Tony Stewart on Talladega: Wild-Card Race in Chase for Sprint Cup

Paul CarreauAnalyst IOctober 29, 2010

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 29:  Tony Stewart drives the #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 29, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, Tony Stewart took part in a NASCAR teleconference. Throughout the session, Stewart commented on many different issues, including his thoughts on the current season, this weekends' wild-card race at Talladega, and his plans of expanding his current two-car team.

Much like every season, Tony Stewart came in to 2010 as one of the favorites to unseat Jimmie Johnson as Sprint Cup champion. Those plans have, unfortunately for Stewart, not quite worked out as well as he would have hoped.

Stewart currently sits seventh in the point standings, 236 points out of the lead. When asked about his disappointment in not being more of a factor in determining the championship, Stewart responded, "It just kind of is what it is."

He then added that "Obviously the weeks that didn't go right, I would love to be able to go back and make them better."

Stewart went on to find the silver lining in not being closer to the points lead. "I can't sit here and say that I'm happy about where we're at, but I guess there's 31 teams and drivers that wish they even had a chance to race for the championship, and we're in the Chase" said Stewart.

Stewart knows that although his championship hopes for this season are all but gone, this weekend's event at Talladega is still an important race, and one that he would like to win.

When asked about strategies for Talladega, Stewart was quick to mention that whatever you decide to do, whether trying to run near the front all day, or hanging out in the back until late in the race, it is important that you try and stick to the plan.

"I think you still have to stick to your strategy, whatever it is. We've only won once at Talladega, but we've run second six or seven times. A lot of those races we ran in the back a lot of the race, just taking it easy, taking care of our car, knowing that the important part of the race is later in the day" commented Stewart.

He added "everybody has that different strategy. I think that's the fun part, trying to figure out what each individual driver's strategy is." And if you are a Stewart fan, and get nervous that you don't see him up front all day, he mentioned this for you: "you can just about be guaranteed if your driver is in the back, they're choosing to be there at that point in the race, not because they don't have a good race car."

Just like everyone else, Stewart is privy to the fact that Talladega is a big wild-card race. He said "it's the one place that is very nerve-wracking in the Chase, because you realize a lot of your success on that individual day is going to be dictated more from the people behind you than what you're actually doing yourself." And it is that unknown that makes it all the more exciting for fans.

After Talladega, comes Texas, and Stewart is optimistic heading there as well. "It's a lot better scenario going into Texas knowing that we ran well there in the spring. That does give you a little comfort, knowing that you were good there in previous times."

Not trying to be too confident, Stewart said "It's still no guarantee you're going to be successful there this time, but you have the comfort of knowing the last time you were there we were pretty decent until we crashed."

When talking about winning races, something that Stewart has done twice this season, he mentioned which races were the most important to him. "All 38 races" quipped Stewart. "They're all important. All the races pay the same amount of points each week (except the two special events). You have to treat each of them as important as any of the other races" he added.

But he did mention that two in particular are maybe just a tad more appealing. "obviously going into Indy is a big deal to me, and obviously the Daytona 500 is huge because it's our biggest race of the year. Aside from those two, you treat them all the same. They're all evenly important" Stewart said.

To close out the interview, Stewart talked about the potential of adding more cars to his stable, which currently only includes himself and Ryan Newman. "We obviously would love it. The goal of the organization is to be a four-car team eventually." said Stewart.

But don't get too excited about it happening overnight. When discussing adding just one more team for now, Stewart mentioned that, "We're at the end of October. If we were going to do that, we would have liked to have had it started and had the decision made by the middle of summer." To put closure on the prospects of adding another team by next year's Daytona 500, Stewart said, "it's not going to happen for next year."

So, as the NASCAR season begins to wind down, and the Chase for the Championship appears to be a three man race between Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick, don't look for anyone else, especially Tony Stewart, to concede race wins in his efforts to bolster an already impressive trophy collection.

And at Talladega, a track where Stewart usually finds himself near the front of the field when the checkers are waving, don't be surprised to see him add another trophy real soon.