This is the question and answers from 2011 Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart from the Post Race press conference.
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER AND 2011 SPRINT CUP CHAMPION: WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS AND FEELING RIGHT NOW STANDING HERE AS A THREE TIME CHAMPION AND THE FIRST CAR OWNER CHAMPIONS THAT WE HAVE HAD IN ALMOST 20 YEARS? “After the way those first 109 laps went today, I could not be more proud. We had the problem early and had the hole in the nose, everybody on this Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy team did a great job of getting it back going, then we had the contact with (David) Reutimann and had to come back in and fix it again. I told them “Man, it is really going to make these guys mad when we come back twice and still kick their butt”. It was optimism and trying to keep the guys pumped up and then to come out here and actually do it, is awesome. It is an honor to be in the same category with Alan Kulwicki, but Alan did it all on his own and I have a great co-owner with Gene Haas and Joe Custer helped put all this together with Rick Hendrick and Just could not be more proud of our guys and our organization. Everybody Ryan Newman, my teammate, everybody on the US Army/ Tornados Chevy just an honor to be here tonight.”
YOU MADE A COUPLE OF MOVES OUT THERE THAT WERE AMAZING, TALK ABOUT THOSE MOVES?
“That shows how bad I wanted to win this thing. During the season you give guys a little more room than that, but when you are going for a championship, you can’t hold anything back. I was racing around good guys when I did that all night and we just could not leave it on the table, we had to go on the restarts. That was a strong suit for us all night. We took off that one restart I think 12th and came off the corner 5th or 6th on the outside. It is just an awesome night when your car drives that good and you can go get it done like that.”
THOSE LAST TWENTY LAPS CARL (EDWARDS) STARTING CLOSING IN, AND THEN YOU STARTED TO PULL AWAY; DID YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT THEN? “Yea, I made sure that if we got in traffic that I had a little something in my back pocket to go with. We took care of it, we knew he was going to have to run hard to catch us and going to have to abuse his tires and if we just ran our pace, when we got to traffic or if he closed in anymore that we could go when we needed to.”
THE THIRD ONE AND I AM SURE THE MOST SPECIAL: “Yea and you owe me a six-pack for this too!”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET – 2011 NASCAR SPRINT CUP DRIVER’S CHAMPION:
“I made sure that if we got in traffic that I had a little something in my back pocket to go with. We took care and we knew that he was going to run hard to catch us and was going to have to abuse his tires and if we just ran our pace that when we got to traffic or if he closed in anymore that we needed to go when we needed to.”
YOU ARE NOW IN THE SAME CATEGORY WITH GUYS LIKE DAVID PEARSON, DARRYL WALTRIP, CALE YARBOROUGH, LEE PETTY; ALL HALL OF FAMERS. YOU’RE A THREE-TIME CHAMPION. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? “That’s an honor. That’s an impressive group to be with. It’s just an honor to have the opportunity to be a part of that with those guys. Like I said, if it wasn’t for Gene Haas and Joe Custer and everybody at Haas Automation and Darian Grubb, we wouldn’t have had this opportunity. So I’m just very proud that I’ve got a group of guys that believed in us when we started this. Office Depot was the first company and then to have Mobil 1 come on board this year was just, we’re truly, truly honored.”
TWO OF NASCAR’S HEAVYWEIGHT’S GOING TOE TO TOE AND HEAD TO HEAD IN THE FINAL LAPS, AND YOU WON IT AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT’S YOUR EMOTION RIGHT NOW? “Oh, thank the Lord for this one, buddy; man I’m telling you, it’s been a tough summer and a tough fall for us and you’ve got to believe in something; and the man upstairs held this rain off just long enough for us to get this job done. Thanks to all the fans who stuck it out all weekend here at Homestead. Oh, my! I don’t care how long it rains; I’m going to be up all night tonight! For Office Depot for Mobil 1 for Chevrolet for the U.S. Army for Tornados and Quicken Loans and GoDaddy and Ritz and Oreos and Coca-Cola; just everybody who is a part of the Stewart-Haas program; Mac Tools, we couldn’t do it without you guys. This is just unbelievable. We said all week we’d just go out and win the race and we didn’t have to worry about what he (Carl Edwards) did and that’s what we did. If this doesn’t go down as one of the greatest championship battles in history, I don’t know what will.”
IN THE FIRST 100 LAPS, YOU HAD TO GO FROM BACK TO FRONT TWICE. THREE AND FOUR-WIDE PASSES ON THE RESTARTS AND THEN THE GAMBLE ON FUEL. HOW CONCERNED WERE YOU THAT MAYBE THERE WERE JUST TOO MANY OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME AFTER ALL YOU WERE HAVING TO BATTLE TONIGHT? “There is one thing I learned when Gene Haas and Joe Custer gave us this opportunity and our good buddy Rick Hendrick and I couldn’t do it without you bud and everybody at Hendrick Engines and Chassis. And Darian Grubb, and everybody on this team has just dug deep and never given up and this is an awesome night. Eddie Jarvis and everybody at Stewart Haas Racing. I’ve got the best team in the business and it’s just awesome. I’m so grateful to be able to do this for Gene Haas because this man has invested a lot in this sport and for him to have the faith in me to do this; it takes a lot to do what he’s done and I’m glad I can get this done for him.”
THAT NO. 14 BELONGED TO YOUR HERO AND FRIEND, A.J. FOYT, WHO SAID YOU COULD TAKE THE NUMBER BUT DRIVE IT WITH THE TENACITY OF A TEXAN. TONIGHT YOU WON A CHAMPIONSHIP THE WAY HE WON THEM, UP ON THAT WHEEL AND REFUSING TO LOSE. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO TAKE THIS NUMBER, HIS NUMBER, BACK TO A CHAMPIONSHIP STATE? “I guarantee you I’ll probably talk to him tonight and he’s still going to tell me what I did wrong today (laughs). But I’m so proud. A.J. has always been one of my heroes and he’s been very supportive of this when we did this. When I asked him if it would be all right if I took his number, he was the one who gave me his blessing and it meant the world to me.”
WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU SAW CARL EDWARDS BACK THERE, KNOWING HE WAS GOING TO DO EVERYTHING HE COULD TO TRY TO CATCH YOU? YOU HAD TO WIN THE RACE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
“Those guys have done an awesome job all year and my buddy Ricky Stenhouse won the Nationwide Championship yesterday and Jack (Roush) got the Owner’s Championship so I didn’t feel bad taking this one away from them tonight. But he’s a great competitor and a great guy and we’ve been giving him a rough time this week. But it was all in an effort to do what we did tonight and win this championship. But it shows how classy a guy he is. He was the first one to me over there. And he said, ‘Promise me one thing that you’ll enjoy this and I hope it’s you and me in this position again next year.’ So that just shows how much class he’s got. He’s a great guy.”