Phoenix: Tony Stewart preview

TONY STEWART Adding a Touch of Green Southwest of the Painted Desert KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (April 6, 2010) -- Arizona's Painted Desert is a good haul northeast of Avondale, Ariz., site of Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 600k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ...

Phoenix: Tony Stewart preview

TONY STEWART
Adding a Touch of Green Southwest of the Painted Desert

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (April 6, 2010) -- Arizona's Painted Desert is a good haul northeast of Avondale, Ariz., site of Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 600k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. But the distance won't stop Tony Stewart from adding a touch of green to the desert landscape that surrounds Phoenix International Raceway.

Stewart has eschewed the traditional red and black colors of his No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for such Earth tones as green, brown and white. The reason is more than skin deep, for the special paint scheme serves a distinct and innovative purpose.

The green-themed color palette promotes Office Depot's partnership with EarthEra, an initiative created by NextEra Energy Resources, North America's largest producer of wind and solar power. To launch the partnership's first program, "Greener Shipping," Office Depot will help balance the carbon footprint of Saturday night's race by purchasing EarthEra Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Office Depot is helping the race "grow greener" by balancing not just the cars on the track, but fan travel, race team travel and track operation during the race. Due to the innovative structure of the EarthEra program, 100 percent of the revenue from Office Depot's purchase will be used to create new renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar, in the United States, thus helping the country transition to a greener and cleaner energy future.

The one-race paint scheme on the No. 14 Chevy heralds Office Depot's new Greener Shipping Program, which encourages eligible Office Depot customers to be greener by eliminating small orders and instead increasing average order size, which helps reduce delivery frequency. Office Depot will then provide rebates on certain green products and purchase EarthEra products on the customer's behalf.

As Stewart helps promote a green way of living, he also hopes to pocket some green by winning the Subway Fresh Fit 600k at Phoenix. The two-time Sprint Cup champion is very familiar with the 1-mile oval and has found success in just about every type of car he's driven there.

Stewart began his professional racing career at Phoenix back in 1993 and has logged more laps at the venerable track than any other driver. He's raced and practiced stock cars, Indy cars, USAC Midgets and Silver Crown cars and even Supermodifieds, winning a Sprint Cup race during his rookie year in 1999 and a USAC Midget race in the 2000 Copper World Classic.

Phoenix is a self-described West Coast home away from home for the Columbus, Ind., native, and Stewart will make sure the only footprint he leaves at his home is the one from his lead foot.

TONY STEWART, Driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing:

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is coming up on April 22. What does being green mean to you?

"Honestly, I think it's about doing the little things. If you finished your can of Coke, don't throw it in the trash. Find a recycling bin and put it there. Don't throw your newspaper in the trash. Recycle it. Same with paper, plastic, bottles and anything else that can be recycled. All you really have to do is put it in a different bin. And people are there to help, too. Take Office Depot. Don't just toss your old ink cartridges in the trash. Bring them to Office Depot and they'll recycle them for you. Do that and you'll keep about four million pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills. At Stewart-Haas Racing, we have a big box that we throw them all in, and about once a month, we take them to an Office Depot.

"It's also about being smart. Don't dump used oil down the storm drain. I mean, that's pretty obvious, but still some people think a storm drain is their personal trash can. It's not. I'm an outdoorsman who likes to hunt and fish, and the only way I can keep doing that is if our environment is healthy enough to sustain wildlife. So, I do the little things, and then I do a couple of big things, like take care of deer on my property in Indiana and drive a hybrid Chevy Tahoe. Being green is just about extending a little bit of effort, and if everyone did it, we'd all be a lot better off."

How long have you been racing at Phoenix?

"I started racing there in '93 when I ran a USAC Silver Crown car. And since then, I've run USAC Midgets, Indy cars, Supermodifieds, Nationwide Series cars, and of course, Sprint Cup. So, I've logged a bunch of laps there. To think that it all kind of started at Phoenix, I guess you could say it's the place where my career came full-circle."

Did you take an immediate liking to Phoenix in 1993 when you ran there in USAC?

"When we ran the USAC cars out there it was pretty cool because I had never gone that fast before. It's just one of those tracks that to run a Midget and a Silver Crown car there, it definitely got your attention. It was pretty fast."

Did you get a pretty good paycheck that day?

"Well, at that time, yeah, absolutely. When I was thinking about the $5 hours I was working at a machine shop, $3,500 was a pretty good payday."

Is it safe to say you have Phoenix figured out?

"I've definitely spent a lot of time there. Myself and Arie Luyendyk were the two lead test drivers for Firestone when we were in Indy Car. We spent a lot of time in Phoenix because the weather is so good out there all year long. We would spend three days out there tire testing and we had two or three of those sessions through the winter. I got to spend a lot of time running around Phoenix. I probably know every line around the track that's ever been ran and why it's been ran. It helps when you get in the stock cars or anything you get in when you're out there. I pretty much know how to get around there."

How did you transition from one type of racing to another?

"It's more fear than anything that I'm going to have to get a real job if I'm not successful. That's the great thing about running USAC and being in Indiana where not only did we have winged Sprint cars and non-winged Sprint cars, Midgets, Silver Crown cars, we ran on dirt tracks one night and pavement the next. We ran Modifieds and Late Models. There were just so many things to drive around there that you learned how to adapt, and you learned how not to have a preconceived notion about how a racecar is supposed to feel and drive. You learned to read what the car was telling you as far as what it liked and disliked, and learned how to change your driving style accordingly. Especially at Phoenix, every car we've driven there, even though the track's the same, they all drove different. You just had to adapt to it and learn to read the racecar, instead of thinking this is what the car I ran last night felt like and it's supposed to feel like this today. It doesn't work that way."

Can you explain how Phoenix differs in the way the car handles in turns one and two as opposed to turns three and four?

"Every type of car that I've driven here -- from USAC Midgets and Silver Crown cars to Supermodifieds to Indy cars to Nationwide cars and now the Sprint Cup cars -- running all those different divisions, the one common variable is the two ends of the track are unique and different from each other. It's always been a situation where if your car is really good in (turns) three and four, you're normally a little bit tight in (turns) one and two, and if you get one and two really good, you're normally a little bit too loose in three and four. You do have to weigh the options and try to find that balance of which end of the track is more important to you. You know you're not going to be perfect in both ends, and you'll have to pick one end or the other to get your car really good. I do have a preference, but I don't tell everybody else that. That's what having all these years and these laps of experience there does for me. It's the one secret variable that I try to use to my advantage."

Because you're so familiar with Phoenix, do you enter this weekend's race with an added sense of confidence?

"Sure. Any time you go back to a facility that you've had success at, you're always excited to go back there. It's not only the performance that we've had there, it's the total draw for me enjoying Phoenix so much. It's just kind of the total package when I go out there. It's a great facility. Obviously, there aren't too many tracks you go to that you look over the backstretch and you see mountains and cactus everywhere. You hear people talking about cowboys going up there in the morning with a bag and grabbing rattlesnakes the day of the race to clear them out so people can sit down. It's just a pretty special racetrack."

-source: shr

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