Tag:Darian Grubb
Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:18 pm

Hamlin, Grubb, Gibbs post Phoenix comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

This has got to feel very, very good, getting this first win as the crew chief for the No. 11 FedEx Toyota.

DARIAN GRUBB:  It really does.  It's a great team effort.  All of Joe Gibbs Racing did a great job getting us here.  Did a lot of work in the off-season.  Did a great job with the pit crew and everybody that was here at the racetrack and back at home, we couldn't do it without them and the support of FedEx and Toyota and TRD engines has been pretty good.

KERRY THARP:  Our race winner has joined us, Denny Hamlin, congratulations on winning here at Phoenix, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota goes to victory lane.  It's his 18th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, his first win at Phoenix, and you are the points leader after two races.  He's joined by team owner coach Joe Gibbs, and Denny, congratulations.  I know this one has got to really feel good for you coming out here and winning this race, making a statement early in the season.

DENNY HAMLIN:  Yeah, absolutely.  This is the first chance that me and him have to work together in a race situation where he's going to have to make a lot of adjustments, and needless to say, it was going forward the entire day.  It's still a learning process between me and Darian.  The communication has still got a long way to go, and he's going to have to figure out my measurements and all that stuff of how much he needs to work on the car.  But to have the success this early just tells me that once we get things down pat, it's going to be pretty good.

KERRY THARP:  Coach Gibbs, congratulations on a really outstanding win here today, and maybe talk about how this No. 11 team really shined here today.

JOE GIBBS:  Well, we're excited because for me it's two races in a row, restrictor plate and then we come here.  FedEx is just a terrific partner.  We had a tough, long, hard year last year, and going through all that, and this year to come out of the box the way we have has just been awesome.  I think our crew chiefs just seem to have a great chemistry now and Darian, their relationship is still growing, but I think we're really excited about this, and I think we're -- I've got a great -- a very good feeling about this year, so hopefully we can continue.

Q.  Darian, before you got here Denny said all we do is win.  It seems like you can go anywhere and win.  What's the vindication like for you to go from one organization, a championship caliber organization, to another championship caliber organization, but just step in there and right out of the box, man, here you are successful all over again?

DARIAN GRUBB:  I guess you could say it is a little bit of vindication, but I really don't think that way. I try to just think the high road all the time.  I feel like I came into a very good situation.  Mike Ford built one heck of a team here with the 11 car, and the FedEx Toyota is obviously really strong, Joe Gibbs organization is very strong.  I've got a lot of friends in both organizations but I'm proud to come in here and lead this bunch of guys, and even just guys like John Furino who's actually at home now, his father passed away, he left Phoenix to go back and we dedicated this win to him because he's a big part of it.  We're a united team.  We're working together that way, and we are just going to keep doing it.

Q.  For Denny and Joe, first Joe, as a coach who was in demand in the NFL for a long time, do you feel like you've hired the guy who's the -- you got the championship coach here that just happened to be available and you hit the jackpot here?

JOE GIBBS:  Well, I like coaches.  I think coaches deserve a lot.  Not money, not money (laughing).  No, we know that it takes -- for Darian, I'm always amazed at how close it is to the football operation because a coach in football roughly works with 13 assistant coaches.  Over here Darian has got to come in, and I think what he's done is done a great job of getting those guys all together.  It is a team effort.  I think he's done a great job in a short period of time.  It's hard to do today.  My understanding, the track changed a lot, and I think he was -- made some great calls there.  He and Denny working together.  So I think that really says a lot about our team.  And I'm excited about having the coaches we've got.  We've got three good ones right now.

Q.  Do you feel like you hired a ringer here?

JOE GIBBS:  Yeah, probably, although, let me say this, he's already won a championship.  This is probably downhill for Darian (laughing).

KERRY THARP:  He won a championship and a Daytona 500.

Q.  And for Denny, you must feel like that.

DENNY HAMLIN:  Yeah, no doubt.  Obviously he comes in a with a lot of knowledge.  The biggest thing I learned early on is his team-building, the way he helps get all the guys surrounded about one goal, and so that's the biggest thing that I've noticed is how tuned he is with the race team, and obviously we've got everyone behind us within our 11 team, and JGR right now believing in the thought process that Darian has.  Obviously when he has faith in me that he feels like he can win a championship with me, after all the choices he had in the off-season, that gives me a lot of confidence, and those two are just meshing well right now.

Q.  Denny, you said in here I think it was on Friday that now you really see how good Darian was.  Were you pretty confident or just trying to get him --

DENNY HAMLIN:  I mean, for me, I don't know where this came from.  I don't know how our car was as good as it was today.  We were solidly off in practice.  We were off, but we kept getting it better and closer to being competitive.  But I had no idea we were going to fire off like we did today.

You know, it just seemed like we kept improving our car, and I think the turning point for us was that green flag pit stop.  Whatever he did to the car at that point was just lights-out after that.

Q.  Nothing will probably ever erase November of 2010, but do you feel like when you come back here in November 2011 you'll be ready and have no bad memories?  How will you feel?

DENNY HAMLIN:  Yeah, it's a little bit of satisfaction there for sure.  I mean, this is a -- it's a bittersweet track.  Before that moment, I had a lot of success at this track, ran very competitive.  Never got a win, but last year I wasn't a huge fan of the racetrack obviously because I wasn't that competitive.  And then this year, starting off this like, this is not my type of racetrack.  Even though it's short and flat and that's the type of characteristics people put me on as a race car driver, a new surface is not particularly my forte.  So to be competitive under these circumstances, it just kind of reminds me of 2010 where we were winning at tracks that no one expected us to win at, and we were starting to be race winners at tracks where we hadn't before.

You know, and it seems like throughout my career, whenever we lock onto one racetrack and we win, we win multiple times there.  Obviously this being the second to the last race of the season, hopefully it's a sign of things to come later.

Q.  Denny, to follow up, the last time you held the points lead was when you left here in November 2010.  Does this sort of make that experience dead and buried?  Does that put in the past once and for all at this point?

DENNY HAMLIN:  Yeah, I mean, I think so.  I mean, it's -- you know, last year, we just never got going.  Yeah, maybe there was a hangover effect for the first half of the year.  You can claim that.  But it didn't have anything to do with how bad I ran the last ten races.  We just didn't have it all together.  But we've made some good changes within our organization.  Obviously partnering with TRD with our engines, having a common engine amongst all the Toyota cars is going to be a big plus.  So we've still got work to do.  I'm still going to push for more and more and more things within our race car.  That's the attitude you've got to have to stay on top.

When I come back here, it just puts 2011 to rest.  That year is done.  It's a year that I'd just as soon forget about, and now we're focused on winning a championship.

Q.  Now that you say 2011 is a thing of the past, now looking at the future for the season, can you say right now you have a good shot of winning the championship?

DENNY HAMLIN:  Well, if we run as well as we did today, absolutely.  You know, but you never know what can happen next week.  We're at a totally different racetrack again, and it looks like really the first five racetracks that we go to are all dramatically different in a lot of different ways.  So now our next step is to be competitive on a mile and a half racetrack.  That's relatively new pavement similar to this, so there will be some things that we learn from this racetrack that will transfer over.  It's going to kind of give us the make up and see where we need to work within our program the first five races, see where our strong suits are, see where we are weak and need to improve.

Q.  For Darian, were you able to bring some stuff that worked well for you with Tony here last year to these guys?  And for Denny, how important was it just for you two to win together early in the season just as far as your chemistry is concerned?

DARIAN GRUBB:  On the car and the setup side of it, really didn't change a whole lot.  They had good cars here in the past, just needed some tweaking and tuning for the new track conditions and those things, and working together with Dave Rogers and Jason rad cliff, I learned a lot just about the way they do different things and took a lot of those things into account as we went forward.  We made some small tweaks on things that I knew worked for adjustments, but other than that the cars are Joe Gibbs Racing cars and everybody back at the shop did a really good job over the off-season preparing those things to get ready to go to the racetrack.  If you look we pretty much ran in the top 10 all day with all three cars once they got there.  So it was a pretty strong showing and I'm pretty proud of that.

Q.  Denny, how important do you think it was for you guys to win together for your chemistry?

DENNY HAMLIN:  Good.  It's still going to build.  I honestly feel like it's going to be realistically two months before we're totally clicking and knowing exactly what each other is saying and talking about.  So to have success early tells me that we've obviously got a good pairing here.

But for me, I think that this is also, like Darian said, a testament to JGR and the steps it's taken in the off-season.  All three cars in the top 10 and all three being competitive all day long is something that we struggled with the second half of last season.  So we're at least getting back to being the JGR of old.

Q.  Could you talk about the last 60 laps when you had the 29 slowly closing the gap until he ran out of fuel there right at the end?

DENNY HAMLIN:  Yeah, I mean, I was running kind of how I needed to run.  He had obviously a very dominant car throughout the day, and it seemed like it was kind of a repeat of yesterday, me and him kind of having two of the best cars there for the most part.  I was just maintaining -- it was a tough balance because it's kind of a cat and mouse game of how hard you want to push it, is he going to push you to run harder and run out of fuel.

Darian just kept me updated every lap of my interval to the 29, and when I felt like he was getting too close, we would step up a little bit and kind of get the lap time where we needed it.

Track position was huge for our car once we got out front.  It was a very fast race car.  At that point it was just all about fuel conservation.

Q.  Darian, I think it was the media tour you said Gavin was having trouble learning to switch his allegiance to Denny.

DARIAN GRUBB:  We have an update on that.  I actually got a picture from my wife a few minutes ago while I was in victory lane Gavin holding his No. 11 Teddy Bear with the No. 1 held up.

Q.  Two things:  Darian, can you talk about, Tony was really good at shutting off his engine last year to conserve fuel and it bit him today.  Can you give us the technical side of that.  And Denny, a lot of guys were complaining about aero tide, if you got up to a guy, Junior said he felt four to six car lengths behind.  Can you talk about the cars so we know what to look forward to in the upcoming weeks?

DARIAN GRUBB:  On the car side of things, I think that is just something that is very tough because of this racetrack and the way the surface is.  The whole field was pretty much within two tenths of a second unless you were the leader and got clean air.  Those were the only guys who could run exceptionally fast laps.  As soon as you went back third or fourth in traffic, you kind of ran lap times that everybody around you ran but Denny was able to testament to that.

As far as shutting the cars off and things like that that's something we're all learning as we go -- a weekly process.  I feel like the Toyota and TRD guys have done a good job informing us of how those things work and we're still learning every week with that.  Obviously Joey had a problem at Daytona very similar, and we learned from that and tried not to have those mistakes today.

DENNY HAMLIN:  Yeah, as far as the aero tight stuff it was very typical to what it was here in the fall, but it's getting better.  The good news is that this is a very hot city in the summer, so it will help hopefully with the aging with the racetrack to help speed that up because the more the track has age on it, the more you're going to be able to move around.  The groove actually moved up quite a bit -- I was running some of my best lap times up two car lengths in the corner.  It's just a product of it -- Goodyear and NASCAR is in such a hard box when it comes with coming with the right combination of tire and speed, so they've got to put us on a hard tire until the surface slows down or else we're going to blow tires out.  The reason we're aero tight is because the tires are just so hard that we're struggling to -- we've got to have the air to keep our car planted to the racetrack.  We fought it all day just like everyone else, but it just seemed like our car was able to pass better than others for whatever reason, especially with about 100 to go.

Q.  Denny, can you talk about the time off that you took here and how it just really helped you reset, rebalance and come back prepared to do what you're planning to do?

DENNY HAMLIN:  Well, I mean, you hear the good and the bad criticism about not being around the race team for two months while the season is not going on.  But that's what I needed to improve myself, and I was just as weak a link as anyone last year within our program.  What I needed to do to make myself better is what I did, and that was just get away and not even think about racing for a while.

But when it came time to get to the racetrack, my focus is solely on winning races and winning a championship, and I'll do anything it takes to do that.  It's just my way of doing things.  It's what I needed to do to improve my driving and my focus.

Q.  Darian, is this job in some ways a lot easier than when you took over at Stewart-Haas Racing because that was a team you had to build, a team that had not been successful?  This is a team that had been successful.  Was the transition doing this, has it been easier for you?

DARIAN GRUBB:  I'd say easier and harder because at least when I was transitioning into that I knew the equipment.  I was very familiar with that, with everything.  That's the main reason they brought me in is I knew what tools and people we were dealing with.

Now this is just all new tools and all new people, but it's still the same job.  Luckily they have a very strong organization already.  I don't need to change any of those things, it's coming in and learning the people and learning how to get the best out of all those individuals, and the pieces and parts are there.

Q.  Darian, it was apparently a circuit breaker on Tony's car that flipped, and that's what -- they don't know when during the race it happened.  Is that something that -- will you guys try to look at those things, or is it something that you just kind of have to wait until it happens to you to try to figure out if there's some sort of glitch in the system?

DARIAN GRUBB:  I'll just say thanks for the tidbit.  We'll look at that when we get back.  I feel like we have a really good understanding and even the TRD guys, we had some issues here at the racetrack this weekend and they did a great job informing us what was going on so we knew what to look for in certain areas.  Hopefully those things won't come back to bite us.  I'm going to knock on some wood somewhere.  It is a new system.  You're always going to have the doubt in the back of your mind because it's not something you're comfortable with.

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Posted on: January 14, 2012 4:48 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 4:58 pm

Denny Hamlin and Darian Grubb ready to go

By Pete Pistone

  Denny Hamlin, Driver Of The #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Speaks
(Hamlin will be in the spotlight this year with a new crew chief trying to help rebound from 2011's disappointment)

Denny Hamlin
has his sights set on rebounding from last year's disappointing season and is ready to move ahead with new crew chief Darian Grubb.

After Joe Gibbs Racing decided to relieve former crew chief Mike Ford of his duties, Grubb was brought in as his replacement fresh off his championship season with Tony Stewart.

Although it's early in the process, Hamlin says things are progressing but that the relationship will take time to devleop.

"It's hard to say right now," Hamlin said as the duo continued their working together during this week Preseason Thunder test at Daytona.  "Really, you just go through checklist stuff when you get to a test like this.  Until we get somewhere -- I think we're going to have a tire test at Texas here in a few weeks -- that's really going to be the moment where I see how he does things and how he relates to the way I react to how the car is doing." 

As for personalities, Hamlin sees several similarities between Ford and Grubb.

"Very laid back," he said.  "Very similar to Mike in that sense.  Both of them are very laid back at the race track and I think they both have very similar demeanors." Hamlin won a race last season and did make the Chase but came nowhere close to repeating his 2010 campaign when he won eight times and nearly took home the Sprint Cup Series championship.

Despite the many disappointments and frustrations from a year ago, Hamlin says there are lessons learned he believes will help going forward.

"It was a trying year for everyone with the team and coming back I feel like we're stronger than what we've ever been," Hamlin said. "We've made a lot of changes within our organization.  Not just the crew chief, but a lot of people.  We have a new spotter this year.  All three teams have new spotters.

"There's a lot of internal changes that's gone on at JGR and I feel like we've got good personnel.  The way that we're doing things within our shop I feel like is heading in the right direction.  I think because of that you're going to see a lot more success from everyone at Gibbs." 

Hamlin hopes the installment of Grubb as crew chief will help the No. 11 FedEx Toyota team rach that success.

One of Hamlin's early observations of Grubb's style is the way he's bonding with the race team and trying to build chemistry.

"He's very in tune with the race team," Hamlin said.  "What I've noticed so far is he gets the heartbeat of the guys themselves.  He takes them to dinner just about every night, and understands this is a team sport.  It's not about him and all of the decisions he makes of making that car go well.  It's everyone that has a hand or a wrench on that race car.  He's really in tune with the race team."

Grubb hopes to build a solid relationship with the team as well as the driver and that means getting to know Hamlin outside of their work partnership.
"I definitely want to get to know him outside of the race track and to have that friendship because you have to have that I think to have the open communication with what you want to do," Grubb said.  "You have to be able to be open in good times and bad to make sure you're doing everything the right way.  So, I'm hoping to have some of those relationships on the outside of the race track, not just a professional relationship." 

Hamlin says that has already begun.

"Yeah, it took about a lunch session before I realized how very similar that we are in the backgrounds that we have," Hamlin said. "Obviously him coming from Virginia Tech, that makes it easy to root for the same football teams on Saturday.  It's just -- he's very family and goal oriented in the sense that he's very in tune with his family and he considers his race team his family.  Even though he's a guy that's a little bit quieter than a lot of crew chiefs, he's got a big heart and he's got the brains of about five of me." 

There's still more than amonth to go before the season officially begins when NASCAR returns to Daytona for Speedweeks. During that time they'll be more testing and preparation before the grind of the schedule kicks in.

Hamlin is confident things are headed in the right direction and anxious to get started really putting last year in the rear view mirror with a successful beginning to 2012.

"There's no reason why we shouldn't be successful right off the bat," Hamlin said.  "I think it's typical from me personally to start off slow - - when I say slow, five or six races into the season -- but I think that's going to be a little bit shorter this year.  I think that there's some things that we're going to try to implement with our cars that's going to be down the line and things like that.

"This type of racing is all about timing and when you perform at the right time and we need to perform our best in September.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed 

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 11:01 am

Gibbs hires Grubb as Hamlin's crew chief

By Pete Pistone

The game of NASCAR crew chief musical chairs continued on Friday when Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Darian Grubb would call the shots for Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Toyota next season.

Grubb led Tony Stewart to this year's Sprint Cup title but was released by Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the year.

He now takes over for the disposed Mike Ford to work as Hamlin's crew chief in 2012.

"Darian is a great addition to our organization and person to lead our #11 FedEx team," said team owner Joe Gibbs. "Obviously he has proven the ability to guide a team to a championship and we are excited to have him working with Denny (Hamlin) toward achieving that goal here at Joe Gibbs Racing."  

Grubb spent the last three seasons at SHR after a long career with Hendrick Motorsports. He's excited about joining another top organization at JGR.

"I'm thrilled to join Joe Gibbs Racing," said Grubb. "The chance to work with Denny is something I'm excited about. When you sit down with Joe and J.D. Gibbs you can't help but be excited about this opportunity and the team aspects of JGR. There is no question about the level of support you get here and I'm looking forward to working with everyone across the entire organization."

Speculation is that Ford, who guided Hamlin to eight victories a year ago as well as one win and a Chase berth this season, will join Penske Racing to crew chief for the team's new driver in the No. 22 Dodge.

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 7:15 pm

Mike Ford out as Denny Hamlin's crew chief

By Pete Pistone

Mike Ford has been relieved of his duties as crew chief for Denny Hamlin.

The team released a statement late Tuesday confirming the news that broke earlier in the day.

“Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates what Mike has done for our organization over the past six seasons as crew chief with our No. 11 team,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We’ve decided it was best to make a change with the team now to allow Mike the opportunity to pursue other opportunities.”

JGR has reportedly extended an offer to Darian Grubb, who will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing after leading Tony Stewart to the Sprint Cup Series championship this season. Grubb also has an offer to return to Hendrick Motorsports in an engineering capacity.

The break-up of Ford and Hamlin comes on the heels of a disappointing season that saw the No. 11 FedEx team win only one race after scoring eight victories the previous campaign. Although Hamlin did make the Chase, he was not a factor in the championship race.

During last week's "Champion's Week" activities in Las Vegas Hamlin touched upon the situation inside his race team and how the organization was looking internally to find ways of improving on last year's effort.

"So many teams are making wholesale changes right now that you've got to make changes, too," Hamlin said. "For us, we've got a great group of guys. And a lot of people say that, but I know my guys are very capable of winning championships. Everyone from Mike, the number one guy, to the two and the three are all championship-caliber.

"It's just there's something we've got to work out and get better. It's not always their fault. A lot of these championships are won before you even leave the race shop. So we're not just looking at, 'It's all one person's fault.' I'm as responsible as anyone for our performance this year."

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Posted on: November 20, 2011 10:14 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 11:59 pm

Crew chief Darian Grubb leaving Stewart's team

By Pete Pistone

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Moments after guiding Tony Stewart to the 2011 Sprint Cup Series championship, crew chief Darian Grubb said he would not return to the team next year.

Grubb said he was told earlier in the Chase he was being replaced as Stewart's crew chief next season.

"I always wanted to stay with the organization," Grubb said. "That's the reason I came here – to build something special." 

Stewart wasn't clear on what Grubb's situation was for the long-term.

"I know what his status is for the rest of the night, and I'm going to get him drunk," he said.

"Tomorrow if we can just pick our heads up off the floor without throwing up, I'm going to be extremely happy, but I'll worry about that tomorrow."

Asked whether the championship run this season may change the decision to replace Grubb, Stewart said there are still decisions to be made.

"There's a lot of things in the off-season and decisions that have to be made," he said.  "Obviously we wanted to get through this championship battle first, and we'll sit down as a group, obviously, this week and figure out the direction of our program.

"But, you know, the good thing right now is that we are sitting up here right now as champions and I don't think any of us are really too concerned other than having fun tonight and enjoying the accomplishment we have had over the last ten weeks."

Speculation has Steve Addington leaving Penske Racing and Kurt Busch's team to take the reigns of Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet next season.

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2011 9:11 pm

Tony Stewart, Darian Grubb post Texas comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Q.  You obviously had a great racecar.  There were a couple times during the race Tony hauled it up on his back a little bit.  Did you feel at times he was doing a little extra behind the wheel?    

DARIAN GRUBB:  He definitely did.  Just like Martinsville when we were getting ready to go a lap down.  He keeps fighting, finds that extra 3/10ths in the car.  We fell back.  You could tell the handling was going away a little bit.  The other guys were running up on him a little bit.  He got more speed out of the car and started moving forward after those guys fell off a little bit.  He did a great job adapting to what the car needed.            

Q.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  Have there been many instances this season where from start to finish of a race weekend you have been as strong as you were here?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  I think if you look back early in the season we kind of had some of those same stats going, we just didn't get the finishes like we needed at the end.  Las Vegas is one we qualified, stayed up front, dominated the race, had bad luck and finished second.  Kick myself now, because I wish we did two tires there at the end again to pull off that win instead of Carl.           

Those are points we knew we gave up early in the season.  It's good to have a weekend like this, give everybody that extra shot of confidence to know they can get it done.           

The setups we have are working.  Knowing we have the mile-and-a-half come up at Homestead, hopefully we'll take a lot of these things there and have that same speed.           

Q.  A question about momentum.  Four wins in eight weeks.  I may have this a little bit wrong, but when you substituted for Chad you had two wins with Jimmie.  Does momentum mean anything to you guys?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  Yeah, that was two wins in four weeks.  It's definitely momentum and just the attitude that you carry.  You come in with a little bit more of a pep in your step and you're bouncing around because you know you can get it done.           

Having that extra confidence means a lot, being able to go in, keep your head up, keep working on everything that you think you need to work on, work through practice plans like you think you need to.  When you unload fast, you can afford to work on those things like we did this weekend.            

Q.  You were around the 99 it seemed like in practice and everything.  Talk about the weekend with them.  Was it fun?  What was it like?

DARIAN GRUBB:  It's definitely fun.  It's one of those things where we go out there and have a good time with it.  We do the same job week in and week out regardless of what's going on around us.  When everything happened with the 18 car, it seemed like all the media disappeared away from us.  Every camera was in our stall for the first practice, but after that everybody kind of disappeared.  Bob and I were joking, I'm going to get up in your face and say, What are you having for dinner tonight?          

It's fun.  We have fun with it.  We're all there to get the job done.  We're not there to do the pomp and circumstance and all these other things.  We want to do what we've got to do to make fast racecars.            

Q.  It seems like through the first 26 races of the regular season, it was a struggle.  Once the Chase starts it's like this light bulb moment went off.  Was there one indeed once the Chase started?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  I really don't think so.  We had strong cars, we just didn't get the finishes.  We got in a little bit of a slump in the middle of the summer where it seemed like anything we did didn't go right.  We would have a pit call, it would bite us, next week try to do it again.  Worked one week, wouldn't work the next.          

Just as the Chase started, we got the momentum on our side with the first two wins.  Keep it rolling now.  It's been better ever since.            

Q.  Were you confident all the way there was no way Burton could make it to the finish?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  Pretty confident.  Just the lap they pitted on, we knew they were going to have a hard time stretching it that far.  At that point we were also gaining on them a second a lap.  It was going to pretty much add up we were going to catch them there with one or two to go.  We were trying to get everything we could get.            

Q.  When Burton went into the lead and Tony lost a couple of positions after the last fuel stop, you didn't get panicked?  What did you tell Tony over the radio?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  No, we were pretty confident that they couldn't make it from that early.  If they did, the speed was going to have to be so slow.  We thought we could catch them anyway.  We told him to worry about the 99 that was behind him.  Hopefully it was going to work out.  If nothing else, it was going to be a great points day for us and be ahead of Carl.  We just have to keep fighting for all those points.           

Q.  I know the 99 car had a right front tire problem early on.  Nobody likes right front tire problems.  What were you thinking?  Did you see anything at all?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  We had the same issues.  Pretty much everybody in the garage that was running those speeds did.  The tire is a good tire.  That's the limit of what you can do.  I'm sure Goodyear is going to come back with something a little bit different.  If not, the race is even more exciting with that.  The way the tires fall off the fuel windows were getting shorted anyway.  We had to make sure we take care of it.  If you got really tight, you had to be even more careful.            

Q.  Going into Phoenix, do you look forward to something like that, where you don't have a whole lot of notes, it's going to be more I don't want to say seat of your pants?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  We really do because it's something where we did the tire test there, the open test.  We have four full days of data that we've been digging through for a month and a half.  We're looking forward to going there and seeing if everything we learned while we were there still applies.           

The track is going to change while we're there with all the practice we have.  We have to be smart how we adapt to those changes.  Hopefully we're going to have that speed.           

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Congratulations.           

The man next to you doesn't need any introduction, the winner of tonight's race, Tony Stewart.  It's his second career win at Texas Motor Speedway and fourth in the Chase.  He's three points back of leader Carl Edwards heading into the final two races.           

Tony, talk about your run tonight.           

TONY STEWART:  I think it was all right (smiling).  It was fair.  We probably could have done a better job.          

I don't know what we could have done any different.  We had a good car to start with and the good thing was it was close enough to where Darian was fine tuning all day.  This is a race where the conditions change a bunch from the beginning of the day to the end.  I was real proud we were able to adapt all day long.           

I don't know that we ever got out of the top five there the whole race.  Seemed like we just kind of stayed there, stayed in the top three or four the whole day.  Restarts were key obviously.  But we got a really good restart that last one, had the lead coming into the pit stop.  Our guys did an awesome job in the pits, got us out ahead of him.  That was really the difference, was just being able to get that track position and be able to run our pace versus trying to make something happen to catch him.           

THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for Tony.            

Q.  Coming into this weekend, I think Carl felt like advantage them here at Texas.  You come out and you do this.  How big of a message is it to them that maybe what they thought was reality isn't reality?           

TONY STEWART:  We tried to tell them that last week, so...  It is what it is.  I mean, I still stand firm that we're not counting on them to make mistakes.  We're controlling our destiny.  Today is a perfect example of that.  We're worried about what we're doing.  We're not worried about what they're doing.  We raced our race today.  We didn't do anything worrying about what they were doing or how they were doing things.  We just ran our race.  That's what we intend to do the next two weeks.           

It's theirs to lose now.  But I don't know that they have a choice now.  I mean, we did what we said we were going to do.  We're going to take it if we want it.  Today is a perfect example.  We took five points off that deficit today.  We have that ability to do that the next two weeks          

Q.  Just seems like this championship Chase of yours, you're having a lot of fun doing it.  Has this been the most fun of a championship run you've had?          

TONY STEWART:  I think so.  The good thing is we've been in this position a lot of times and this isn't the first time we've been in this deal.  We have that ability.  Like I said, I didn't think we belonged in the Chase to start with, I didn't think we were a factor.  What do we have to lose?  We don't have anything to lose.  I don't care about second or third in the points.  After you won it, second doesn't really matter.           

To me it's about going out, getting that championship, doing everything you can to accomplish that goal.  We're not a group that's going to sit here obviously and say, We'll take the easy road and settle for second.  I'd rather finish sixth or seventh in points knowing that we did everything we can to win.           

That's what we're going to do the next 14 days.            

Q.  Tony, I know you're not worried about the 99 and all that.  But how cool was it to battle it out with him tonight?           

TONY STEWART:  It shows what this Chase is going to be about.  It's a good battle right now.  I mean, this was a good race today.  We never really got far away from each other.  At the end it was down to the two of us.           

I don't know if you're Brian France right now, I would say he's giddy.  If not, he should be, because this is the perfect scenario.  It's the perfect storm, so to speak, going into these last two weeks.  That's what you want.  This is about as exciting as it gets, to have two guys that are down to three points with two weeks ago.            

Q.  He drew a little bit on your picture out there.           

TONY STEWART:  I saw that.  The bad thing is I look really bad to start with.  He actually made me look a little better (smiling).  I think he was actually a little too infatuated with me to be drawing on me.  Kind of scares me he was so concerned about it.            

Q.  Tony, you talked about this a little bit, but you've won a championship before, two of them.  Carl has been in the Chase but has not won a title.  How much of an advantage, if any at all, is that for your group?  How might it be an advantage?           

TONY STEWART:  It's definitely an advantage.  But I'm not going to tell you why 'cause that's what I'm going to take to the next two weeks with me.  We win this thing, I'll tell you what the advantage is and why.  But there's an advantage.            

Q.  Tony, this is the second straight week where on restarts you were so strong coming from the outside, not in the preferred line.  How gratifying is that?          

TONY STEWART:  Yeah, I mean, it's very gratifying.  I thought we were really strong all day on restarts.  I mean, we had the one restart where we took off third there.  We were two-wide with Matt Kenseth going into one for the lead.  We're aggressive right now.  It's like I said, I'm taking charge and trying to control my own destiny.  I think the restarts today showed what our intentions are and what we're about for these next two weeks.            

Q.  Does it feel odd at all winning four races in the Chase and still being the chaser and not the guy being chased?           

TONY STEWART:  Not if you look at how bad a race we had at Dover.  We had to win four races to make up that deficit of what we got ourselves into at the Dover race.           

I'm going to be real disappointed if people are trying to make a story out of a guy that's got four wins isn't leading the points.  It's about 10 weeks.  You got to be good for 10 weeks.  You can't just sit there and say, You can throw it all away to try to win a race and get there.           

We have had to have those four wins to make up for Kansas that we missed an opportunity there, Dover that we just were bad.  We've had to rebound from that.  The good news is our four wins have carried us within three points of the lead.  So I'm proud that we've been able to fight our way back up to it.            

Q.  Tony, can you remember the last time you had such a strong weekend from start to finish?  You were very confident coming here.  You must have felt some reinforcement getting out on the track Friday and being fast in practice and qualifying well.          

TONY STEWART:  We joke around about the Matt Kenseth syndrome.  If he qualifies well, you know he's going to be good in the race.  That was proved today.  He qualified well and he was a factor.  We're kind of in that same boat.  We're not known for qualifying.  For us to qualify fifth, start that far forward, you got a sense it's going to be a decent weekend.           

The thing that we saw on the lap speeds in practice, we didn't have that raw speed at the front of a run, but it seemed like after 10 laps we matched those guys that did have the raw speed.  It seemed like by lap 15 it was kind of going the other way.           

You know that this race most likely is going to be decided in a relatively long run most of the time.  The good thing is it did today.  Other than the traffic we struggled with at the end, we had a really good long run car and that's what you need.            

Q.  Four wins in eight weeks in any Cup season is spectacular.  Are you a believer in momentum?           

TONY STEWART:  It would be hard to not believe in it right now, to be honest.  But still when we get to Phoenix next week, what happened this week and last week are over, and you still got to start that weekend from scratch.           

I think our group is really good at that.  But I think where the momentum carries isn't when you start on Friday, it's tonight through Thursday night.  It's the demeanor of the guys, the guys at the shop, how excited they are, knowing these guys are pumped up about what we got going on.  When you got them working on your racecar, you want them pumped up and excited about how things are going.           

But it's back to business on Friday.  The good thing at the test there, like Darian mentioned, we were really fast at the test.  I'm looking forward to getting there.            

Q.  Last week you told Carl he better worry.  He was a little more subdued in here today than last week.  Any more words of wisdom for Carl Edwards?           

TONY STEWART:  I'm pretty sure what we did on the racetrack said everything we needed to tell him today.  I mean, I don't know how you top that.  He knows.  Trust me, he knows.  If he's out there drawing on me, he knows.           

The fun thing is I don't feel like I have to say anything.  I feel like I already got it done.            

Q.  Clean, professional race today.  Is that a function of the track or some guys more sobering reality this week?  When you get that kind of race for you, is it a pleasure?           

TONY STEWART:  We're not on a half mile anymore.  You're ripping around here, like Darian mentioned.  The speeds we were running today, unbelievable how fast we run here at Texas.  You're not going to get guys doing what they did last week.  Guys don't have to get in that position of trying to take chances and put themselves in bad positions to get to the bottom of the racetrack like they had to do last week.           

I think you kind of throw last week out of the equation.  That's not normal for this series.  You only see it really twice a year at Martinsville.  But that is what makes Martinsville exciting.  At the same time that's why I'm glad we don't run 10 weeks at Martinsville to decide the championship because it would get ugly.           

Yeah, it is nice to come here and know you're not going to have to worry about that.  Guys that had dramas last week had clean races today.  It just shows that a lot of it's a product of how fast we're running here.  Guys have a lot more respect for each other here.           

Q.  Carl said earlier he doesn't want to count anybody out who is still mathematically alive no matter how far they are.  Realistically, he's the guy you're worried about.           

TONY STEWART:  I'm not worried about anybody.  I'm worried about what we're doing, and that's it.  I mean, make no mistakes, understand this when you leave here, for the next two weeks, I don't care what he does.  I didn't care what he did last week.  I didn't care what he did this week.  I was worried about the 14 car and that's all.  That's why we had the result we had today.  We're not worrying about somebody else or something else.          

You're crazy, the way the race went last week, guys having engine problems, you never can count anybody out of the equation.  But I'm one of those guys, I believe there's 35% of the things that happen on a race weekend that we can control and 65% that we can't.  All I care about is that 35% that we can control.  That's all we're going to focus on and worry about.  The rest of it we're not going to worry about what they're doing.           

When you got two weekends in a row like we've had, we don't have to do anything different.  We just got to keep doing what we've been doing, and that's worrying about our own racecar.  Everybody else has to worry about what we're doing, why and how.            

Q.  With going into Phoenix and Homestead the next two weeks, it's been a while since you won at either of those tracks.  Do you think you can get back to Victory Lane at either place?         

TONY STEWART:  Been a while since I won here, but we're here tonight, aren't we?  I don't know how you count us out.  Been a long time since we won at Martinsville and here.  We've done it two weeks in a row.  Yeah, if I ever had confidence that we can do it, yeah, I feel that we can.

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: October 30, 2011 8:40 pm

Tony Stewart, Darian Grubb post Martinsville

Posted by Pete Pistone

: It's a really tough race, especially the way the weekend went with the rainout, not a lot of practice. We had to do a lot of practice in that little bit of short time to figure the car out. Once we did that, started the race off, the car was pretty good to start. As the rubber was laid down, we got handling issues. We played with that. The ebb and flow of the track position strategy here is tough because if you're the guy that stays out, we went from the front to the back two or three times, major adjustments on the car, ended up being well and being in the right spot at the right time at the end.           

KERRY THARP: Questions for Darian.         

Q. With all the crashes that were going on, what was your game plan? How can you figure out what sequence you wanted to be on?           

DARIAN GRUBB: It really didn't happen until right at the very end. We were playing our sequence to make our car right. It's easier to make those calls when you're in the front because you can decide, the strategy is going to play out, we'll be back at the front when it matters. Mid race we made some major changes, long pit stops, guys did an awesome job of getting everything done. When we got up there and got the lead, he thought he had a left rear tire going flat. Pitted. Took four tires to be safe. We thought that was going to kill us. But the way the strategy played out after that with a few more cautions, we were able to stay out, pit when we needed to. And at the end being able to take those two tires was a big deal for us. We were in the right position to be able to do that. Restarting on the inside with that the first time, that let us march forward. It was tough to start on the outside, and Tony figured out what he needed to do to pass the 48.           

Q. Did you have any help from the 39 with the setup today?          

DARIAN GRUBB: We started out with the exact same baseline when we came here and unloaded Friday morning. We evolved to quite a different setup between the two teams. We take a lot of each other's notes from each other. It's always a learning experience when you have a teammate with another strategy, setup and driver's input. That helped. They're really good teammates for that.          

Q. Multiple times after the race Tony was forthright about challenging Carl Edwards, saying he should be worried, not going to sleep for the next three weeks. What have you seen from Tony today? Seems he was in a good mood all weekend, maybe he has a different outlook on the season.           

DARIAN GRUBB: He does. We all have the attitude that we feel we should be leading right now. We made the mistakes that gave up those points there in the third, fourth and fifth race. We're ready to get back in this game and show everybody what we've got left.           

Q. You have gone from Tony upset, not really focused on entering the Chase, saying, If we're not going to compete for wins, we shouldn't be in the Chase. Now you have three wins in seven races. Where did things get turned around to get you this confidence?           

DARIAN GRUBB: It was way before those comments in Michigan. That just put a little bit more fire in everybody, I guess. We've been working hard all year. We've had good cars ever since the Daytona 500. We just never got the finishes we needed to get every weekend.          

We had some bad strategy calls on my part. We had some cars that weren't the greatest. We had some situations on the racetrack that didn't work out.           

We had a good team that just keeps fighting. They dig every week. When those comments were made in Michigan, we all fought just a little bit harder to make sure we got 110% out of every person there, to make sure we're all doing the right things and moving forward. We've been trying not to look back ever since.          

KERRY THARP: Let's go ahead and hear from Tony. This is your 42nd career Sprint Cup win, your third win here in 2011, all in the Chase. You now have nine Chase wins in your career, second behind Jimmie Johnson. Congratulations to all that.          

Talk about that victory here today being textbook, the pass. Talk about everything that fell your way.           

TONY STEWART: It was a long day, for sure. The first 200 laps, Darian was making changes. We just couldn't get the car to respond to anything. He made some good changes the whole last half of the race that got us in the ballpark. He had two awesome pit calls with pit strategy that got us track position.          

The first time I screwed up and gave it away thinking I had a flat tire. Then at the end of the day, he got us that track position back with another great call. That is what truly gave us the shot to have that opportunity at the end of the day.           

For a guy that grew up 22 miles from here, he had than a All-Star day today. He made the right calls that gave us that opportunity, kept making changes. We have not been good here for probably the last two or three races. I think two races ago we were decent and I messed up and changed lanes before the start/finish line and got us moved back. Today was a fight, for sure.           

When you win a race today with the obstacles that we overcame, that's what makes winning races like this so special.          

KERRY THARP: We'll continue with questions.           

Q. You kind of grabbed everybody's attention winning the first two races of the Chase, then dropped out of the picture. People were starting to say on Friday, Don't forget about the 14. You were excited in Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon was, You guys better pay attention to Tony. Talk about how that feels, Darian, to have people looking your way.          

DARIAN GRUBB: It's funny to us because we never lose that feeling that we can win the championship. It's just that the media doesn't pay attention to it. We work as hard every week. We're doing 80-hour weeks every week. Doesn't matter whether we finish 34th or 1st. I'm proud of the guys for doing that. Everybody shows up for work every day with their game face on no matter what circumstances they're going through and get the job done. I'm very proud of everyone at Stewart Haas Racing for doing that.          

Q. In New Hampshire you said it was too early to address this. How extra special is it to be able to bookend Jimmie Johnson's reign on this sport?          

TONY STEWART: Come check with me in three weeks. We're closer than we were at Loudon. But it's awesome we have that opportunity, to get three races in the Chase like this. It's an awesome feeling sitting here tonight. We got three tracks that we feel are really good to us coming up.     

I'm excited about it. It's a great feeling obviously. To be honest, it's really not the fact of beating Jimmie as much as it's just hard to win in this series to begin with. You cherish the opportunities. You make sure that when you have the opportunity, you make the most of it.           

This is a tough series. It's been a tough Chase. There's the best Chase field that we've ever had. The cool part will be, the stuff I pay attention to, to have three of those trophies that are different in two different formats, three different sponsors, that would be a cool deal.            

Q. Tony, at the beginning of the Chase you made the comment that you hadn't listed your guys as one of the true title contenders. What changed? Were you just using us?          

TONY STEWART: I would just use you, Dustin. I'll be honest. You're easy to take advantage of. I don't think anybody cares if we take advantage of you, so it's not like you feel a huge amount of guilt in that process. Sorry, but...           

You know, at the point when we talked about that, I mean, I felt like there were some things that were missing. I think our Chase run here, obviously Dover was not what we were looking for. But every race since then, we have been a contender. The result hasn't always shown at some of these races. But we've been pretty solid in this Chase here.          

I don't know what changes. The guy beside me is the guy to ask that. He's the guy that's orchestrating it, organizing the people to do the job. It doesn't matter what it is that's changed; the good thing is that it has and it changed at the right time when we need it. That's all you can ask for.           

Q. Tony, during that long green-flag run, you were ready to be lapped by Denny Hamlin, how important was it for you to fight him hard on the outside, maintain that lead lap status, and back up the determination you talked about in Victory Lane of your crew members not giving up on you?         

TONY STEWART: I was reminded by Darian this morning, I was reminded by my spotter this morning, and I was reminded before the race by many crew members to not be so nice today, which I know sounds odd of me.          

You know, this is a tough race. I think right at the end, a perfect example is having Jimmie there racing you, Jeff, Jeff Burton, the guys that we were around at the end of the day. You race these guys with respect and they're going to race you back with respect.          

Could Jimmie just hauled it off in the corner, blown the corner to try to take us down? Absolutely. He could have done that to anybody. He didn't do that to us. I think he knows we respect him and have that level of respect. I messed up and got underneath the 43 car, probably the big bonehead move of my race today. Luckily I really only feel like I put myself in a bad spot one time that you couldn't get out of. That was with the 43 car. I got underneath him in a spot where he was already coming down. I screwed up, he got sideways. I just checked up and let him have his spot back. I never saw anybody give anybody a spot back in a situation like that today. It wasn't his fault.           

I think later after that I got back by the 43 car and instead of dumping me like the other guys were doing to each other, I think he knew I gave him that spot back because I knew I made a mistake. It just shows the respect that some guys did have for each other even though there was a lot of disrespect amongst a lot of guys out there today.          

NASCAR is going to have to at some point make these drivers be responsible for their actions amongst each other and not baby-sit and not protect these guys. Let them get their butt kicked. That's what used to happen in the old days. You didn't have guys dumping each other and taking cheap shots like that.          

I used to be as guilty of it and bad as anybody about taking a cheap shot at guys early. But you realize that it's not about the two guys driving the cars out there as much as it's there's a bunch of guys that go back to the shop. There's a car owner that spends a lot of money. There's a bunch of crew guys that spend a lot of hours and put a lot of heart and soul into what we have as a product each week with these racecars. I think at times we all forget about that.           

You let a guy get his butt kicked once or twice, he'll quit doing stupid stuff like that. I saw a bunch of it today out there. Luckily we weren't one of the guys that were in the middle of it a lot. I think they ought to get a portable boxing ring. As soon as they get done with the victory celebration, set the boxing ring on the frontstretch, give the fans a real show they paid for. If you want to boost the attendance at Martinsville, have a boxing match with each of the guys that had a beef with each other.           

Am I the only one that thinks that way in this room? I thought so.           

Q. Has your outlook changed as an owner?           

TONY STEWART: Not necessarily. I mean, when Dale Sr. was here and Dale Jarrett, when I started, you just didn't do that because that guy would come grab you, pull you out of the car at the end of the practice session, rip your head off talking to you about it, intimidate you into understanding why you didn't do that.          

Now there's nothing. You can go yell at a guy. We watched Biffle and Kevin Harvick yell at each other. What did they accomplish? Did it make anybody understand what the other guy was thinking or saying? They yelled at each other, walked away, nothing was different than before it happened. There's nothing different to make these guys do anything other than what's in their head. There's always two sides to a story.           

I don't know. I mean, I guess I thought that way before that a little bit. Even as a car owner now, I remember Joe Gibbs sitting me down and saying, There's other guys working on these things, too. You knock the nose off of it after a race because you're mad as somebody, all of a sudden you created a lot more work for these guys. Maybe the crew guys need to get mad at their drivers when we do something stupid. Maybe the crew guys ought to pull the drivers back in the shop and make them fix it when they do it. I would be screwed because I can't do it. I can barely put something that bolts together together.          

Q. You told me after practice yesterday that you weren't sure where you were competitively but you weren't where you needed to be. Were you messing with?           

TONY STEWART: Are you and Dustin hanging out, holding hands right now?          

Q. We're tight, man.          

TONY STEWART: You look a lot alike, too.            

Q.  You're a good-looking man, Dustin.           

TONY STEWART: Well-played.            

Q. When did you get your car to the point where you knew you could win?           

TONY STEWART: We sat down, went through our normal debrief at the end of the day. Darian brought a report by and we were still texting each other at 10:00 last night, still talking about it.           

We were looking at the time sheet. We weren't a strong car the first 12 to 15 laps, but it seemed like we were as good as anybody after that. But the race today seemed to change. I wasn't messing with you. We didn't feel as strong by looking at the sheet as what we wanted to be on the front of a run. We felt 15 laps into it we were solid. We needed to keep working on it.          

Like I said, Darian was still working on it at 10:00 last night. That's what you got to do. You got to keep digging. Our guys with the sim programs were working, crunching numbers, running through different changes and scenarios to try to find an answer. I'm glad they do that.           

Q. Tony, Jeff Gordon came in here and said he was stunned to see you up in the top five. You really seemed to move through the field fast. What happened to get you back in that position?          

TONY STEWART: Honestly, when I thought I cut the tire, it wasn't a down tire. We just had made so many changes, it felt like it was down honestly. After the contact with Harvick, I thought I had a flat, but it wasn't.           

It was due to Darian. Like I said, he had two really key calls in the race that gave us that opportunity. We kind of just got stuck during the race. Wherever we restarted, we were kind of stuck there. It was hard to make any ground. We weren't able to make the car do what we were looking for to try to pass guys. We just were stuck.          

He kept working on it, kept adjusting on it. We got it better. We still never got it 100%. We got it close enough that when we did get there late in the day, when we had cleaner air, we had a shot. You never think clean air is a big deal here. I think more than the clean air, it was like I told Darian, we could be 22nd and be running within a 10th of what the leader was running. The problem was to do that I had to have the open track to run the way I needed to run the car to run those lap times.          

To race a guy for position, have to run and brake different and get on the gas at a different spot to try to pass somebody, I couldn't make the car do what I wanted it to do at that point.            

Q. We heard what you said to Carl Edwards a couple times in the Victory Lane interviews. It seems like you're obviously relishing it. Six years since you've been in a championship hunt this deep in the season. You're back in the game and it seems like you're enjoying it.           

TONY STEWART: Yeah, I don't know anybody that doesn't enjoy being in the middle of it with three weeks to go. It's a great feeling. You work hard all year to try to be in this position. When you start the Chase off with 10 races to go, a lot can happen. There's a lot of variables that you worry about along the way. It doesn't mean we're still not worried about it.           

There were guys that may have had their chances taken away today. So to be in a position that we're in right now, sitting here knowing that we're right in the middle of this thing with three weeks to go, it is obviously a great feeling and great position to be in. We just got to go out and keep doing what we're doing here.           

It's nice to leave here with the momentum going to three tracks that we like and enjoy.            

Q. Two years ago when NASCAR let drivers go out there, so-called 'have at it,' a lot of drivers said they were better able to take care of these things themselves, NASCAR shouldn't police them, it was best left on the track. A lot of drivers said that they were grownups. Are you saying that NASCAR should get back involved or do you think drivers should really take care of themselves?           

TONY STEWART: I'm still trying to figure out what 'have at it' meant. I don't know that any of us really knows what's different now than before they said that.           

NASCAR has to stay involved. You can't just make it a free-for-all obviously. But when you got guys, Jamie McMurray's car was destroyed, he waited for his opportunity to take out a guy he had a problem with. Whether it was justified or not, he took that opportunity. We got to get away from doing that and let guys settle it in the garage area with guys that have the problem. Don't take it out on everybody that works on these things. If him trying to take that other guy out would have taken a third party out that had nothing to do with it, it shows how big a problem you got, and that didn't happen. I'm not picking on Jamie. There were a lot of instances today where guys were going back and retaliating against each other. There's 43 guys out here. You catch an innocent guy in somebody else's problem...            

It's easier for drivers to handle it back here. They'll find a way to sort it out amongst each other if you give them the opportunity. You can't keep your hands over top of each other and protect them. You have to let them handle it their way.            

Q. You just mentioned a minute ago that some drivers may have lost their chance today to contend for the championship. The top four are separated by 27, next guy is 36. Are we down to four now?           

TONY STEWART: I don't know. You look at how these races have gone. One day one race can change a lot. I don't think it's going to help a guy get back into it, but it sure can eliminate guys from it if you have a bad day. It's hard to say.           

There's never been a consistent year in this Chase as far as being able to say at this point this guy with this many points is really out of it. Anything can happen. It's hard to say.           

Three weeks ago, the probability of guys up front, to have three or four guys back up to somebody in fifth, it's not very likely that that would happen.           

Q. Martinsville fans seem to have a love affair with certain drivers. You're one of those. Couple hundred folks standing at the gate screaming, Climb the fence.           

TONY STEWART: Why didn't they climb the fence? If they wanted to climb so much, why didn't they climb the fence?            

Q. There were about 20 deputies out there. Talk about how the fans embrace you.           

TONY STEWART: There's two places where when you take the lead you absolutely know it. It's Bristol and Martinsville. To pass Jimmie Johnson on the outside with two laps to go and to watch the crowd on the backstretch, then watch them on the frontstretch when we cleared him, you swear people are going to fall onto the racetrack.           

You feel that energy. You sense that. That's not that you need extra motivation, but it's cool to know you got that kind of support. It's just that extra drive that gets you the rest of the way that last lap. It's cool.           

Q. You mentioned the motivation, adrenaline. You see that in the Victory Lane comments to Carl. Did you really mean it?           

TONY STEWART: My adrenaline has worn off and he better not sleep too long the next three weeks. It's no disrespect to him. He's a great competitor, he's a great guy, he's with a great organization that deserves their shot at that championship, too. We've had one of those up-and-down years and we're having a run in this Chase now where we're hungry. We're hungry for this. I feel like our mindset into these next three weeks, we've been nice all year to a lot of guys, given guys a lot of breaks. We're cashing tickets in these next three weeks.

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