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November 17, 2005

Greg Biffle

Carl Edwards

Mike Helton

Jimmie Johnson

Tony Stewart

CURTIS GRAY: This year at the Super Bowl, we spent a lot of time up in Jacksonville this year seeing how they do things, and one of the things they did was an official headquarters for the media. And what I've heard today is it was well-received by the media and that's something we want to keep building and we'll keep growing this event every year. We've done a lot of concepts this week: Charity events, some diversity seminars as far as NASCAR is concerned. There's been a lot of receptions. There's a Race Fest tonight that will shut down the streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale, a Race For the Pace very similar to the pace of the NFL that football does. So you can tell this whole week is building. The nice thing about it is the championship will be decided here every year, we can keep building this every year, unlike every other professional sport where it changes every year, this will stay in one place, I hope, Mr. Helton. And with that I would like to introduce the president of NASCAR, Mr. Mike Helton.

MIKE HELTON: Thank you, Curtis. And before I go any further I want to congratulate Curtis and his staff here at Miami for hosting this weekend. And even in his second year, I think the evidence that the Chase was a good idea and is upon us, and taking that concept and doing what you've done this weekend here with the media hotel and all of the synergy around our three national series is great, and you've done a good job and we'll see what happens. Thank you for that and thank you for hosting a spectacular weekend and an incredible city. On behalf of all of NASCAR, thanks for coming out today and visiting with some of our drivers. We're excited about the Chase. I think this time last year, there was all but one question unanswered, or answered, and we got that answer last year. So going into the sophomore season, we knew a little bit more about it. I think the competitors had the ability maybe to strategize a little bit more in the beginning of the year to get ready for the end of the year. But now we're here and concluding our National Championships with the Busch and the Chase and the Truck Series here again this weekend. We're very proud of the Chase, we're very proud of the people who have made the Chase what it is. Four of them will be here in a little bit, but it's this type of character that really makes NASCAR at the end of the day. And with the difference of determining the champion or the different market areas to pick and choose to be able to grow your sport in, it really boils down to the character of the sport, and it's well-represented in NASCAR today as it's ever been with guys like Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle makes our sport what it is and we'll be honored to have any of these guys stand on the stage as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion. I just wanted to say thank you for letting us be a part of today, and with that I'll turn it over to Mr. Jim Hunter.

JIM HUNTER: We're going to do this press conference-style. If you have a question, raise your hand, we'll try to get around to everybody. We'll move right on with it. Don't worry, it's not going to rain. The fourth place driver -- these four drivers are the drivers who can still win the championship here Sunday, and the fourth place driver is 102 points behind the leader, Tony Stewart. He's a Jack Roush driver, he's tied with Tony for the series lead in victories with five, and he's trying to become the first driver to win the championship in all three of NASCAR's national series, the next NEXTEL Cup, the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, so please welcome Greg Biffle. He has had a whirlwind week, and we appreciate, Greg has done an awful lot for us this week moving around. You've been a little busy, haven't you, pal? But we really appreciate Greg doing what he's done this week. The third place driver in the NASCAR Chase for the NEXTEL Cup is 87 points behind the leader, Tony Stewart. He has four victories in his first full NEXTEL Cup season. Obviously, everyone has heard the story about him walking around not that many years ago with a business card that said, "Race driver for hire." If you haven't heard that story sometime, you need to talk to Carl about that. He's also racing full-time this year in the NASCAR Busch Series where he's also third in points there. And he's also one of the most engaging, popular drivers in the NEXTEL Cup series. Please welcome Carl Edwards. Welcome, Carl. Last year's series runner-up by only eight points, comes into this weekend's season finale in second place chasing Tony Stewart who is the leader. He also has four victories this season and he's a driver who came up through NASCAR's Busch Series, please welcome the driver of the #48 Chevrolet owned by Rick Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson. The current leader in the Chase is the 2002 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion, he is the series leader in points, victories, money won, Top-5s and laps led. He holds a 52-point lead over second place Jimmie Johnson. Ten years ago, Tony Stewart gave us a preview of the future when he won three United States Auto Club titles in the same season. He went on to win the IRL championship, then raced in the NASCAR Busch Series before he came to the NEXTEL Cup Series. He's become one of our best drivers, and also one of our most popular drivers. Please welcome current NEXTEL Cup point leader, Tony Stewart. Now, I want to ask the first question. Is Bruce here?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: He's probably sleeping off his hangover.

JIM HUNTER: Go easy, because I have a little history years ago with that kind of stuff.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's showing today, too.

JIM HUNTER: Okay, who wants to ask the first question?

TONY STEWART: Doesn't get much more relaxing than this. We've been fed today, ready for a nap. It's been pretty relaxing. This isn't the first time we've all been in this situation. Just another day in paradise, so pretty much just getting ready for the weekend. We'll be glad when we get done with this kind of stuff and get back to the stuff we enjoy doing and that's getting back in the race cars.


CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, just excited to be at Homestead. It's a fun racetrack. We've run well at these type of tracks. I feel really comfortable about this. Got to go do the best we can like we do every week, have fun, race, see where we come out on Sunday.


GREG BIFFLE: I think I have the least amount of pressure, I'm fourth in points, 102 out. So just come here to try and win like I did last year, and obviously my goal is to improve my position whether I can be third or second or whatever this weekend. But we ran really well last weekend in Phoenix and finished second, so it's kind of that same thing this week and just get ready for next year.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I have to agree with Greg. It's about trying to go out and doing the best we can as the 48 team and see where everything falls into place. We lost ground to Tony last week obviously, and ideally I wish we were closer and put more pressure on Tony. He's sitting in a good situation, and it's really -- the race is going to decide it. So just get out and do the best job we can and see where everybody finishes and take it from there. So. The stress isn't as high as it was, I would say last year coming into it we were a little bit closer, and really the championship was settled on the last lap of the race. So I don't feel that pressure that we had last year this year.

Q. Specifically to Tony and to Jimmie, both of you guys are veterans of coming down here gunning for a championship. Tony, could you compare and contrast the way it is for you now and the way conditions are for you compared to 2002 and all the turmoil you had then, and a simpler life now? And Jimmie, could you talk about the difference between now and the circumstances you came in under last year here?

TONY STEWART: I'd say for us, it was a lot easier in 2002 because we just had Mark Martin to race against. I'm not saying he was an easy guy to compete against, but we only had one guy that we had to worry about all day versus there's four of us up here that are worrying about trying to get this trophy. You know, probably a similar situation for Jimmie, knowing that he had the same thing last year, but going through this and going through the same scenario two years ago, even though it was different is something that we're used to.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think the experience last year and really the last couple of seasons really taught me a lot and help me get prepared for this championship. Last year we came in with the tragedy of the airplane crash, rebounding back from the slow start for the Chase and winning a lot of races and riding a big high, and coming into this final event with a smaller point margin than I think what we have now. So there was a lot more in our control at that point. This year, the last few races we've been slipping a little bit each time, and now there's a bigger gap. So I'm coming into this relaxed. I know what I need to do, I need to go out and get maximum points and that's all I can control. So I'm just going to go out and do all that I can on Sunday afternoon and see where everybody else finishes, and that's really all that I'm left with at this point. So it's not an overly stressful situation, it's just about going out and doing the best job I can.

Q. Following Mr. Hunter's eloquent introduction, it seems like we have the cream of the crop up here as far as statistics, wins, leading laps, everything. How do you guys feel about being in this spot and representing the entire sport? I mean, we cut it down to ten and now we come to the final race and we have four left. And it seems like these are the people that should be here.

CARL EDWARDS: To be honest with you, me personally, I don't feel like I should be here, I feel like there's a lot of guys in this sport who have paid a lot more dues and who on average have run better at a lot of tracks. I feel very fortunate this year for our Office Depot team, we haven't been very good on road courses; we haven't been very good on short tracks. But our luck has been such that we've ended up running just well enough and we haven't had any bad luck at the races that we do run well at; that I think we're in the best possible position to be in. As far as representing the sport it's an honor to be up here with these guys because I do feel that these are the best guys in the sport. I feel like I came in through the back door and I'm lucky to be here. I think next year will be a little bit better. If we have the same luck, we'll be in maybe a little bit better position.

JIM HUNTER: Anybody else want to take a stab at that?

Q. You guys talked about the cream rising to the top and there was a lot of discussion when the format was changed two years ago about whether this was fair or unfair, things like that. Do you guys, now that you've gone through this two years, do you feel like the rules, the Chase format, all that stuff, is the right way to determine the champion, or have you changed your mind about the format or just sort of a general feeling about the Chase format?

TONY STEWART: I don't know, I still think it's pretty exiting. I think it's exciting for our sport. I think it's exciting for the fans. The only thing, watching it for two years, I think it might need a little tweaking, and I'm not here so say what needs to be done. But the thing is, through the first nine weeks was worrying about having bad luck instead of worrying about who is the best that given week and getting the most points because having a good day -- I wasn't as much worried about having a good day as not having a bad day. So I don't think the championship should be decided on who is worried about having the worst day. We'll see. Like anything else, it's new, which is a good thing, so it's still exciting right now and it's been a fairly successful format. So whether it needs to be -- everybody is going to have their individual opinions on that. Like you said, going into the last race, there's four of us that have a shot at winning the championship and that in itself is exciting.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I have to agree with Tony on that. I think everybody has an opinion and I think people -- different people would alter some things or change some things around. But one thing I'll point out is my friends that typically would be moving over to football and not watching our sport are continuing to watch, and I think that says a lot about our sport and that it proves things for myself, my team, all of us up here. But for us, we were slow to conform and were real slow to like it until I got into the final ten last year and saw how everything worked out, and I think it's taken our sport to a new level. I think it's been a great format, and I think it's going to bring in new fans and continue to keep our fans happy that are watching.

Q. For Tony, a lot of the drivers in the past when they have a lead going into the championship they say they probably set up their car more for reliability than horsepower to make sure they don't have engine problems; I wanted to know if you guys plan to do that. And the other guys, do you have to be more aggressive and think that you've got to win the race, will you set up your cars maybe a little bit more on the edge, maybe take a little bit of risk that you might not?

TONY STEWART: To be honest from my standpoint, that's more of a question you'd have to ask Greg Zipadelli. They are in charge of that side of it. For me, we have kind of taken the same approach all year and just not changing in this case. We have not had a lot of reliability issues, and really I think if you try to change something now, that's when you put yourself in that risk of having a problem. So I don't think there will be anything different from that standpoint on our team this week.

GREG BIFFLE: Me, I've tried to win all ten of them. That was pretty apparent last week, and in Phoenix, we had a really good car and led as many laps as we could and ended up a little short at end. It was still a fun race for us and kind of a boost after our run in Atlanta. But we come in, I kind of use the conservative/aggressive approach, just try and make sure that I'm not stepping out of the box on my race car, so just do the best we can. And we've got a great engine program, fantastic engine program, Carl and I both are very lucky for that. Reliability seems like they have got a great handle on it, I feel really confident on the track.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: From my standpoint, you've got to finish the race to get the points, so I think that we're all going to be aggressive. We all have the same mind set that if you change what you're doing, that's usually when problems happen. I'm sure people have heard different stories about when you're in the lead and you start protecting something, you may make a mistake at that point, just in the race itself. So I think everybody is just really going to go out, including myself, go out and do the same thing I've done every week. I feel that the way we've raced using our heads, taking calculated risks at times has put us in this position and got us second in points and you've got to take the same risks, but at the same time be smart in how we're running at the end of the day in order to have points and have a shot at winning the championship.

Q. This race is going to start in the daylight and finish in the dark, can you talk about the track conditions will change from light it dark and also how you guys -- what you're going to need to do to deal with driving into the setting sun?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: To be honest with you, no one has -- that I'm aware of, I know when we were down here testing, we were just getting off the track when the race would start, so I don't believe that anyone has a true idea of what the track is going to do. We can all speculate about the speed picking up and grip levels picking up, but I don't think anyone truly understands what we're going to need to do. We don't have any history here, it's not like at Charlotte or somewhere that you put this setup in the car and you tighten it up and wait until the sun goes down and start backing off of those adjustments. I think we are all going to be learning. The sun is tough. Basically I had the experience last week in Phoenix dealing with it, but it is going to be tough right at the start of the race until the sun gets behind the -- hits the condos down in turn one down the front stretch. Once it's down I think it will be comfortable for the driver, and visibility will be great. Night racing is easier on the drivers, I personally feel because where we need to look is lit up, so it's a little easier on the eyes and on us inside the car.

Q. Just curious from you: Tony, Indiana; Carl, Missouri; Greg, Washington; and Jimmie, California. What do you think it says about the sport that these are kind of the states now and how vast are the guys going for the championship here? I don't think even ten years ago a guy growing up outside Mount St. Helens would dream he would be challenging for a NASCAR championship. Can you speak about the diversity and the geography?

TONY STEWART: It's pretty cool, I think. It just shows that our sport is not only fan-base-wise spread out, but car owners are looking all across the country to find talent. So I think it's a compliment to our sport in how car owners are looking from coast to coast trying to find the next hidden talent right now.

CARL EDWARDS: I think it says a lot about the future of sport as well that someone -- there are so many great drivers out there all over the country. All of us go to short track races and we see what's out there, I think it gives someone, you know, on a Saturday night, a lot to look forward to. There's really no geographic barriers in the sport.

GREG BIFFLE: Same with me. Kasey Kahne and both myself are from Washington State, and it tells you how important short track racing and all that has become, you know, for a feeder series to move into the Craftsman Truck Series or moving up and racing, Kasey raced a lot of open-wheel and I raced a lot of late-model, closed-wheel stuff. It's neat to see a lot of guys, I think both Kasey and I have created some opportunities for people in the future, as well. I know there's a couple other guys that run in the Busch Series now, Jeff and Mark, that are from out there. And I think that's kind of created awareness across, Kurt Busch being from Vegas and myself from the West Coast, that's maybe opened some doors for people I think.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I have to agree with everyone as well on a couple of things. One, crew members are from all over the country as well, not only are there drivers from the West Coast, but a lot of crew members have made the trip out and have been involved in other forms of auto racing, and they know that NASCAR is the place to be. From there you look at the guys that race IRL and CART that now have interest in our sport and have been in our cars and understand what our sport is truly about now. It says a lot about NASCAR. When you have Adrian Fernandez, Paul Tracy, trying to find his way in, and a variety of other top names of open-wheel drivers, Tony made the crossover, but it says a lot for the sport and where it's going.

Q. This question is for Jimmie. They say that you've got to lose a championship to learn how to win one. Can you possibly think about anything that you haven't learned yet?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I've been -- I said that to myself last year, that you've got to lose one before you win one. Granted, we finished second the year before, but Matt had it looked up at Rockingham. Last year I left Homestead saying "this is the one I need to lose before I win." We'll see. It's not the same set of circumstances and we are not as close as we need to be to really control or have it in our hands to go down and race at Homestead and try to win the championship. But it's a long race, a lot can happen in our sport and we just go out and do all we can. I truly believe that leaving here last year after watching Kurt have his problem, the wheel fall off the right front, bringing out the caution, if he would have been over a few more inches and hit the end of the wall, it would have been a different story, if we would have been a few more laps then there wouldn't have been a caution, he would have gown two or three laps. It's a tough sport, no doubt about it, and there's no guarantees. That's why I love the sport and why I wake up everything morning and work so hard, because we've got to fight for every inch, and hopefully one of these days I will be a champion.

Q. We have drawn a lot of comparisons between the NFL and football and the Super Bowl, but you guys also have a team, and I know it's difficult to get all of the guys in the shop out here. But if one or all of you can talk a little bit about how important it is that the pit stops are right; that the team is what brought you here. You guys are certainly the people we all see, but how important it is that your team has been the one that's brought you here?

TONY STEWART: You're only as strong as your weakest person. You can be the best driver and have the best car, but if you have a bad pit stop, it takes all of that away. You have to have every piece in the equation be right, whether it's one guy in the engine department or any of those areas, it's all very crucial. We're the ones that stand up here and get all of the credit for it at the end of the day, but this is truly a sport like Jimmie says, you're bringing guys from all across the country, not only the drivers, but it's crew members and that level of competition not only for drivers but more so in the pit crews IS getting more critical than it's ever been just from that standpoint. So you know as each year goes, you're weeding out those weaker people and the teams are just getting stronger and stronger and letting the competition be as tight and as close as it is.

CARL EDWARDS: For me, I didn't understand the team aspect of the sport very well until I came out here and started driving in the Craftsman Truck Series for Jack. I had grown up doing everything, just kind of me and my buddy, me and my dad, and learning how much of a team is a part of it has been really neat for me. My team in particular, when I came on board we didn't have a sponsor and they hired me, they moved me up way before they probably have, Jack did. I'm just really happy that my guys stuck around. Those guys are really the ones who in my eyes, they live and die a little bit more by the performance of the team. They make enough to support their families and go about their business, but if the team were to shut down or do something, they are in immediate trouble. So for those guys that stick around through it with me and not leave in times of trouble, I owe a lot to my team are not only on the racetrack but the people that make it all happen.

GREG BIFFLE: I have to say I agree with Carl. It's funny, I can remember the day like yesterday when there was three guys that worked on my race car and one of the guys would only let him do a certain amount of stuff, you know, because he didn't know -- couldn't set the wheel bearings or whatever. But he was good at putting body panels on ask doing other things. Roger and I were the only ones, I was the only one that worked on the car, I wouldn't let anybody else do it. I did all of the work myself and you appreciate so much now, like in the Craftsman Truck Series race, there's all of these people and the talent they have is incredible and the people keep getting better and better and better. It's definitely a team sport and we can't do what we do at all without the amount of effort and I'm very lucky to have I guy like Doug Richert heading up my program. He's been around the sport for a long, long time and knows a lot of people. He does a great job.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think when you look at the top 20 teams that are out there performing, it's fair to say that most of them have about the same operating budget, I would say, the Top 15, Top 20, Roush cars, Hendrick cars. If you go through and add them up, the money is there and what separates it are the people. Even on the individual teams it's all about communication. It's about working with each other and it really is about the people. So it's more of a team sport than I think anyone ever realized -- has realized. And trying to compare it to other sports, you look at a football team with the amount of players they have and Hendrick Motorsports has 515 employees or something crazy like that and everybody is responsible for something, building the engines, bodies, chassis, the parts we put on the cars; it truly is a team sport.

Q. Tony what does it mean personally to win a championship at this level? How does it change your life, or does it?

TONY STEWART: I'm not really sure that it changed my life but inside personally, you realize that you beat the best of the best. Reliving 2002, that off-season, I mean, I don't think there was anything that could go wrong. You felt like that you were at the top of your game, you felt like that all of the work that you had done earlier in your career, the sacrifices that you made in your personal life, all of those things that you do to do what we do, you feel like that's all paid off at that point and you feel like that is all worthwhile when you've accomplished a goal like this. The next day, I woke up, and I wasn't any taller, I wasn't any thinner and there wasn't anything different about me, just the personal satisfaction is what had really changed. So outside of that, it really wasn't a different world out there. Just the way you felt about yourself.

Q. Do you have a special reverence for the guys who have been multiple champions? Is that something you've thought about, that they are on an elite level, even above champions?

TONY STEWART: Yeah, guys that have not only done it once but done it multiple times; it's tough to win one, but it's even tougher to win multiple championships in any type, any division of racing. It's not saying that you've been lucky to get one. It just means that to be that good year after year and put yourself in that situation, showing consistency of your team and the talent of your team. So it's something we all strive for. Just like individual races, you always want to win that special race one time, but it even feels more special after you've won it a second time just to show everybody it wasn't a fluke; one of those teams that have done races and championships that way, it makes you respect them even more.

Q. For anybody who has a comment, it seems to me that this is more like a weigh-in before a prize fight, there being a good bit of trash talking maybe even good-natured. And you guys are so well-behaved and polite, just impeccably-mannered, so the question: Do none of you have just a dig you're dying to get in at somebody else?

TONY EDWARDS: We don't think that way because I'm the only one that's in the heavyweight division here. These guys are in the lightweight, and so we're not even competing against each other in all.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: We have 45 minutes in the back to get all of our jabs.

TONY STEWART: I'll be honest, I think that's what makes me respect this sport versus others. Yeah, we're all fighting for the same goal this weekend, but we're all in the same room eating lunch. We're joking around and I'm listening to Jimmie and Carl talk about riding motorcycles this week. Carl and I were talking about RCRs, we were proud of Biffle because he was almost going AWOL on us and missing the whole event because of a helicopter ride. We are all joking around about things. And that's probably what I respect the most this sport. Even though the goal is fighting hard against each other on the racetrack, at the end of the day, we are all friends and we all get along with each other and we all enjoy what we're doing. That's probably one of the gratifications of winning a championship, is you're competing against guys that you have respect for and that you like and that you can get along and have fun with.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: We do have a great deal of respect for one another, so that carries over here. But don't fool yourselves; when our helmets go on and we have 3,400 pounds around us, there are attitudes that show up on the track and we race each other hard, that's the way that it is, but we do respect one another. Everyone has won championships and races and I think that's just what you see up here on stage is that we all do respect one another.

GREG BIFFLE: I think I can add the same thing to what Jimmie said. I know how hard I've worked to be here and I know how much I've done and you have so much respect for the other guys, the other four guys sitting here and the other ten guys in the Chase because you know what they had to do. Because I know what I had to do to be here and how hard it's been and how it tests your patience and everything. It's a lot of high stress and pressure and takes a lot of ability to do what we do every week. So you have to respect your peers for them doing the same thing, and all three of these guys have done a little bit better than what we have done.

CARL EDWARDS: It's not a fight, it's not just me versus Tony or Jimmie versus Tony or whatever. We already talked about our team, there's so many people, it's like we're just the one that is get to go out and race these cars and it is really cool at the end of the day when you win, it's the most unbelievable feeling in the world. But last week at Phoenix for example, once the race was over, they threw the checkered flag and by the time I got to turn three, I was happy for Kyle Busch that he won that race. We all know what it takes and there's so many people behind the scenes, I don't know if it would do much good to be up here trash-talking one guy on the team; there's so many guys.

Q. Carl and Greg, Roush Racing sort of came into the Chase as the big story with all of the hoopla of having five cars in the playoffs, and with one race to go you're on the outside of the title hunt behind tony and Jimmie. If Roush doesn't win the championship this year after having half the field locked up, what do you think the mood is going to be like at Roush? Is some of the air going out of the balloon?

CARL EDWARDS: I don't think so. A lot of that comes from the fact that I think Tony brought it up, the championship and the points system that's in place doesn't always -- in my eyes, the penalty for a terrible day, for having a bad day is so large, you look at a team -- like Greg. Greg has got so many wins and is so unbelievable, just a couple of bad days in the Chase set him I can back. I don't think that it's because of our performance. I feel like we perform very well when everything is going well, our teams have done great. And if we don't win a championship, I don't think it will change our mood. I feel like when we go to the racetrack, I wouldn't change positions with everyone else. I feel like we have the best equipment and the best car. If we don't win the championship, that's okay. We'll just come back next year and do it.

GREG BIFFLE: I think it just goes to show that the team really didn't have a lot to do with it. It's five cars and drivers and the team owner. Matt has his own team and it would not be any different if those other teams were brought in by the -- filled in by Richard Childers or anything else. It's five teams and anything can happen to those five teams. The faces would look a lot different, I mean, if I wouldn't have had a loose wheel at Texas, I would be second. And if nothing else would have happened, Top-5 fin, I would be second place about 35 to 40 behind Tony right now. It would be a whole different story for me, and it's just one race. You can pinpoint any one race through there and you can lose a great deal; Talladega, any of them can be a big factor. So I don't think that anybody at Roush could be disappointed at all for just getting our five teams, and that's how solid of a program it is that we have in our power. Everybody has worked like Jimmie talked about, 500-plus people. There's no mistakes, no errors, great equipment, no failures, a whole season to put our five cars in there. And then once you're in there, it's every driver and the 20 people that are on that team for themselves and really, the team owner doesn't have a lot to do with that. But I don't think anybody can be disappointed with the way we've run in the Chase.

Q. Tony, last week you talked about how winning this championship personally, if you were to go on to win it, would be a lot more personally satisfying than the 2002 championship. Can you just sort of expand on that, please?

TONY STEWART: I think we covered it last week but for those that weren't here, just all of the turmoil that I put the team through in 2002 didn't let us enjoy it as much as I think we all wanted to. It definitely wasn't as gratifying for the team and for Greg Zipadelli, so it would be nice to get it done again this year and have a fairly clean season from that standpoint and have a fun season where we've all enjoyed the whole year versus it being a team that was plagued by turmoil all year.

JIM HUNTER: Curtis has something we want to say and then we're going to do a photo here on the stage and then we're going to move in for 20 minutes.

CURTIS GRAY: I just want to introduce everybody to really one of most important people in South Florida, especially to our racetrack, he flew in from London. He came here today, he's the gentleman responsible for bringing those Super Bowls to South Florida, I'd like to introduce to you Bill Talbert, he's the president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

BILL TALBERT: Thank you, Curtis. Let me officially welcome everybody here to Miami on behalf of a great team, talked about teams, we got 2.2 million permanent residents here. We've been getting ready for this race for a long time. We've got the finest track around, Homestead Miami Speedway, we've got great hotels. I think this is the first year we've put together a media hotel. Everybody okay with this hotel? A bunch of yes's. This is a French-owned hotel. Curtis is right, we just got in from London, a great interest in NASCAR in the race, the week before, I was in Rio, great interest there. We are so happy that NASCAR is here, we are so happy that you've made the decision, another ten years. We are committed, Curtis used the Super Bowl -- by the way, those are race fans coming in, folks are going to buy their tickets and are going to be here for this great race. We are glad you're here, we want you to be here forever. You're a Major League event, this is a Major League town, what place in the country can have the finalist be wearing sunglasses with the rest of the team out here. Have fun, we are very much committed to having fun in this town, about you we also work very hard. I don't have a hangover, and I won't have a hangover, I guess till Monday afternoon after the championships, but enjoy Miami. You're all winners here, you are all winners here and whatever we can do to make your stay much more enjoyable on behalf of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, in this great town, we are glad you're here, thank you very much.

JIM HUNTER: Okay. We're going to do a photo.

End of FastScripts...

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