Tony Stewart met with the media ahead of qualifying today at Bristol Motor Speedway to answer questions about hot topics on the NASCAR scene. As usual, he was to the point with his answers...ON RACING AT BRISTOL
"It's a driver's track and it's a physical track. It's a place that we really enjoy. And when you have a good day here it really means a lot because it's really hard to win here." ARE THERE MAJOR DIFFERENCES WITH THE WALLS IN TURNS 2 AND 4?
"Nothing. I didn't even notice it, to be honest. I didn't even notice it at all. They paint them white every week so we can see them and where they're at you know you can't go any farther than that so you just use as much track as you can. You can move it five feet and we probably wouldn't know the difference." WHEN NASCAR SAID "HAVE AT IT," WHAT DID THAT MEAN TO YOU?
"I didn't really think much about it to be honest. I pretty much have been doing what I've been doing for 11 years and I really wasn't going to change what I've been doing anyway." IF A DRIVER IS 100 LAPS DOWN, SHOULD HE BE PARKED FOR THE REST OF THE DAY?
"No, because they're out trying to get points too and every point counts whether it's trying to make the Chase or stay in the top 35 in points, and for visibility for the sponsors. That's an important part. Plus, fans want to see racecars on the racetracks. So no, they shouldn't be parked." DID THE WING LOOK GOOD ON A STOCK CAR AND DO YOU THINK IT'S GOING TO LOOK BETTER WITH THE SPOILER?
"Who cares? We're not going to have it next week. It doesn't matter. I didn't really think much about it. It's a racecar and not a show car, so I didn't think much about it. HOW DO YOU CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE SEASON AFTER HAVING BEEN BEATEN BY THE NO. 48 TEAM OF JIMMIE JOHNSON FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS?
"It's a good question, but it's not something we sit here and say, 'Well, we're not going to be good in the middle so we can be good at the end,' or anything like that. The variable that people don't take into account is that the technology changes every week and it's not something that's huge and noticeable, but things constantly get better. You've got engineers and dynos and wind tunnels and simulation programs and all that stuff that changes week to week. It's hard to answer your question and say this is exactly what we're going to do to make sure that doesn't happen, because what we're doing now will be totally different four or five months from now when we get ready for the Chase.
"So it's not that simple. It's a lot more complex than that and as the sport evolves and setups change, you have to change with it. That's something the No. 48 team has been really good at being able to adapt to and a lot of teams that can adapt to it. It's a Chase format where you've got 10 races and one bad race can take you out of that chance to win a championship. As good as they are, they've still had a lot of luck go their way, too. Today's a perfect example. He [Johnson] spun off of Turn 4 (during practice) and didn't hit anything. Part of that is because he's so talented. So you have to be good, but you've got to have some luck on your side at the same time because there's a lot more there that can go wrong than can go right." WITH THE PENALTY NASCAR GAVE IN THE EDWARDS/KESELOWSKI INCIDENT, ARE YOU WORRIED THAT SOME DRIVERS WILL MISREAD THAT?
"What you've got to remember is that NASCAR is always going to keep everything in check. It's that simple. NASCAR is always going to make sure that stuff doesn't get too out of control and that things are where they need to be, so I'm not worried about it." HOW MISERABLE AND HOW HARD IS IT TO GET SEVERAL LAPS DOWN AT A TRACK LIKE BRISTOL?
"This is a place where when you have a good day here, it's kind of like a multiplier because it had to have been a good day here. There are so many variables that can go wrong here at Bristol versus other tracks that if you have that one bad incident that gets you in the back, it's hard to recover from that. There are guys who have done it and do a good job at it, but you have to have a great racecar to be able to recover from something bad, especially if you get laps down. It's like going from the bottom of the mountain and climbing and climbing and not getting anywhere. You fight and fight and fight and at the end of the day you're right where you were when you had your problem." DID YOU LIKE BRISTOL BETTER BEFORE IT WAS REPAVED?
"It's been a big debate with a lot of people and drivers and fans. I like it the way it is. The good thing is that you can actually race
here. What we did before, you were racing but you were spending more time passing guys by knocking them out of the way. To me that's not racing. Yeah, if you're on the last lap and you're behind a guy and you've got to nudge him a little bit to get a shot at it, yeah, guys are going to take that. But you've got to do that on lap 20, on lap 220, on lap 320; you had to do it all day to pass guys. At least now you have the opportunity and the track is configured to where at least we can race and we have an option about where we're going to go.
"If people don't like that – I mean, I'm not sure they really are fans for the right reasons and/or drivers who have the right intentions. It's nice having a place and facility that spent the time and money they spent to try and make it better, and in my opinion they did a really good job with it here." WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE TALLADEGA TEST?
"I was comfortable with pretty much the whole day. No matter what the change was and what NASCAR asked us to do with the spoiler size and restrictor plate size, the cars drove comfortable all day; that never was a factor. Just like you always do when you go to a test session, you have the ability to use the data acquisition systems on the cars and we'll be able to go back and look and see what made it do what and why. Did it go faster or what slowed it down? I'm sure on the crew chief side, they'll look and analyze all that. There were a lot of good packages and changes and I think there was a lot learned."