CORNELIUS, N.C. -- No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine driver David Reutimann is heading to the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway for the 53rd running of 'The Great American Race' the Daytona 500. Reutimann, a Zephyrhills, Fla. native, considers the high banks of Daytona his home racetrack, but it is light years different then the local dirt tracks that he spent time on learning to drive.
WHAT IS IT LIKE FOR A DIRT TRACK RACER FROM FLORIDA TO STRAP IN AND RACE IN THE DAYTONA 500?: "It's a pretty humbling experience, because you know how hard it was to get to that point. Now I'm at a point where I'm just really thankful to have what I have. Realistically it wasn't all that many years ago that I was a guy that couldn't even get into the pits or realistically even into the infield -- and now I'm racing in the Daytona 500. That's a pretty big jump, pretty big change in a relatively short amount of time. As time goes on there is more and more time between those areas, but it seems like it was a year or so ago that I was sitting in the stands watching the qualifying races. At that time I wasn't even trying to figure out how I could go drive a car at Daytona -- I was just trying to figure out how I could get into the pits in Daytona and hang out. That's how big of change it has been for me personally."
DO YOU THINK THE NEW PAVEMENT WILL IMPACT QUALIFYING AT DAYTONA?: "No. I mean, it was never very difficult with the old pavement either. Now it's going to be smoother and there will be more grip, but the old track surface being worn out never made itself evident until about 15 laps into a run on tires when you could feel it start to slow down. So the surface never made to much of a difference before and now I have a feeling it will be a lot like Talladega -- just be smooth and keep the wheel as straight as you can and do the things you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do them."
WHAT DOES RACING AT DAYTONA MEAN TO YOU?: "I love that racetrack. I've always said that it's the closest thing that I have to a home track. I just love going there. I've always loved going there even before I raced there and continue to love going there to this day. It's also cool now to say that I've raced on the old surface and then race on the new surface as well now too. Just to be able to tell the differences and say that I've raced on both is pretty great. Actually, Daytona International Speedway sent each of the drivers a piece of the old racetrack, so I have a piece of the racetrack and that's pretty special. Daytona has always been a special place for me and it will always be that way."
Crew chief Rodney Childers returns to the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota with Reutimann in 2011. Childers is entering his third season as crew chief of the No. 00.