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Stewart gives Toyota pole for Nationwide race

NASCAR
Friday, February 15, 2008

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Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart won the pole for Saturday’s Camping World 300 at Daytona International Speedway, his first pole in the Nationwide Series since 2005 at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

It was the third consecutive pole for the series opener at Daytona for Joe Gibbs Racing. The past two seasons then-JGR drivers J.J. Yeley and Aric Almirola won poles for this race with the organization’s No. 18 team.

“We felt like we could come here and have a good car. I didn’t come to the (preseason) test,” said Stewart, who is driving a limited schedule in the No. 20 Toyota this season.

“They worked hard and the motors were good last year, so I thought we’d be in good shape.”

Sprint Cup series drivers claimed four of the top-five starting positions. Clint Bowyer qualified second, Dario Franchitti fourth and Kyle Busch fifth. Jason Leffler was third, the only non-Cup driver.

TONY STEWART, No. 20 Armor All Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Qualified:  1st

You had a great lap here in qualifying.  Did you expect it in single car runs? “We backed up what we ran yesterday.  The winds are a little higher today than what we practiced in yesterday so to back it up I thought was a really good run for these guys.” How is this car in drafting?  You were top-five in times but that didn't seem to matter, did it?  “I think we are pretty good here, but we will wait and see.  I'm pretty excited about starting this race tomorrow.  I think this car is going to be pretty fast.”

How hard was it for you to turn that fast lap today? “It was a lot of work today.  I had to leave pit road in first gear and try not to screw up shifting into second gear.  I ran it up to turn one and shifted into third gear and then shifted to fourth off of turn two.  It was rough -- I didn’t know if I was going to be able to hold it wide open or not.  I just rode it around there for two laps and held my breath.  I didn’t know I could hold my breath for two minutes -- it was pretty hairy out there.  It was pretty uneventful in all reality.  This is a day that is more about the guys on the Armor All team and Dave Rogers (crew chief), the guys at JGR and Toyota.  It’s not at all about what the drivers do -- we have the least amount of input of what happens in the cars out there.  Literally, the toughest part of our job is shifting three times and the rest of it is the hard work that the crew guys do.  Like I said, Dave Rogers and everyone on the Armor All team did a great job -- they worked hard through the winter and our Busch guys work just as hard on these cars as they do the Cup cars.  I’m just proud of Dave and the guys.  From my standpoint the day was pretty uneventful, but its exciting to be a part of it for those guys and to be with them when they have a good day like today.”

How much does the time in Saturday’s race help you for Sunday? “I don’t think it will at all honestly.  The cars are so different now -- you used to be able to learn a little from the Busch race to the Cup race, but now the cars are so different that I honestly don’t believe that it’s going to matter.  When I drove the Nationwide car yesterday, it just felt like an old pair of shoes and we really have our hands full with the Cup cars.  I really don’t think its going to be much help.  If more rubber on the track helps change the way the cars drive, then it might help us a little bit, but I don’t think you’re going to notice it as much as you will the Cup cars on Sunday.”

Do you come here with more confidence in Toyotas than you would have last summer? “For the Nationwide car, I think we expected it -- we saw what they were able to do last year.  They had a full year under their belt to get here.  I didn’t really know what to expect in all honesty, obviously the motors were really good in the Nationwide series last year.  They had a really good test, but I didn’t come to the Busch test, I mean the Nationwide test.  I hope they don’t dock me points or money for all this because I’ll be like Michael Waltrip last year in the Cup series.  They worked hard and obviously the motors were good last year so we felt that we would be in good shape on this side.”

Where does the move you made to win the Busch race a couple years ago rank for great moves in your career? “I don’t know if it was a great move -- it probably looked more impressive than it was skill.  A lot of it was luck because a lot of things could have gone wrong in that instance.  So many guys could have hit us that had nowhere to go.  I was more impressed after I looked at it on a replay at the guys that didn’t run over me.  They made better moves than I did just getting back on the race track missing me.  As far as big moments that you didn’t think would happen and come back and have a good result -- it was definitely high on the list.”

Are you more concerned with the tires this year versus last year? “From a driver’s standpoint, you are probably more conscious of the old days as far as being careful on your tires and thinking in your mind that you have to make them last 40 laps on Sunday.  I don’t think we really thought about that last year -- last year you just tried to get your car balanced well and this year your thinking about tire wear and abusing your tires early in the run.  It makes you think about track position being more critical than ever and if you don’t have track position, then trying to get yourself in cleaner air to help your car so you’re not in a situation where you’re wearing the tires out quicker than you need to be.”

How difficult do you think the cars will be to drive early in the race on Sunday with the higher air temperatures? “Even with the start time being later than what we practiced today, the temperatures are supposed to be up for the next two days from what I understand so I think the track is going to soak up more heat than it has all week.  It’s never going to start as cool as it started each day.  I think it will be even more of a handful.  Obviously it will cool down in the evening a little and that will help it, but its going to be the highest track temps that we’ve seen all week at the start of the race.  It’s going to make the first third of the race pretty interesting.  It’s not going to be hot, but its going to be the warmest conditions that we’ve had.  When you talk about surface temperature -- it’s going to be the hottest that its been.  It will definitely be a factor.”

What did Joe Gibbs discuss in the meeting he had with all three teams? “He’s still a coach.  It was a good meeting and it was the first time that the three of us have sat down before a race that we were all going to be in together.  I think the results at the end of the race showed the outcome of all that.  That’s why he’s been successful in everything he’s done -- he knows how to motivate people and he knows how to get people to think in the right direction and work with each other.  The end of the race was a very good example of what that meeting was all about.”

Do you expect a big difference in the Nationwide race between the Chevrolet and Toyota? “I think it shows how good the JGR program is in the Nationwide series. Races are always different than practice and like we saw in the qualifying races and the Shootout on Saturday, these races still aren’t won on individual performances, they’re won by group efforts.  If there were Kias in the field and enough of them lined up together they could probably pass anything else out there if it was by itself.  I take that back, I don’t think a Kia could pass anything.  If enough guys line up from each manufacturer, you can go fast.  It’s no different in this series than it is the Cup side.  You’re still going to have to rely on other people to win the race -- you can’t win restrictor plate races by yourself anymore, you have to have help.”

Results

Pos

No.. Driver Make Sponsor Speed Time Behind
1 20 Tony Stewart Toyota Armor All 180.937 49.741 Leader
2 2 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 180.101 49.972 -0.231
3 38 Jason Leffler Toyota Great Clips 180.047 49.987 -0.246
4 40 Dario Franchitti* Dodge Fastenal 179.698 50.084 -0.343
5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 179.695 50.085 -0.344
6 1 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 179.609 50.109 -0.368
7 41 Bryan Clauson* Dodge Texaco / Havoline 179.573 50.119 -0.378
8 21 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet Realtree 179.551 50.125 -0.384
9 32 Denny Hamlin Toyota Hass Avocados from Mexico 179.454 50.152 -0.411
10 33 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Camping World / RVs.com 179.419 50.162 -0.421
11 8 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Freightliner Trucks 179.272 50.203 -0.462
12 10 Brian Vickers Toyota ABF U-Pack Moving 179.215 50.219 -0.478
13 170 Mark Green Chevrolet Foretravel Motorcoach 179.194 50.225 -0.484
14 88 Brad Keselowski Chevrolet U.S. Navy 179.183 50.228 -0.487
15 0 Kertus Davis Chevrolet RaceGirl 179.069 50.260 -0.519
16 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Kraft / Ritz 179.033 50.270 -0.529
17 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Ragu 179.023 50.273 -0.532
18 81 D.J. Kennington Dodge STP Tools 179.005 50.278 -0.537
19 30 Stanton Barrett Chevrolet NOS Energy Drink / INTERUSH 178.934 50.298 -0.557
20 99 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 178.905 50.306 -0.565
21 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard 178.848 50.322 -0.581
22 111 Jason Keller Chevrolet Conrad Yelvington Dist. / Allstate Materials 178.795 50.337 -0.596
23 00 Michael McDowell Toyota Rimco Custom Wheels & Tires 178.699 50.364 -0.623
24 7 Mike Wallace Toyota GEICO 178.589 50.395 -0.654
25 195 Willie Allen Dodge USALABS.com 178.515 50.416 -0.675
26 01 Dwayne Leik Chevrolet Lake County CrimeStoppers 178.433 50.439 -0.698
27 16 Greg Biffle Ford CitiFinancial 178.363 50.459 -0.718
28 27 Brad Coleman Ford Cottonelle / Kroger 178.292 50.479 -0.738
29 60 Carl Edwards Ford Scotts Miracle-Gro 178.292 50.479 -0.738
30 6 David Ragan Ford Discount Tire 178.278 50.483 -0.742
31 77 Cale Gale* Chevrolet Rheem 178.225 50.498 -0.757
32 156 Danny O'Quinn Jr. Chevrolet Barr-Nunn Transportation & Logistics 178.197 50.506 -0.765
33 89 Morgan Shepherd Dodge Victory In Jesus 178.193 50.507 -0.766
34 91 Larry Gunselman Ford MSRP Motorsports 178.147 50.520 -0.779
35 29 Scott Wimmer Chevrolet Holiday Inn 178.017 50.557 -0.816
36 36 Kenny Wallace Dodge Shark Energy Drink 177.897 50.591 -0.850
37 66 Steve Wallace Chevrolet Atreus Homes & Communities 177.848 50.605 -0.864
38 161 Kevin Lepage Ford Specialty Racing 177.792 50.621 -0.880
39 87 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet NEMCO Motorsports 177.778 50.625 -0.884
40 47 Kelly Bires Ford Clorox 177.757 50.631 -0.890
41 28 Kirk Shelmerdine Chevrolet Lilly Trucking of Virginia 177.543 50.692 -0.951
42 59 Marcos Ambrose Ford Kingsford Hickory Charcoal 177.120 50.813 -1.072
43 22 Mike Bliss Dodge Supercuts 177.089 50.822 -1.081
44 14 David Gilliland Ford Music City Illinois 177.075 50.826 -1.085
45 37 Brad Baker Ford Envirox 177.009 50.845 -1.104
46 24 Eric McClure Chevrolet Hefty 176.668 50.943 -1.202
47 4 Robert Richardson, II Chevrolet JVC Everio 176.470 50.999 -1.258
48 25 Bobby Hamilton Jr. Ford Smithfield 176.450 51.006 -1.265
49 90 Steve Grissom Chevrolet MSRP Motorsports 176.194 51.080 -1.339
50 52 Donnie Neuenberger Chevrolet Royal Farms Wraps 175.723 51.217 -1.476
51 05 Brett Rowe Chevrolet 31-W Insulation / CertainTeed 175.121 51.393 -1.652
52 84 Mike Harmon Chevrolet DAB Construction 172.745 52.100 -2.359
53 64 David Stremme Chevrolet Atreus Homes & Communities -

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