4 September 2013
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing - Q&A
The great thing is it's kind of a movement similar to when Dale Sr. crashed and how it sparked a movement of safety, and in stock car racing it's been really impressive to see how many companies and groups have really started looking at how can we make things better.
This wasn't a deal where it was a wore out race car and wore out parts and somebody that you question their maintenance program. This was a brand new car that we had, and it was just the perfect storm and a freak accident that I've never even heard of what happened happening to anybody else as far as the actual injury and everything, as far as how it happened.
But the good thing is that it got enough attention to, I guess, get this movement started, and there's a lot of people that are actively working on it right now. There's going to be something that comes positive out of this negative of being hurt. Sprint car racing has had a dark cloud over it this summer and just a lot of things that normally don't happen in it have happened in a short amount of time.
Reading some of the articles from people, from writers that don't know anything about sprint car racing, what they wrote has just devastated the sprint car community. I think that's been a big part in why some of these manufacturers have got involved and are trying to say, hey, this isn't as dangerous as everybody thinks it is, but we can make it better. There's going to be something positive come out, just like in NASCAR. There's no formal group like NASCAR put together to actually do this, but it's independent manufacturers that are saying we're going to figure something out, and that's pretty impressive to see.
Going back to what you said about the heightened engagement of Gene Haas, I just wanted to get your thoughts on this to be able to clarify. You said pretty emphatically at New Hampshire, no fourth car for next year, and now of course while you were sidelined all these things get set in motion to add a fourth car. Was that a conversation that you and Gene never had, that he would be willing to foot the bill and pay out of his own pocket, the millions it would take to start a fourth car, and were there any concerns about the perception of how that might look, that it all transpired while you were incapacitated?
You know, when we had the press conference at Loudon, where we were at then, it was exactly what we said. It was 100 per cent on the mark. There was no - I was pretty disappointed to hear Kyle Petty say that we basically lied to Ryan and deceived Ryan. Deceived was the word that he used actually. They said we deceived him at Loudon in doing this.
Gene addressed this last week. This literally came up while they were at Indy at Brickyard and they were at a Chevy dinner, and that's where the conversation of doing the fourth team for next year, that's when it started.
I think as it progressed, Gene is not used to having partners. Gene is a self-made success story in the CNC industry, and he's pretty much been a one-man show doing it, and this is the first time that he's really had a partner. I think going through that process, I don't think that he thought much - he just didn't think about talking to me about it until it got further along.
Like I said, the Monday that they came, a week after my accident was the first time that he talked to me about it, and granted, I was in the hospital the week before, so that's probably why he didn't talk to me about it sooner, but a lot happened in a very short amount of time, and that's why when he spoke to me about it was really the first opportunity that he had.
It moved along very quickly, and like I said, my only concern was the fact of the sponsorship about it and the time frame of building the team. As far as having Kurt, Kurt is a huge asset. He's a guy that you know can go to every racetrack and has the capability of going out and being fast and being able to possibly win the race every week at every discipline.
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