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Tony Stewart's Las Vegas Q&A
TonyStewart.com: A lot of importance was placed on the California race, and it seems an equal amount of importance is placed on the upcoming race at Las Vegas. Why? Tony Stewart: "These early races teach you very quickly where your program is compared to the competition. If your cars are good, you'll run well at California, Vegas, Atlanta, Texas and so on. Everybody wants to know where they stack up and shake up right now. If you can get off to a good start, it shows that your program is really where it needs to be. This is a huge week." TonyStewart.com: With California serving as an example, are you less worried about where you finish and more concerned with how you actually run? Tony Stewart: "It's not so much that you worry about points as you worry about performance. We ran well at California, but we didn't finish well. We seemed to stack up well against the Hendrick and Roush teams, but I'm anxious to do it again at Las Vegas. We want to know - are we where we need to be? Are we competitive right off the bat? Compared to last year, we feel like we're starting this year off a lot better. Las Vegas may be a different situation, but if The Home Depot Chevrolet drives anywhere like it did at California, I'm going to be real excited about the year." TonyStewart.com: How is Las Vegas Motor Speedway different from California Speedway? Tony Stewart: "The corners are tighter. It's tighter coming off turn four and tighter going into turn one than it is at California. That's why the handling is so important there. Because the corners are tighter, it makes it really important that The Home Depot Chevrolet rolls through there free - not tight or loose. It's a real important track in terms of balance." TonyStewart.com: Has winning a second championship earned you more respect amongst your peers? Tony Stewart: "I think as hard as it is just to win one championship in this sport, it probably does gain you more respect with your peers. Every year the competition level gets tougher and tougher. To be able to win two championships and do it in such a short amount of time is something that not only myself, but our team, our whole organization, is really proud of. It's not something that's just a personal accomplishment, it's a team accomplishment." TonyStewart.com: What has winning a second championship done for expectations this year? Tony Stewart: "It didn't change our expectations at all. I won three (USAC) championships in '95, but when I went to the IRL, you don't expect to win there. When I went to the Busch Series and the Cup Series, you didn't automatically expect to win there. Every year is a new year. Last year's title could be the last championship that I'll ever win. But I do feel that I can win the championship again this year. You just don't know. When one year is over, you start from scratch. Everybody starts at square one all over again. Even though we're happy with winning the championship, it doesn't change how your thought process goes. The only thing we can take away from winning the championship last year is knowing that we're capable of doing it again this year. As a team, we're capable of accomplishing that goal." TonyStewart.com: Knowing that you're capable of winning another championship - what does that do for you and the race team in terms of confidence? Tony Stewart: "Our confidence is definitely high, but that's only one small piece of the entire puzzle. As a driver, if you don't have confidence, you're not going to get the job done. It's the same for the race team. Our team has confidence knowing that we are capable of providing cars to deliver a championship. The guys are smart enough to deliver the championship. And I'm confident in my driving. Starting the season with that kind of confidence is something that is definitely an asset." TonyStewart.com: Do you like having an off-weekend so early in the schedule? Tony Stewart: "No, not really. I wish we could find a way of taking the three weekends we have off and spreading them out a little bit more evenly. On a 36-week schedule when you have 20 straight races and three weekends off in 16 weeks, it doesn't make a lot of sense. It's obvious why we take Easter weekend off. Some of the early off-weekends make sense, but it would be nice to take this weekend's off time and save it for somewhere in that stretch before the Chase starts - maybe take a week off before that last 10-week stretch."
|Tony Stewart's Las Vegas performance profile|
|1999||Las Vegas 400||20||36||Running/184||0||$46,200|
* Race cut short due to weather.