Homestead: Pole winner interview

DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Starting Position: 1st How was your car during the qualifying lap? "The car drove really good. The track is getting a little cooler, so that always helps a lot. The guys around...

DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Starting Position: 1st

How was your car during the qualifying lap?

"The car drove really good. The track is getting a little cooler, so that always helps a lot. The guys around me gave me a great UPS Toyota. Ryan Pemberton (crew chief) and the guys have done a phenomenal job. We'll keep plugging away at it to see if we can get it good in race trim -- that is the goal now."

How is your car in race trim?

"It seemed to be pretty good. We made some fairly long runs. We ran the top and ran the bottom a little bit. We were good enough to stop and work on qualifying runs. All in all, anytime you can unload and be close like that, it always helps your weekend go a lot better."

What do you think has been the reason for Michael Waltrip Racing's advances this season?

"There are so many differences now than what we had before. It's pretty phenomenal. The first part of the year was just trying to build the organization, get stronger and get better. As our cars got better and our pits stops better, we started working our way up. It's a bunch of things combined that makes Michael Waltrip Racing what it is right now. More importantly, the guys back at the shop that work so hard to get these cars so good for us when we get to the race track. I'm really proud of them."

What does it mean for you to get your first-career NSCS pole?

"It feels great. We got a fairly late draw and we got a little cloud cover so that helps us a little bit. Sometimes that stuff works for you and sometimes that stuff works against you. The car unloaded pretty fast and we just worked on it a little bit at a time and before I went out a friend of ours that used to take pictures of my dad's coupe all the time gave me a business card with my dad's picture on it so I put it in my pocket. Maybe I should start carrying that more often. Either that or my old man was driving the car. Either way it was a good lap and I'm proud of my guys. It gives us a good starting position so I am pretty excited about that."

How much momentum does this give your team for the off-season?

"It's a great way to start your weekend. Starting up front and getting a great pit selection, that aside our team is a second-year organization. Last year we were just worried about getting in races, much less even worrying about poles. Our team has come an extremely long way. We still have more ground to cover, but I think we're getting closer. I'm proud of what my team's accomplished, proud of my guys and the work-ethic they have and I'm proud of as far as we've come. We just keep plugging away at it and hopefully get some more of these lined up and some wins as well."

Have you been able to track the progress this season?

"We were making a little bit of progress, but I think our main jump in getting into the situation where we are now is getting our new 600-series car. When we started building our own cars in-house, that's when things started changing. Not that our cars were bad before, but our newer cars -- we had geometry that we worked on during pretty extensive testing. The cars are much, much lighter by an extreme amount. Overall just a better car when we showed up at a race track. Almost right away when we started bringing those cars with the stuff that we had worked on in testing through our engineers and help from Toyota Racing Development and all those things -- we started running better. Michael (Waltrip) had the first car at the Indianapolis race and that was the very first one. He got banged up so he didn't get a chance to show and we know that race was a little different anyway. As the season has progressed from that point on, I think we have seen steady progression and all due to the fact that we have had the new series car that we are building in-house. I think that has been a big turning point for us."

How aware will you be of 'Chase' drivers behind you on Sunday?

"Unfortunately, I'm not really intelligent enough to really focus on anything other than what I'm doing in most cases. You know the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) is in the situation that he's in and you know some of the other guys and the situation they're in and you don't want to be the guy that decides the outcome of what happens in the 'Chase.' At the same time, I have to represent my team and we're trying to shore up some sponsorship stuff for next year so we need to go out there and run well and possibly get a top-five would help that cause. That's my goal is to go out there and do my thing and maybe not interfere with anyone else's thing as far as that goes. I'm just focused on what I'm doing."

What is the status of your team at Michael Waltrip Racing?

"As far as I know I feel like we should be ok. Obviously things change as the day's progress, but I would like everybody to stay. I like everybody that's around me and would like to build on that. Hopefully we will have that -- the organization is much, much stronger than it was last year. If you lived what I lived every race last year -- you guys saw me throwing up on pit road and stuff like that. How fun was that to cover, really? I have been able to move on from that and now we have our first pole so that's coming a long way in a short amount of time. I still get sick sometimes though -- just not in front of you guys."

Are there any negatives to starting on the pole?

"I think there is definitely pressure -- pressure to perform. You try to get out there, get a clean start and try to click off some laps and obviously lead a couple laps and get a couple points. Come down pit road and get everything going in the right direction. It's a good way to start off you're weekend. It's maybe a little added pressure because you're starting up front and everybody is looking at you. That's a good position to be in, but at the same time it's just kind of business as usual once you get out there and get going."

What are your thoughts on the testing ban for 2009?

"I think there is a pretty huge financial benefit not to have testing because testing in some cases costs almost as much as it does to race sometimes. You still have the expensive motor and travel and stuff like that -- not to the extreme, but testing is never cheap. Maybe it's a step in the right direction -- I don't know. I know some race tracks, it's unfortunate for them because they have to rely on that extra income of Cup teams coming in there and practicing. I don't have a problem with it as long as it's the same for everybody -- that's the main thing. I think if they opened up testing it would make the teams with smaller budgets fall that much farther behind because they just don't have the budget to do it. Some teams just have the budgets to go race and that's it. At this day and age I think you should be happy with that."

-credit: toyota motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing , Toyota Racing