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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 2, 2006
TRACEY JUDD: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR Nextel teleconference in advance of Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the fifth event in the Race to the Chase, the 10 races that precede the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.
First off, a quick reminder to media who will be at Indy, the Nextel Wake-Up Call is set for Friday at noon on the fourth floor of the Speedway Media Center. The guest will be four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner, Jeff Gordon.
Today we have a special addition of the weekly teleconference, befitting one of the biggest races on our schedule. First off, we are joined by reigning Series Champion, Tony Stewart, the driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet. Tony is, of course, also the defending champion of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
At approximately 2:30, we'll switch over and talk to the 2004 Bud Pole Winner at Indy, Casey Mears.
Then at 2:45 we'll bring on Tony's crew chief, Greg Zipadelli to also talk about Sunday's big race.
Tony, thanks for taking the time to join the call today, especially from your event benefitting Riley Hospital for Children. Thanks a lot.
TONY STEWART: My pleasure.
TRACEY JUDD: For the first time, you're returning to Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a defending race champion. How special is that to you?
TONY STEWART: It's very special, obviously. I think more so than just being special, though, it's making this week a very relaxed week where last year was a very tense and stressful week. I think for the first time we're actually going to be able to go there - and the first time in history, actually - kind of relax and have fun with it this week. I'm looking forward to a good weekend.
TRACEY JUDD: With the number of guests involved and with media on our call today, we ask that our media limit your questions to Tony to two. If you have further questions, go ahead and re-queue, and we'll do what we can to get back to you.
Now we'll go to questions from our media with our reigning Series Champion, Tony Stewart.
Q. The circumstances overall at Pocono notwithstanding, you seemed to have a car that ran awfully good there despite the battering it took. Do you think the Run-well-at-Pocono, Run-well-at-Indy Theory applies here? Do you feel good about the way your car was, and does it apply to Indy?
TONY STEWART: I hope it does. I'm not sure if it still works that way or not, to be honest. We hope it does, obviously. Our car worked really good there.
I think the pack seems to be working at places like Pocono and Indy, are very similar, but I'm not sure if it's a dead-nuts telltale that it's going to be exactly that way.
I think the same suspects run in the top 10, and that's probably where the winner is going to come out of, or somebody that ran in the top 10 all day. I think it's close. I don't know if it's exactly the way it used to be the last couple years where everybody knew for sure that that's pretty much the case.
Q. One other thing about Pocono. Sort of similar to the situation that happened with Matt at Daytona where you seemed to have a very, very good car in the Daytona 500 and ended up going to the back of the line because of the incident with Matt, are you in any way focusing on these sudden instincts of payback or whatever, and that they're costing you, or do you feel like you just got to race the way you know how to race?
TONY STEWART: I mean, you got to race the way you know how to race, but at the same time, I mean, knowing what the penalties are for actions definitely are weighing into our mind in the future as far as what we're going to do and how we're going to handle situations.
You know, I think we've kind of learned from situations if something happens, you make your adjustments accordingly. I don't think you'll see any of that this weekend at the Brickyard.
Q. The Brickyard, you know, this is like your home race. It's a race that has meant a lot to you. I just want to know, what would it be like to be there on Victory Lane again this year for you?
TONY STEWART: Just like last year.
Q. Okay. And this year, you know, things have been a little bumpier road this summer than it was last year when you really took off here in Sonoma and kept going. What's been the mood on your team this summer?
TONY STEWART: It's been about the same. I mean, obviously, we're not on the high streak that we were last year at this time. But the good thing is that our cars are all driving really well. The performance on track has been great. The finishes haven't exactly been exactly where we want it, but at least the way we're running on the racetrack has been very well. We've all been excited from that standpoint. I think everybody's morale is still as high as it was last year, just we're not on that emotional high that we've been on from winning back-to-back races before the Brickyard.
Q. I was just wondering, you've had kind of an up-and-down time this past season. Right now, do you feel like you guys have a solid shot at moving up a few spots in the ranking, and is it too soon to have a sense of urgency with six races to go before the Chase?
TONY STEWART: You know, in all honesty, we just take it a race at a time. I mean, that's, I think, the only way you can take it because you can't predict anything that's going to happen or how things are going to work. I think you always have to just take it, you know, one race at a time.
You know, our attitude and approach has always just been go out and try to win the race. And if you win the race, the points take care of itself. So if we can go out and do that, we don't have to worry about the rest of it.
As far as we're concerned, it's just a matter of going out and doing what we do every week and trying to, you know, get ourselves in a position to win every single week that we go on the racetrack.
Q. I'm working a week ahead for Watkins Glen. Could you just explain, you know, how you came about becoming so, like, dominant on road courses? You've come from an oval racing background. Is there something that clicked for you a few years ago? Can you explain to me why you feel so comfortable out there.
TONY STEWART: Well, I mean, like today, we're at Newcastle at the Go Cart track that Mark built. Mark was very instrumental in my racing career in Go Carts. I won a national championship on road courses driving Go Carts for him and his father's Go Cart shop.
I think my carting background - even though, you know, as far as full-size cars, you didn't see a lot of road racing in my background - the fact that I did race Go Carts taught me a lot about road course racing. It was just a matter of learning and adapting to a 3,400 pound car on a road course.
I never had to shift gears when I ran the Go Carts. Just took a while learning what to do shifting gears to figure out what we had to do to be fast.
Q. You guys have a pretty strong road racing program. Other teams have also played catchup over the years. This is only two races a year you guys go road course racing. How important is it to Gibbs and the other teams to do well, even if it's only two races?
TONY STEWART: Everybody's always practicing before Sonoma to get ready. A lot of the teams go to VIR to practice and test and try different things to make their programs better.
So whether you're a team that's already had road course success and feel like you're on top of the game, or whether it's a team that feels like they're struggling just to get on par on the road courses, everybody's testing to prepare for it, so it's obviously a big deal to everybody.
Q. We've heard you talk about this being your "hell week" before and how you're besieged by virtually everybody you've ever known in Indianapolis. I'm wondering, does that part of it get easier now that you've won this thing? Is that part of the stress that you've been able to ease back now that you're defending champion?
TONY STEWART: That, and I think we cut our schedule back. I mean, last year we had so many appearances. I think we had three different interviews at my house, different interviews where we were running around, different locations. This year we're not doing any of that. I mean, we're just sticking to our normal weekly race schedule.
So I think, you know, cutting back on our schedule this week, plus the fact that we have won the race, I think that's taken a lot of the pressure off. It's definitely made for a lot more enjoyable week. Like I say, I'm doing this charity event at Newcastle for Riley Children's Hospital. I've got a Home Depot appearance tonight. Tomorrow, if everything works out right in Ryan's schedule, Ryan Newman and I are going to go down to my property and fish for the afternoon. Then I've got Silver Crown race tomorrow night.
We've tried to make our schedule as streamlined as possible, and trying to fit in some fun things like taking Ryan fishing to our lake tomorrow, just trying to find some fun things that we can plug into our schedule to kind of keep us grounded and let us enjoy the week.
I'm excited about this week. I mean, I think it's probably the best that we've done and probably the easiest schedule that we've had. It starts today, obviously, but, you know, we don't have so many things on the schedule that, you know, we don't have time to ourselves to do personal things that will give us a chance to relax. So I think it's gonna be a fun week.
Q. I think it's kind of cool that you're going fishing with Ryan Newman. Can you talk about how that came about? There was talk in the garage that years ago drivers could hang out and tell stories and lean on the tires and really get to know each other before and after races. Now you're all so booked up, there's not a lot of time to do stuff like hang out with Ryan Newman anymore.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, Ryan has got an appearance tomorrow in southern Indiana and then he's going back up to Indianapolis. Where I live in Columbus, Indiana, is right on the way. It just works out great. I mean, Ryan likes to fish. I love fishing. Last two months, my lake got stocked. And, you know, we always talk about our fishing sprees. Just got together with Ryan. If everything works out right tomorrow, we'll both get to go together and get a chance to take him out there.
But, you know, a lot of us do try to do things together. I'm real close with Kevin Harvick. We try to do things together whenever we have a chance. I've been on the Kyle Petty Charity Ride and rode with Matt and Katie Kenseth, and Michelle Green and Matt (indiscernible) guys.
When we have times in our schedule that our schedules mesh together and we're in the same areas, we do like to do things with each other because we're around each other all the time but, like you say, most of the time our schedules don't work out to where that can happen for us.
Ryan and I being from Indiana and everything, it's a good opportunity for us. And if he gets busy and can't do it tomorrow, we'll find another time where we can. We'll get a chance to get him out there for sure
Q. What are you fishing for? Are you setting up the tackle box, or is he?
TONY STEWART: I'm keeping my secret weapon lures in case he gets a lead on me with how many fish he catches. I'll keep track of that.
No, he'll have the same stuff we've got, basically. It's not as competitive as it is with the racing. We'll have fun with it. The good thing is we've already got rods and reels lined up for him in case he doesn't bring his own. We've got lures that we know are going to catch fish tomorrow. Big thing is just to make sure that he has a good time, he relaxes tomorrow, and has fun.
Q. The list of winners at the Brickyard is pretty much the A List of drivers over the years. What is it about the Brickyard or this race in general that allows the team to rise to the top?
TONY STEWART: I don't know. I mean, I just think the teams treat it just like they do - or pretty much like they do - the Daytona 500. I think it's just one of those racetracks that the marquee teams and marquee drivers always seem to do well at. It's a very technical track even though, you know, you look at it and you think it's just four 90 degree corners, it's just a very technical track depending on wind, heat and track conditions. It seems like the best-of-the-best always end up kind of rising to the top with that race.
Q. My question for you is this. Do you expect that when you get to the Speedway and you walk in that it's going to feel a whole lot different for you having, you know, gotten a win there, something that you've wanted your whole life, versus showing up and still trying to go for it? Is it just going to feel really good to you and really special, and, you know, take a few minutes to enjoy being a defending winner?
TONY STEWART: I know it's going to be different. I know it's going to be a fun feeling. When we went there for the open test, it was a totally different feeling than in the past when we've been there. That's why I'm, you know, 100% sure that it's going to be a fun weekend no matter what the outcome is, just knowing that we won that race, knowing that we're the defending champion going into it this year, and have had the crown for a year, so to speak.
Still, at the end of the day, no matter we win, lose, draw, when I go home Sunday night, I still got my trophy there from last year's win. I know it's going to make it a lot more fun this weekend. Just not having to answer the question all weekend of what would it feel like to win is going to be huge. Having that pressure from the media side was always as much of the stress as anything. Not having to answer that question this year, you know, because we won it last year is going to take a lot of that pressure off right away.
Q. Where do you have your trophy? Is it somewhere more special than the others?
TONY STEWART: No, it's sitting right beside my Winston Cup trophy and my Nextel Cup trophy. My three most prized possessions are there together.
Q. Which room are they in?
TONY STEWART: They're in my living room, family room, whatever you want to call it.
Q. Your on-track influence has been brought into question. Your temper and attitude on the track is similar to a few years ago when there were some issues. How do you respond to that?
TONY STEWART: I don't. I mean, it's just, you know, something we don't respond to. It's a changing time in NASCAR. There's rookies in the Series that are trying to change it, the way that we race, and we're not going to do that. So, you know, I guess we just don't respond to it.
Q. I understand your role of trying to be a teacher in some situations like that. Do you feel at times you're viewed as a dinosaur, that other drivers aren't supporting you and teaching the rookies that way, or is there enough support out there to teach these rookies?
TONY STEWART: I think more than anything, you know, everybody hates change and everybody hates controversy in this Series because of the situation I'm in right now, having to talk about it all the time. You know, trust me, I'm not the only driver that's thinking the way that I've had to talk about the last few weeks. The other drivers just kind of let it go because they don't want to have to be in the middle of the controversy. I've always been one that spoke my mind.
It's like last week and it's like we said in our press release Monday, I mean, Clint Bowyer didn't cause the wreck, I caused the wreck, but there were circumstances that led up to it that could have been avoided also.
You know, it's a learning thing for everybody else. You know, I committed the crime. I paid the (indiscernible) that went on afterwards. Like I said, there was a lot that went on after that, too, that went on that a lot of people didn't talk about. It's funny from our standpoint how selective people are about who they write about and who they don't.
Q. Tony, I got to see the movie last night "Talladega Nights," the Ricky Bobby story. I was wondering, Dale Junior had a cameo in that thing. I was wondering, were you close to being in the movie? What do you think about the movie even though it kind of presents some stereotypes? It seems like NASCAR has given it its blessing and are laughing with their selves along with everyone else?
TONY STEWART: I mean, from everything that we've seen on the commercials, it's going to be an awesome movie. It is a comedy. You look at all kinds of comedy movies. There's situations in society that's getting poked fun at. I think NASCAR is thick-skinned, take it for what it is, and that it's something that's supposed to entertain people. Still, at the end of the day, it brings NASCAR racing into people's minds.
I wasn't approached about it. I'm excited to see it. I'm excited to see, you know. I was just talking to somebody while I was on my way to the cart track here today. We were talking about going on Friday to see it. I'm as excited as everybody else is to see it come out.
Q. I know you talked about this earlier in the season, being the senior guy on the Gibbs Racing team. Could you talk about the development, obviously, Denny Hamlin has done. J.J. Yeley has had better finishes lately. Is he catching up to Denny?
TONY STEWART: Hope so. I mean, it's not a competition between the teams, but, you know, obviously Denny has won three races this year with the two at Pocono and the Bud Shootout at Daytona. He's had a great year, obviously.
And J.J., it's taking him a little more time to get used to the cars, but I think his progress is coming along real well, too.
This isn't something that you look at and you say, you know, in six months it's got to be at the top of his game. You know, it's that competitive, the Series is, these days, but if you look at how far they have both come along, obviously Denny has really come along real well in a short amount of time. J.J. is starting to come around, too.
I think from both ends of it, I think we're really pleased with the way both drivers are developing.
Q. Having raced in two difference disciplines, Indy cars and now NASCAR, what is it you've learned in each one and what has given you an advantage? And after winning last year, does that give you an advantage this year?
TONY STEWART: I wish I could say it did, but it doesn't. I mean, every year is a different year. Technology changes. Setups change, you know, and improve. Just because you're successful the year before at a racetrack doesn't mean you're going to be successful this year at the same racetrack.
But, you know, driving the Indy cars there, there's absolutely nothing I took away from Indy car racing at the Brickyard that helps me at stock. It's kind of comparing apples to oranges. They're really, on the spectrum of auto racing, they're really on total opposite ends from each other. Just two different styles of driving and two different approaches per division.
Q. Do you think that explains why there's only been two repeat winners of that race in particular?
TONY STEWART: I just think it's kind of like the Daytona 500. It's just a tough race to win. I mean, you have to be on 100%. If you're a little bit off, that track is so technical that if you're a little bit off, it shows up very big because it has four corners versus two. It just seems like the guys that have that good day and really hit that pack as far as setup is concerned, that's why it's so hard. With it changing every year it seems like, setups for that style of track have changed so drastically over the last two or three years, I think that's part of the reason you haven't seen but two or three guys that have been repeat winners.
Q. Going back to the aggressive attitude and lack of patience, how much different is it this year than in past years? Is it getting more aggressive and less patient as the season goes on?
TONY STEWART: Well, I think with the competition getting closer and closer, it makes everybody more impatient inherently. But at the same time, I think what the situation is, is that you got young guys that have great amounts of talent that deserve the rides that they're in. But when you got in lower rides and got into the Series - luckily, I was one of the drivers that was at the kind of front edge of this trend that's going on now - you know, drivers before me kind of had to run mediocre cars or mid-packed cars and you learned a lot about give-and-take and the patience it took to run 500-mile races.
Now, you got these young guys. The age keeps getting younger and younger. You can't blame them; they're 19-, 20-, 21-year-old drivers that want to go out and they got cars and talent that can win them races. But the style of racing, being 500-mile races, some of these short tracks that are 500 laps, they don't realize what happens in the first hundred miles or first laps of the race really doesn't mean anything, you're just really working on your car and trying to work on your equipment and get yourself in a position at the end of the race to win.
It's a problem that's getting worse. At the same time, I mean, hopefully we won't have many more instances like we had at Pocono to try to show these guys that, hey, you got to be patient. I mean, you can sit and talk to them all day long, but sometimes it takes more than that once in a while.
Q. Do you think if NASCAR cracked down once in a while you wouldn't have to execute frontier justice on them?
TONY STEWART: I think so, you know. But at the same time, I mean, it's like NASCAR's always said, the drivers kind of police themselves. That's where, you know, it kind of gets a little hairy at times. I mean, I think I went a little overboard at Pocono for sure on my side of it, but, you know, I was frustrated that I got pushed in the wall. Even though the damage wasn't much, it was just the idea that we shouldn't have had to be in that position that early in the race.
Like we said earlier, I want to make sure everybody understands that I'm changing what I - I guess it sounded a little different than what I may have said. Clint Bowyer was not the one that caused the accident; I was the one that caused the accident, but stuff with Clint was what led up to it. Just making sure that everybody understands that we're not blaming; I take full responsibility for it.
Q. Does your mentality change from when you're outside of a race car to when you're inside the race car? And if so, how? Outside of the race car, inside the race car, it seems like you're almost two different people?
TONY STEWART: You're competitive. I mean, I'm competitive when I'm outside the car, too. That's what I do for a living and that's my job, is doing what I do on Sundays. You know, I don't know if you're into competitive sports at all, but when you're in any kind of competitive sport, I mean, you're obviously a different person than you are when you're out with your family. It's not that you're two different people, it's just, you know, we're in a sport where you have to be aggressive and you have to be emotional about what you do, and that's what we do.
Q. When you talk about patience for rookies, the other side of that equation is when you used to come into the sport, they gave you three or four years to prove your level. Now, if you're 20 years old, 25 years old, 35 years old, you got a first-rate car, people expect you to win, guys have their lost jobs. Can you talk at least about what factor that is. I know you understand all that. But does it factor into that impatience these guys are showing? Is that a factor of the pressure they're under, too?
TONY STEWART: I think so, but I think it goes back to using your head. I mean, if you're racing guys that early in the race and you're putting yourself in a position where you can tear up your car, bend a fender or do something where you make that car a tenth of a second slower than what it would be if you didn't get yourself in that situation and tear it up early in a race, you're not using your head and putting yourself in a good situation to be fast at the end of a race.
I think that's part of the process. I think it is kind of unfair for these young drivers. I mean, I think so much pressure is put on them, and unfair pressure at that. I think these car owners are scouting these drivers at such a young age so that I think it's unfair for the guys that are coming in now. I think it's a situation that if these drivers are hired by, you know, these car owners, that the car owners shouldn't have the right to just trade them out like baseball cards at the end of the year if they're not getting it done. I mean, they're putting these drivers in those situations, and they're basically putting the drivers in situations that could be career-ending decisions for a lot of these guys if they don't produce right away. I think it's unrealistic for, you know...
I think guys like Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer are exceptions to the rule here, but I don't think everybody's that talented right off the bat to where they can go out and be in competitive cars and run well right away.
I think if the car owners are making these commitments to get these drivers in the car and want to work that hard to get them in there, they need to give them a full three years to prove themselves instead of these one-and-done years that a lot of these drivers have had happen in the last couple years.
Q. One other thing. Who does the rookie meetings now? I guess I've lost track of that. Who is the driver who does the rookie meetings?
TONY STEWART: I don't know. I don't know who does them anymore.
Q. Can you explain to people who might not be as familiar with the sport as many of us are how you have a run-in with Ryan, how you have a run-in with Matt, and now you're going fishing with Ryan, motorcycles with Matt. What is the process in that where you guys just keep going forward?
TONY STEWART: It's fairly simple. I mean, I think there's days that you go to work and you may have a disagreement with somebody, too, but it passes. You know, when you're on the track, you only see it from one perspective. After the race is over, you have the ability to see the other driver's perspective. A lot of times it's just lack of communication or miscommunication from the drivers' standpoint with each other. You know, it's not like we can sit there and directly talk to each other during a race. So a lot of times it's miscommunication through the spotters or just lack of communication, period.
So, you know, I think for all of us, we're all smart enough to realize that we work with each other 38 weeks a year. It's not a fun feeling being out there running 200 miles an hour having to worry about somebody each week. It's, like I said, when you have the opportunity to sit down afterwards and understand what's going on from each other's side, even if you disagree with each other after it's all said and done, you at least have the respect for each other and what you're doing to put it aside and go back to doing what you need to do the next weekend.
Q. I'm looking a little bit ahead here on Bristol. I was going to ask you, how nerve-wracking is it for you guys coming this close to the Chase to go to a track like this where it's so easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?
TONY STEWART: It's not. I mean, it's that way for everybody. If you were singled out and it was a nerve-wracking place for you, it would be one thing. But considering it's the same for everybody, it puts everybody in that same position. I think from our standpoint, I'd like to believe that, you know, we try not to get ourselves in too many positions like that to where something can happen to us, you know. Granted, I can put myself in a position that creates havoc for us, but, you know, I think with the situation the way it is, I think we'll be pretty good about staying away from situations like that
Q. Is there any kind of words of wisdom that you have about being successful and running up front at Bristol?
TONY STEWART: You know, it's kind of the same thing we always talk about and what we were talking about earlier. Bristol is a 500-lap race. If you're out there racing your guts out a hundred laps into it and not being patient, normally it ends up biting you because that's a place that's very, very hard to pass. You know, somebody's faster than you, you normally -- if you got the patience to work with the guys, you know, you're 200 laps into the race, still doesn't mean anything. A lot of times that same guy will work with you again. It seems like if you can work really good with the field and the pack like that, you keep yourself out of situations where you feel like you have to pressure somebody and put yourself in a compromising position to get by.
It just seems like the better you can take care of your car, the last 150 laps are what really count there. Just seems like the first 350 laps you work on your car, trying to get yourself in a position to be good for that last 150.
TRACEY JUDD: All right, we appreciate that stuff. Thanks, Tony.
Casey Mears has joined us on the call, so we'll hand it off to him. We appreciate you taking the time today and best of luck to you this weekend at the Brickyard.
TONY STEWART: Thank you. If Casey has tomorrow off, he's more than welcome to come fish with us, too.
CASEY MEARS: I might take it off.
TRACEY JUDD: We're now joined by Casey Mears, driver of the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge and, as we noted earlier, the 2004 pole sitter at Indianapolis. Casey recently got his first NASCAR National Series win at the NASCAR Busch Series event at Chicagoland Speedway.
Casey, thanks for taking the time to join us today.
CASEY MEARS: Thank you. I just want to say I apologize that I'm a little hard to understand. I lost my voice a little bit.
TRACEY JUDD: I understand you were on a pretty long flight last night. We appreciate you joining us.
Hey, your family has quite a bit of Indy history. What's it like to come back here and race each year?
CASEY MEARS: It's just awesome. I mean, out of every place that we run, this is the place I probably look forward to the most. You know, one, the track is a lot of fun. Obviously, it's got a lot of history. Then, you know, having the family history in the background here as well just makes it much more exciting to me.
TRACEY JUDD: We'll now take a few questions from our media for Casey Mears.
Q. Casey, what was it like for you to win the pole, and how exciting was that for you that day?
CASEY MEARS: Well, I know that it was one of the most special days I ever had in motorsports. I mean, my uncle ran several times at the Speedway. It's one of the tracks that's most special to me because of everything that's happened in the past, because of Rick doing so well here in the past. It was just awesome.
I mean, what was crazy about that was we were one of the cars that went out early, and the track continued to cool off the whole time. But it was such a great lap that it would have been really hard for somebody to beat. We were riding out the rest of qualifying (indiscernible). It was pretty nerve-wracking. But to actually come home with that pole, you know, was just huge.
Q. What would it mean to you to win the race?
CASEY MEARS: You know, it's hard to put it in words unless I actually win it because I don't know. But out of every race out there, this is the one I want to win the most. Just I feel like, you know, in the past, I tried to qualify for the Speedway there. Didn't do it in 2000, 2001. Just didn't have the team to do it with, and missed the show.
To come back, stock cars now, sit on the pole, we had a car that was just awesome last year - we ended up 6th. Should have been better than that. I feel like the guys have done a very good job of building a new race car for us for the Speedway that we tested. It works really well.
So I'm very excited about our chances this weekend, and this is definitely the biggest race I could run.
Q. Is there any talk at all about you moving over to Hendrick before the end of the season?
CASEY MEARS: No, no. I've talked with Chip and they've got full intentions right now of finishing out the year. They want to make sure that, one, just be prepared as we possibly can be going into next season before we make any decisions.
Q. What are your earliest memories about Indy, being there with your uncle and your family?
CASEY MEARS: Well, you know what's kind of crazy is the Speedway always had rules when I was growing up that you couldn't (indiscernible) unless you were 18. The year that my dad actually ran the race and tried to qualify in the early '80s, I actually stayed home with the family through that whole month of May. I couldn't get in the pits. My mom was there to support my dad. She wanted to be in the pits to support him.
My earliest memory, you know, were on televisions, and watching Rick run, and on TV, and my dad would head back home for the race on the weekend. My first time I ever looked at the Speedway was actually probably in '94; might have been earlier than that, '93 or '94. I won a youth championship, and it was Indianapolis, and Ryan Barnhardt took me around the track. I was nervous (indiscernible).
Q. Were those family gatherings in Bakersfield?
CASEY MEARS: Oh, yeah. My whole family got together every year to watch the Indy 500 and support Rick. Still, to this day, when I see that finish, you know, that pass that Rick made on Michael Andretti, outside there for the 91, just gives me chills. I can remember exactly where I was sitting in between the chair and the couch, watching TV in my living room that night.
Q. Any family members of yours going to be there this weekend?
CASEY MEARS: My grandparents. My grandparents will be here, my mother and father. I don't think Rick's going to be able to make it out, but everybody else is going to be back home.
Q. I have a question for you. I think I have an idea of your answer. What driver from another series other than NASCAR do you most admire, and why? It doesn't have to be a current driver.
CASEY MEARS: You know, that's a difficult answer. Obviously, not current drivers, my dad and my uncle were the biggest guys I ever looked up to and respected the most for racing.
Q. Your dad?
CASEY MEARS: My dad and my uncle both. They were both very influential on my racing career and my life. It would be hard to name somebody above and beyond those guys.
But, you know, there's several people in a lot of the series that I respect and admire for what they've done. You know, a guy like Steve Kenyon who's won so many races and been so dedicated over the years is a guy that I respect and admire.
You know, the guys on the Indy car side like obviously Mario and AJ and guys like that in the past, I hugely admire. They've all got different traits and there's not one that really I could put ahead of the other in my mind because they're so different. But, you know, several people.
Obviously, on the stock car side of things, you know, the Richard Pettys and Davey Allisons, all the guys that have done so well throughout the years and over the years. Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott. There's so many guys I respect and admire. Try to take a little bit of all that of and look at some of the guys in the past and try to build my career based on, you know, little things that I can learn from all of them while I watch them.
Q. From another series, you said, you know, currently, Steve?
CASEY MEARS: Yeah, that would be (indiscernible) because he just does so much racing. Those guys win so many races a year and they're so successful and so dedicated for so many years.
Q. Thanks for coming on with your voice being in such rough shape.
CASEY MEARS: Absolutely. Thank you.
Q. When everyone tested, there were some questions about tire performance, tire wear specifically. What was your experience with that at the test? Are there any concerns coming into this weekend with tires?
CASEY MEARS: I don't think there's too much concern. This track, typically, when it's gray and doesn't have a lot of rubber on the track wears tires out very fast no matter what series you're in, Indy car, stock car.
The only concern that I would have is if it rains the night before the race really hard and washed a lot of rubber off the track, they might need to throw a competition yellow just to check the tires.
But after the track gets rubbered up, there's no tire wear issue. In the test, we were seeing some tires wear out in the 10 to 15 lap rounds, which is very, very early, actually, getting down into the core. But as the test went on, got past lunch, they were running 30, 40 lap range on tires. So I don't think it's going to be an issue.
Q. My question is, you have so many family members who have done so well and know Indy like the back of their hands. Do you get a lot of advice from those family members about how to win here?
CASEY MEARS: Absolutely. I mean, my dad's been there before, given me some advice. I think the guy I've spent the most time talking to is Rick. Just a couple weeks ago we were talking about the track after the test, and just the way that he approached the track and little things that he thought were the most crucial and critical areas to consider, and he's been a huge help with running this place.
Q. Does that apply even to how you race?
CASEY MEARS: Absolutely. I mean, I think that even though, you know, we're on the brakes harder, we're off the gas longer, the gas later in a stock car, you know, the way that you approach the track and you approach the corner are the same. A lot of the things I described that I was feeling, Rick was agreeing with, then again saying how he got around the track and I could agree with how that felt in a stock car.
Even though it's not identical, the way that you approach this particular track, you know, is the same or pretty close in Indy cars and stock cars.
Q. Could you compare or contrast the atmosphere in the city of Indianapolis and at the racetrack on the 500 weekend and on the 400 weekend? Is there a sense of a buzz?
CASEY MEARS: Yeah, you know, early on, you know, before they split, the Indy 500 was just so crazy. I mean, (indiscernible). You know, it died down a little bit after the split. I know that they're in the process of rebuilding it and it's getting better.
But honestly, nowadays, you know, I haven't been around the Indy 500 enough to comment too much on how it compares to the stock car side, but for the Brickyard 400, it's just unbelievable. I mean, the amount of fans and the people that show up for this event are just huge, and they seem to show up earlier and earlier every year. You know, for an event that's just on the weekend as opposed to a month, it's pretty amazing the amount of people that you see from the sponsors and all the vendors and everybody else outside the track as well.
But there's definitely a buzz. You hear about it on the news. You wake up in the morning and they're talking about the race coming up. Everybody you talk to has got it on their minds.
Q. In the garages as well, is there a sense of bigness?
CASEY MEARS: There is. You know what, I've seen it grow even in the short, you know, four years that I've been here. The interest in the Brickyard 400 is getting bigger and bigger and is becoming more and more important to these teams. Obviously, Daytona has always been an important race to the stock car teams, but I think that Indy is definitely not first of all, but a lot of people think of it as a close second to Daytona and it just keeps growing every year.
Q. Casey, I'm curious. What are your thoughts on what Tony Stewart shared today and in the past about some of the younger drivers maybe not knowing the code or the way things are done or the way things used to be done? Do you agree, or do you disagree?
CASEY MEARS: You know, I didn't get to hear Tony's comments today and I really haven't heard them in the past. I think what Tony has been talking about, you know, there needs to be respect all the way around. When I race Tony, when I'm touching him this early in the race, he's real quick to float you by, not waste time. That's something that a lot of older drivers have always done in the past.
There is a little bit of a code and, you know, he's probably one of the best at it, him and Mark Martin, some of the guys that (indiscernible). I think if you talk to new drivers coming in, you know, I think the year that I came in four years ago, there was still a lot of drivers around that used that code. From the last four years that I've been here, it's changed so much that I don't think a lot of - and I understand what Tony is talking about - but I don't think a lot of drivers still use that same code or thought.
I know Ryan Newman is one of those guys. But, you know, he's never in a rough spot. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you're running 30th, he's there, running as hard as he possibly can regardless. That's the way he races, that's fine, but you just got to realize that.
But it has changed. I don't think that it's something you can dwell on or really complain about it. I know Tony gets upset about it a lot because he gives and expects it back. I've learned a lot from him. When I've been around Tony, I race him the way he races me. It has changed a little bit over the years. At the same time, I think that the whole sport as a whole has changed over the years (indiscernible).
Q. Another writer pointed out the pressure, you guys just don't have as much time to establish yourselves, sort of learn how things are. People want results right away. Another writer I think correctly pointed that out. Do you agree that that's a factor in all of this stuff going on at times with the younger guys?
CASEY MEARS: Well, what's happened is, and I was fortunate when I came in, I just didn't have experience. Chip knew that. I'd say, Hey I'm going to need at least three or four years here. The first couple years are going to be rough, and they understood that. I was fortunate that I got a couple of years to show what I could do.
Nowadays, you're right. You got guys like, you know, Mike Vickers that came in a few years ago, Kyle Busch, you got Carl Edwards. They're coming in, they're running really good right out of the gate, and others are seeing that. Now what happens, they realize (indiscernible) if you're doing the scouting and trying to find the right person, they're realizing they can put a young guy in the seat and run well right out of the gate. If you don't come in and do something in the first couple of years, they're gonna be quicker now to go try to find one of those young guys.
Q. Thanks a lot. Enjoy yourself in Indy.
CASEY MEARS: Thank you.
Q. I'm working a little bit ahead on Bristol here. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom on how to get your car around that track in one piece?
CASEY MEARS: I wish I did. I've never really got around there in one piece.
The biggest thing that I think is key to Bristol right out of the gate is qualifying. You know, a good qualifying position at Bristol is key. That's one thing that I've always been weak out there, I've always qualified in the mid 20s, you know, to high teens. You get right in the mix of that whole pack and you get caught up in everything.
But really just being patient, you know, not getting too aggressive too early. It's a long race. Trying to keep all the fenders on your car.
The problem a lot of times there is really a lot of problems you get mixed up in aren't your fault. You're running so tight and so close, chances of being caught in part of a situation that's not yours are very high. In the meantime, if you try to keep your fenders clean, make some friends while you're out there, not rip anybody up too much the first three-quarters of the race, you set yourself up for the last, you know, eighty, a hundred laps, is probably the way to approach that race.
Q. I mean, you're getting closer to the Chase. There's a lot of guys on the borderline coming into Bristol. Do tempers overflow a little bit more?
CASEY MEARS: You could probably say that. But I think that, you know, everybody has the same mindset when they go to Bristol regardless of the outcome. There are very few guys at the time that you have to think about getting through the next run at Bristol, trying not to let the guy behind you run over you. I think the last thing that's going to be on everybody's mind is, you know, who they're racing for points.
You know, obviously, it might come into play a little bit more. People might get a little bit more aggressive knowing that, you know, they might be able to put their selves in the top spot a little bit easier, but I think that's all part of Bristol, as well. It's an aggressive race as it is. I don't see it being much more aggressive from the situation of points.
Q. Casey, you have a job on the track, you have a job off the track. Which is more stressful for you, and why?
CASEY MEARS: I don't know. I mean, I don't really view much any of it as stress. You know, when your day's going good, it's all easy. I think when the days are going bad is when all that is stressful. It's difficult outside the track when you've had a bad day and the last thing you want to do is talk to anybody and you just want to go home but you got to do interviews, you got to put on that face, that (indiscernible) straight face, and that's when you're saying the proper things and that's difficult.
And also with the fans, you got the fans that are great, great fans. There are a lot of good people that support me. There's those times where it's difficult to put on that smile, happy face, and sign an autograph when you've had one of the worst days of your life.
It's both equally tough. It's a balance. The reason why I say it's equal is because it's an (indiscernible). The way that NASCAR has our sport, you know, while you're doing your job, in between getting out of the car and talking to your crew chief and walking to transport, you're dealing with fans and media. It's not really a separate issue. It's more of both, actually.
At the end of the day, it's something that I love, I love both sides of it. I love the fact that we get the support from the fans and the media. I also love the fact that I get to race. You know, it's a combination of things that you can look at stressful, but obviously you're trying to make the day the best you can (indiscernible).
TRACEY JUDD: Casey, we appreciate you taking the time today even though you're a little bit under the weather with your voice. Hopefully, you'll find it in time for this weekend. Best of luck to you at Indy, and thanks for taking the time today.
CASEY MEARS: Thank you very much.
TRACEY JUDD: Our third and final guest on today's call is Greg Zipadelli, crew chief on the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet of Tony Stewart. Zippy has been the crew chief for both of Tony's and his team's Series Championship-winning seasons in 2002 and last year in 2005.
Zippy, thanks for being on the call with us today and bringing it home.
GREG ZIPADELLI: No problem. Thank you for having me.
TRACEY JUDD: Can you talk about the challenges that the racetrack at Indianapolis presents from a crew chief's perspective.
GREG ZIPADELLI: I mean, we just always fight, you know. The racetrack just seems to be tight for our type of cars and my drivers' driving styles. Seems like we always fight and can't get enough downforce. Things of that nature.
It's an incredible place with the speed and the sensation you get just walking into that place, you know, and knowing the history of it is pretty unique.
TRACEY JUDD: All right, thanks, Zippy. We'll go to questions for Greg Zipadelli.
Q. As not only Tony's crew chief all these years but sort of his private counselor around the racetracks at times, when you see a situation like Pocono, sort of that split-second reaction to payback, and that sort of thing, it's cost Tony in a couple races this year. Do you feel like you just got to let him race like he's been trained to race, or do you think that he and you and both of you working on sort of cutting back on those sort of reflex reactions like that?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I don't know, I mean, you cut back on them much. You want your driver to be as aggressive as he can be, as aggressive as he can be comfortable. But there is a line there when it ends up costing you, you know what I mean, or your team something, because somebody else did something to you.
You know, that's balance, and we fight those things in all different kinds of ways in our life. We fight them at the racetrack, and on that day that guys are sitting in their cars, it's 130, 40 degrees (indiscernible). Sitting there, telling him to stay after it, you know what I mean, run as hard as he can and all those other things, and you get those situations.
You know, Tony is probably one of the most intense people out there. The fact that when he races or gets in there, I mean, he just elevates himself from the adrenaline standpoint. You stay focused on, you know, one thing. The sport right now, there's a lot of things you have to focus on and try to get that balance.
Q. Also, it seemed like you all had an awful good race car, all the other circumstances at Pocono notwithstanding, no matter how much of a beating it took. Do you think the formula still applies if you got a race car that runs good at Pocono, you go into Indy with a pretty good handle on things, you got a car that will run good at Indy?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Years ago, a couple years ago, it seemed like that was really truly the case. We were on the same tire. A lot of the same things applied. It seems like to me or to us, our race team, it has gone two different directions. You know, our parameter geometry is significantly different. I think it's a big part of the way we're racing these cars and traveling in the front so much and keeping the back up that when you go to Indy, you don't have the bumps to deal with.
The racetrack is so smooth. You don't necessarily have three different corners, you know what I mean? You have two different ones and, you know, the wind plays a big part at Indy because it will blow across and make you loose at one end and tight at the other and vice versa. These are some of the issues you deal with there.
For us, last year we ran good at Pocono. We won Indy. They were two completely, 180 degree different things. There may be some people that have stuff that they can go from one track to the other. The tires are so different that we're going to race on this week from what we had last week, so that has an awful lot to do with how your car performs and what you need to do to it today.
Q. Last year, Tony gave you a lot of credit for keeping him grounded and settled down, and you guys had a wonderful summer, went on a real tear. What's Tony been like to be around this summer, and is the attitude still the same around the team?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I mean, it really is for the most part. I think, you know, as you win a second championship, it becomes a little bit more load of responsibility, a little bit different role. Our expectation level has gone up at the end, you know what I mean? I, myself, and Tony, as far as what we need to accomplish, what we should accomplish, what we're expected to accomplish.
I think with all those things, there's, to me, I think there's a little more pressure to perform this year. We've had some really, really good race cars just about everywhere we've gone this year. Just we're not making them work like we did last year or we just don't have it, you know.
Hopefully, we've got a lot of that behind us and we can go, got a couple of really good racetracks coming up for us, and we can get things kind of turned around, build up that momentum, get a little bit of that confidence, and head into the last part of the season.
Q. Are there any races in particular coming up that your team has targeted as These are really important races for us, these are where we can make up some points?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Every one between here and Richmond, I mean, in all honesty. I mean, I would have to say going to Louden, we're a favorite. I would have to say going to Sears Point, we were one of the two or three cars that were favored. You know what I mean? Michigan, we always run good there, in the top 10. In these three racetracks, we expected just to go with ease, run good, and we did. We just didn't finish good.
Going to Indy, just because we've won it, run in the top 5, top 10 every time we've been there basically, there is no guarantees. Watkins Glen, I don't know if there could be anybody that's more a favorite than Stewart. Our road course stuff has just been awesome the last two or three years. He's on his game again, like he was last year. We just, you know, don't need the motor to fail us like it did at Sears Point.
But those things happen. We're fortunate enough, the two things we had happen to us last year, they were really early in the year. Texas, we lost a motor. We wrecked once or twice here and didn't have any issues. This year we wrecked more than we have in the last three years. Not any one of them was really necessarily Tony's fault. It was just all circumstantial. He could have maybe made different choices or decisions, but you can't sit back and second-guess yourself, Should I or shouldn't I have done that, you race the way that you've always raced and been successful in the past and you hope that it brings it to you.
Q. Tony talked earlier today about how this seems like a much less stressful Brickyard weekend compared to the last few because, one, he's won and, two, he's cut his schedule back. Do you see that in him? Do you see it as an easier week on him?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Really? Because the stress and pressure in my seat the last few weeks since we tested I think has been worse than it ever has been, for me personally. I truly believe that. I'm glad to hear him say he's feeling relaxed and cut back and, you know, all of those things.
Like I said, when you walk into that place, the energy and the feeling that you get, a lot of things change. That's one thing that we all need to work on this weekend, is make sure we keep our attitude and our focus --
Q. Why is your stress level up from other years?
GREG ZIPADELLI: We're sitting here on the bubble. If we don't go and perform, it's, you know, probably my fault because I didn't do what Tony needed, basically. I mean, I'm a realist. You know what I mean? We know that if I do my job and Tony does his, we're successful; we have been for seven and a half years. You know what I mean?
But sitting on the bubble right now, I know a lot of things are out of my control. Still, I take all that responsibility. I take that to heart. We didn't have a very good test. We have come home and, I am telling you, we have worked harder on our Indy car than we do normally going into Daytona. That's pretty hard. Guys gave up a lot of their time this weekend off. Had people here till midnight every night. Been in the wind tunnel. Cut a nose off a car we didn't test because I didn't like the way it came out. I mean, just amazing amount of effort that a lot of people don't know just to try and, you know...
Not that we don't put effort in, we kind of stopped some other things and just really put some effort and a lot of people on our Indy car trying to get our intermediate stuff as good as it can be knowing we're going to Indy. Hopefully, we'll run good and be able to take that car to Michigan and California. We got three big races, intermediate, that we can go and run good at, we can win if our stuff is good. We really put some focus and effort into that.
Q. You've kind of touched on it earlier, but if you could maybe even be more specific, what's Tony like when he's outside of the race car versus when he steps in the car? Is there a radical change in him? Is it a subtle thing?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Well, it really depends on the situation and, you know, I think the mindset of the day. Overall, what you saw last year, you know, and what you saw most of this year is a lot less of a change between the two of them, you know. Tony's done a really good job of learning how to deal with the pressures of being a champion, you know what I mean, and the responsibilities and the efforts that people put on you from race fans' to NASCAR's to sponsors' requirements. With that success comes a huge amount of responsibility, and learning how to deal and balance that is just a moving target, you know?
I think he's done a really good job of adapting to that. You see less of a change - like your question - of him when he gets in a race car compared to the way it used to be. I think he feels - and I would certainly hope and do believe he feels - he has performed on the racetrack, he's won two championships, we put ourselves in a much smaller group by winning two, you know. I believe that we have what it takes to win three. And now all of a sudden, you're in a completely different group of people. I think more people from the outside are looking and saying, you know, what, we are for real. Everybody knew we could go out and run races, run good. But people doubted that we were capable of putting everything together for the year, you know what I've mean? We've done that twice. We've never been knocked out of fourth through seventh in the points. There's nobody else right now that could say that over eight years that's been together with people for that long.
So I think there's a little bit of a comfort zone there that comes from that.
Q. So you're saying that maybe early on in his career that it was just that maybe the way he was in the car was just a matter of trying to prove himself, and nerves maybe?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I think there was a lot to prove himself. I think there still is a lot to prove himself. I leave here every day and try to improve myself. If I don't do a good job at Pocono, I'm miserable the entire week. I don't grade myself until I go back out and do better than what I did. We're both a little bit like that. We put a lot of stress, pressure on our self. It's not easy to say, Well, if that happened, we would have been okay. I got to go home and figure out how to do that or not let it happen for me to be comfortable.
Q. Looking ahead towards Watkins Glen, you just mentioned some of the road courses, how good you guys have been over the past few years. Other teams have been playing catchup to you and Hendrick over the past few years. Where do you think they are in terms of a road course program?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I mean, we worked really hard two years ago and really spent some time and put ourselves out on a limb, bought some new cars and did a lot of things I didn't do the first couple of years. You know, just made some gains, made our cars a lot better. With that, it's made Tony Stewart a lot better, and vice versa. Him being better has been able to let me make my cars better. You know what I mean? It's a compromise. It's a lot of a driver, his focus and mental attitude. The person that wins a lot of these road races are usually the person that makes the least amount of mistakes. So that goes back to that level of concentration and focus, you know what I mean?
Q. Can you explain why he has such car control, what Tony Stewart has, along with your input, that has made him such a good road course driver?
GREG ZIPADELLI: What makes Tony Stewart a good race car driver, there's not many people that I can say that are in the sport today - with the exception of Darlington for some reason, we cannot figure that place out, we struggle all day to run in the top 10, and if we do, that's an accomplishment - there isn't another racetrack on the circuit that we can't win at. I mean, a lot of that is Tony's adaptability, open-mindedness, you know. We've been together eight years, I think he's looked at the setup sheet two or three times. He doesn't care what's in there. He gives you input, you go on and you do your stuff.
If what we had the last time we were successful, we don't necessarily always go back with that. We're trying to get better all the time. With his open-mindedness and the ability to just go out and drive and give you good feedback and adapt to what you give him I think makes him a big part of what he is.
Q. Greg, you were talking earlier about not being happy with the car that you tested for Indianapolis, all the extra work you put into it. You certainly mentioned the benefit that came out of it with Michigan and California. From your point of view, what kind of fear is there with the extra work you're having to put into this race, this car, that's keeping you and your guys from working on other cars to go on the road? How does the short term affect the long term?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I think the short-term effort makes everything better. I mean, we're not stopping. My road course cars are done. I mean, essentially one of them is already scaled, sitting here ready to go. I didn't sacrifice that. I've got a Milwaukee test for two days before we go to Richmond and Louden to work on some new short-track stuff, elevate that program.
We put a lot of people and a lot of effort. The good thing about Joe Gibbs Racing and the way it is, we can take people and throw them on a project and get stuff done. We can take that same group of large people and put them somewhere else and get caught up for the next thing, you know.
Q. With the on-track incidents Tony has had, does it come to your mind, hey, maybe this is the Tony of a few years ago, the attitude or temper is popping back up. How would you respond to it?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Well, I mean, it's different reasons, you know. What I explained to Tony was, you know, racing has changed. The young guys have come in. They are put under an enormous amount of stress and pressure to perform in order to keep their jobs, keep their rides, you know what I mean? It's nothing to bring these guys in, they're 20 years old, 18, 19, 20 years old, don't have a ton of racing experience but just have a phenomenal amount of talent. But they know that if they don't go out and perform and race as hard as they can, somebody else will be in their seat, you know what I mean?
I think because of that, from the eight years that we've been here as far as a group, it's changed a lot that way. I think Tony was one of the first to come in here and really do that, us as a group, to come in here the first year and break all rookie records, win three races, finish fourth in the points. That opened eyes to everybody around us saying, If them guys can do it, I can probably put a young group of guys together, I can put a young driver in, get good stuff and go out and perform. We didn't see that before, you know what I mean?
Q. Is he a victim of his own success?
GREG ZIPADELLI: No, I think a little bit of it, you know. I think kind of where I was going with it was that there isn't anywhere near the respect, the give-and-take on the racetrack. The problem is Tony didn't feel like he was getting the respect a few times this year that he deserved or should, or that he treats other people.
Well, it's put him in a bad position, you know what I mean? It also hurt the 07 and the 99. It wasn't an intentional thing. The 99 was three wide. You know what I'm saying? How often do you see three wide in racing now? You never see it. What was he doing down there at the bottom? Nobody looks at that and says, What are you doing three wide? It's all Tony Stewart. Well, he was in the middle of it, but it didn't start there; it ended there, you know what I mean? That's all I kind of got to say about that.
Q. What was it out there in the pit box at the Brickyard?
GREG ZIPADELLI: We had been so close before, so to me it was very, very nerving, you know what I'm saying? When we won the Brickyard, I didn't go, "Oh, my God, this is awesome," I said exactly to myself, sat there in that seat and said, "Oh, my God, we did it." It was much more of a relief than it was an appreciated success or, you know what I'm saying, accomplishment?
You know, we should have won there earlier than we did, you know. I feel a lot of the pressure for not or being part of the, you know, bad days that we've had there that we don't want to relive as a group.
So, to me, it was I wanted to be known as the guy that gave or be that person that gave Tony that opportunity to win, not the guy that went there for 10 years and couldn't do it for him, you know what I mean? There's a whole different level of stress that comes with that.
Q. You've been in a couple of Victory Lanes. What was it like there?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Oh, it was incredible. I said this before, we've won a lot of races, two championships and things, and when I got back to the truck after doing all the media stuff and doing the Victory Lane ceremony and all that great stuff that goes along with winning there, I had like 39 voice messages on my telephone, and that was like in two hours or whatever it took, you know. You win a race and you have somebody call you and say, Great job, or you have some people from the shop will call you. I had more people from the shop and friends, old friends that called and left nice, positive messages, and didn't realize how big it really was, and that's kind of when it kind of hits you, when you're all done and leaving the place.
Q. Was it a career-making moment for you?
GREG ZIPADELLI: I don't look at any race as ever being a career-making moment. I think we just did what we were supposed to. I mean, I truly believe that every week we're supposed to go out and win. It's expected from us. Media expects it. Our sponsors expect it. It doesn't matter, you know what I mean, to our race team. That's kind of how I look at my job. If we go out and do that and perform, you know, then all of the rest of the stuff kind of goes away because you do what you're supposed to. As soon as that doesn't happen, that's when you have all the questions and all the other stuff you have to worry about and deal with.
Q. In talking about all of the satisfaction that came into winning that, if you could put it in words just the challenge of really setting up a car for a track like Indy, what kind of stress does that put you through? Is it setup, engine, all of the above?
GREG ZIPADELLI: It's all of the above. You need to have really good car aero-wise. You need to have obviously a great motor with accelerating four times rather than two times, you know what I mean. And, you know, you need to have a driver that understands it, but you need to have a car that does what he needs it to do.
It's hard. The balance there is very hard. That's why you see, you know, probably this weekend there will be three or four cars that run really good, and then there will be cars that run, you know what I mean? I think that's just the nature of that place. That's what makes it so challenging.
Q. In other words, it sounds like you have to have everything really perfect as opposed to some other track?
GREG ZIPADELLI: Yeah, I agree with you. I think there's less room to be just okay. Everything has to be right, like you said.
TRACEY JUDD: Thanks a lot, Zippy. We appreciate your time today. We extended you a little bit. We had a lot of people who wanted to talk to you. Thanks for taking the extra time, and best of luck to you guys at the Brickyard this weekend.
GREG ZIPADELLI: I appreciate it. Thank you, everybody, for your questions.
TRACEY JUDD: Thanks to all of our guests today, Tony Stewart, Casey Mears and Greg Zipadelli. Thanks to all of you for your participation on our NASCAR Nextel teleconference. Have a great week, everybody.
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