KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Tony Stewart was relaxed and calm. Shortly after he announced the multi-year contract extension for Kurt Busch, who will have Monster Energy as a new sponsor next year, Stewart discussed other topics in the sport.
Here’s some of what Stewart said Wednesday to a group of reporters.
Q: Is it fair to have a race like Talladega as an elimination race?
TONY STEWART: I have never thought it was good to have it in the Chase, especially with this format. You’ve got teams that have worked too hard all year and two guys in front that aren’t a factor in it could total dictate somebody’s season. I think the Daytona and Talladega races are great, but I don’t know when it comes time to individual performances a race like this is the right race.’’
Q: What do you think of the 2016 rules package that is based around the low-downforce package?
STEWART: It’s probably the most excited I’ve been about a rules package for a long time. It’s been going the other direction. Finally, through a lot of people’s effort and NASCAR, like I mentioned when we talked about the driver’s council, it’s probably one of the coolest times to be a part of this sport as far as working with NASCAR and how much that they’ve leaned on the manufactures, Goodyear, the drivers and team owners to make this as good as it can be. I don’t know we’ll get all the way there in one year, but I think it’s a great start. I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel in making this great like it used to be.’’
Q: But the new package doesn’t change the horsepower and you’ve stated how less horsepower has impacted you this year.
STEWART: It’s a style that I like a lot more. If you take the horsepower away, it makes the decrease not seem quite as bad. It’s still not good. I’d still rather have all the power we can get, but at least the cars aren’t stuck to the race track and they won’t be as aero dependent as they have been in the last couple of years.
Q: How confident are you that NASCAR can have a plan in place to give Sprint Cup team owners greater equity before the start of next season?
STEWART: There’s a good possibility that it will happen for ’16. You think about what we’re talking about here and this could be one of the biggest things for this sport for centuries. It’s a big moment. I think it’s something that is great for the longevity of our sport. This is kind of a crossroads where we’re losing car owners and everything is starting to get out of reach for a lot of people and this is a great opportunity for car owners to have that confidence that this isn’t just a spend, spend, spend and don’t have anything at the end. It gives these guys that have been in this sport for a long time and that have supported this sport for a long time the opportunity to reap the rewards of it.
Q: Are you prepared to run four cars next year even if only three might be guaranteed starting spots with the new team owner equity plan?
STEWART: We’re going to run four cars next year no matter what next year. The business side, they’ll still work on that. We’re going to run four cars no matter what.’’