had to come in and stay late and there's people that have made that sacrifice. To the best of our knowledge, I don't think anybody has complained about it. We just have a bunch of racers and I probably take the most pride in that. We have people that come from so many different racing backgrounds, and their attitude at the shop is just a bunch of racers who love racing and winning races and I'm really proud of that.
Q: Now that you've achieved it, what do you feel like it means to your organizations?
TONY STEWART: Very proud. Donny [Schatz] won the last sprint car race of the season last night, an USAC race at Tucson and Levi [Jones] won the last race of the year with our Chevy car and to be able to come here tonight and do this, we have – Levi won the Silver Crown championship, Sprint Car Championship. We ran second with Donny Schatz and third with Steve in World of Outlaws. I don't know where Ryan officially ended up tonight points-wise – tenth. So two cars in the Top-10 in the Sprint Cup Series, I'm pretty proud of that. Probably as close to being a father as I'm going to get for a while, and I'm pretty proud of all my kids, even though one is 50 years old and still winning races.
I'm proud of our people. I feel like I've said it from day one, I've been a part of this organization, I learned a lot from Joe Gibbs and how he was able to assemble the right people to do the right jobs. I feel like I've learned a very valuable lesson from him, and I think that I've been able to take that approach with every entity that we have and we have been successful and I'm proud of Chevy being on board and STP and Armor All and all of the people that have believed in the programs I've wanted to build and helped us make them successful.
Q: Why would you leave Joe Gibbs Racing when you did? You were comfortable there, you could win there, you didn't have to have any real responsibilities...
TONY STEWART: Joe would tell you different. He would tell you I had all kind of responsibilities.
Q: What kind of pressure do you take with you? Do you wonder, "Am I ever going to win again?" You're leaving a really comfortable, nice place.
TONY STEWART: I think the variable that was the little bit of the push over the top that I needed, it came from Rick Hendrick, and Rick had had a relationship with Gene and the two teams working together in the past. When Rick called me and said, hey, this may be an opportunity for you, and where I was at in my life and my career, you know, I guess I've never been scared to step outside my comfort zone with opportunities. We own three racetracks now, we have our World of Outlaws teams, our USAC teams. I didn't have a background in any of that. I don't have a background in business.
But you know, it just seemed like everything, every challenge that we took, we were able to somewhat kind some sort of success with it, and Rick talked to me on the phone one night and he goes, I'm not going to let this fail. That's words that I have never forgot. And there's been times when I've had to call and say, hey, I don't know what to do, I'm kind of stuck. But I need your input. I just need somebody to tell me if what I'm thinking is right, wrong or indifferent. And he's been really strong in that role with me. So you've got to have people you believe in. You've got to have people you trust, and it's just another chapter in my life that it's like, this is a great opportunity for what's going on now and what can happen down the road one day. There's a day that I'm not going to be driving but I don't want to leave the sport. It's a great opportunity for me to drive till Gene fires me from the driver's seat and I get to sit on the pit box with him. I like that opportunity. It was an opportunity to have a fresh start, a fresh beginning and a new challenge, and I love new challenges for some reason.
Q: In that same vein, did you ever regret the decision to become a co-owner and what do you feel this championship can do for your organization as a whole?
TONY STEWART: I would be lying if I said there were a lot of nights I laid my head on a pillow and said, "Have you lost your mind?" It was a lot easier being a driver. And there was a lot of responsibility that came with being a driver in a big organization, but you know, there's a lot of worries. It's still a business. This is a big industry and it's my goal from day one has been to be able to look Gene Haas in the eyes and shake his hand and say, hey, it didn't cost you a dime this year to go race, I want you to just come to the track and have fun and enjoy what you've built. Our economy has been rough the last three years and it's been a challenge to do that.
But I'm proud with the new partners that we have had come on board. We are in the best financial situation our company has been in and there's still an inventory of races to be sold in our company. Hopefully an effort like we have had in the Chase and the championship like this can be a push that some of these companies need to maybe come on board. So this is big for our company as an organization. It's a hard time with the economy and definitely a championship like this is huge.
Q: As far as you're being compared to the greatest drivers ever, like your heroes, can you share with us what you feel you have, physical and mental abilities, that you can share with the greatest people that ever got behind the wheel?
TONY STEWART: I have a hard time putting it in perspective what it means with these guys and the greats of these sports and the legends of this sport. You feel like you're comparing apples to oranges because you're comparing different eras in our sport. It's hard to put that in perspective I think.
But you know, I feel like I'm a part of a time in NASCAR when the competition's better than it's ever been. And to be in a format that's very tight, very competitive, and you can't have anything go wrong to win five races out of a 10-race Chase, and to win closest battle in NASCAR history, you know, no matter what the record books say at the end of the day and the greats that are a part of it, it's a huge honor just to be in those record books with those guys, and you never feel like you're – I don't care how many races you win, how many championships you win, you never feel like you measure up to the greats of the sport. That's what makes trying so much fun.