NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest
January 16, 2010
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
DENISE MALOOF: We're off to a flying start. Your teammate, new teammate, Martin Truex, Jr., was in here earlier, and he led us off today. So we have the two others here, obviously Trevor competes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Michael Waltrip Racing and David Reutimann, of course, is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular now. Starting with Trevor, just talk about 2010, ready to get back on the track, get it going?
TREVOR BAYNE: When you say obviously, does that mean I don't look like a Cup driver yet? I'm just kidding. No, I'm really pumped up for 2010. We've got a lot of great things going on at MWR and Diamond-Waltrip Racing. I've got to get used to saying that because that's our new team, and we're excited to have Gary Hextell and the Waltrip group working together to form this team, alongside Aarons and Lowes Foods right now are our sponsors for a few races, and we're still will working some other things to get other companies on the car.
As far as the team goes, I know the guys have been working really hard this year in the shop this off-season, and it seems like it's a little bit more focused this year because they've got more of a goal, they've got one driver to work with instead of five different ones. Last year I know that made it hard on everybody, even David and myself. It's weird when you jump back and forth with a team, because they get used to one thing with one driver and then they've got to go back to it.
So to have a common goal and to have the engineering and fabrication and all the support throughout the whole shop is going to make a great season for all of us.
DENISE MALOOF: David, you had a strong season last year, were in Chase contention for a while. I'm sure you have Chase aspirations this year.
DAVID REUTIMANN: You didn't have to say "for a while." You could have just said Chase contention. No, we came up a little short.
But if you look back at the previous year, we didn't even have a remote clue to where the Chase was. At least you can say at the end of the day we had improved as an organization, as an team, and got closer to our goal, which was getting in the Chase.
You know, in the end, it is what it is. We have a great race team, and like you guys talked to Martin earlier, I mean, we have a new addition with Martin Truex driving the NAPA Toyota, and then we'll have Trevor and the Nationwide care full-time, as well as Marcos Ambrose and myself. I think we've got a really well-rounded group and hopefully we should be able to do some really great stuff.
Q. David, you're the senior member now of the team. Talk about the responsibility. Do you feel any more responsibility?
DAVID REUTIMANN: Not until you said that, no. I hadn't really thought of that. But you know, I'm just a guy that -- I just drive the 00 car. The funny side is you have guys that change week to week in your organization who kind of lead the charge. There's been times that Trevor has gone out and had a better race than any of the guys on the Cup side have, and there's sometimes Marcos ran better and I ran better and Michael ran better, so it's just a situation where it changes week to week on who's kind of the leader, so to speak.
I don't think there's a real clear-cut leader of our organization. Everybody is just trying to learn and trying to get better. Obviously Michael is still the guy in the forefront, and his name is on the door and he'll still be running some Cup races and be there helping organize things and making our organization better.
For me I'm just happy to have the opportunity that I have. I don't really know that I'm -- I may be the guy that's been there the longest, but again, it just changes from week to week on how everybody performs.
You know, there's an insaneness to this business. You're only as good as your last race. So one week you may be the franchise, the next week you may be just a guy that ran 25th. That's just how it works for you.
Q. This is the first time that you go into a season with a crew chief that you had the previous season. How much further ahead do you think you are this year, and also, as a follow-up, have you put Truex in line yet? How do you think that's going to work out?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I'm not sure how that's going to work. Martin and I haven't had a lot of opportunity to work much. Did he say anything about me when he came in earlier?
Q. He said you were a nice guy.
DAVID REUTIMANN: I was hoping for a little bit more than that. Yeah, you're right about having Ronnie Childress as my crew chief. Since I've been Cup racing, I've never been able to start the next year with the same crew chief I had the previous year. This will be a little bit different situation for our team and myself. I think there's that deal that you have to work through, this whole thing that -- the kind of gelling and trying to get things to work. You kind of have some of that stuff out of the way, so to speak. Even though Rodney and I were able to hit it off right away and do a lot of good things, I felt like he did a great job. There were still some points in the year where we struggled with him understanding what I was meaning and vice versa. I think we have a lot of those things out of the way, hurdles you don't need to jump again. There's enough hurdles out there every weekend, you don't need to add more yourself. I think we've got a lot of good stuff going on. Again, Rodney is a really great guy, does a good job, very calm. On top of that, having the addition of Pat Tryson, you can't devalue that. Martin coming on is a huge gain for our team. But on top of that, having Pat Tryson come over and being part of our organization, that's huge. That's really big.
Q. Last year you were sort of on the cusp of being in or out of the Chase. Have you thought in the off-season about specifically just a few little details that it's going to take to make that step?
DAVID REUTIMANN: Yeah, I mean there's a couple situations where we took ourselves out of contention to have a better finish and maybe score the points we needed to get us in the Chase. I feel like we just need to try to be more consistent in what we do, and some weeks -- especially when we started out the season, man, we had things going in the right direction. Man, this is what we need to do, keep doing it every week, every week. We didn't really get off track, you've just got to keep trying and refining your product to make it better. And some of the stuff we tried just didn't work, and sometimes it put us behind a little bit at the racetrack and we had trouble recovering, and you can't do that. It's not that you can't go there and try new things, it's just when it works or doesn't work, you need to be able to go back to your baseline quickly.
And I think there was a couple situations where we were caught off guard a little bit, no fault of anybody. You go there, and you're like, this package is going to work, we know it's going to work, we refined it, and you show up and it doesn't work, and you're like, wow, what do we do now. Being able to refine that, especially during the end of the year and the off-season narrow the field of things we're going to try a little bit so we can still try new things at the racetrack so not get off track too much, and I think that's going to be a benefit.
Q. David, I've just looked at your bio on Racing Reference, and your next start will be No. 100 in Sprint Cup. Any significance to that?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I feel old all of a sudden. Yeah, that's pretty impressive, especially for a guy who never thought that he was going to have the opportunity for one start, much less 100. I think that's pretty neat. So that's going to be a pretty special. That will be here for the 500? And this is where kind of the home state and where I grew up kind of coming over and watching and sitting in the stands and just -- back when they had the twin 125s, when they called them that, because we were always working on our own race cars and couldn't come over for the 500. Most of the time you couldn't get tickets. It was neat to come over here and get to be part of that. So that's going to be pretty special.
Q. This is for Trevor. You're young, you're learning, and you've got three Cup drivers you're working with. Are you going to use one of those guys as a role model?
TREVOR BAYNE: Oh, man. I don't know about these guys. I'm going to have to pick somebody else. Can I go to other teams? No, just kidding. No, they're all really good guys, and I've worked with David and mark us for the last year, and I was with DEI with Martin Truex, Jr., and we've also still got Michael around. I think everybody kind of sees him stepping away, but really I think he's going to be more help this year being off the track than he was last year, especially for myself because he'll be able to be a part of our Nationwide team a little bit more and be able to be around.
But I'll lean on everybody that I can, and it seems like I try to go to the driver that excels the best at each track and really go to all of them equally because I feel like they all have something to teach me. Marcos is really great on the road courses; David, he's good at the shorter tracks --
DAVID REUTIMANN: I don't know what I'm good at. Still working on that.
TREVOR BAYNE: And obviously I'll be going to Michael a lot for the speedway stuff that we're going to, because he learned from one of the greatest we've ever seen in Dale Earnhardt. So I think there's a lot to learn from each and every one of them.
Q. David, do you have any Nationwide or truck plans for this season?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I don't have any truck stuff at all, and as it stands right now, I only have three Nationwide races at this point. That kind of sucks, but it is what it is right now.
Q. Who is it?
DAVID REUTIMANN: It will be with Brawn Racing and Berringer driving the 10 car.
Q. My question is for Trevor. Last year it seemed like you qualified really well a lot of times, but then the finishes didn't quite equal there. Were you surprised how quick the racing and the cars all changed during the event?
TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, and for the last couple years I've been racing in longer races, but the competition that we were racing against wasn't near the level that we're at now. The track still changes the same, but it's how other drivers have adapted to the track as it goes on. That's something I've got to get used to. Now I've got it written down what the track did the previous year, and when I go back, I can remember, okay, this track freed up so we can be ahead of the curve. Last year as the race went on, we were kind of chasing it. Now the car is tight, so now what do we do? We couldn't be ahead of the game on that. But I think we've learned a lot in the off-season as to why our long runs kind of fell off, and hopefully we can improve those. Our qualifying was great, but we're still looking to improve that until we're on the front row every single week.
I was really impressed with how well those guys adjusted the car for qualifying last year. But like you said, the long runs we kind of struggled a little bit, and we acknowledge that, and now this year I think we should be a little bit better on that.
Q. First for Trevor, if there was one big lesson you learned last year, you ran almost half a schedule, what will that be that you carry ahead to 2010. Of the racetracks you didn't run at, which are you most looking forward to in addition to doing the full Nationwide schedule, where else are you going to be racing?
TREVOR BAYNE: I think Daytona is the biggest one to me I've never been to. I've never drafted before on a speedway. It's going to be pretty crazy jumping out there with the sharks. I'm not running any kind of ARCA or a truck or anything on a Superspeedway. So I've got a lot to learn when I get out there. Daytona, this is where it all pretty started, so I'm looking forward to coming here and being a part of that.
As far as what I learned last year, I learned a lot with the aero on the mile and a half tracks. Everything I had done was all short track racing, so now I had to learn, okay, the car is tight, you can't necessarily throw a right rear spring to it because it's going to get tighter with aero. That was the biggest thing I learned last year was how the aero adjusts or how it changes the car. And I've got more to learn coming here to Daytona with that.
Q. Are you going to be racing anywhere else besides your Nationwide?
TREVOR BAYNE: Mainly Nationwide stuff, 35 races is the most I've done in the last couple years, so I've got to adjust to that slowly and try to keep the focus all on that, because that's the bread and butter of our deal right now is just to run the Nationwide, and then hopefully if all goes well, next year we'll be able to run some Cup stuff.
Q. For David, what's the dirt car program looking like this year? Not so much for you, but what's that schedule going to be looking like?
DAVID REUTIMANN: The dirt program is really good right now. Other than the fact that we don't have any sponsorship for it and I'm playing the bills for everything. That's not looking so good. We've got the new car done and he's going to start like the 24th or 25th of this year at East Bay Raceway. So all that stuff is coming together. I won't get to drive any of it. I just will get the obligation to pay for it and fix it when it's tore up and pay for the tires and the fuel and entry fee and all that other stuff that I guess Rick Hendrick has to worry about, too.
Other than that, I'll get to do all that stuff, but I won't get to drive any of that. I'm finding out that team ownership is not exactly for me, but as long as the old man wants to keep racing, we'll keep at it.
Q. David, there's a lot of teams that are consolidating, losing cars, losing people, and Michael Waltrip racing is adding and adding and adding. What's the secret over there?
DAVID REUTIMANN: It's hard to tell. I mean, it's a situation where we obviously have Michael who's always treated his sponsors extremely well, which is why sponsors like Aarons and NAPA and Best Western have been with him for so long. They stay around because he takes really, really good care of them.
And I think that's something that some of the other teams have had to learn. It's like, man, the way things are, you've got to take as good a care of your sponsors as you possibly can. I think it's just if we just rewind back a couple years, when we left our final race at Homestead, there was people saying that Michael Waltrip racing wouldn't even be showing up for Daytona for the next year, and now we have -- they just signed NAPA on for multiple years. We're signing sponsors like Tom's and Best Western for multiyear deals, as well, and having them on Cup cars and stuff. Again, I think it just shows how quickly things can change in our sport. You've got guys like Cal Wells and Ty Norris and all the people at Michael Waltrip Racing and all the guys that work upstairs that wear the clean shirts and stuff. They don't allow me up there very often, only when you get in trouble. They're up there making things happen, and I think it's pretty impressive to do at any point in racing. But especially now, as hard as sponsors are to keep.
Q. By my count there are only three full-time double duty Cup and Nationwide drivers in the series next year. Do you view that as a real opportunity for you, and what are your realistic goals and expectations for 2010?
TREVOR BAYNE: Well, I think it's a great opportunity to excel. We had a lot of Cup drivers coming in last year, but that also created opportunity to learn. You know, I really enjoy racing with those guys, especially when David was in that 32 car and we were rubbing fenders every week. That's the best way to learn is being around that competition. That really helps me out a lot, getting to follow Carl Edwards around these racetracks is pretty cool.
Our expectations, I think we're capable of Top 5 finishes every week. That's my goal. I'd rather set my goal too high than too low. That's what we're going to shoot for. Our engineering stepped up its game, our whole aero program. They're taking it to a Cup level really.
With Joe Gibbs and with JR Motorsports and now I see Michael Waltrip Racing to be the next one to take it to that level. We're setting our goals high this year, but I think we can definitely meet them.
DENISE MALOOF: In the Cup Series some significant changes coming down the pike performance-wise on the track. What's your sense of some of the things we're looking at?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I think time will tell as far as -- I know the change from the wing we have now to putting the spoiler, basically something that we've all seen on race cars since day one. It'll be interesting to see just how that affects the car. I know there will be some wind tunnel time and some testing and those things to try to get our arms around that.
But you know, and as far as the rule changes, I think probably more significantly on the super speed ways with the bump drafting and things like that, I think NASCAR is putting is back into our hands as drivers to take a little bit better care of each other out there on the racetrack. I think there's some really good stuff going on. Again, I think the fans I think sometimes fail to realize that they're asking for different starting times, they're getting that. We asked for double file restarts, they got that, too. Now they're asking for a lot of things. I don't think any sport that you watch on TV or otherwise listens to the fans as much as NASCAR does and kind of gives them what they want. I think it's pretty neat that we're doing that, and I think we'll continue to evolve our product and give them great racing, and I hope all the stuff works out like we want it to.
DENISE MALOOF: Gentlemen, thank you. We'll see you very soon.
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