CHEVY NSCS AT PHOENIX ONE — Stewart and Smith Press Conf. Transcripts

[media-credit name=”www.phoenixraceway.com” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

SUBWAY FRESH FIT 500

PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY


American Muscle

TEAM CHEVY DRIVER QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

MARCH 3, 2012

Tony Stewart Leads the Way for Team Chevy in Qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway

Team Chevy Drivers Captured Seven of the Top-10 Starting Positions for the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500

AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 3, 2012) – Three-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, earned a front row starting spot during Saturday’s qualifying session at Phoenix International Raceway by posting the second fastest time. Stewart was the last qualifier to make his qualifying attempt. He missed the pole for Sunday’s SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500, race two of the 2012 season, by just one-tenth of a second.

A total of 44 cars took turns for a run at the front row on the one-mile oval. When the 43-car field was set, seven Team Chevy drivers scored top-10 starting spots for the 312-lap/312-mile/500K race. In addition to Stewart, other Team Chevy drivers starting in the top-10 are: Regan Smith, No. 78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet – 3rd, Jimmie Johnson, Lowe’s/KOBALT Chevrolet – 4th, Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Chevrolet – 5th, Ryan Newman WIX Filters Chevrolet – 6th, Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet – 8th and Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet –10th.

Mark Martin (Toyota) won the pole. The SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 is scheduled to begin at 2:30 pm., ET with coverage of FOX, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

SUBWAY FRESH FIT 500

PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

TEAM CHEVY DRIVER QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

MARCH 3, 2012

REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 3RD:

YOU WERE AT THE TOP OF THE LEADER BOARD FOR A WHILE, BUT OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE KEEPING UP YOUR PRACTICE OF HAVING GOOD QUALIFYING EFFORTS

“Yeah, it’s certainly a good start to having a third-place run here at Phoenix. Add that in with starting good last week at Daytona, we’ve done well with that so far. Yesterday was a struggle for us. I’m not going to lie. The Furniture Row Chevy, we fought all day long to try and find speed. I joked with my guys that I think that qualifying lap was probably the first time all weekend I’ve hit my marks at any point this weekend. I know I’ve got a good car if I do hit my marks and do the things I need to do from the driver’s seat. I was thinking about possibly getting locked into the Shootout awfully early this year; but it wasn’t meant to be today. It’s something we’ll have to continue to work hard for the rest of these races.”

THIS HAS BEEN A TOUGH TRACK FOR YOU, PERFORMANCE-WISE. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT? WHAT’S BEEN THE PROBLEM HERE FOR YOU IN THE PAST? “Oh, well last year was getting in wrecks, basically. I think collectively, between the two races, we completed maybe 60 laps last year here. The first race we got caught up in a wreck on the backstretch, but we qualified good for that one. We’ve had speed here. It’s just been a lot of bad luck. The second race was just that at the beginning of the race another car got loose and I tried to avoid it and got myself loose also. So, it’s certainly on the stat sheet does not look like a good race track for us, but we have been fast here and it’s just someplace where we’ve got to put it all together and have a good day.”

A LOT OF CARS WERE BOBBLING REALLY BAD THROUGH TURNS 1 AND 2. IS THERE JUST A VERY LIMITED LINE WHERE YOU CAN GET THROUGH?

“Yeah; I mean the track is extremely slick. We saw it the last race also. It did the same thing where we practiced when it was cooling down and we opted not to do a mock-qualifying run at the end of the second practice yesterday because I felt like last time here it messed me up a little bit. The track was over a second slower on Saturday from where it was on Friday at the end of practice. And I just didn’t want to have that in my head. I wanted my last qualifying run in my head to be one that was during the daytime when it was maybe a little bit warmer. But even yet today, it’s got to be 10 or 15 degrees warmer out right now than what it was. Because of that, there’s a very narrow line; and if you don’t have every car going out there and running the topside in, it’s not going to come in. Whereas, tomorrow when we race it’ll come in because there’s guys that are forced up there because of the double-file re-starts and stuff. But today, you’re talking a six-inch patch; if you miss it, you’re going to slip.”

WHEN YOU’RE OUT THERE AND THE TV CAMERAS ARE THERE AND YOU’RE ON THE VERGE OF WINNING THE POLE, DO YOU GET NERVOUS? DOES YOUR HEART START RACING? OR IS IT JUST THE POLE AND NOT REALLY THE RACE?

“Well, I’ve never had a pole before so I certainly wanted that one today pretty badly. All things considered, the way our day went yesterday, it would have meant more to get it here today based on the struggles we had yesterday. So, yeah, you get nervous. You want to get it. Poles mean something. They’re stats. Nobody is going to remember we qualified third; but if we had a pole here, that goes down in the stat book for sure. So, I think along with the fact that the Shootout is back to the pole-winners next year, that’s something every driver in this field is thinking about when they qualify. And if they tell you otherwise, then either I’m not very smart or they’re lying or one or the other, I don’t know (laughs). But it would have been nice to get it. But with that being said, we’re happy to be starting up front. We’ll have a good pit selection for Sunday and that’s all going to be important.”

TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2ND:

YOU’RE THE LAST ONE TO GO OUT THERE AND YOU TAGGED A GOOD NUMBER ON THE BOARD. BUT TALK ABOUT HOW YOU THINK THINGS ARE GOING FOR YOU THIS WEEKEND

“I’m really excited, actually. It’s what I would truly consider our first real weekend with Steve Addington as crew chief. Daytona is always kind of a different deal, but this is where you first really get to start working on the handling of your car with your crew chief. So I’m really, really proud of what he did yesterday and today. And we actually got a little bit tight in our run so you know, off of what everybody else was doing and how loose it sounded like the track was, we made a pretty big adjustment there and he got to the opposite side of it, which I’m pretty excited that he was able to do that. So, it still translated into a great lap and I’m not sure; I think we could have been close to Mark (Martin, pole-winner), but I don’t know if he got to run his second lap if he would have picked-up more and got away from us even more there. So he definitely put up a stat-lap for sure.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU PICKED-UP WHERE YOU LEFT-OFF AT THE END OF LAST YEAR AT THIS POINT?

“I’d like to say we are. I mean I honestly think it’s a little early to tell. I think this is what feels like really the first weekend of the year for us in all reality. Daytona is always different and always special; but this weekend is kind of the real start to the season as far as just getting back in the swing of things. But, I’d say hopefully after Vegas, we’ll have a little better idea of that. Normally if we qualify well, we normally have a decent shot at running well in the race. So I’m hoping that what we did today will transfer to tomorrow.”

DO YOU SEE EVEN BIGGER CHANGES TOMORROW? THEY ARE EXPECTING A HOTTER TRACK, SLICKER, AND WHAT DO YOU DO?

“I hope it is. I always like it when it’s hotter and slicker to be honest. It’s still that you try to just maintain the balance of the race car. Just like today, it got a little warmer today and cars got freer. So hopefully tomorrow it’s just a balancing act of just trying to keep the balance with whatever the temperature does. Yesterday it was really, really stable all day and so I think that’s half the battle, especially when the track condition changes as much as it does. Having something that’s stable to begin with seems to be a pretty big factor here. So, I’m actually more excited that it is going to be hotter tomorrow. I think that will hopefully separate some of the cars that we think are good cars now that may not be quite as good tomorrow if it gets a little warmer.”

MARK MARTIN IS ON THE POLE HERE IN HIS SECOND RACE WITH HIS ORGANIZATION. WHAT MAKES HIM SO GOOD THAT HE’S ABLE TO STEP IN THAT CAR AND REALLY, IN THE ‘FIRST’ RACE OF THE YEAR, PUT IT ON THE POLE?

“You look at Mark Martin and it doesn’t matter whose car he drives, he’s good in it. To me, it’s cool to see stuff like this where you get a guy like Mark that’s bounced around to different organizations and he’s been fast and won races everywhere he’s been. So, he’s just one of those guys that it doesn’t matter who you put him with, he’s going to bring the best out in their team. You just don’t find guys like Mark Martin that often. He’s always had natural driving talent and today is proof of that.”

About Chevrolet

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.


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