WHAT A DIFFERENCE A FEW YEARS HAVE MADE FOR REUTIMANN AND MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING CORNELIUS, N.C. (September 17, 2009) -- It was six years ago when Darrell Waltrip gave a small town dirt-track racer from Zephyrhills, Florida, a chance to compete...
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A FEW YEARS HAVE MADE FOR REUTIMANN AND MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING
CORNELIUS, N.C. (September 17, 2009) -- It was six years ago when Darrell Waltrip gave a small town dirt-track racer from Zephyrhills, Florida, a chance to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series full-time. For David Reutimann, it feels like a lifetime ago.
Reutimann has gone from carving his name in the dirt to having it chiseled in granite after winning the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 in May. His first NASCAR Sprint Cup win vaulted him deep into contention for the Chase for the Championship all the way through the final regular-season race in Richmond, Va., last weekend. Although Reutimann just missed this year's playoffs, his inspiring Chase run was a watershed event for maturing Michael Waltrip Racing, an organization in its third season.
"I don't know if I've come very far, but the Michael Waltrip Racing organization definitely has," Reutimann said. "Obviously, I'm really disappointed for not making The Chase and it's a little hard to take. With that being said, I've been proud of what we've been able to accomplish and you easily lose sight of that because you are there in the midst of everything and you are close. When something happens and you don't get in, all you are is really disappointed. The reality of it is, we did do a good job, but we came up a little short. I'm proud of the Aaron's team, the organization and really happy with the progress we've made in such a short amount of time. I'm happy with that."
Thanks to great partners like Aaron's, Reutimann has been impressive recording five top-five and eight top-10 finishes in addition to his first victory at Lowe's Motor Speedway and pole awards at Texas Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway.
"I definitely think the win was huge for me personally, for Aaron's, Michael and MWR," Reutimann said. "It was a really big deal for us. There have been a lot of good moments like being able to win a couple of poles and run well at a lot of tracks. Again though, I think it comes down to winning at Lowe's. It was a big break for our entire organization. That was the highlight and it doesn't get much better than that."
Even though Reutimann is not among the top-12 competing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, he is indeed thankful for the season he has experienced. His goals have not changed and he's looking to add to his 13 top-15 finishes in the final 10 races with his crew chief Rodney Childers and No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry team.
"My goals are to go out there and run good every week and that hasn't changed a lot from what we originally set out to do," Reutimann said. "It's unfortunate that we're not in The Chase for the Sprint Cup, but that's not going to change our mindset. Our approach will be the same it has been all year."
With Reutimann's success this season, it masks the fact he's only been working with his crew chief for eight months and his team has not reached its three-year-old birthday.
"You have to remember this is mine and Rodney's first year working together and we are still learning about one another," Reutimann said. "He's learning about what I want in a race car and I'm learning more about his approach and what he does. There is no doubt that we will have an even better program next year."
What a difference a few years make for Reutimann in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Delving further back into his past, Reutimann has been a part of the Waltrip family since 2004 and won his first Truck Series race, Nationwide race and Cup race with them. He's experienced the highs and lows from the team's inception with Toyota and is enjoying the most recent success he is witnessing firsthand.
"We are light years ahead of where we were," Reutimann said. "Our cars are better for one, we are more organized and more structured. There is a better feel all the way around. We make progress and smart changes. There are so many things that are different from this year to the previous two years. Everybody has a purpose and knows what's going on. When something's wrong, they have a direct clear cut direction to make it better."
Reutimann is by no means a fortune teller, but he knows one thing for certain that next year will be even better for Michael Waltrip Racing.
"We have a great partnership with JTG-Daugherty Racing and Marcos Ambrose has done a solid job and I'm looking forward to working with him and the No. 47 Toyota team again," Reutimann said. "Also, I know Martin Truex Jr. is going to do great job and so will his crew chief Pat Tryson. Pat's record speaks for itself - - running well, winning races and repeatedly making The Chase. I feel like they will be a good fit for our program. Michael has done an incredible job helping make MWR stronger every day and putting the right people in the right place. MWR's future is bright."
"I don't know what we expect for the Aaron's Dream Machine team in 2010, but I feel like we should make The Chase," Reutimann continued. "I feel like we are a good enough team to do that and that's why it's disappointing we didn't make it this year. We will keep our approach the same and I expect good things."