Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Frontstretch Driver Q & A · Tony Lumbis · Thursday January 24, 2008
Editor’s Note : With Speedweeks just around the corner, there’s an opportunity to take one last look at 2007 before moving forward. And that means we have a chance to honor the fantastic men and women that make this site tick – our talented staff of 19 writers who work hard each day to give the latest and greatest NASCAR news, information, and commentary. Our staff’s passion for this sport is unwavering, and their dedication unmatched – it’s because of them viewership for the site has more than doubled over the past year, even in the face of increasing concerns about declining TV Ratings and fan support. People may not like the direction the sport may be headed – but based on the numbers, it’s through the hard work of our Frontstretch staff that more people are coming here for a daily stock car fix.
So, in their honor, we present to you a special “Best Of” week, chronicling the best articles our staff presented to you in 2007. They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, and most of all, they’ll make you think – and hopefully, they’ll make your day just a little bit better. Enjoy, and look forward to bigger and better things to come as we head towards 2008!
This article was originally published August 15th, 2007.
David Reutimann knows all too well what it feels like to be on a roller coaster. The first-year driver from Michael Waltrip Racing has experienced the ups and downs of Nextel Cup racing harder than most everyone this year, going through the nervewracking procedure each Friday of attempting to qualify for races on time…not provisionals. When Reutimann HAS cracked the starting field, he’s had to deal with the gremlins of mechanical failure and rookie mistakes, all of which have taken their toll on a new Toyota team working hard to catch up to the rest of the pack. But having made six consecutive races on speed (P.J. Jones drove the No. 00 at Watkins Glen), it’s clear the Burger King Camry is heading in the right direction – and a lot of that has to do with the way one of NASCAR’s brightest future talents has conducted himself behind the wheel.
Our Tony Lumbis talked with Reutimann during the Pocono race weekend about how he’s handled the nerves of Friday afternoons at the track, which Waltrip is the funniest, and why his program on the Busch side is having far more success than his Cup effort to date.
Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: In many ways, you've been the face of Michael Waltrip Racing on the track this season, qualifying for more races than both of your teammates to this point. What do you contribute your success to?
David Reutimann: Ya know, I've been asked that a lot, and I really don't have any answers. I mean, both those guys are good qualifiers (teammates Dale Jarrett and Michael Waltrip)…I just think that my guys are doing a really great job. (Crew chief) Frankie Kerr has been doing a good job getting the cars set up for me.
I probably drive more like an idiot on those laps than they do. I just drive it as hard as I can. Not that those guys don't – but I think the setups for our cars have been better for qualifying, at least how I like to qualify. At the end of the day, you have to get your car to what your driver likes. I've gotten in Michael's cars and have gone three tenths slower than he could just, because Michael likes something different than I do – and so does D.J. You think you have the same stuff, but a lot of times the setups are drastically different. It's just completely different driving techniques, and you got to get to what your driver wants. I don't think the other guys have been able to get that part of it. Also, looking back, I've had (crew chief) Frankie (Kerr) since the beginning of the year, and we've even tested some before that. So, we've been together for a long time. They've had some crew chief changes over on the No. 55 and the No. 44, so they haven't had the chance to jell like Frankie and I have. In the end, I would say that it's certainly that I'm not any better than those guys (Waltrip and Jarrett) because those guys are good, and they've sat on poles and won races. So, it’s just getting the combination that they need to run fast.
Lumbis: Did you have any say in getting Frankie over to be your crew chief?
Reutimann: They asked me, and when it came right down to it, Frankie and I work well together. He was in the organization, and he wanted to do it really bad. There's a lot to be said when you're sitting on the pit box; you have to want to do that just as much as you would want to drive the race car. You want to have to win, and I definitely feel that Frankie wanted that, and we've worked well together. Also, it's just a situation where it was a new team, and we had to get things up and going. Frankie was the guy, and it was a good choice, it was good for me. We're friends, and I really like the guy. Up and down pit road, there are some crew chief / driver combinations that really aren't that fond of each other, and I think it's pretty important that you like one another in order to work well together.
Lumbis: Details are still up in the air regarding your contract status for 2008. It's been reported that it's 99% likely that you'll be back, but you're hoping for 100%. Does the fact that your status is in limbo affect the way you drive for the remainder of the season?
Reutimann: I'm here at the racetrack, and I'm not even thinking about contract stuff because there is so much to take your mind off everything else that's going on. You have to focus on the task at hand. I'm really not even paying attention to that. But yeah, it's in the back of my mind all the time whenever I'm out of the race car. You're worried about what your future is. I know Michael and everybody is working really hard to make things happen and trying to jump through all the hurdles and the hoops that it takes to keep good sponsorship on these cars. Hopefully, we’ll be able to announce something in the near future (where) everyone will know what our future holds, and we'll be able to put that behind us and go on and finish out the year and start next year.
Lumbis: So if you had your choice, for long term plans, it would be right here at Michael Waltrip Racing?
Reutimann: Well, Michael Waltrip has been awfully good to me over the years, whether I was driving for Darrell on the Truck side or Michael on the Busch side. They've given me a lot of opportunities, and the organization has gotten stronger as time progressed. I'm proud of the people and what they've done and I like the people around me. Yeah, I think there is a lot of unfinished business and it would be good to stick around and see what happens. So, we'll see what the options are and see what the future holds. Nobody for sure knows what is going to happen. I think the No. 55 and the No. 44 are pretty solid. Our sponsorship is the one that's in question right now.
Lumbis: Jason Leffler just won Toyota's first race in the Busch Series at O'Reilly Raceway Park. You have also enjoyed success this year in the Aaron's Dream Machine, currently sitting 2nd in points. To what do you attribute Toyota's high degree of success in that series? Do you think your manufacturer's success in the Busch Series will soon translate into Cup?
Reutimann: It might. Some of the aero stuff and some of the stuff we've learned may (allow) us to gain a little bit. You won't (gain) so much on the CoT stuff next year when all the races are CoT races. The reality of it all is that the motor in the Busch car is the motor we ran in the Trucks. It's the same basic configuration, it's really no difference. You've got a motor that makes really good horsepower; it's been tried year in and year out. All they did was take it from the Truck and put it in the Busch car; so, you started off with a proven piece right off the bat. It makes really good horsepower, runs really strong, and it's everything you need to run up front and win races with. Even though there's only three Toyotas in the field most times, those three are usually strong contenders to finish well. I think it comes down to the fact that on the Cup side, the motor is completely different, a completely different configuration. It hasn't had its time to be developed, and we're falling short on the horsepower side in a lot of situations. They're getting closer and working very hard on it, but it doesn't come overnight.
Lumbis: Is it harder to transfer that Truck technology over to the Cup side as compared to Busch?
Reutimann: Yeah. Fortunately, they learned a lot on the Busch motors and Truck motors, but still, it's a different motor. If you sat them together (Cup and Busch / Truck) side by side, they don't even look the same visibly from the outside, and there's a ton of stuff different inside. So, you're taking an unproven piece versus a proven piece, and it's really not a fair comparison because the Toyota Cup configuration is so new.
Lumbis: You've followed in the footsteps of your father, Buzzie's, career. How influential has he been in your own career to date?
Reutimann: He'sâ€¦wowâ€¦I mean, he's influenced everything I've ever done in more ways then he probably will ever know. He's my dad, first and foremost. I've been all over the United States and Canada with him racing since I was very young, basically since birth. Then when my career started going and he was cutting back a little bit, he was with me all over the country racing. He's basically kept me racing, and not really so much through money because we really didn't have any. We just raced really hard and worked really hard. He'd been down there with me week in and week out thrashing on race cars and putting things together and trying to make (things) happen and get me noticed and keep me racing. I tell people a lot that I can't ever remember my dad and I throwing a football at each other or throwing a baseball around the yard. But we've been in Victory Lane together. We've been broke together. Broke down alongside the road. We've argued and we've cried. We've done a lot of stuff, and we've spent more time together than a lot of people ever get a chance to spend with their parents. I feel pretty special that we were able to have that kind of relationship.
Lumbis: You have the unique situation of representing two primary sponsors this year with both Domino’s and Burger King. Does that add on extra demands to your time?
Reutimann: No, both sponsors are very good. They both ask very little. Burger King sponsored a car some years back, and Domino’s has been affiliated with NASCAR as the Official Pizza and (is also) affiliated with MIS. I think they're really a joint venture together. Even though they're not the same company, they're both sharing time on the car. I think it’s a pretty unique situation, carrying two places on the car that sometimes may compete against each other.
It doesn't really add any pressure. You just want to do the best you can for your sponsors all the time, and that's how it is. They're both great companies, and you want to do your best for them because they take good care of us and they're very good sponsors to have.
Lumbis: Earlier this year at California, you experienced one of the hardest hits ever recorded in NASCAR. It was obvious that the soft walls and HANS device contributed to the fortunate outcome of the wreck in terms of your health. Are there certain other safety initiatives you would like to see enacted by NASCAR after experiencing that wreck?
Reutimann: I think NASCAR is doing a very good job. They were trying to accomplish a lot with the CoT, and I think one of the main things they were trying was getting a safe race car for people. I think they've been able to do that. I know they'll look at things and continue to make improvements, whether it's through differences in the barrier or energy impact foam that they have in the CoT program (or other things). They're doing a very good job, and I'm sure their safety program will continue to evolve. I think maybe the only thing, as a driver I would like to see, is similar to what the NHRA does with their Safety Safari deal. They have one group of people who go to all the races. All those people know the cars intimately, they know the drivers and everything about them. When you get in a bad situation, those guys are always the same guys that come to your aid. I would like to see something like that just because it would make the sport safer.
Lumbis: It seems like we've heard similar requests for quite awhile now.
Reutimann: I think so. In retrospect, the people we have are very good. From the infield care center to the safety people, they do an extraordinary job. I'm not taking anything away from them. I just think it would help those people do their job better if they had a group that was doing it all the time along with the help of those people who volunteer their time now. The safety guys now, I'm sure they don't get paid anything just to come and help us out. They're here because they love racing and want to be a part of it, and they do a very good job. It's not that I'm taking anything away from what those people do. I just think it would be the next logical step.
Lumbis: On T.V., you appear to be one of the most nervous drivers in the garage area right before qualifying. Is this because of pressure you feel from your owner and sponsors, or is it mostly self-generated?
Reutimann: It's self-inflicted. Jennifer (Referring to Jennifer Chapple, David's Public Relations Representative who was nearby for this interview) has been with me since my first race in the Truck Series. She's been there through my wrecks, been in the infield care center. We've been through a lot together over the years. She knows as well as anybody how hard I can be on myself and how much pressure I put on myself. As she's pointed out in many situations, it's not the healthiest way to deal with things. I really don't know how to do it any other way, so I just kind of go with it. I think I've gotten a little better as time goes on. When you want something as bad as I want this, every time you have a bad race, you feel like you're blowing your shot. It's just the mentality that I've always had. It drives her (Jennifer) crazy, it drives my wife crazy and everybody around me, but I can't help it. I'm getting a little betterâ€¦a little better.
Lumbis: You have been able to drive for both Waltrip Brothers in your career, both with pretty good senses of humor. Who is funnier?
Reutimann: They're both really funny. Michael comes up with some of the most off the wall stuff that it makes you laugh, and he does it to make you laugh. D.W. can be a little more serious, but he also has a great sense of humor. They're just two great guys, and if you get both of them together, you'll laugh so hard that your stomach hurts. They go back and forth, and they mess with one another and they joke and carry on like brothers. It's pretty neat to be a part of that. They've both been very good to me over the years and have given me a lot of valuable advice, help, and guidance. I owe a lot to the whole Waltrip family as a whole. I think they've been very good to me.
Lumbis: Sounds like you need both of them before qualifying to loosen things up a little.
Reutimann: Yeah, the problem is that Michael and I both kind of keyed up for qualifying. Sometimes Michael is not in a joking mood before qualifying, and neither am I. Either way, it's fun to be a part of this organization, and it's an ongoing process. We'll just keep plugging away at it.
Lumbis: Dare I ask who is the better owner?
Reutimann: No, absolutely not. (smiles). They both definitely have their strong points. D.W. likes to be involved and likes to tell you what he thinks and how he thinks you should be doing things. Michael is more of a guy that will let you go let you do your own thing. Completely opposite ends of the spectrum; but both are very good guys, and they both can get the job done in their respective ways of doing things.
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