TALK ABOUT POCONO AND THE RECENT TEST YOU HAD HERE AND HOW YOU APPROACH A TRACK YOU’VE NEVER RACED ON BEFORE
“It’s a good thing we came least week and tested, that’s for sure. Obviously it doesn’t look like we’ll get out on the track today (due to rainy weather). Unfortunately, that will leave it up to points to qualify. Oh well, I’ve qualified worse than that on my own. It’s not in the very back. It will just kind of leave it up to race runs tomorrow, which is not a bad thing when you’re coming to a track for the first time. To some degree you just have to learn for yourself what’s going to happen and ultimately what you need. But I definitely have good resources with my teammates and am talking with my crew chief about what to expect and what we need to be looking for and what tends to happen in the race here. So, I’ll be asking those questions.”
YOU HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON WITH YOUR SEASON AND QUALIFYING. BUT HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT? TALK ABOUT THE LEARNING CURVE OF GOING FROM OPEN WHEEL TO STOCK CARS. DO YOU READ THE PRESS ABOUT YOU?
“I think that people have been really understanding to the fact that this is a learning curve; and coming from IndyCar is a totally different place. I feel like that’s been actually very publicized by you guys (the media) that there is going to be time needed to see that through. It doesn’t stop me from getting mad or wanting more. I think that’s just the nature of someone competitive. There are a lot of times that my crew chief wants to remind me that I am doing a good job and that this is the first year, not only in Cup, but my second full time in stock cars. But I have high expectation levels, so I don’t think it’s a bad quality to have. But it keeps me pushing. But on the other side, I think you guys have done a good job of educating maybe the more casual fan that it’s a big transition.
“Do I read the press? Only if I have a good weekend (laughter). If I don’t, I don’t. Sometimes you do need to and on some levels, especially if you’ve don’t something that’s up for judgment and criticism; maybe sometimes it’s on the track and sometimes it’s slightly off-track kind of stuff that you say. Social Media has given everyone a platform to be able to speak their minds. But what that’s done is I do feel like it’s kind of putting your finger on the pulse of what’s going to be written about. So, I do think that sometimes if you’re wondering what the public perception is of something you can go ahead and read what it is because it’s probably going to be what’s written. But being up front about everything has always been what’s worked best for me and if people don’t like me, they can at least respect my honesty in situations, hopefully, so that’s just how I try and go about things because it’s impossible to make everyone happy all the time. To answer your question, I don’t read all my press no; but I read some it, for sure. Only if there are a lot of pictures; pictures are my favorite.”
YOU TALK TO TONY STEWART A LOT ABOUT POCONO. BUT DID YOU CALL DARIO FRANCHITTI TO FIND OUT WHAT HIS TAKE IS ON THIS TRACK? IT’S A NEW TRACK TO HIM, TOO BECAUSE THEY’VE REPAVED IT SINCE THE LAST TIME HE WAS HERE
“No, I didn’t necessarily even really talk to Tony or anybody about how to drive it. I think that it’s very hard for someone to say well, you need to really carry a lot of speed. What does that mean? I have to get out on the track and feel what it means and then have a very specific question that I need answered. And everybody drives differently, so it’s not like someone can just tell you how to drive the track.
“I find that I have a lot better results through questions once I’ve actually done something and had a taste of what it is I’m doing. It’s very difficult to come to a place that you’ve never seen and ask the right questions.”
TONY STEWART WINS AT DOVER AND MANAGES TO WORK THE WORD ‘CRAP’ INTO A WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE SEVEN TIMES IN 30 SECONDS.
“I love him.” (laughter)
WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE PASSION AND HOW MUCH HE CARES? WHAT’S IT LIKE TO RACE AND WORK FOR A GUY LIKE THAT?
“I just wish I could do interview like him. He does such a great job. It’s so funny. Are you (media) scared to interview him, ever? No? You’re always excited? Because I love to hear it and he’s not afraid to say what he really thinks at all; even more than me. And he is much more funny about it. He’s so much more adorable about it. Anyway, what was your question?”
IS IT FUN TO BE AROUND HIM?
“Yeah, absolutely. He has a huge drive to be fast and make the team better and make his car better and you feel that, for sure. You also feel that passion. And that passion goes for the people that he has around him.
“He really enjoys them and wants them there and treats them well. I kind of feel like he’s one of those guys; maybe a long time ago I thought I heard that you can get people to work out of fear or love and he gets them to work out of love. I think he cares about them. So, it makes it nice to be around somebody like that.”
DOES IT EVER GET TIRING WHEN FANS COME UP AND YOUNG ONES SAY THEY ADMIRE YOU AND WANT TO BE LIKE YOU? HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT?
“I never-ever get sick of that. That’s sometimes the best part of your day is to hear a little kid say that they look up to you; or what I get a lot of the time is you get their parents saying it for them because they are a lot of times kids get shy. Most kids get shy. Some of them are very, very open and they feel like they know you and they come and hug you and there’s that kind of perspective. I don’t know what makes them like that, but some kids are really open. But it’s a nice feeling. It makes it all feel kind of worthwhile on days that aren’t good and to understand to put you in the perspective that it’s just one day and that it will pass and they like you because they’ve seen you do well and that they enjoy you as a competitor. So it can definitely brighten-up your day.
“Advice? I give the same advice to kids or adults. It’s just to find something that you love to do. It think that’s the most important. If you didn’t like what you’re doing, you’re not going to be very happy. So, finding something that you love to do is the most important thing. So, it works out that you make a decent living than at it too, that’s a bonus sometimes.”
HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO TONY KANAAN SINCE HE WON THE INDY 500?
“I didn’t talk to Tony, no. But I sent a message, Twitter, to him that he did a nice job obviously and it was a long awaited win. I’ve spent many years in IndyCar and saw him lead many laps and run up-front and so he replied and said, ‘Thanks’.”
WERE YOU AMAZED AT THE NATURE OF THE RACING?
“Well, I thought the racing was really good last year. I think this car has produced some really good racing. I guess felt like this year when I watched it, I almost felt like it had kind of almost a speedway race feel to it, of ours, where you’re not sure how the cycle is going to end because all you know is that the leader can’t lead forever. And so, (or) unless someone is backing off. So, it kept that kind of element of curiosity of how it was going to end. It wasn’t like someone was fast and just running away with it. They’ve had the last two Indy 500’s have been really, really good.”