NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Brickyard 400
Topics: Brickyard 400
THE MODERATOR: We're joined in the media center by JD Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. JD, first win for Joe Gibbs Racing at the Brickyard. How do you feel?
JD GIBBS: Yeah, actually we did win with Bobby a few years back. So for us -- I was not here for that one.
THE MODERATOR: Your first win.
JD GIBBS: My dad took all the credit for that one. I guess I can take all the credit for this one. It was a big deal for us, a big occasion for JGR, but for Tony, watching him with his mom and dad, tears in their eyes, realizing he grew up down the road, fun to be part of that.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to open it up for questions.
Q. For a team that started out pretty shaky this year, you sure come on strong. Bobby had a good day today, too, until the tire blew off the car.
JD GIBBS: I remember talking to you at the beginning of the year. We're kind of pumped up. It just goes to show, this is a humbling sport. You think you have all it figured out, you're in good shape. Tony did struggle some kicking the year off. I think what it shows is we have a great group of guys who are at the shop putting the cars together and the engine together. It just took a while for some of that stuff to show through. Bobby was rocking and rolling today. Jason had a couple cut tires. Just the momentum, that's worth a lot for us. You kind of see that building.
Q. Have you been properly briefed on what this place means to an Indiana-born racer?
JD GIBBS: Yeah. In '97, I was here with Dave Alpern, a buddy of mine, we were here trying to talk Tony Stewart into come and race Busch cars for us at JGR. He wasn't sure. He loved the IndyCar thing. We were saying, "Man, come over here, Charlotte." He let us know right then and there how important it was to him, this place. That was kind of neat looking back there as how far he's come. I think being with him today and how much he appreciates the opportunity and how much we appreciate being with him, it was a special deal.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk with Coach Gibbs since the win?
JD GIBBS: I did. He was in DC. He's got his hands full up there with the Redskins. He couldn't make it today. He was pumped up. He is up there with my two oldest boys. They were watching the race after a big old team meeting they had there. It was obviously special for him. I think we put this team together in '91 as kind of a family deal. To kind of watch it grow and share that with him is special.
Q. First time you had the points lead, too, isn't it?
JD GIBBS: Are we leading right now?
Q. You are leading right now.
JD GIBBS: I didn't know that.
Q. By about 75. It all bunches back up at New Hampshire.
JD GIBBS: It's one of these deals, when you realize that, you kind of say to yourself, "Dang, why are we doing this new system, this 10-race deal? I'll take the old deal". No, it's a special deal for us. Obviously, that 10 races, all the key is building momentum towards that. For us, again, this is a humbling sport. We kind of got knocked around a little bit as the season started. To be here now is special.
Q. From your perspective, can you describe what it's like seeing the streak Tony is on recently?
JD GIBBS: Yeah, no, I mean, as far as watching him the last month, kind of the momentum he has, is that what you mean? I think for us, what it does, is it kind of builds -- it kind of -- once you see Tony running well, you kind of watch Bobby. Over the past couple months, he started running better. That stuff carries over to the whole shop. We have 350 guys and ladies now at the race shop working on these teams. It's a special deal for all those people. That's kind of what we're here for. Racing is not like a lot of other businesses. You're there to win. If you win, it takes care of everything else. If you don't, you'll be doing something different in a while. That's why it means a lot to us.
Q. Tony hasn't always seemed to be a real happy guy, been known to have a temper, which is why fans love him so much. This year he seems to be at least outwardly more at ease, more happy, more peaceful. Is there anything that you would attribute that to?
JD GIBBS: Yeah, you know, I think really what -- I think for us with Tony, really what he has been over the years, he's been really focused. When you get around that racetrack, that's when he's had issues. Apart, away from the track, he's been great, always has been. But now I think he has moved back to Indy, he's around some of the guys he's comfortable being around. That's probably helped him out. Zippy and him have been around so long, they really trust each other, grown like any relationship. I think for him, he really just has a peace about him. I think this is one of his goals in life. He still has that fire, and we see it. What we see now is just a little more relaxed.
THE MODERATOR: As you can see, JD has been presented with the owner's trophy.
JD GIBBS: That's impressive. That's good.
Q. How much did the trophy cost you?
JD GIBBS: This trophy is an expensive trophy here. Well worth it. You're looking at my kids' inheritance right here (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Congratulations.
JD GIBBS: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Greg Zipadelli, crew chief of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet. I guess the first question is, we heard there's a rumor that you were going to be getting a bonus if Tony won today. Is there truth to that rumor?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I don't know. We'll see if it happens. But that's not the important part. The important part is we come out every week to try to do our best, represent Home Depot and Joe Gibbs Racing. I'm proud of this group for what they did today.
THE MODERATOR: How are you feeling right now?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I'm struggling. I've had pneumonia for a week. I want to say thank you to everybody in the infield cure center. I was in there for treatment this morning before we went to the pit box. I was in there yesterday afternoon. Emotionally I feel -- it's hard to explain. Physically, you know, a little under the weather. But we'll get better.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to open it up to questions.
Q. Are you still shaking from all of that celebrating out there?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I was actually shaking the whole entire race. Like I said, I went to the care center, and they gave me a lung treatment to try to open up my bronchioles there, a steroid thing. Honest to God, I left there and I thought I was going to be able to float to the pit box. I don't even think this has set in yet. I mean, this is just amazing, to be part of Tony's first win here at the Brickyard. I know how important this is to him. It's just an awesome day.
Q. With the coach up there in training camp, are you going to ban him from all future Brickyards since you won in his absence?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I don't know. He's been here when Bobby won. I think we've -- sometimes in the past we've been our worst own enemy. That's one of the things that we've worked on this year, and everybody's doing a great job of making even bad days good. And today, giving up all that track position early when we decided to put some rubbers on the right rear, there's some days that might have been the bad thing. With his patience that he's shown this year, let us do our thing, slowly get him back up there, good pit stops, be there when it counted.
Q. So with the treatment they gave you at the care center, you actually were on steroids for this race?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Yeah. I don't know if I want to print that. But, yeah, I forget, Prednisone, I think, and something else they had me inhaling. Thanks to them because I wasn't in very good shape before.
Q. Are you the championship favorite now?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I hope not just because I just want to go out and do it. I'm not much on favorites and all those other things. We'll just let what we do speak for itself. Right now this team, we have never in our career -- we've had some pretty good rolls and some good seasons, but right now this is an all-time high.
Q. Anything specific that you remember hearing from Tony through the radio as he crossed the line? Anything he said afterwards that will stick with you for a long time?
GREG ZIPADELLI: There's some things, you know, you just -- it will always stick with you. I mean, just thinking about it, walking up to him and seeing that smile on his face, you know, will be a vision burned in there forever, knowing that this day is so special to him, myself, this team. I mean, this is a pretty big (inaudible) to be able to put your name next to.
Q. Past performances at the Brickyard, the team has been plagued by late fades. What did you learn from those that helped today?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I mean, we've learned what's happened to us in the past, to be patient. Our goal is to be there at the end. Like I said, we've had a lot of good cars in the past here and at other places and have self-destructed. You know, Tony's maturity, this whole team I think is at their best right now, understanding that we are capable of taking bad days and turning them into okay days or even great days, but we have to be patient. We have to let the cards fall when they fall. You can't make things happen. You have to be smart about what you do. You have to be able to go out and execute it.
Q. You said earlier this week that this race to you was kind of just another race; you didn't really see it through the eyes that Tony did. Are you starting to understand the way he feels about it?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Well, you know, my role of needing to look at all 36 races, all 38 races, is different than his. I have a lot of personal places that I'd like to win and things like that. But when you've got as much pulling on you and worried about things, you just -- I don't know, I can't find time to get wrapped up in much. I mean, right now I'm thinking about what are we going to do to go to the Glen. This is awesome. There's a time to celebrate. But I'm afraid of celebrating or putting my guard down too quick or not quick enough and letting it carry on to Tuesday, Wednesday, not doing a good enough job going to the Glen. I feel we had an awesome test up there Tuesday, and there's absolutely no reason in the world we can't go up there and win there. I mean, that's how good we were.
Q. When you were watching the race between Tony and Kasey, not knowing what their fuel situation is, what is going through your mind?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I mean, I can just look at our picture and tell him what I need him to do, knowing that normally we get as good a fuel mileage as most or better. Our guys have worked really hard on that in the last year or two. We used to get beat up pretty bad on that. Knowing we were going to be really close, I was assuming everybody else that stayed out was probably in the same situation we were, feeling like we probably were the best. In all honesty, the best place for us was to run most of that run second. Your fuel is a little bit better. The worst mileage we got was that long run that we led. We were figuring off of that number.
Q. Do you really appreciate this much more because of all the struggles and torment, disappointments you've gone through here with Tony?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I mean, I think absolutely. Any time you go through anything in your life, some adversities, you're able to come back and accomplish what you failed at a bunch of times, it's always very special, especially knowing the effort that everybody put in. This is a brand-new car. On Monday at 11:00, it was in the wind tunnel. It was a lot better than the car we tested. We came home, the boys swapped everything, motors, all this stuff, made it our primary car. Put it on the truck Wednesday night and sent it up here. I realize everybody else is putting the same effort in. We did everything we could for that kid today to try to get a victory.
Q. You have probably been in a hundred this year pressure situations. Has there ever been one like that conversation you and Tony had on the radio there with 14 laps to go and the call came back he wanted tires, he was too nervous to make the call, it falls on you?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Well, and don't want -- I'll not get into a lot of details. Sometimes you have to say certain things, do certain things, go around the world to get what you want. That was just one of those things. We had to throw a few things out there, let him think about it and let him understand that we really believed that was the best thing to do rather than just say, No, we need to stay out. You know what I mean? In that time, I think he gets to think about it a little bit more and understand situations in the past that maybe we didn't do that. I'll tell you, two years ago we led this entire thing and did exactly what we almost did today. So in the back of my mind, I'm sitting there looking at it a little bit different than he was. So at the time we felt that was the right decision, but you don't know. If everybody but the first three or four came out, we were dead. You had to assume a lot of those guys that pitted earlier were going to stay out and could make it on fuel. It's so hard to pass at these place these days.
Q. Does the fact it takes so long to make a caution lap, have the conversation, get him to your point of view, is that important?
GREG ZIPADELLI: It probably was. It gave him a little bit of time to relax, thinking about it, probably look at both sides of the fence. But I'm sure he was just thinking about his car, what he was going to do, how he was going to do what he needed to do.
Q. Was Tony as primed to win here or any track in particular as you've ever seen him this weekend?
GREG ZIPADELLI: It's the most relaxed I've ever seen him in seven years. But it's the most relaxed I've seen him all season. It's the first time in seven years I've seen him that he can enjoy himself and realize what he's capable of and enjoying his accomplishments.
Q. Over at IRP last night, he seemed very relaxed as well. Do you think that helped him get his mind off this race a little bit?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I think when he left here, he knew we had a decent car. We were pretty good in practice. Felt with the right adjustments, we were able to put ourself in this position today. I think that was a big peace of mind for him. That last 15 laps, we made a lot of changes and were able to go out and make a 15-lap run right before the end of practice. He went out and the car was pretty good in one and two. He said he missed three and cost us a ton of time. He came back and said, "Don't worry about it. We got a car I believe we can get to the front." That's what he did. I think he believed that. A lot of times you say those thing and you hope you can go and do them, but I think with what we've done in the last six, eight weeks, you know, there's no reason in the world we shouldn't believe that.
Q. Have you ever seen anything like this reaction? The only thing I can think of is Earnhardt in '98 when he won. People have been going crazy for two hours now.
GREG ZIPADELLI: You know, no, it's awesome. I tell you, not take anything away from here, but I think you first saw it at Loudon. You see people running out of there. To see that much excitement and the fans I thought was cool. And to see this place, what he calls home, and to see the reaction, the people, like you said, they're still surrounding out there, a hundred deep in every direction, hollering and screaming, hoping he's going to stop and say hello, throw him hats. They're screaming for all kinds of things. It's just awesome. It's a great feeling.
Q. Prior to the caution with 15 to go, did you have something for him? Were you confident that Tony could pass Kasey?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Well, we were truly catching him. Our car was the best after a few laps. We had to start a little free to be good at the end. We were a little too free to have him just sticking air up underneath us at the beginning of that run. You never know, Kasey, he's a heck of a driver. They've had a great car. They came here and they tested well. He ran some really good laps earlier. I wanted to believe, like Loudon, that if he was patient and kept his head on his shoulders, that he could -- he would find a way, because he has that passion check.
Q. With as well as the team has done now, is there that sense of, "Hey, we can go out there and do it all now," or do you still have that feeling of at any moment now the dream is going to end?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I'll tell you something, this sport is extremely humbling. We could leave Watkins Glen knowing we had a good car and leave there with the worst weekend we've ever had. We've been there before. You just need to take it a step every day. Cross out your goals, go to the next race. Go to Watkins Glen, do the best we can. If we can't win, try to put ourselves in position for a top five, a top 10, whatever comes our way. You just continue to build on it like we have been. But, yeah, there's no guarantees in this sport, let me tell you. There are a lot of guys already on their way home thinking about what they're going to do while we're celebrating to win in Watkins Glen and at races up-and-coming.
Q. I know years '96 through '98, you were a little busy with your own deal. Could you recall the torment he had when he ran up here in the Indy 500, how he was the guy that was always expected to win and never did? Today is the accumulation of two races he's been chasing.
GREG ZIPADELLI: Kind of like Dale Earnhardt and Daytona for so many years. Believe me, the harder -- the harder and the more emphasis you put on things, sometimes the harder it is for them to come. It's just the way it is. You know, so many things stack up against you rather than in your favor sometimes. Believe me, I was hoping that that wasn't going to be the case. But for six years it surely was. But, hey, we did it and we can look at it and say we did it, we accomplished it as a group, a team. I know he'll enjoy this win here the rest of his life. Just proud to be part of that.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Greg. Feel better.
GREG ZIPADELLI: Thank you. Appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us in the trackside press conference room is the winner, Tony Stewart. We'll jump right into this. You created a lot of memories today for yourself. What is going to be your last memory tonight when you fall asleep.
TONY STEWART: The bad thing is I probably won't remember what that last memory is. I'm sure somebody will have video of it or will be able to tell me about it in the morning. This is one of those days that I don't want it to end, I don't want to see the sun set. If I could make this day longer, I'd do it in a heartbeat because this is probably -- well, it's definitely the greatest day of my life up to this point professionally, personally. I mean, this is -- I couldn't ask for more. I mean, I don't even know what to say about it. I know part of it hasn't sunk in yet. But, you know, just I'm sure when I get over there and I'm with my family and friends again, it's all going to hit me. But, you know, since I was a little kid, I've always wanted to just compete at the Brickyard. Then when I realized that, I was like, we ran so well and missed, it was like, I know I can win at the Brickyard one day. So finally today was that day.
THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions now.
Q. When you were on the retaining wall underneath the stand, more than jubilation or anything, you looked like you were just enormously relieved, satisfied. Was that more the overwhelming emotion than jubilation? What was it you were feeling?
TONY STEWART: It was overwhelming feeling like crap, to be honest (laughter). A lot of times after you've been in there for three and a half hours on a hot day, you don't really feel good when you get out. Not going to say -- I don't know. I guess I was kind of nauseous. I wasn't feeling like I was going to throw up or anything. Just didn't feel good. I already hopped out once and climbed up on a wall. Your body after it's been sitting for three and a half hours in a hot car like that doesn't want to be climbing up fences and jumping on top of walls and stuff like that. It just was hot. We had a lot of trouble today with our air conditioner. It was a hot day today. It would not work at all during green-flag conditions. The only time it would work was during yellow. It wasn't doing a very good job of keeping us cool. I probably got overheated. When I did get out of the car, I just didn't feel good.
Q. This track had come to appear to be to you what Daytona was to Earnhardt. Is that a correct comparison?
TONY STEWART: I'd say that was a fair statement other than the fact Earnhardt went a lot longer before he got his win than I did. But, you know, when I got the lead that first time, I got a three-second lead, I thought, man, it would be really cool to have Michael Andretti here today to share this with him. I thought I was going to be in that category, a guy that could lead races here, be competitive, but maybe never get a win here. I was willing to share it with him if he was here. You know, you dream about something for so long, you become consumed by it. You know, the parts of my life, you know, I worked in that area, I drove a tow truck for a guy I raced sprint cars against, would drive down 16th Street Speedway and wonder what it would be like to be 300 feet to the left running 200 mile-an-hour. I got a chance to do that. Finally today got to feel what it feels like, see what the view is of coming down that front straightaway, seeing those checkered flags as the first driver to go under versus the third or fourth driver.
Q. Because of the expectations and the disappointments you've had here, does the appreciation level for what you did make it that much more satisfying to you?
TONY STEWART: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's something that, you know, it's hard to take the emotion out of this race. I mean, we didn't -- you know, normally on Sunday morning we got hospitality appearances, two of three of them. We did a bunch of media on Friday morning before practice just to try to get all of our media obligations out of the way to where it came time to practice, when it came time to be in the car, we knew that post qualifying we'd have to do stuff, post practice we'd have to do stuff. We really tried to make Saturday and Sunday as light a load as possible, just to not let it work me up. Not from the standpoint that you guys do it, but I do it to myself. You know, running the Busch race, probably the best thing that happened is we got rain delay, got over late, got back late, didn't get into bed till 1:00, slept till 9:30. I slept like a rock. I slept like a baby. Got a good night's sleep. When I woke up, I wasn't awake so long that hearing all the music and seeing all the people coming in, I didn't see all that till late, so I didn't get as worked up as I normally do.
Q. You're a veteran, but when I heard you say you were nervous in the car, you didn't want to make the call on that last pit stop, can you talk about your emotions then? Did you feel like a veteran or like a rookie?
TONY STEWART: Well, I mean, you know you're a veteran, but it's hard sometimes -- it's hard for both Zippy and I because he doesn't know what the car feels like, but I don't know what everybody's running lap time-wise, how much the gaps are from guys that took four tires to guys that didn't take tires. And here it is the biggest race of my life and I'm thinking, this is probably going to be our last caution of the day. This is a make-or-break thing for us. You know, it was just hard to make the decision. It was hard for me to make it. It was hard for him to make it. But he got pretty adamant about thinking that we needed to stay out. I just finally said, Hey, whatever you say, we're going to stick by, we'll do it a hundred percent. I'm glad he stuck to it because we were going to run out of laps. We would have never got back up through there even if we put four tires on.
Q. Can you describe your first childhood experience coming to this racetrack. Do you remember who you were with, when it was, what it was?
TONY STEWART: One of them I remember I came here with my father. I don't even remember why we were in this bus, but we were in some bus that had a luggage rack in the top of it. You had to get up at 0:dark:30 to get on the bus to ride up here for race day. They threw me up in the luggage rack. Somebody had a pillow. Everybody started throwing their jackets on top of me to keep me warm. Then the ride home wasn't near as cool because everybody was drunk on the bus, but my dad and I. And everybody was trying to give me beer. I was probably five years old. I kind of thought that part was cool. But needless to say, the ride home was a little rowdier than that. But we sat in turns three and four, we were two rows up right in the middle of the short-shoot. The hard thing was you couldn't hardly see anything, they were so fast, they were a blur. To see those cars under caution and smell the methanol fumes and everything, it was pretty cool.
Q. Without going into detail, will you go home tonight to Columbus and continue this party? Will you get to go home and experience this tonight with the people that have meant so much to you here this year?
TONY STEWART: We're going to destroy my turn two suite first and then when there's nothing left over there, they've actually -- somebody, I don't know how they did it in such quick fashion, they've got us another place here in town to go through. All my friends are up here anyway, so we're not going to drive down there tonight, because I've got fan club picnics in the morning, which I have a bad feeling I'm going to be late to at least the first one. Probably when I get done with this, still won't remember what they did during it. I'm sure they will give me a Mulligan on it.
Q. On the final caution, you made a move towards the pits. You didn't go in. Was that trying to suck Kasey in?
TONY STEWART: We were just trying to see who was going to do what, see if we could get some guys to go in. We knew we were going to stay out. If we could get a couple of the lead-lap cars that were right behind us in position, if we could bait them into going in, that would put them in bad track position. It would let me focus more on Kasey than having to worry about Brian Vickers and a couple of the guys that were right behind us.
Q. Can you sort of go step by step through what was going through your mind when Kasey was able to pass you that time? Did you feel some real concern at that point? What was going through your mind when you were stalking him? Looked like you were absolutely determined to run him down. Then when you got by him, what was going through your mind and what happened with the car through those stages?
TONY STEWART: I guess it goes back the second pit stop before the end where we came in and got stickers. We came out and we were behind Brian Vickers. Actually, we were behind the 38 car also. We got by the 38 real quick, then we ran Brian down. My car was really loose on the front of a run. But having Brian in front of us got me actually to where my car drove really well. But, you know, when Kasey got behind us and he got the second and ran us down as quick as he did, as soon as I got in the lead, my car got really free. I told Zippy I thought that I could man-handle it enough to get by. But, you know, on that restart with clean air, just got me too free. Kasey got by us. Actually helped my car out. But he was saving fuel. Zippy was trying to get me to save fuel. I wasn't saving an ounce of fuel. I said, If I run out of fuel, I'm racing for the win. I'm not going to lay down and save fuel, run second, say I had to save fuel. I just couldn't do I it. If I ran out of fuel and ran 32nd or something, that's where I was going to have to be. After he got up there, he was saving fuel pretty well, was really lifting about three-quarters of the way down the straightaway, he was rolling out of the throttle a little bit to save fuel, we could run him back down. I thought if I could just stay close to him, if he misses one corner, it puts us in position to get by. And thought as the run would go on, I knew my car was getting better and better. He was so good on the front that we couldn't get by him, but it was good enough to keep us in check with him. So, you know, when that caution came out, I told Zippy, I felt like we needed -- I really wanted to come in and put tires on it because I didn't think I was good enough to get by him the way we were. You can imagine my surprise when we take the green, go into one, he gets tight, can't close the door, keep us from getting underneath him. But, you know, knowing Kasey as well as I do, and the trust and respect we have for each other, that's the perfect guy that I wanted to race with for the win. When I sailed off into two, I mean, I had the attitude I was either going to win it or wear it. I knew Kasey wasn't going to do anything. I knew I was going to do something stupid. I knew Kasey wasn't. And I knew he knew I was going to do something stupid. He knows what this race means to me, too. I think it's really cool that we both had our biggest races of our career this year with each other involved in it. So I'm glad that Kasey was the guy that ran second to us.
Q. At times like that, do you wonder about what things are going to make this one slip away from you this time or is the concentration so focused that you don't hear rattles or worry?
TONY STEWART: The only rattles I heard were rocks in my head, and I'm used to that right now. But, you know, I've got that turn two suite over there. And my dad for the last 50 laps never left the front rail of that thing. When I had the lead, three-second lead or whatever it was ahead of Brian, I slipped once in two, and I come back the next lap, he's got his headset off and he's pointing to his head just like he did when I was eight years old racing go-karts, saying, "Use your head." I'm sitting there thinking, "Dad, I got here for a reason, because I know what I'm doing. Just let me do my job." I couldn't even argue with the guy at that point. It's like he has go to be right for at least the next 45 minutes till I get done. That's what made it hard, I mean, but it's also what's making it so gratifying and so special at the same time. I mean, there's not very many places you can go and see your family every lap when you come around there. Just because we were on the first floor of that, I mean, I'm looking right at him when I go into turn two when I'm looking for my mark. It's just a natural sight line anyway. But you kind of get that pressure from him, especially when he takes his headset off and is pointing to his head like you're screwing up and he's telling you about it. That just kind of -- I mean, it just rolls into how special it all has made it, just having your friends and family there. When we got that lead, I don't think they sat down the rest the race. Even when Kasey passed us, nobody in our suite was sitting down on the balcony.
Q. The attention on you this year has been more intense than previous years. Did you at any time this week worry it had become too great to deal with? What was it like to take that victory lap and soak that in?
TONY STEWART: It's always been too much, in my opinion. I mean, we had NBC down in Columbus this week. Give you a perfect example of how crazy it's all become. I mean, the guy that was my sponsor when I was nine years old that owns the Dairy Queen on 3rd Street in Columbus had to show me his appointment book and how many interviews he had this week because of us. I told him, I said, Sometimes you charge me for lunch, sometimes you don't. I'm not paying for any more lunches the rest of my life. He goes, I guess you're right. I mean, it's like I had to talk him into it, though. When you got people that aren't even driving the car now having a busy week because of you, you know it's a lot of hype. The good thing is next year when we come here, it's not going to have to be all that: What is it going to mean? How will you feel if you ever win? I mean, we finally got it. We finally have got an opportunity to answer all those questions.
Q. And the victory lap?
TONY STEWART: The victory lap was cool. The hard thing, I'm deaf in one ear and can't hear out of the other. It was hard to hear what Laura was staying. I've done radio stuff with Laura before. It ties so many things together, being home at Indiana, doing that victory lap with a lady on the radio that you've done interviews with before. It just tied it all in. The only thing that would have made it better is if Mike King was doing the interview in all reality, because of our relationship when we were in USAC days together. It was just a neat lap. By that time a lot of people had left, but the ones that were staying really made me feel special when I came out.
Q. Going from 10th to 1st in six weeks as far as points goes.
TONY STEWART: Cool.
Q. This kind of momentum, is it sustainable?
TONY STEWART: Dude, if I knew that, I'd be a bookie in Las Vegas making all kinds of bets right now. All I can tell you is, I mean, we're on a roll. We got a lot of momentum. This has added a ton of momentum obviously. We're going to a place next week where I won last year. After winning at Sonoma earlier in the year, we got a lot of confidence going in there. You don't know from one week to the next what's going to happen. We can have a week like Jimmie Johnson had and have something go wrong. I can promise you, those guys are doing everything they can just like they do every week. They're not doing anything any different. It's like I always tell them, If you're doing anything different right now, you either, A, weren't doing it right the first time or, B, you're going to screw up because you're trying to do it different now. We're just doing the same things we've been doing. We found some things that are working and working for us. It really puts the pressure, I feel, like on everybody else to catch up with us now. We're consistent. It doesn't matter. We were good here. We're good at Loudon, at Chicago. We've been good in so many different disciplines right now that I feel like our program's well-rounded enough to go out there and do what we need to do for the end of the season.
Q. You went nearly a year between victories, now you're winning everything all at once. When it rains it pours.
TONY STEWART: It just shows how competitive the series is now. You look at Formula One and how dominant Ferrari was for so many years. They found something that nobody else found. That's the way this series is getting. We all have the same rules to go by. But once you find a package, especially with the new rules package this year, the Roush and Hendrick teams found that combination early and it took us a little longer to find it. Now that we have, we're a contender again. It doesn't matter how long it's been. I mean, I didn't forget how to drive the car. Zippy didn't forget how to set the car up. When you have rule changes and technology changing as much as it is. We got 20 engineers at the shop. I'd send these engineers typically down to Florida and let them work for NASA or somebody. We're not launching the space shuttle, we're trying to make the race car go fast. I told Zippy week in and week out when we were running bad, We need to keep hiring more engineers as a joke saying we need to get rid of these guys and go back to doing what we know typically works. The engineers are part of the reason we did get going good. They keep their nose to the ground and keep their nose in their Palm Pilots and their laptop computers and they just keep working at it. That's helped us get where we are finally.
Q. Now that the trophy has your name on it, do you feel any different about the track selling the title name of the race? Does winning it make you want to win the Indy 500 more or less?
TONY STEWART: Thanks, Rick (laughter). Let me go to the easier one. You know, still the Indy 500 is on my mind. I guess it's made it easier finally winning the Brickyard. There's so much history in my life and with people that are around me that have been involved in IndyCar racing for so long, I've never said never yet, or never say no or never, whatever. We'll cross that bridge down the road. I've made the commitment to my guys that as long as I'm in the Cup Series, I'm not going to try to do the double any more. It just got to be too big of a three-ring circus when we would go either here to Charlotte trying to do it. We've made that commitment. As far as Allstate, I appreciate their support. I've given them a hard time. It wasn't them that changed the name. I don't know whoever it was that changed the name. That's who I want to give the hard time to. It's neat to have a company like that that's so supportive of an event like this and want to be a part of it. You can't be negative toward them. I guess I'm one of those people, I remember when they brought NASCAR to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I was one of the guys that said, "Man, this is a bunch of crap. They don't need to be here. IndyCars are the only thing that should be on the racetrack. That's the way it's always been, that's the way it should always be." I was one of those guys that boo-hoo'd then. My idea I think was better than their idea. I still think it should have been the Brickyard 400 presented by Allstate. But having their support here was huge, and meeting some of their people, to see how excited they were about this event, I mean, that's what makes -- that's what supporting -- that we need in this sport to help make events like this get bigger and better as years go on. As much as I gave them the hard time, I'm not sure they were the ones that said, Hey, we want to change the name of your big race. I think somebody else did that for them.
Q. Now that it's all over, can you see an old guy in a straw hat smiling down at you?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, there's only -- Tim and I are probably the only two who know who he's talking about. It's Glen Neibold (phonetic), who I won the sprint and silver crown championships in '95 with, and passed away from cancer in '99. When I won Rookie-of-the-Year, he passed away the week after we went to the banquet. Said once he saw me get my presentation and everything, do my speech at New York, that he asked them to take him off his food and everything. He pretty much waited till that point and then gave up. He's one of those guys, stuff that he taught me is stuff that I used a lot today. Watching guys, being around guys on the racetrack today, man, if Neibold could work with these guys, I wouldn't be able to pass anybody. But because of what I learned from him, I was able to pass a lot of guys when I shouldn't have been able to probably. I guarantee not only is he smiling, he's probably crying up there with the rest of us.
Q. The reaction you got after the race, up to what was going on out here, must have been incredibly gratifying. The other way to ask it is, sometimes when you anticipate something your whole life, it finally happens, you go, "It wasn't quite what I thought it was."
TONY STEWART: I can promise you that's not what's going on today by any means. Like I said, I just wish -- I mean, first time I've ever been there taking pictures and said, "Go ahead and take your time." I don't care how long you guys want to talk to me. We can talk all night. I don't want to talk all night because I got serious business to get to here in a while (laughter). When you have something like this so big happen in your life, you really just don't want that day to end. I mean, there's so much pressure that I put on myself to do good here, just because of the history of the place and being so close and growing up around it, it's hard for people that haven't grown up in Indiana and haven't grown up around racing to understand what it really means to a driver from Indiana. I'm going to bust on Jeff a little bit. I'm the first Indiana-born driver to win the Brickyard 400. That's an award and an honor that I'm proud to have finally.
Q. You mentioned earlier in the last restart, racing against Kasey, you might be the crazy one. You ran some crazy lines in those last few laps. Knowing all the problems that people had with tires, you ran in the absolute dirtiest part of the racetrack. Were you worried at all that you were going to do some Dukes of Hazard move?
TONY STEWART: I didn't want to jump any ravines or anything. But, you know, it was one of those situations when I was behind Kasey, I could actually pull up. When we were in the lead, we could actually pull away from him down the straightaways. He was so good through the corners, I felt like the risk was worth the reward if I could get a gap there. The last thing I wanted was for him to get there. But I was real cautious and conscious of what I was running into. I mean, there were chunks down there that I wouldn't run through. I was running through some dirty parts of the track. But, you know, obviously I couldn't see everything that was out there. I was trying to be mindful of what was going on also. But I spent a lot of time in the mirror and probably ran through stuff I shouldn't have. I guess it was one of those things I was thinking I just need to try to break the draft and felt like they tried to keep it pretty clean all day.
Q. You talked about the 20 engineers. Do you any interaction with Todd who came over from Team Rahal?
TONY STEWART: I think so. I don't know him by name. I think I know who you're talking about. He goes to a lot of the tests with us. The coolest thing is I learned a lot about a guy, I don't know Adam's last name. The guy that goes with us every week, Zippy's right-hand guy, an engineer. The cool thing I found out about him, I found out, when we were talking about the prelude to the dream, the dream race, he goes, I made the (indiscernible) at the dream one night. And immediately it was like a connection that him and I had. I was like, Wow, you actually raced? He said, Yeah, I just quit racing a couple years ago. Somebody that's got a passion for racing like me and finally an engineer that has practical knowledge, not only just computer knowledge and book knowledge.
Q. You're in the points lead now. Do you consider yourself a favorite for the rest of the season?
TONY STEWART: Do you consider me a favorite? If you do, then I do. You never know. You never know what can happen. There's a reason we've got here, so hopefully we can just keep it going. I had to be a smart-ass sometime during this deal (laughter). Just took me a little longer than I anticipated. It will get harsher as it goes.
Q. One of the things that stands out about your personality is you're very loyal. Do you think there's a guy up at Vision Racing right now that's really beaming?
TONY STEWART: I know where he's at right now. He's actually waiting on me. Yeah, I guarantee it. I mean, having Larry here today is really cool. He was the guy that brought me to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and gave me my opportunity. That's something, being able to celebrate with him tonight. He told me about a year and a half ago, he goes, I just want to be in Victory Lane with you one time. He never got down there today. I don't know where he was at. Wherever he was at, I guarantee when I get there, he's going to have a tear in his eye when we finally get together.
Q. At the end of the race they were screaming your name from the stands. How does that feel? In the paper this morning, there was a huge story about how they didn't accept stock car racing when it first came. Have you changed in accepting it? How do you feel about them shouting your name here in Indiana?
TONY STEWART: Just for the record, I changed after I watched the first event here. I mean, it was cool. I thought it was awesome. I was hoping there would be more passing than there was. But knowing how IndyCar racing was here, too, it's really not that different than IndyCar races. I thought it was pretty cool to finally have NASCAR here. Hearing those people out there, I mean, I think a lot of those fans have been here since I came here in '96. Even though I'm not here in an IndyCar now, those people know how much this place means to me. They have to because that's all you write about the two weeks before I get here. Everybody knows when they get here how much it means. To have these people stay and be as excited about as I am about finally winning the race, it's neat to be able to share that victory with him.
Q. Can you begin to look at the Chase and the characters that are going to be involved, maybe one that won't be involved, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, you always want your buddies to be in there with you. But at the same time, I mean, you got to race the guys that are in there, no matter who they are. Yeah, I guess starting this week now after the new of winning the race wears off, we'll dial in on the Chase. But this time of year, my mind's consumed with what's going on here at the Brickyard. Once we get over this weekend, then -- how many weeks are we still the Chase starts? Four, five? It's close enough that everybody always -- this is the time when everybody's really trying to figure out who is going to fill that last spot and get in the Chase. You know, it's kind of a momentum shift to a certain degree and a mindset shift more than anything, of now we got through the Brickyard, I got through here, didn't do anything stupid, so I get to relax this week and have fun next weekend when we get to Watkins Glen.
Q. We're talking about the NEXTEL Championship now. What goals do you have now? Your dad said after the race that he wants the 500.
TONY STEWART: He's never put any pressure on me in my whole career (laughter). I told him, I said, Can I just enjoy this one for now? He goes, Yeah, but I want you to get the Indy 500 next. I'm like, Dude, it's not mail order. You don't just call in, give them your credit card number and they bring you the trophy. I guess that's why I got to where I am, too, because my dad's that competitive, too. If you guys got to actually spend some time, you'd realize why I get as angry as I usually do. He's worse than me. I'll tell one story on him, just as an FYI thing. He went to Columbus where we grew up, ran a TQ Midget race a month ago. I got reports on the phone because I had about eight people call me and said, You're not going to believe what your dad did tonight. You cannot tell me he possibly won this race. They said no. He got in two wrecks, and the second one he took his gloves off, threw them at somebody, threw the steering wheel at somebody else. I said, now everybody understands where I get it and how hard I've had to work to overcome it. You have to give me some credit. You at least know where it actually started, and I'm actually working to overcome that now. Like I said, when I got the lead, it wasn't that emotional of a thing. When I saw him on that railing, it's unbelievable that you can run as fast as you can in a race car and you can see things and pick up emotion. And to see the emotion on his face and to see how excited he was with his hands and fists in the air, I mean, that's when I got tears in my eyes. Hey, I've been in this position before. Two laps later the tears went away and it was back to business. Every year that I got the lead, I've got to see him do that. Thought, man, I just want to finish it off one time. I'm going to calm him down for a couple weeks and we'll worry about the 500 later.
Q. You said in an interview earlier this week you didn't want to be greedy, you didn't want four or five, just one. Now is it time to be greedy, though?
TONY STEWART: No. Not for me. I stick to what I say. I don't feel greedy about it at all. I mean, I wish everybody could have the feelings that I have right now. I wish everybody could experience this because for somebody that appreciates it like I do, I mean, it's the coolest feeling in the world. I mean, I hope Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., guys that are buddies of mine, I hope they all get a chance to feel what I feel today and be that excited about winning a race that's this prestigious.
Q. Where was your dad?
TONY STEWART: Right on the rail. I mean, I thought he was going to fall over once, he was leaning so far over. Our suite is just over the retaining wall level, the first level of suites. It's right in sight line. I didn't realize it was him till about halfway through the race. He made it unmistakable who he was when I got the lead.
Q. You have a modest collection of things that meant something to you during your career. Will you find a way to acquire this car to keep it?
TONY STEWART: I'm going to get in trouble for this probably. Sue said she bought it for Bob. I told Zippy, If you sell this car to Bob, I'm going to kick you in the nuts. Straight up, word for word, that's what I told him. If that car goes out of the shop and I found out it's Bob's, I'm kicking you square in the nuts. I said it word for word just like that. He said it's -- where did he say it was going? He said it's going somewhere else to race. I said, "When it's done, it's mine." I'm actually trying to get another IndyCar that I ran, so I've got two of the five cars I think I ran in Indy 500s, and got the double-duty cars that we ran in '99, both the IndyCar and stock car. We were talking about it the other day. It was actually funny because Kenny Schrader came up to me today and said he had bought something really cool, then he mentioned AJ Foyt's name. He was talking about the first Champ Car race that AJ Foyt won. I thought, man he bought the car. He goes, no, I bought the trophy. Kenny knew that I'm the only person in the whole garage area that would probably appreciate that, how jealous I was that he had the first Champ Car trophy that AJ Foyt ever won. Kenny and I have talked about it. He thinks it's great that I'm buying up everything I've driven that has significant meaning. Every year that goes by that you don't get it, it gets harder to come by and the price goes up. This is one of those cars that means more to me than anything. Like I said, I was telling the photographers this, I said, my dog is going to be really mad tonight, she's six pounds and sleeps right by my knees. She's going to have to move over because I'm sleeping with that trophy in the bed tonight. I'm serious as a heart attack. I'll wake up, I may have stab marks in my back from the edges, but I'm sleeping with it tonight. I'm scared somebody will get in my room and get it. That's how serious I am about it. I mean, it means that much to me.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, on behalf of all the employees of Allstate and the Indianapolis 500, congratulations.
TONY STEWART: Thank you, appreciate it.
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