NASCAR Teleconference April 7. 2009 An interview with: SCOTT WIMMER TRACY JUDD: This year you're back as the defending winner with a different team. Can you talk about the changes you've gone through since the end of 2008, and your path so...
April 7. 2009
An interview with:
TRACY JUDD: This year you're back as the defending winner with a different team. Can you talk about the changes you've gone through since the end of 2008, and your path so far in 2009?
SCOTT WIMMER: Well, it's been a struggle this year. It's about a week before Daytona, I didn't have a ride secured. I was fortunate that enough that Curtis Key came along and gave me the opportunity to drive his car, and to be driving it this week and in Nashville.
Our season hasn't been going that well. We've missed two races. We've run good in the other ones, but had two unfortunate missed races. But going back to Nashville, hopefully I can lean on some of the notes I've learned there for the last two seasons with Richard Childress Racing.
You know, I'm excited about the race there. It's been a special place for me for a long time. Hopefully I can go back there and run strong.
TRACY JUDD: A little added incentive for you guys in this race this weekend. It's the inaugural dash for cash race from Nationwide Insurance. $25,000 on the line as a bonus for the eligible driver if he wins the race. How hard do you think guys will go after that money?
SCOTT WIMMER: I think they're definitely going to go after it hard. That's quite a program that Nationwide has put together to help teams cope with the cost of racing right now and the way the economy is with the lack of sponsorships.
So I'm excited to be part of it. I've got a pretty good track record at Nashville, so hopefully we can be up there and compete for the win and take a little extra money home, too
Q: The last several seasons you've raced with RCR, and most teams would fall short on a resource level of that team, but you've been there. So as a driver, how much do you bring to Curtis Key's team in terms of helping them maybe in directions they need to go to lift up the entire program?
SCOTT WIMMER: I feel like I bring quite a bit. I'm very fortunate I get a lot of support from RCR. I also get a lot of support from John Dysinger and everybody up at Triad Engine Development. My brother-in-law has worked up there since the start of that, so they really help us out a lot.
But right now where I'm at with Curtis Key's team started about a week ago and we're trying to build cars and get people lined up. Once we can get rolling we can run fairly competitive and get the car in the race, and start getting it up towards the top 15 and top 10. But it's just so hard to build a team on such short notice.
I'm fortunate that RCR they really help me out a lot with anything that I want. You know, they pretty much have a good relationship with me and some of the guys on the team. So they try to help us out as much as they can.
Q: It seems like what would you say has been the most pleasant part of these first five races starting in the circumstances that you did? And what's probably the one biggest area that you guys still need to get caught up in?
SCOTT WIMMER: You know, we made opener at Daytona, and I thought that was a rally big accomplishment for the team. We were the last car to make it. We struggled through practice and were able to ask a few of my friends over at RCR to help us out, and they did that and got us in that race. We finished 11th at Vegas.
There have been some really good bright spots. The disappointment has probably been missing the races. The last race I missed was probably in 2000, and then the race at California, and missed the race last weekend at Texas.
But you've got to be optimistic. It's a start-up team. We've got probably three guys in the shop working on the car. Trying to get motors lined up, trying to get cars lined up. So you've kind of got to sit back and look and say there are going to be some bumps in the road. Hopefully we can get those straightened out and get back to where we can get up front and compete.
Q: You've certainly got experience in that area. Have you yourself been working in the shop at all to pitch in and help out?
SCOTT WIMMER: Yeah, I definitely have been. It was an area I really missed about racing. Growing up I used to build my own cars, engines and everything. When you start driving for RCR and places like that, they've got such a work force that you're not needed in that capacity.
But I've been down there. I try to get down there at least once a week, depending on my schedule, just to go through shock stuff and look over the cars and see anything that I think might help us run better.
So I think if we get another few weeks under our belt, get some more employees in the shop and can compete up front, we'll have a good shot at running the rest of the season, and hopefully running towards the front.
Q: Can you talk a little about the emotions of winning there at Nashville last year and what that felt like after all the ups and downs you've had?
SCOTT WIMMER: It was huge emotions. I've been going to Nashville since as long as I can remember, I think, competing down at the old fair ground speedways since I think '95, and I've been out there since it opened in 2001. I've been close several times, you know, just never could quite get it done.
We just had a great race car, we had a great race. We did everything right. We're fortunate enough to win that day. It was probably I'd say my biggest win, it took me a long time to get back to Victory Lane. I came close a few times in '07 with RCR, but never could get it done and go to the fifth race of the year, fifth or sixth race last year. To win the race really made me feel good. I know the team felt good.
They were working really hard to build me great race cars. You know, just after waiting so long it felt good to get back into Victory Lane and to do it at Nashville.
Q: How tough or frustrating is it when you've tasted victory and you know what that feels like. How tough is it to struggle as you have at point this is season?
SCOTT WIMMER: It's a real struggle. A lot of times you just question what you're doing. What your role is in the sport and how far you're going to keep going. But I'm fortunate I've been through situations like this before where you're maybe not with the many most competitive team, but if you keep building and working hard you can eventually get that team more or another team to look at you and say, well, he maybe deserves another shot.
I got that with RCR. You know, Curtis who was good enough to give me an opportunity to drive his car before I drive Dale Jr.'s car at Darlington. So I've really got to thank him because he's getting me into some races before that I probably wouldn't have had the opportunity to do.
Q: As a final question, something you mentioned there, looking ahead to your upcoming races in the JR Motorsports car, how tough is it not to sort of look ahead to that knowing that you're going to probably be in maybe a little better equipment over there?
SCOTT WIMMER: It's really hard. You know, especially after having a disappointed weekends where things didn't go the way we needed them to go. You know, it would be pretty easy just to say, well, I'm not going to drive anymore until I get in that car.
But I think it's really important to be in a car each and every weekend. I look back at really my last two seasons. I think I've ran 36 races in the last two years. And the guys that have won championships and won races, they're running anywhere from 70 to 80 a year. So there is something to be said about running laps and just being there each and every week.
Now I want to be as good a driver as any to get in that car, and I think running these races, even though we're struggling and we're not real competitive right now, just running them is going to keep me fresh. Hopefully, I can get in that car and show that I deserve to be in that kind of equipment and can run up front.
Q: At this stage of your crier are you sort of content to make your mark in the Nationwide Series from here on out? Or are you still looking at Cup in the back of your mind?
SCOTT WIMMER: I'm still looking at Cup. You know, I'd like to start running full-time again, and I think the Nationwide Series is a great place for me to do that. You know, maybe look at just starting to get back into cup racing like on a four or five race basis.
But, you know, it's really tough right now. This winter was a hard off-season for me. I didn't know what I was going to do of the where I was going to go. We're fortunate that JR Motorsports put some races together for me, and then Mr. Key came along and wanted me to help him start this team up, too.
So I'd love to be racing. I want to do it full-time, I want to be competitive. Whether it's the Nationwide Series or the cup series, it doesn't really bother me, I just want to be in there each and every week and running up front.
Q: Along those lines a couple weeks ago Jeff Burton was saying when he was a kid he idolized like Jack Ingram and Tommy Ellis. Do you think you can still build a strong fan base today in the Nationwide Series alone?
SCOTT WIMMER: I think we can. I think the biggest thing is we need to go out and beat the guys that are winning right now. We need to go out and beat Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer. Back when those guys were racing, they were. They were beating Dale Earnhardt, and Bobby Alison.
You know, right now with the way the Cup teams are the super teams, they take all their information down to the Nationwide programs. It's hard to beat those guys.
Hopefully in the near future here we can start doing that. And I think it would start building some identity back in the sport. When I got in it, it was Jeff Green, and Jason Keller, and Todd Bodine was running full seasons back then, and those guys were the name of the sport. So I'd like to see it get back to there where these guys, this is what they run and this is their series.
Q: Is it any easier to compete with them now that they run in a vastly different car on Sundays?
SCOTT WIMMER: I don't really think so. I think it boils down to track time. I think a lot of it is confidence, these guys are running good in their Cup cars and they come down to the Nationwide cars and at times they make it tough to win races, whether it's tires or other things to do.
But if you can run good on Saturday, I'm sure it helps you on Sunday. So I think they just really have a lot of confidence and have a lot of feel for the track by the time they start racing the cars. I think that's what makes the difference.
Q: Do you consider adapting one of your most important skills in racing on and off the track?
SCOTT WIMMER: I definitely think it is. I've been in this going on eight seasons now. The way it kind of changes and the way the sport changes and the cars change, you really have to adapt a lot. I think a lot of guys have seen it with the C.O.T. car coming in to the Cup series, that they've really had to adapt the way they drove. I think we're going to see that in the not too distant future with the Nationwide Series, too.
So, the way I've dealt with sponsors in the past and deal with them now is vastly different than it was three or four years ago. So it's definitely, you know, a sport you have to adapt to. You have to change a lot and kind of keep your eye on which direction it's going and you try to keep yourself going in that direction.
Q: Do you still get a big charge in every race when you get the opportunity to race at this level in every race?
SCOTT WIMMER: I definitely do. There is nothing like going out on pit road and hearing all these cars fire up and sitting behind the wheel. Just trying to figure out how you're going to beat 43 other cars each and every week. It's definitely exciting.
I think that's what keeps you going in the sport. You know, there's a lot of drivers that have called it quits or said they're never going to get another chance. It keeps you wanting to go out there and do better, and get that ride to where you can compete each and every week.
Q: When that helmet goes on is it for all drivers, is it a totally different world, do you get a new personality or is it the same old guy, different circumstance?
SCOTT WIMMER: Yeah, I think a lot of people they all have their own way of looking at the race and what they're thinking and how it plays out in their head.
I try not to let my emotions come over the radio or to my guys too much. I try to keep it inside and talk to them after the race. Some drivers have a lot of emotion during the race. I think it's just how you deal with things and how you get your point across.
TRACY JUDD: Scott, we appreciate you taking the time. I know you've had a busy day, safe travels home and we'll see you at Nashville this weekend.
SCOTT WIMMER: Sounds great, thank you.