Bristol Motor Speedway talked with Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as he prepared to head to Bristol for August 2011 race week. 

Bristol:  WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT BRISTOL AT NIGHT?

Stewart:  “The same thing as the day. I just love the night race there. To me it’s one of the coolest races of the year but you can’t have anything go wrong. You have to have a perfect race car if something goes wrong to be able to have a shot to get back. If you don’t have a perfect race car it’s a lot of times impossible to get caught back up. So you’ve got to have a problem-free day but you’re going to have to have a good race car. There’s a bunch of guys that are really good there now and you can’t be a little bit off and have a good day, you’ve got to be on your game.”

Bristol:  IS THERE SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT JUST RUNNING UNDER THE LIGHTS THERE?

Stewart:  “It’s the atmosphere. When the cars hit the ground you can see the sparks there. Bristol has always had that cool atmosphere because of how short it is and the way the grandstands there are and then you do it at night on top of that, it’s just got a cool feel to it.”

Bristol:  EVERY TIME WE GO BACK THERE IT SEEMS THE RECONFIGURATION, EVERYBODY WANTS TO KNOW IS THE OLD WAY BETTER, JUNIOR SAID HE THINKS THE TRACK IS AS GOOD AS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN BUT THE COT (Car of Tomorrow) CHANGED THE RACING THERE, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Stewart:  “The track for sure from day one has been better. You didn’t have to just run behind guys and wreck guys to pass them. You could use the whole race track now. As a driver, especially on a track that size, that’s what you look for. That’s all you can ask for is to have a place that you can move around. I don’t know that the COT has really changed it any different. He’s probably got a valid point. I guess I just don’t think about it. The big thing is just making sure you’ve got a car that you can move around the race track and if you can do that you’re probably setting yourself up for a good opportunity to have a good day because you’ve got to be able to move and switch lanes and run different grooves instead of just running around the bottom all day.”