Along with drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, Stewart pointed toward veteran racer Mark Martin as one of those who still embodied the best of the NASCAR ethos of the old days.
"Mark's been one of the guys that's been one of my mentors and somebody that's on my top five on my hero list," he said, as rumours persist that he's trying to get Martin on board as a part-time driver for Stewart/Haas alternating a seat with Danica Patrick's limited Cup season appearances. "He's somebody I've got a lot of respect for and a lot of admiration for. And I wish I could be more like him."
Stewart was also less than happy with how the race came down to fuel mileage. Although he played that game to perfection where others faltered and fell at the last hurdle, that doesn't mean he's a fan of that style of racing.
"At the end you hate to have to play the fuel mileage game. But that's just the way the caution came out. And we came in and got fuel and Darian [Grubb, crew chief] told me we had to save a lap's worth of fuel," he said. "We picked up the chequered flag at the flag stand and we didn't do any wild burnout or anything like that and [still] ran out before we ever got on pit road, so we were closer than I wanted to be. But we didn't have anything to lose."
Perhaps one underlying reason for Stewart's reflective mood - which saw him once again take a few shots at the media at the start of the press conference - was simply that he hadn't been feeling at all well this weekend.
"I've been battling a migraine for a day and a half," he admitted. "It started about an hour before we qualified on Saturday. We battle that a lot, there's a lot of weekends we have it. We've raced with them before, it's not fun ... You get out of the car afterwards and you feel like you want to get hit by a train; it would make you feel better. But it definitely seemed like once the weather came through last night about 11 o'clock it finally broke a little bit, and I finally got a good night's rest."
And presumably the best tonic of all will be waking on on Tuesday morning, seeing the Chase points standings, and realising: this could actually happen for Tony Stewart and the #14 car this year. Who'd ever have thought it?