A Few Words With: Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart is still looking for his first victory as an owner/driver. This weekend, the quest moves to a favorite track, his favorite track, Richmond International Raceway. This week, he shared a few words about it all.
Question: It’s been 371 races since a driver/owner last visited victory lane – Ricky Rudd on Sept. 27, 1998 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. With your strong runs to start the season, do you feel that you could be the one to end that streak?
Stewart: “Having Ryan Newman as a teammate is a huge asset. We’ve worked well together from day one. His depth of knowledge of the car and why things do what they do has been a huge asset to me. It’s been a huge asset to the whole organization. Bobby Hutchens (director of competition) and Darian Grubb (crew chief, No. 14 team) and Tony Gibson (crew chief, No. 39 team) – having those key people in place has really been a huge help. Obviously, our resources at Hendrick Motorsports and not having to worry about our own engine package or developing our own chassis package are things that have really shortened our learning curve. We’ve got the equipment. We need to do our jobs and the results have shown. Both Ryan and I have had good runs this year in the first nine races. I think success has come much quicker than any of us anticipated it would’ve happened.”
Question: With three Sprint Cup wins and two Camping World Truck Series wins, you’ve had a lot of success at Richmond. Is it one of your favorite tracks?
Stewart: “It is my favorite track. It’s not one of them, it’s the favorite track of mine on the circuit. I’ve won two Truck races and three Cup races there. It’s where I got my first win. It’s definitely a place I enjoy coming to, and considering how it factors into the Chase, it’s an important stop for us.”
Question:What’s the key to being successful at Richmond?
Stewart: “You want to make sure that your car is adjustable. We start the race at the end of the day where it’s usually pretty hot, but as night comes the track cools down and it changes quite a bit. Old pavement, new pavement, the same theory applies, and that’s not something you see at most of the races we go to. It’s pretty much isolated to just the night races. You’ve got to have adjustability, because you know for a fact that the track isn’t going to stay the same all night long.”
Question: Is Richmond similar to any other tracks you’ve raced on in your career? Stewart: “It just reminds me of some of the shorter tracks that I’ve run. It has kind of the same feel that three-quarter-mile tracks did with some of the other cars that I’ve run with. It was like Phoenix the first time I went there. I hadn’t been to a 1-mile oval but once in my life, but when I got onto Phoenix, I adjusted and adapted to it really quickly. It was a place where I became very comfortable right away. I had that same feeling when I went to Richmond for the first time. I think every driver has a track that they go to where they get that same feeling. There are just some places that you go to where you adjust, and it really suits your driving style.”
Question: Veteran motorsports and Charlotte (N.C.) Observer writer David Poole passed away unexpectedly earlier this week. You and David got to develop a pretty good rapport over the years. How do you remember him?
Stewart: “David was one of those guys that I always looked forward to seeing in the media center, because David and I always understood each other. We always gave each other a hard time, in a fun way, whenever we were in the media center and that normally got everybody laughing. It’s going to be different without seeing him every week. He was a huge part of the sport. Being with The Charlotte Observer and with Charlotte being the hub of our series, he was right in the middle of it all the time. He’s very well respected in our sport, and definitely in the media center. We’re all just going to miss him. It was just a big shock to hear the news.”No Comment