Charlotte: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: David, you came up in an era when the sport was looking at a lot of young drivers. Were you ever worried that you might have gotten passed up because there was that youth movement or was that ever a concern as ...

Continued from part 1

Q: David, you came up in an era when the sport was looking at a lot of young drivers. Were you ever worried that you might have gotten passed up because there was that youth movement or was that ever a concern as you worked your way up from Busch and Truck?

DAVID REUTIMANN: Yeah. Through many interviews, I sat where people asked me, How does it feel to know you probably will never get to the Cup level? I would ask them why. They would say, It's a longshot. It's a longshot I even made it this far, so why should I start worrying about the odds? It's one of those deals with I figured if I acted the right way and did the right things on the racetrack, did those things, at some point somebody would want me somewhere. I was hoping anyway. So I was just racing. That's all I was trying to do, keep my head down and focus in on what we had to do at the time, hoping at some point maybe somebody may notice.

When I started racing, I wasn't racing to be an NASCAR driver. I was just racing to race, to be able to be like my dad, make a living at racing. So, you know, when I was at East Bay Raceway running for $350 to win in a late model feature, I wasn't concerned about being here, I was concerned about making it to next week. That's been the mentality my whole life.

Now as you come up and you finally get this opportunity, you're like, Wow, this is really, really big, more than I could ever imagine. Things like this don't happen to guys like me. It doesn't. You guys know that. How often does it happen? Can anybody here tell me? It doesn't happen. I'm thrilled. I know I'm blessed to be in the situation I am with the team I am, the car owner, the people that surround me. So I never take any of that stuff for granted, never, ever. Not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for what I have, good days or bad, because opportunities like this are few and far between. I've been blessed to be in the right situation.

Q: Could you identify the pit crew member that FOX was referring to as Billy Bad Butt all afternoon.

DAVID REUTIMANN: I think I missed that. Was the guy bald?

Q: Yes.

DAVID REUTIMANN: That would be Dwayne Bigger. He's a mechanic. I hated that kind of happened. But he's my crew guy. Anybody up and down pit road, even if their driver is wrong, we're going to take up for their crew guy. I hated that happened. I didn't want him and Tony to have any kind of altercation. That would have never happened. I hated that it went down like that.

He's doing his job. I don't want anybody to fault him for that. I wish it hadn't gone down like that. But in the end, you know, crew guys stick up for their drivers. At least when you got a good crew they do. Like I said, I've had guys stick up for me even when they knew a hundred percent I was wrong, they still stood right there with me and made sure I didn't get beat up.

Tony is a pretty big guy. He didn't say he was going to beat me up.

Q: David, what exactly were they saying to each other? Do you like that nickname for him?

DAVID REUTIMANN: I think he likes that. There's definite T shirt possibilities for that at some point.

No, they were just you know, I was like this is kind of getting out of control a little bit. I was trying to be the voice of reason in there. So I don't really know exactly what was said.

Really at the end it wasn't all that big a deal. I think Tony was a little aggravated. Tony is a fiery guy. That's just his nature. Dwayne is equally as fiery. You put those two personalities together, you have those kind of things happen sometimes. In the end, it's really no big deal. It's not a problem, you know, I don't think.

Q: David, did you have to stay by your car during that whole time or was that your decision? Can you talk about the rain would start, stop, were you ever looking like how much wetter does it need to get before they finally call this thing?

DAVID REUTIMANN: I was thinking that a lot. I got out of the car, I leaned up against it. I knew when I got out of the car it was raining. I was leaning up against the car, it was raining. I just said, I'm just gonna stay here. Plus it was a pretty good walk back to my pit box. I thought we were going to go back green, so I didn't want to waste too much energy. I was happy where I was.

When I got out of the car, originally there wasn't a whole lot of people around there. So I could just kind of think about what was going on. As the day progressed, it got a little more congested down there. You know, nobody made me stay there. I just didn't want to go any farther.

Q: Did you think about how wet it needed to get?

DAVID REUTIMANN: Yeah, it would never rain hard but it would just be kind of steady. Made it very difficult to get the race in. I was thinking, Man, at some point when is enough enough? But I understand what NASCAR is doing. They're trying to give the fans a race, a full race, what they paid for. They're doing their best to do that. I totally respect that. At the same time you're standing out there, there's more weather coming, it's off and on, off and on. How long do you drag the deal out?

In the end, you're at the mercy of what they're trying to do.  I think they
did the right thing by trying to get the race in at all costs.  The fans
deserve that.  I think that was the right move.

Q: David, I know you've told this story a million times, but what shop were you at when you got the phone call? You said you thought people were playing pranks on you.

DAVID REUTIMANN: I was actually at home fixing to have dinner. I was working at Nemco Motorsports for Joe Nemechek. I was trying to drive a Nationwide car for him. I moved up there and sponsorship kind of fell through. I was working in the fab shop building crush panels, side skirts, other stuff like that. The guys were always busting on me. Dwayne was one of them. He's been with me that long. They would get on the loud speaker, Roger Penske is on line one, Richard Childress is on line two. All kinds of guys. This would go off and on during the course of the day.

Then I got home.  Phone rings.  I pick it up.  The guy said he's Darrel
Waltrip.  Come on, I can't even get home and they're bugging me.  I
stuttered.  I started to say like, Man, you guys just leave me alone.  The
caller ID was on the back of the phone.  I flipped it over and looked.  It
was not a number I recognized.  Certain wasn't a 704 area code.  The name
Waltrip was attached to the end of it.  Wow, this is for real.  It was
Darrel Waltrip calling me at home just before dinner.  That was phenomenal.

I had never spoken to Darrel Waltrip in my life. I watched him on TV, that was it. I never shook his hand. Never even set close to the guy. Never got a chance to see him in the garage. Never had any interaction with him at all except for that one night at home. Said he had a truck team, a Toyota truck team, was wondering if I was interested in driving it.

I offered at that point to drive to wherever he was and sign on a dotted line. It's been a great relationship. Mike is right, it's been like a family deal. He's been like a second dad to me. He chewed my butt just like my dad has before. Every time he's done it, it's made me a better driver. I owe a lot to Darrel Waltrip and the Waltrip family.

Q: Michael, does this make your decision about your role next year more difficult or easier, knowing you have a team that's now a winning team, and maybe now you can step aside?

MICHAEL WALTRIP: I don't know that it affects it at all. I just want to drive a car. I want to be the best I can be in the NAPA car. That's all I'm focused on. I really respect what David and Rodney are able to extract from their car. I love to see our cars running well. So there was a point during the race today when I was probably the fastest of our cars, but we couldn't put a race together.

I don't think it's gonna affect my decision what I'm gonna do going forward one way or the other. It just makes me real proud to be able to say that we had a plan and we were able to execute it.

Q: I noticed the 55 team also went in with the 00 into Victory Lane. How important is this to Michael Waltrip Racing as a whole and how important is it to morale for both teams?

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, I will say, and Rodney has worked at other places before, but I think our team, MWR, is more cohesive than anyplace I've ever worked certainly. We all want to see each other do well. It's genuine. Whether you are an Aaron's guy or NAPA guy, you just wanted to be there to hug. Same way with Marcos' team. They're a part of our organization. That's something I'm proud of at MWR. Some of the folks that worked in other places, they said, This is just a good place to work. People like coming to work here. When you have that going on, then obviously you're going to get results, things are going to go better if that's the attitude of your employees. That's something I'm really proud of.

Q: David, what is it going to be like to see your name on that trophy they have this year? Did you try to lift it?

DAVID REUTIMANN: I definitely didn't try to lift it. I knew it looked pretty big. Mike told me before, have you seen the trophy because it's really, really big and heavy. Yeah, I mean, they gave me a ring. That's stuff that nobody can take away from me. It's pretty amazing that we're going to be on such a cool trophy. I mean, it amazes me that all this cool stuff is happening right now. It's just such a blessing to be a part of this deal.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to actually seeing it on there and actually seeing it, 'cause that will make it real I think to me. I can't wait for that.

Q: Do you have a place for it at your house?

DAVID REUTIMANN: Do I get one? We'll probably put that at MWR.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: I think you should take it home.

DAVID REUTIMANN: I don't have a place for it.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Might have to sleep with it a while. I've got a couple stories about some trophies I'll tell you later (laughter).

DAVID REUTIMANN: Well, I never saw that one coming. I'll find room for it somewhere, for sure. I would add onto a house to house that baby. Really, I get a duplicate of it? Nobody told me that. Why am I always the last one to find out this stuff?

Q: Michael, is David still so much fun to mess around with that you guys still do prank calls and stuff on him?

MICHAEL WALTRIP: No. You know, he's earned his position at MWR, so nobody messes with him much. I shouldn't say that. They do kind of jacks with him a lot.

DAVID REUTIMANN: All the time.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Like why he doesn't come to the gym, where he's been, what he's doing.

DAVID REUTIMANN: No prank calls. For the record, I go to the gym. I don't work out with Michael because his trainer is completely crazy.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Yeah, but she gave me my first ab. That's big.

Q: David, you're six points out of 12th. Talk about the win, what that can do as far as your Chase hopes, momentum, motivation.

DAVID REUTIMANN: Well, our team's pretty self motivated. I don't think we need to do anything in that way to motivate our guys. Gets you closer to pack to where you're supposed to be. We've been inside the top 12 a good portion of the season, slipped back a ways. The only way you're going to get back in the hunt is to run well and finish well. We've run well the last couple weeks. We just haven't had the finishes to show for it.

That's great. I'm glad it got us closer to where we need to be. But we got to get deeper inside that top 12 in order to kind of solidify ourselves. If you do have a bad race, it doesn't hurt as bad. Where you are right now, things can change so quickly, everybody is so close in the points, you have a bad race, you're back to 15th again. You have to do all you can to avoid that.

Q: There will be some people who question the calling of the race, probably those who did pit. Talk about the effort that went into the last two days, trying to get this in. Do you think the fans got what they hoped for?

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, I mean, I've never questioned NASCAR's commitment in their decision making process. Last night, people were like, We should wait longer. It wound up raining all night. That decision was obviously the right one. There's weather coming now. NASCAR knows it takes close to two hours to dry a track, so that decision was the right one. There's been men and women working here for three or four days trying to get this event in. You have to have some compassion for them, as well.

NASCAR went as hard and as long as they could to try to dry it. When they saw it wasn't going to happen, they made the decision.

Who deserved to win the race? Who won the race off pit road? Who stayed, who didn't? You can argue that all day long. I think given the information and the call that Rodney made, he being the first one to make it, I just would hang my hat on that.

As a winner of a rain shortened race before, eventually they'll quit asking all those questions.

KERRY THARP: Congratulations to everybody from Michael Waltrip Racing.

-credit: nascar

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Joe Nemechek , Roger Penske
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing