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February 18, 2006

Clint Bowyer

Brian France

Tony Stewart


TRACEY JUDD: We apologize for the delay with our second and third place finishers today in the season-opening NASCAR Busch Series Hershey's Kissables 300 here at Daytona. After the final caution, after some review, Burney Lamar, second place finisher. Clint Bowyer third-place finisher.
CLINT BOWYER: Who was reviewing that (laughter)? Can I talk to them?
TRACEY JUDD: Kevin was. Burney Lamar, driver of the No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick, Inc., also the NASCAR Busch Series top finishing Raybestos rookie in his third NASCAR Busch Series start, and first start here at Daytona.
Clint Bowyer, the driver of the #2 AC Delco Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, the runner-up last year in the 2005 Busch Series championship.
Burney, talk about that run today.
BURNEY LAMAR: Actually, I was just happy to finish a Busch race. That was actually the first one I ever finished.
But I can't say enough for the team. Kevin and DeLana put together a championship-contending team. Gene Nead, our crew chief, Ted Musgrave's crew chief last year. I mean, like I said, it's just a top-running team. If I can get to the level they're at, we'll have some success.
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, it was a struggle. Midway through that race, I flat spotted my tire trying to get slowed down for that crash in front of us halfway through the race, I don't know which one it was. The car got extremely tight. We tried to stay out with Junior and a handful of them that did. It was a big mistake. Got real, real tight, lost the draft. We was probably going to go a lap down and have to pit before too long. Got lucky with a caution. I knew if we could catch a caution, we had a fast car to go up through.
The AC Delco Chevrolet was really fast. I was proud of new crew chief, Dan Deeringhoff . He did a good job calling the race. We'll go after them in California.
TRACEY JUDD: Questions for Clint or Burney Lamar.
Q. No disrespect in this question I'm about to ask, but I think a lot of sane human beings sitting at home would look at that and go, "Why would these guys do that?" You came in here giggling, slapping high fives. Do y'all have a screw loose or are we missing something?
CLINT BOWYER: Definitely.
BURNEY LAMAR: Yeah, I agree with that one (smiling).
CLINT BOWYER: It was fun. I mean, you know, it come down to the point where your adrenaline is running, you're going for it. When they had that caution, I was sitting third. We were talking to Mike Dillon, my spotter, was talking to Michael Waltrip's spotter. He said he would go with me, but then again I knew those were his two buddies in front of me, too, and he'd like to get up there, so...
I moved up, thought he was going to go with me. He kind of stuck me three-wide on the outside. Stacy Compton came out of nowhere. They stayed with me. Like to thank him. I owe a lot to him. I owe a lot to him. He stayed with me, kept me up there.
At that point you're just going for it. You're not thinking about wrecking. And it was fun. It turned out pretty good.
BURNEY LAMAR: Just to comment some more on that. You say we're crazy, but, you know, if you could picture three years ago, I was sitting at home watching this kind of stuff on the couch, begging just to get any kind of experience in any kind of heavy car, watching Clint, you know, almost get his first win his rookie year in Nashville, not even his rookie year. Tony Stewart winning races, my boss, Kevin Harvick, and then all of a sudden to actually drive for Kevin and DeLana, to have Gene Nead as a crew chief, Dollar General as a sponsor. It don't get better than that. I was racing with all these Cup drivers. Like I said, three years ago I was at home on my couch.
Q. Burney, being your first race, was there at any point during the time where you felt over your head or intimidated?
BURNEY LAMAR: No, that was the biggest thing. Kevin and DeLana, Rick Carelli, Ron Hornaday, Stewart, Clint, all these guys behind us, I know we got good equipment. Once I just calm down and get used to what I need to feel, you know, it's a completely different car than I've ever driven before.
I knew at the beginning of the race, we were extremely tight, getting ready to knock down the fence. My crew chief, Gene Nead, he just loosened the thing up and we just started going forward.
Q. Clint, I know you're only a rookie in the Cup Series, and you've been doing the Busch Series for a couple of years. It seems that all week, they haven't really been able to finish a race here without something happening at the very end, either going 'green-white-checkered' or what we saw there today. Does that kind of concern you a bit about tomorrow?
CLINT BOWYER: Somebody asked me, you know, what to expect tomorrow. I'm just pulling my belts a little bit tighter and holding on. The thing about tomorrow is you're battle a lot more experience. It goes 40 cars deep with that much experience.
A lot to learn. We had a strong finish there. The biggest thing about the Busch Series with me is I'm a lot more confident and comfortable out there racing against those guys. Things change come the 500.
Q. They may have more experience, but they've been crashing all week, too.
CLINT BOWYER: We were just fortunate. We got ourselves in a bad situation getting tight and having to go to the back, then coming all the way up through them. It very well could have happened to us. We just were fortunate. Had a wreck right there with Paul Menard, Carl Edwards right there off four, right in front of me. Just got lucky.
Q. Clint, you seem to have pretty good 360-view of what happened. Go through that last five laps and tell us how the thing materialized.
CLINT BOWYER: Again, you know, just like I said, a lot of adrenaline. That caution, you know, I told my spotter, "I ain't following them this time, I'm going for the win. Whether we finish 10th or 1, I was going to try."
We got up on the outside. Michael Waltrip, he said he was going to go with me. He shot three-wide underneath of me. He shot the gap on the back straightaway. I promise you, you couldn't have fit a piece of paper in between us. He went for it. Luckily it didn't wreck all of us. But it worked.
You know, we tried to go back outside of him, cut back in. Junior got shuffled out. Stewart was all over the place. Then this kid come up there. It was wild. It was exactly what you saw. I can promise you, it was just as crazy in the windshield.
Q. You actually did have the lead briefly, then Stewart from the inside all of a sudden shows up outside of you.
CLINT BOWYER: Heck, there for a minute I thought I was going to end up seventh. Three-wide on the outside, the old girl pulled through. Stacy Compton, he jumped up on the outside and followed me. They could have went with Michael Waltrip. Instead, he went with me. I owe a lot to him right there.
BURNEY LAMAR: While he's thinking who was helping him, Kevin Harvick, I talked to him in Victory Lane, I knew he was sort of holding the pack back so we could get a good finish.
CLINT BOWYER: Wasn't in Kevin's best interest to push his two cars to the win was it, again (smiling)?
TRACEY JUDD: Questions from the press box.
Q. I know you described the last five laps, but how about what happened on the last lap? Did the two of you guys book together a bit on the way down to the finish line?
CLINT BOWYER: Oh, yeah, we were bumping all the way through three and four. We got a good run on him. Stacy gave me a shove. I dove to go underneath him. He did what he was supposed to do. He was trying to block, got me down on the apron getting into three. We were both completely sideways right there. Then we bumped all the way through three and four, again up off of four.
You know, it's probably us sideways and out of control that may have caused that wreck behind us. You know, I mean, everybody was going for it at that point. This is Daytona. That's the last corner, you got to go for it.
BURNEY LAMAR: The first thing they told me, last 10 laps you don't have any friends out here, so...
Q. I don't know if you were aware that a couple drivers got sent to the back for aggressive driving. Was there a lot of communication between you and your teams about the bump-drafts today?
CLINT BOWYER: Yeah, I mean, obviously these Busch cars with that package suck up. You can recover so much more than you can with a Cup car. If you slip up a little bit and back out of it, you can recover all on your own as opposed to a Cup car, you got to have some help, somebody behind you.
You know, I mean, for the most part, from what I saw, everybody was bump-drafting down the straightaways, the short chutes on the front straightaway. For the most part, other than the wrecks, I didn't see people, you know, bumping in the corners too much.
Q. Burney, you weren't very far out of the top 10 most of the entire race. How did you finally make your way up behind your teammate at the end?
BURNEY LAMAR: Mainly, we were pretty far off. Could you repeat the question? I'm a rookie (laughter). I've been using that excuse all day.
Q. You weren't far from the top 10 all day, but how did you feel you made it up to -- behind your teammate at the very end?
BURNEY LAMAR: Like I said before, I definitely have to say that, you know, we had a great car in practice and stuff. I didn't really know what I wanted. We had the car that it took -- obviously, Stewart won the race. That's the kind of car that I was in. You know, it's a top-contending car.
It was just a matter of me figuring out what I wanted. This is my first real plate race in the Busch Series. I got some ARCA starts, but it definitely was nothing like that. After I started relaying back to Gene Nead what I wanted, he loosened the thing up and that's exactly how I got back forward.
TRACEY JUDD: Gentlemen, thank you. Congratulations.
We have today's winner of the Hershey's Kissables 300, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 33 Old Spice Chevrolet. Our reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion, this is his second win in the NASCAR Busch Series, and he defended the victory he had here last year for his first career NASCAR Busch Series win.
Tony, tell us about the race today.
TONY STEWART: I don't know. I feel like I'm in court right now because we have the guy that types up the court deal right in front.
No, it was a cool race. I think at the beginning a lot of guys got caught off guard and their cars didn't drive very well. Ours was no exception. We had a tight, tight, tight race car. I just talked to Zippy on the cell phone. Remember how bad I was complaining yesterday, I was doing it five times as worse today. It was five times as bad.
I'm really, really proud of Wally Rogers and the guys on this Old Spice team, the adjustments they made to the Monte-Carlo SS. Just, you know, to come from where we started the race to where we were at the end, to make the big changes that we made, I mean, I want to see the setup sheet from where we started, see where we ended up with all the changes. It's probably going to scare me to death, though, because it was a lot of stuff that I think I know some guys that probably wouldn't even have drove it with some of the changes they did at one time.
I was happy. I was happy with the progress the car made all day. You know, we just kept working our way to the front. We got in a situation where we got up to Junior, got a little bit of a run on him, but not enough to get by. He kind of stuck his hand out to say, hey, let's just take it easy.
Settled back in there and the second time it happened, we got stalled out by the 2 car, got a big, big push. It was too big of a push, too much momentum to stop and pick him up. If I'd have tried to do that, we were going to get freight-trained by three or four cars probably. Just took the run, went with it, got the lead because of it.
Q. On that last restart with five to go, it looked like the 8 car lagged behind maybe five car lengths. Was that a concern?
TONY STEWART: Yeah. Same thing Jeff Gordon did last year. I'm going to go ask NASCAR what we're allowed to do about that. That's two races in a row here almost I got beat because of that. Not real happy about that part of it.
You know, he did what he had to do to get a run on us. I don't blame him for doing it. But it really isn't fair to the guy on the front there, you know, to not go and leave him stuck out there like that.
You can't pass till you get to the line. If the leader takes off, the second place guy doesn't go, everybody behind him can't go either. They're all stuck together and there you are by yourself. It's not really a good deal.
Q. Is this a package you would like to see in Cup again?
TONY STEWART: No, definitely not.
Q. Why is that?
TONY STEWART: It works fine for the Busch Series. It didn't work very good when it was in the Cup Series, I don't think. The earlier topic of last week would be multiplied by 10 with this package.
Q. I didn't know if you were aware that a driver was sent to the back today for aggressive driving in the no-bumping zone. Wanted to get your reaction to that, if that's something you guys are now going to watch more carefully tomorrow?
TONY STEWART: I wasn't aware of that. But, you know, NASCAR told us they were going to be paying attention to that, so it wouldn't surprise me that somebody did get sent back.
But, you know, that's why we have them as a sanctioning body. They're making it safer for us. If somebody was hitting too hard or hitting in the wrong spots, then obviously they needed to get put back and understand that's not the place to do it. I'd stand behind them on that.
Q. Last year you won the race after spinning out; it was kind of crazy at the end of the race today. Could you kind of compare the two. Which one was more exciting, less exciting, or about the same?
TONY STEWART: I'd say this one was definitely more exciting in my opinion. It was more an isolated incident that made last year's win so exciting because of the fact that we ended up in the grass, back on the racetrack, had to recover from it.
But, you know, today, I mean, when you got Michael Waltrip on the outside, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in the middle, myself on the bottom, I don't know how you could make a race any more exciting than that.
You know, we were three-wide, three-deep coming down in the last five laps, that's a pretty exciting finish, I think.
Q. If I'm not mistaken, in the last few laps you, Junior and Michael Waltrip were side by side for three consecutive laps. I believe you barely led each one of those. Which was the last time you remember being involved in something like that?
TONY STEWART: I don't ever remember being part of something like that. I think that's the first time that I got lucky enough to be in that position in the front three-wide like that.
But I'm not real excited about having to be in that situation tomorrow (laughter). You know, if that's what it comes down to with five to go, trust me, I'm not backing out of it. You just do what you got to do. I mean, trust me, I was extremely loose at times down there on the bottom. I'm sure Junior was loose. I'm sure Michael was loose and tight up on top with where we were all placed around each other.
The good thing is you have the confidence in those two guys. I mean, I have the utmost confidence in Dale Jr., obviously, and Michael Waltrip. It didn't concern me that we were three-wide racing for the lead like that. It actually made that part even more fun knowing you can trust those guys. I was more worried about some of the guys that were behind us.
Q. Could you give us your assessment of Burney Lamar's performance today?
TONY STEWART: I didn't get to see much of him today. The little bit I did get to see was at the right time. He did an awesome job. He had a good shot at winning that race. If a couple of the runs were a little different, he was going to pass us for the lead, or at least make a good bid for it.
Luckily that's the good thing about being a veteran versus a rookie, I pretty much knew where he was going to go before he got there, was able to anticipate it.
For a kid like him to put his-self even in that position was pretty remarkable, to get himself up there and get himself in a position where he could go for the win.
Q. You made a lot of changes in the car. Actually the crew did today. I noticed during Cup final practice, you were out there a long time. Were you also working on changes on that car? If so, are you happy with them? If not, can you afford to make a lot of changes tomorrow as well, like you did today?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, today we had to make wholesale -- it was wholesale changes. It wasn't a little of this and a half a round out of that. It was three rounds, three pounds of air, two spring rubbers at a time. I mean, we changed an entire shock one stop. I mean, it was wholesale changes.
Tomorrow, we can't afford to have wholesale changes. But, you know, if at the beginning of the race our car is as bad as this one was today, we'll have to, because we can't ride around like we did at the beginning of the race tomorrow like we did at the beginning of this race.
But, you know, our car got a lot better in the final session. We did run a lot of laps; I think we ran 45 laps. But, you know, we realize that when we got in the back of the pack there the other night in the qualifier, we just got really, really tight, needed to do something about it. The last two days, we've only had two hours of practice. We needed to take advantage of that. Other guys I think were happier with their cars and parked them, gave us an opportunity to go out there and do what we needed to do to get our car right.
I think it's close enough that if it's not right when we start tomorrow, you know, we'll be able to work through some of the changes. Obviously, some of the stuff we learned today, we'll be able to use tomorrow, too. Hopefully that will help.
Q. You were on the inside. Mike was up there. I think he nosed ahead. Bowyer was on the outside, came on the outside. How did you end up on the outside? That seemed to be the key to you winning the race.
TONY STEWART: That's a good question. I don't even remember where you're talking about and when. Trust me, we were moving around a lot.
Q. Two laps to go.
TONY STEWART: I don't know where I was at. I was just moving around trying to watch what was going on. I was hoping they'd get tied up behind me. A lot of times if you can get two guys tied up, they can't get that run on you. I was hoping the gap that I had would -- you know, that's the scariest part of it, you know, making sure you don't get too far ahead where they can get a big run on you and go by.
If they get tied up like that, I was hoping they would stay there for two laps and keep pulling each other back enough that I could just stay out there and run my own deal and be by myself. For the last lap at least it pretty much worked out that way.
Did I not help you on that? Is that not what you want?
Q. Not at all.
TONY STEWART: Sorry. Dude, a lot happened in a short amount of time (laughter). If I could look at it on the videotape, I could probably help you out on that.
Q. Earlier this week you made some comments about somebody getting killed here with the bump-drafts. Do you feel comfortable now with what NASCAR has done going into tomorrow's race?
TONY STEWART: Yes. You know, do I think it's the solution? No. Do I think it's a good solution for the rest of this week? Absolutely.
I think it was something they thought through, thought of the pros and cons. That's something that, you know, like we mentioned earlier, the whole reason wasn't to, you know, tell them to change something, it was to say, "Hey, this is what's going on out there. We think this is something we think is important enough to come talk to you about. It's in your hands."
They made a decision. Obviously, we didn't see too many wrecks today because of that. Hopefully we won't see any tomorrow because of that.
Q. How much of that is just instinctive reaction? We always ask you what your plan was?
TONY STEWART: Do you think we honestly plan anything out there?
Q. I know you don't.
TONY STEWART: There's no way with 43 cars out there, you can plan any of it. It is strictly react to every situation that happens. You know, the situation that happens one lap may not be the situation you have the next lap.
As much as you would like -- I was planning on the restart that Junior was going to go with me, we would at least have a pretty fair restart. Instead, I'm out there by myself and here he comes and gets a big run on us.
You know, so much for planning. You just react to it, go from there, analyze -- I mean, it just is instinct, I guess. You don't have time to sit and say, "Okay here's this option, that option." You just pretty much react to it and go from trial and error. That's why we have so much practice here.
Q. You know you can't plan things during this race, but is there a repercussion from this race that leads into tomorrow's race, for example? The guys on the Earnhardt team, some were saying that Kevin Harvick might have helped Dale Earnhardt, Jr., had he not been protecting the guy who won the race, so tomorrow Kevin might not get any help. Any of that going to fly over to the survival game for foam?
TONY STEWART: I don't think so. It's two totally different races, two totally different scenarios. We got the biggest race of the year tomorrow. I mean, if that's really what happens, I'll be surprised.
But I think you run the race tomorrow off of how you feel like you got to run that race, not what you did today.
Q. Would you make a quick comment on the progress you've seen from JJ Yeley so far?
TONY STEWART: I think he's done an awesome job. The thing that most people don't understand, a lot of people want to compare Denny's career and JJ's career, what they got to understand is that JJ, all he's run is high horsepower, light-weight race cars. I really don't even know totally what Denny's background is. I know he's run some light-weight stock car stuff.
To come into a heavier car, I mean, learning just to deal with the heavier car is one thing, then to have to learn how to deal with the radios and all this stuff is totally different.
I think his learning curve might be a little slower than Denny's is going to be. Every race that he runs, he's going to get smarter and smarter. He's a smart kid. He didn't go out and win championships in all the races that he run for me by not being smart. He's a very intelligent race car driver. He may not pick it up as quick as Denny does, but I have all the confidence in the world he's going to pick it up.
Q. Was this like a two-day battle for you as far as having to qualify your way in yesterday, then literally almost have to put up a whole new setup on the car today?
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, trust me, I would have loved to have run more laps before we qualified. That is what hurt us. That's why we were so bad at the beginning of the race. We just didn't really get a chance. By the time we went out and started working on race setup, all the guys that have run the whole first session, the first half of the second session, had already switched over to qualifying trim. We only ran with like four or five cars at a time. Really can't learn a lot in the short amount of time we drove it. We made changes, but we didn't have time to make the big enough changes and wholesale changes to get an idea where we needed to be.
It just led us in a situation where we really had to make really large changes today to get it where it was. But, you know, I felt like I had a good enough feel that I was comfortable with the crazy changes that we were making to make the car do what we needed it to do.
TRACEY JUDD: Tony, thanks a lot. Congratulations.

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