On his weekly SIRIUS NASCAR Radio show “Tony Stewart Live,” Stewart and co-host Matt Yocum discussed Sunday’s restrictor plate race at Talladega SuperSpeedway and looked ahead to this Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte.
Recapping Sunday’s UAW-Ford 500:
Co-host Matt Yocum: “If you can think of one word that summed up the weekend in Talladega what would it be?”
Tony Stewart: “Well, the race itself, boring. Everything outside the race was actually fun. I got to hang out with all my fellow deputies from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department and the Police Department from Fayette and went to the Talladega short track like we always do and watched the late model races over there. So, had fun when we weren’t in the car. In the car wasn’t a lot of fun this weekend.”
Stewart: “[We] started the race 11th and our strategy was just to go to the front and if we could stay up toward the front, stay there. If not, if it got crowded or crazy we would go to the back and just feel it out. We dropped as far back as 22nd or 23rd, I think, and were able to work our way back up there and just kind of stayed up there all day. It really was an uneventful race from our standpoint. Every time there was trouble it was always behind us, which was a good thing. The guys on the pit crew had great stops all day. The cars I couldn’t pass they passed for me on the pit lane. Everybody was just kind of feeling each other out at the beginning of the race and then we all got in that line on the outside. That outside line got going and once it started everybody jumped up there and everybody just peeled around the top and were basically scared to pull out of line. It’s happened that way before and that’s, I think, is something the drivers are figuring out and unfortunately I think it’s making the racing more boring every time we go to Talladega. It’s not the racetrack’s fault. It’s not NASCAR’s fault. It’s not our fault as drivers. It just is what it is.”
On the race’s last 25 laps and the finish:
Stewart: “I feel like I let my team down. I don’t know what I should’ve done different but I should done something different obviously because we went, in the last three quarters of a lap, from third to eighth. Jeff Gordon said it best. I had a great run on the outside and all it took was him to just pull up there and there was nothing I can do. I’m treed at that point. So it’s either push him or get crashed trying to go to the inside by him or run into the guys down on the bottom. It’s not a very fun deal. I wish I could say I felt like that was racing. That doesn’t seem like racing to me when you’ve got three teammates that can get together and gang up like that and run to the bottom and know that they’re going to follow each other. And I was stuck up there. I had two teammates also in the race so it wasn’t like I didn’t have the same opportunity they had. The three of us never got together and could stay together. It’s a weird deal. I think the fans are going to be able to dictate what happens more than we are as drivers right now. I don’t think it really matters what we think. At the same time it’s kind of hard for NASCAR to figure out an easy solution. I don’t think there is an easy solution.”
Stewart: “The one thing about it, though, is at the end of the race it’s always exciting. Everything always gets jumbled up and it’s a toss-up of who is going to win the thing. I think we could just shorten the race to about 60 or 80 laps and cut all the crap in the middle where we’re all riding around absolutely bored out of our skulls and we could still put on a good show and everybody could get home earlier.”
Yocum: “Do you think they should shorten that race a little bit?”
Stewart: “I don’t see the point in 500 miles, not with the way the race went Sunday and with the way it was in the spring. Both races this year with two different forms of cars we had that same deal where we were all lined up on the outside. I don’t see the point of it being 500 miles. It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care. I get paid the same whether they shorten it or not and the trophy is still the same at the end of the race.”
On Saturday’s Bank of America 500:
Stewart: “I’m excited. The track has taken a while to season in but it keeps getting better and better and it seems like every year we keep making our cars better and better there, too. The good thing is it’s a night race. We don’t start late in the afternoon and go all the way into the evening. We actually get to start a little bit later. But it’s still a race where your cars pretty much slide around for the first 100 or 200 miles and then it gets dark enough and cool enough that the cars get really, really quick. I mean we really, really fly around there.”
Yocum: “Jimmie Johnson last year was just about 150 points out of first coming into this event a year ago and really went on a run. You’re 154 markers out of first. You look last at last year at the run you guys went on. Can you duplicate that even though we’ve got a couple of CoT races mixed in?”
Stewart: “We hope so. You look at the tracks that we have left. We’ve got Charlotte this weekend. We have Martinsville next weekend. And then we have Texas, Atlanta, Phoenix and Homestead. At Phoenix, with the CoT car, Jeff Gordon and I were the fastest two cars at the end of the race. Martinsville, we just went to Caraway [Speedway] to test today and work on our Martinsville program. So I think that is the last two CoT races that we have. The rest of them are all mile-and-a-half packages. I think we’ve got a good shot. Atlanta we’ve run really well, almost won the race in the spring, ran second to Jimmie Johnson. Texas we won in the fall last year. So we’ve got tracks coming up that we’re really, really good at. That gives us a lot of confidence going in to not only this weekend but the next five races after that.”
A new edition of “Tony Stewart Live” airs every Tuesday (8-10pm ET) exclusively on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, channel 128.