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Budweiser Shootout Post-Race Transcript

Harvick's first Budweiser Shootout at Daytona victory
Sunday, February 08, 2009

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An interview with:
KEVIN HARVICK
RICHARD CHILDRESS
TODD BERRIER


KERRY THARP:  We'll roll into the winner of the 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, Kevin Harvick, team owner Richard Childress.  This is Kevin's first Budweiser Shootout at Daytona victory.  He's appeared in this event five times.

Kevin, congratulations.  Certainly quite an exciting race out there tonight.

KEVIN HARVICK: 
Yeah, it was.  I told them on the way over here, they ought to cancel testing every year if you want to see a race like that.  That was a lot of built up racecar drivers that were really looking for something to hang out on the edge.  I think everybody got a good show tonight.

Just want to thank all my guys.  They did a great job.  Our car was a little bit tore up before we even got to the 25 lap mark.  We fixed it.  Then I got stuck behind the 55, blew a tire, whatever happened, lost the draft.  We came in and put tires on and worked our way back up to the front.

I think that next to the last or last restart I guess it would have been, we wound up restarting fourth.  Just wound up going to the bottom, then back to the middle.  Then the 11 gave me one final shot down the backstretch and we were able to get by the 26.

KERRY THARP:  Richard, you certainly had a lot of success here at this racetrack.  Your thoughts about the victory here tonight?

RICHARD CHILDRESS:
  It's got to be one of the most exciting ones for the Budweiser Shootout.  Like Kevin said, for the fans, the price of admission tonight was well worth it.  They seen a great race.  To win any time at Daytona is great.  The way Kevin did it tonight, in style, like the 500 a couple years ago, that's pretty cool.

KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions now.

Q.  Kevin, how sure were you, when you split the middle right there, there was enough room for a full racecar?

KEVIN HARVICK:
At that point I didn't really care (laughter).  I knew we had one shot.  I told them on the radio.  I said, we got one shot to win the race, and that's probably going to be up the middle.  Not really where I wanted to be.  At that point we got a good run going into the first corner.  Denny kind of carried up high.  We just kept that momentum.  Luckily the car turned.

As soon as I got by Denny, he shot right down.  He gave me a shot in the rear there.  We were able to keep that momentum all the way down the back straightaway.  But the hole wasn't very wide, just for the record (smiling).

Q.  Darrel Waltrip said that car looked like it's been through Martinsville or something.  Would the old car have taken a beating like this and still allowed you to be as competitive as this one was?  Jamie said he moved up, and he thought he left little enough room by the wall that you weren't going to be able to squeeze in there.  Was the confidence that this car will take a beating, was that a factor in you being able to go through that hole?

KEVIN HARVICK:
  I figured we were coming to the checkered.  There wasn't really anything at stake.  We'll just see what happens.  Luckily everything worked out.

But, yeah, I don't think the old car would have stood up.  We hit the wall pretty good there in the beginning of the race.  It tore the left front fender off, split it at the seam there, with 25 laps to go.  We were able to get that fixed.

This car, you know, it's tough.  It's got that foam on the right side.  If you can keep all the tires going in the same direction, the nose on it, you still got a chance.  I think we hit the wall a couple times.  I hit the 16 as he wrecked.  It was an eventful night.  We never gave up, though.

Q.  It couldn't have been more than a second after you got past Jamie that the wreck happened.  Can you draw any parallels between the way you came up tonight to the way you came up at Daytona two years ago?

KEVIN HARVICK:
  I think there's a lot of parallels as to the way this race and the 500 shook out.  We were just closer to the front on that last restart.  I think we restarted sixth or seventh in the 500.  I think we were fourth tonight.  It all kind of worked out the same way.  In the end, we were on the top, coming off turn two with a head of steam.  We were able to clear the pass there.  Only difference was the caution came out this time because it was such a big wreck.

Q.  Kevin, once you split the two guys, Jamie said he moved up and thought there wasn't going to be enough room on the outside.  Do you have an aversion to leading more than a few hundred yards at this racetrack?

KEVIN HARVICK:
  I don't know.  I told them earlier, I said, I guess if we're going to win, we have to make it dramatic.  This is the way my whole career has been.  We always seem to get there in the nick of time.

Hey, that's part of it.  We were able to pull it off.  I know that the one gap going between Denny and I think it was    I don't know who was the other car, Johnson, but I thought the 26, I thought he stayed low.  Maybe I was looking backwards when I went by him.  I don't know.

Q.  Kevin, when you lose the draft twice, I was thinking you were done for the night.  How did you come back from that to win this race?

KEVIN HARVICK:
  I think the first time we just kind of rolled back there because the car was tight with that left front fender off.  Wanted to take a look at the tires and make sure everything was okay.

The second time, you know, the car, we got it back competitive.  We knew we had a break.  Got it fixed at the break.  We kind of hung out and made sure we didn't get anything tore up more than we already had.  We knew we needed to fix the fenders and the side and everything.

But, you know, there when we lost the draft, we were right in the middle    the first time coming back up through there, we just had to start over again.  But the car was fast.  It's been fast since we unloaded it.  I know I was excited going into the race and thought we had a win    a chance at the win.  But it was fun to drive.  Fun race.

Q.  Kevin, you mentioned the ban on the testing.  Were you concerned people were going to approach this, especially with the dilution of the field to include not just the pole winners, guys you were more accustomed to seeing in the front, were you concerned about the dilution of the field and whether guys were going to use this as a glorified test session?

KEVIN HARVICK:
  It was a glorified test session, to be honest with you.  Every other time we've been in the Shootout coming here, it's like you got to get another car ready.  It's usually your third best car.  You save the two for the 500.  It's a lot of work for the guys getting a third car ready, testing it, doing all the things you do with it.  Then you got to go to Vegas, you got to go to Daytona, you have to do all the testing over the winter.  I hope we cancel testing every winter.  I hate testing.

So I think the enthusiasm, though, if you look they crew guys, they're not beat up from having to run across the country all winter.  The drivers are excited to come down here.  Everybody is excited to be at the racetrack, smell the fumes of the cars, drive laps.  There's just that added enthusiasm.

It's like everybody got a wake up call and said, Hey, we need to get our stuff together.  We had never not been able to go to the racetrack and not test.  Now you get to come to the racetrack and it's like taking your favorite toy away, it's almost like you got grounded for a few months, and now you get to come out and have fun with it again.

Q.  Richard, Kevin, everybody's been talking about the gloom and doom, the economy, the layoffs, all the bad stuff that the been going on.  It's all been pretty negative.  Now we've had a really good race to start the season off.  How important was it to have a good race to get things turned around in people's minds?

RICHARD CHILDRESS:
  I think it was great.  This was a great spectator's race.  It was just all around a great evening.  I think the 500's about sold out I was told tonight.

We have 75 million race fans out there.  They're gonna watch racing, if they watch it at home.  If they can't come to the race, they're gonna be watching it.  The ones that can come, they got to see a great race tonight.  I think they'll see a great 500 also.

KEVIN HARVICK: I think there's just a lot of ingredients that go into having a good race tonight.  I think it was not being at the racetrack for all that time.  I think everybody really wanted to go out and see what they had and push as hard as they could because there wasn't anything on the line.

I think we just got a lot better handle on the racecars from where we were last year at this time.  The old car we ran, it was developed through, what, 10 or 12 years from start to finish.  Basically that body style.  You put a year under these guys' belts that work on these cars week after week, they get faster, they get easier to drive.  Not that these things are easy to drive.  They move around a lot.  But it's just a lot of ingredients that go into it.

I think a great positive came out of tonight.  I think the fans are gonna be pumped up.  I know the drivers are pumped up to do whatever we can.  Just excited to be a part of the sport right now.

KERRY THARP:  Crew chief Todd Berrier for the Budweiser Shootout, your thoughts about how the race unfolded?

TODD BERRIER:
You know, the race was pretty exciting to watch the whole time.  We lost the draft a couple times.  That's not really exciting.  But you knew the way they were beating and banging, there were going to be cautions to catch us back up.  Gets really exciting towards the end of these things.  To be in the position where we were, fifth on the next to the last lap, be able to dice and do like we did, awesome to come away winning.  If we can be up here talking next Sunday, that would be the main thing.

KERRY THARP:  We'll continue with questions.

Q.  Kevin, you had to come back up through the field a couple of times.  This was the largest field in Shootout history.  How much do you think the size of the field had to do with the contact and aggressive driving?

KEVIN HARVICK
:  It seemed like even when the field dwindled down there to a little less than what we usually have in a Shootout, we still had a little beating and banging.  I think everybody was just really jacked up for tonight and just wanted to race.  I think everybody just wanted to race really bad.  Everybody was just gonna kind of throw caution to the wind.

It's just kind of the way it was tonight.  It was a lot of fun to be part of.

Q.  Todd and Kevin, did you guys have a particular strategy for the end of the race?  Does it make any sense to try to have a strategy when you know guys are going to go four wide?

KEVIN HARVICK:
  Before the race, Richard was telling me the first 25 laps don't mean anything.  Todd always tells me to go as hard as I can.  I just go somewhere in the middle, hope for the best (laughter).

Q.  Todd, you probably were never happier to see a 10 minute pit stop.  What did you do in that 10 minutes?

TODD BERRIER:
  There before the break, he got into it with somebody, a couple different times.  Beat both of the fenders in.  Split the left front fender.  We had to rivet it back behind it, patch it, beat it out.  Before that, the car got tight.  It was from the fenders being knocked in.  It was nice to have 10 minutes to do it.  We used seven or eight of them.  We welcomed it.

Having that break, everybody knows that, I guess it's kind of the way    the reason things get tore up as much as they do.  We had double file restarts all night.  We knew things were going to get beat up, and we knew we would get a chance to make it better.

Q.  Kevin, back in testing Jeff said the organization needed to find a little bit more speed.  Maybe a dumb question, but what was your assessment of that situation after tonight's race?

KEVIN HARVICK:
Our car's been fast since we unloaded it.  I felt like our cars were really good at the second half of the season.  If you look at where we were a year ago, I think you can really put a lot towards the team and what they've done with the engines, what they've done with the cars.  A lot of hard work has gone in to getting these cars where they were.

Last year at this point it was like, Man, I hope we can keep up with the draft.  Since then, everybody just kind of put their head down and went to work.  They came up with a good plan with the 33 car as far as developing some stuff.

Like I say, our car, I told them we could win the race after the first practice yesterday because our car was fast and it just handled good.

Is that a lie?

TODD BERRIER: That's right.

KEVIN HARVICK:  One of those deals where you just felt really confident in what you had.  The car was fast, so...  I guess if you're looking for how fast the car was, it was fast today.

Q.  You say your car was really fast.  Jeff Gordon came over the radio late in the race with less than 10 laps to go and said, I think the 29 was hanging back there, just saving his stuff till the end of the race.  Was that the case?

KEVIN HARVICK:
  I think it was just a matter of circumstances.  We were going right off the bat.  I think we made it up to eighth or ninth in the beginning, had the damage happen to the fender.  I got right side in the wall all at the same time.

I think it was just circumstances more than anything.  I know it might have seemed like we were lagging back there, but we were going as hard as we could go.  Our goal was to get by a few of the cars that we felt like we didn't need to be behind that might cause a little accident here or there.  In the end, I think we finally got to show our car being fast.

Q.  Richard, can you give us an update on the engine problems from yesterday with Jeff's engine.
RICHARD CHILDRESS:
  We had a crankshaft that we had done some work with just to run in this race.  I think we had a little too low oil pressure.  If you seen Kevin and Kasey came in, we turned the oil pressure up and didn't have a problem with either one of those after that.

It's something that was a little different than we'll be running in the 500.  This is a good place to bring it, try it.  Now we know we got to run a little more oil pressure with it.

Q.  I know this is the Budweiser Shootout, not a points race.  Do you have the feeling going into this year that you can be the anti Jimmie Johnson, the guy that can have a shot at winning the title this year?

KEVIN HARVICK:
  I think over the last five years we've had moments of everything that we needed to do, but we just need to put it all in one year.  Last year from Chicago on, we ran in the top 10, top five every week.  2006 we won a ton of races.  2003 we were consistent.  Just kind of fell behind in the beginning.

We've got all the ingredients.  We've made a couple small changes to the teams.  We added a team.  We made a couple small changes within our team.  It's a lot easier to take these teams apart than it is to build a championship team.  We have good chemistry.  I think we're all a lot calmer than we were five years ago and relaxed, really get along well with each other.  So I think that means a lot.

I think our experience carries us when we're having a bad day.  Like today, we could have all flipped out and had something crazy happen.  But we all kept our heads on, stayed calm, wound up winning the race.

I'm not going to sit up here and promise you can beat that 48 because they've been hard to beat the last three years.  Right now we don't think anybody can beat us.

KERRY THARP:  Thank you.



An interview with:
JAMIE McMurray
TONY STEWART


THE MODERATOR:  We're now joined in the media center by tonight's second place finisher, Jamie McMurray.  Tell us about your run out there tonight.

JAMIE McMurry:
  It will be a long night.  I'll think about what maybe I should have done different as I go to sleep tonight.

I moved up at the end.  I'm not going to talk about the rest of the race, because it seems irrelevant when you get down to the last lap.  I'm not going to tell you how my pit stops and all went.  I moved up to block Kevin.  When I did, I didn't go all the way up against the wall.  I thought I was far enough up against the wall that he couldn't fit.  My reason was I assumed I could kind of slingshot back to the inside and I didn't want to have to have another four feet to block him.  His car just fit through there.  I wouldn't have bet it would have.

It's a really good night for us.  It's the first race that Donnie has crew chiefed for me again in the last three years.  He did a really good job.  Everybody did a good job.  We won here in July a couple years ago.  Last year I felt like this was one of my worst tracks.  Car did not drive very well.  Just never could really get a good feel for it.  It was the first year with the Car of Tomorrow at this place.  But they did a really good job.  The setup we unloaded with, the few small adjustments we made in practice, really made our car good, drive well.

THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up to questions.

Q.  You really started to turn things up at the end of last year.  You mentioned you got Donnie back.  Great way to start the year.  How important is it for you to really continue what you had going?

JAMIE McMurry:
  Well, I mean, last year really when we ended the season, I was saying coming in here, I love the media center, because when you get to come to the media center, you did well.  I got to come to the media center after qualifying, and I think every race, the last four.  I think when you sit all winter and you have that, I was actually a little bit nervous before the race started tonight, just anticipating wanting to get back in the car after not being in it for the last couple months.

After practice last night, I knew how well my car was driving.  I knew if we could stay out of trouble, we'd have a chance to win tonight.

It's great.  I'm excited for my whole team because we ran so well last year at the end.  You just want to make it all happen this year.  You can't really force that.  It's hard to explain when things are going well how everything just kind of flows.  It's easier to run well right now than it's ever been for me just 'cause everything's working.

Q.  With all the inordinate beating and banging that was going on out there, do you think some of those cars that survived that late to challenge, you, 24, 48, 29, they were all beat up, two years ago with the old car, could they have survived that kind of dents and dings aerodynamically to be challengers late in the race?

JAMIE McMurry:
  I think here you could have because the front end of the car they put this big steel plate.  You have to hit hard enough that it knocks the engine out to dent the fenders and stuff now.  We started that four or five years ago.  Maybe here because the front of the cars are so tough.

Honestly, the leader is kind of a sitting duck with this car.  It's cool because you can pass him.  With the other car, if there would have been a 'green white checkered', I don't think you would have seen a pass because you couldn't get the shove and the pushes that you can with this car.

When you're the leader, you get pushed so far out in front, you actually have to drag the brake a little bit so you don't get a big enough gap or too big of a gap between you and the pack because you know they're going to come.  You can't move up to block them, they're coming so fast.

I did a pretty good job of that.  But it's hard when you come to the white flag to let off or to like drag the brake a little bit.  It's tough to do.  I let those guys get too big of a gap on me.

Q.  Do you think this race would have been different if there had been winter testing?

JAMIE McMurry:
  I don't know.  I know that when you come here for winter testing and they make the first set of runs, everybody goes out and makes their mock up runs, the same guys come back here and qualify well that are fast that first time off the truck.  There's not a tremendous amount that you can do to this car.  The other car you changed crush panels in it, they did air boxes, moved the fenders.  They did all kinds of stuff.  When you would see testing, the cars would be gray, then they would have separate panels put on them.  You can't really do that with this car.

So I don't think it would have been dramatically different.  When you come here and you test and you do your race runs, the cars typically drive really well because it's so cool and there's not a lot of rubber on the track.  When you come back for the race, it seems like they never drove as well.

I don't know.  I don't think it would have been dramatically different.  It seemed like a great race to me.  I don't know what it looked like for you guys.  It seemed like the racing was really good.

Q.  About the racing being real good, we had a winter where all the headlines were about layoffs and struggles in the economy.  How big was this to come out and put on a good show and get people excited about racing?

JAMIE McMurry:
  Well, I think it's huge.  When we did driver intros, I looked up in the stands, it didn't look like a huge crowd.  But it is the Shootout.  I know we typically don't have as many cars.  When you look up there, you take that for granted I think sometimes in our sport in relation to maybe IRL and Grand Am, some of the other series, they don't sell out the stands.  Ever since I've been in the sport, they've been selling out Bristol and all these racetracks.

I think with the economy the way it is, with the amount of layoffs, it's almost depressing right now to turn the news on.  I get up at 6 a.m., turn the news on.  Every morning it seems like the headline is how many people were laid off from major corporations.

I think it will be a tough year for us and for the tracks to sell tickets.  But I know there's been a little bit of drama or controversy about the track promoters wanting the drivers to help out.  Maybe that wasn't worded right, when the promoter said it the first time.  For me at least, my opinion is that I would help out what I could to sell tickets and to do something right now to make sure that you're going to have the sellouts for the next 10 years or 20 years, however long that is, until the economy gets turned around in the next year or so.

Q.  I know some drivers were predicting a wild night beforehand.  Did anything surprise you about tonight?  Was it what you expected?  Is it what you might see later in the week?

JAMIE McMurry:
  Well, when we race in the daytime, it's going to be a little bit different.  I think you'll see a little bit more    especially when we get to run 40 laps on a set of tires.  When the race started, it wasn't necessarily the fastest cars in the front, there maybe were some faster cars in the back, what was a little bit edgy was the guys that started in the front, cars didn't drive very well, they would have to slow down a little bit getting in the corner and somebody would shoot the gap on the outside.  It was sucking those guys around.  Bobby Labonte, for three laps, he was trying to get out of the way, and he couldn't.  I don't know how he didn't spin out all the way, but he didn't.

I believe when it gets hot, it's going to be worse there.  Handling will be huge.  The 500 starts in the daytime.  Seems like it spreads out a little bit in the beginning.  Once we put our last two or three sets of tires on, the sun has gone down, I think it will be really good racing like you saw tonight.

Q.  Donnie said it felt like the old band was back again with you in the car.  Did it feel like that to you, like you just were working with him last November?

JAMIE McMurry:
  You know, yeah.  And it really    for me it happened at Phoenix when we did the tire test, getting in the car for the very first time.  You do a radio check.  Donnie, can you hear me?  The first time I heard him say, Yeah, 10 4.  It's so weird to hear his voice again.  Lauren is the same way.  I was really comfortable with Lauren spotting for me all those years.  To get to have both of them back at the same time, I mean, it's very comforting.

I don't know.  It's really hard for me to explain to you the comfort or the confidence that I have in those two guys.  I feel like when we ran at Ganassi, we ran really well.  I didn't think we had near as good of equipment as what we have at Roush Fenway.  I spent the whole winter    I don't think it does any good to do media day and to do these interviews and blow smoke up everyone's ass about how great it's going to be.  I think it's better to come out and do well.

I am so anxious to kind of get the season underway, get through those first four or five races, get to see you guys hopefully a lot.

Q.  It looked to me like all the cars were out of control out there.  I don't know if it's because it's the Shootout, with a loose setup.  I think they were changing tires after seven laps.  Tony even did the last two laps on a new set of tires.  What was the deal on the cars looking so out of control?  Were they really that out of control?

JAMIE McMurry:
  My car did not feel out of control.  They bounce around a lot.  That's good.  I mean, I told someone that the other day.  They said they should repave the racetrack.  I said, God, no.  That's what makes Daytona so good.  The huge bump in turn one.  That's what makes the good handling cars shine, if you hit those bumps.

There were some that didn't drive well tonight.  I think that's just fine.  I think that's great.  Sometimes you come to these plate races, Talladega is probably an example, you get in the back and you can't pass because everybody's car drives well.  I think is fine that not everyone is driving perfect and you have to get your car to handle and it's a little more work for the driver.

Q.  With all those Chevrolets back there behind you on that last lap, did you almost kind of feel like the cavalry was coming after you?

JAMIE McMurry:
  I felt pretty good because it was only a 'green white checkered' and I had Jeff on the outside and Jimmie behind me.  I thought there's no way in hell that Jimmie was going to be able to get to Jeff.  I knew he would have to push me.

You just never know.  I said something to Lauren with a few to go.  I'm like, We've got a car that can win.  When we came to the 'green white checkered,' it's just going to be who gets the line to push them the best at the right time.  The cars are so stacked up on the restart.

I didn't really care about who necessarily, whether it was a Ford or a Chevy.  I wanted somebody that maybe liked me, you know.

THE MODERATOR:  Jamie, thank you.

JAMIE McMurry:
  Thank you.

THE MODERATOR:  We're now joined by Tony Stewart.  Tony, tell us about your run.

TONY STEWART:
  I don't know.  I got to ask Jamie McMurray.  Apparently he was talking about me.

No, I'm happy with it.  Wasn't the prettiest third place we've ever got.  But if there was ever a day to take one, this was the day for sure.

We had nothing to lose on that last caution.  We were able to come in and get four.  We saw how it paid off for the 11 and 24.  We had the luxury, since we were at the tail end of the pack, being able to pick which line we wanted, knowing that if there was any kind of gap at all, with fresh tires, we were going to be able to go wherever we wanted and have enough grip.  That's basically what we did.  We just picked whichever hole we wanted, and we were able to get up to a good spot.  Got lucky being on the bottom when the wreck happened at the end.

THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up to questions.

Q.  Been a lot of bad news over the winter about layoffs, economic hard times.  Seemed to be a very entertaining race tonight.  How big was it to get the season started off on a big note for the sport?

TONY STEWART:
  I think it was big, obviously.  I mean, I think one of the funniest things I've laughed about the whole day, as odd as it's going to sound, when the national anthem was going on, and the lady's microphone kept going in and out, and the crowd picked it up from there.  The whole crowd was singing the national anthem.  Didn't miss a beat.  Like you didn't even care if her mic came back on or not.  Bless her heart.  It was one of those things, like this sport is going to be all right.

The fans were here.  Fans were pumped up about the Shootout tonight.  It just kind of made me smile, made me laugh, made me forget that I was going to get ready to get in my own racecar for the first time.

If that's any sign of what's to come with the economy and the fans, we got some dedicated fans and we got fans that, no matter what the circumstances are, they're going to rise to the occasion obviously.

But as far as us tonight, I mean, you couldn't have asked for a better night.  Like I said, it wasn't that we were the third place car.  We ended up finishing third, but we weren't the third place car.  We had I think probably one of the top five best handling cars out there.  We got some things we need to work on.  It's given us a direction on what we need to concentrate on this week before the qualifying race.  Obviously, if we haven't figured it out by then, we got two more days to work on it.

I'm really proud of Darian.  I'm proud of the guys.  They had really good stops tonight.  As odd as it's going to sound, it almost seemed like we worked together before.  I was really surprised in the confidence I heard from him every time the caution came out about what we were going to do, how much of a change we were going to make.  He really impressed me tonight.

You never know what's gonna happen that first night with a new guy.  It really put me at ease I guess the whole night.  Just hearing his confidence on the radio gave me confidence.  We led laps tonight.  We were a factor at parts of the night.  I think everybody at some point of the night was vulnerable and able to fall to the back and get freight trained.

We led laps, we ran in the top five a lot.  We were in the back a lot, too.  At the end we ended up where we needed to be.

Q.  Did it feel like the dawn of a new era for you or just like old times?

TONY STEWART:
  I don't know.  It was like business as usual while you were in the car.  Like I said, when we led those laps, I wasn't thinking anything about it.  Didn't seem like it was any different than when we were in the 20 car in the past.

It wasn't till the caution that came after we got the lead there that it was, man, we just led some laps in our first race with our own stuff.

It's a proud moment when you realize that you've seen everything happen firsthand at the shop and seen it build and develop over the winter, to see how it got here.  It's not just disappear for the winter and go off and mess around on vacation or whatever, then show up at the track and all of a sudden you go to work again.  It's been a little more detailed than that for me this winter.  I guess it hit a little harder when we led those first laps.

Q.  The tone of this race seemed to be like it was on edge, waiting for stuff to happen, it happened.  Did it seem like cars were bumping around the a little more than usual to you or was it about the same?

TONY STEWART:
I felt like for the most part it was the same.  I think we noticed last night between the two sessions, race practices yesterday, that the second session, everybody had more grip.  Any time you get more grip, guys are going to start putting it in places that are going to make them get edgy.

What surprised me was how many times guys could go through the middle and not be totally out of control.  Guys got their cars driving pretty good to when they got in the center, they were able to go on and not be waiting on the wreck to happen.

It's just a lot of movement around there.  This isn't the widest track that we run on by any means.  It gets pretty crowded.  Especially when you get three wide there.  Even at the end, I think on the last lap, we were four wide at one point in one and two.  That's something you very, very rarely see.

As much as it just seemed like it was half out of control, it seemed like everybody was in control, too.  Any time they get more comfortable, guys are just going to push that much harder to get them where they are on the edge.  That's basically what happened.

Q.  What do you think the difference is?  I think we can anticipate the middle portion is somewhat sane, fairly insane end of the race.  How much difference does it make between running in the daytime and running at night?

TONY STEWART:
  The thing I think I'm going to base this decision off of is what happened last year.  Until it got dark, until that temperature and track temperature cooled down, guys had a hard time with the handling.  You saw everybody kind of separate.  Like you say, it was pretty much tame.  But it was tame because guys didn't have good enough grip to get themselves in compromising positions.

I think it will be like that in the daytime.  I'm sure Thursday will be a really good indication of that.  Any time you get any temperature at this track, this track is very temperature sensitive, just like Indy and some of the other places we go to, Charlotte.  Just seems like any time there's any kind of track temperature at all, everybody's cars slide around.

When it cools off, by that time, everybody has had all day to work on their cars, make adjustments.  When the track cools off, you get close to those money laps, it definitely is going to get crazy again.

Q.  It's one thing to get on the track yesterday for practice after a long off season.  A race like this, was that pretty much what you were hoping for to get those juices flowing, particularly in your situation?

TONY STEWART:
  I'll be honest.  I just wanted to finish the race today.  I wanted to get through the live pit stop, through the second segment of the race, and just kind of get everybody that chance to get through that first bit of the season.  I mean, even if we didn't finish the race, as long as we got through that first pit stop, that was going to be good that we got those guys in that mode.

I wanted to stay out of trouble for the most part.  It wasn't that we played it that way, and it wasn't that we played it safe.  It's just that was my goal at the end of the day was, If we can finish this thing, we'll take whatever it gives us.

These last two days were really important for Darian and I to work together.  I'm going to bed tonight with a lot of confidence that I didn't have coming into tonight, just because you just don't know.  You don't know what it's gonna be like.  This was our first test.  I felt like Darian and I, the communication between us was very, very good.  From that side of it, I'm real pleased with the result of that, and that gives us confidence going into not necessarily tomorrow, but when we come back on Wednesday and go back to race practice, that's gonna give us a lot of confidence, I think.

Q.  You stopped for tires.  You were running 13th.  Is that going to be a strategy we look for in the 500?  Do you feel half the guys are going to stop for tires?

TONY STEWART:
  It could happen that way, for sure.  Obviously when Denny and Jeff came in and got their tires, they were able to blast back up through there, too.  I think part of it's the draft, part of it's tires.  Neither is a bad thing.  But it definitely is gonna make guys think.

I don't think it's gonna be so much track position as you would think.  But I think there's going to be guys that might gamble and try to stay out and get track position, knowing what little might be able to happen in two laps.  Then there are guys going to be able to look back on the night and say these were two different situations where guys in the back took tires and it paid off for them.

I think it's probably going to be more the second case than the first case.  I think you'll see guys gambling on coming in.  I don't know how many guys tried two tire stops today.  Seemed like they all took four.  I don't think you'll see a lot of two tire stops.  I think if they come, they'll come for four.

Q.  There was a record number of lead changes and I believe a record number of cautions.  Any opinions on why?

TONY STEWART:
  I don't know.  I think the record number of lead changes is a good thing, though, for sure.  I can't really say that I know exactly why the record number of cautions.  There's one thing.  There's nobody I think that can leave today and say they didn't see an exciting race.  Hopefully that's the way the whole season is going to be for all of us.

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