Reutimann - NASCAR teleconference, part 1

NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - David Reutimann March 11, 2009 An Interview with: DAVID REUTIMANN HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR Cam Video Teleconference, live from the NASCAR Research and...

NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - David Reutimann
March 11, 2009

An Interview with:
DAVID REUTIMANN

HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR Cam Video Teleconference, live from the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.

Our guest today is the driver of the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota, David Reutimann. David's currently 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.

Earlier this season, at Las Vegas, he had a career-best finish in the series, 4th place. Coming out of Vegas, David also had his career-best points position in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which was 5th.

David, the season started out really great. 12th at the Daytona 500. You've kept the momentum going since then. What's been the key thus far as we've started off the 2009 campaign?

DAVID REUTIMANN: I think when it comes right down to it, it's not any one thing that I can put my finger on that's made a difference. I think it's a bunch of different small things.

Obviously, I think towards the end of the last year where we actually started to get a better handle on the newer versions of our cars. I think about the three-quarter mark people started seeing some results on the racetrack, at least we did. And it finished up the season with getting the pole at Homestead and carried a little bit of that momentum during the off season.

We got a new crew chief with Rodney Childers. And my team engineer, he stayed on. So basically our same core group of people are there, just with a new crew chief.

And really it's those things, everything's kind of jelled rather quickly. And I'll tell you the start of the season has been really good for us. Although, the keyword being it's the start of the season. We still have a lot more racing to go.

All in all, I think with the progress that Total Racing Development has made, along with everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing, it's a combination of people working really hard and making good race cars right now and seeing the results on the racetrack.

HERB BRANHAM: Quick follow-up before we go to the media. What's it like to see the standings of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and see your name like right up there, theoretically, in chase contention now, although, as you said, it's early in the season?

DAVID REUTIMANN: Absolutely, a lot of racing left. But I've also seen my name listed on the outside of the top 35 before. And I like this a whole lot more.

But it's still early, and there's still a lot of racing. And you can flip back and forth with the point deal until things get going pretty well. But I think it just shows how far the organization's come with being able to be in the position we are right now, even though it is early.

Last year we weren't even remotely in the same section of the sheet. And so it's a big difference. And I like being on that side of the sheet a whole lot than being on the outside looking in, so to speak. We're making some good gains, and it's fun to drive the cars right now.

HERB BRANHAM: Questions for David Reutimann.

Q: This is sort of a parenting question. We're doing a parenting on pit road feature. And I notice you always have your daughter with you. And there are a lot of babies on pit road and toddlers and young kids these days. What kind of unique challenges or pitfalls do you find as a parent trying to raise your kid while doing the NASCAR circuit?

DAVID REUTIMANN: It's kind of a unique deal that we have. It's tough in those situations because of the simple fact that you're gone so much from home, and there's so much time that's spent away from your children, your family.

But the cool thing about it is NASCAR makes it so I can bring my daughter to the racetrack. I can bring her into the garage area and we get her a walk-through pass and she can be there with me. She can be there with me for driver intros and all those things and be a part of that. And she's been a part of that since basically since her birth. So she thinks to her it's a normal life for her. And I think it's something that would be pretty unique for most children, but it's very normal to her.

So I think just being on the road as much as you are and being away from family and having all those things happen, I think that makes it a little bit difficult sometimes. But on the same token, we have a team playing that, Emilia and Lisa are able to come to the races from time to time, when they can, which is quite often. And during the week I have opportunity to catch up for lost time.

So I think it's a good life. It has its own unique set of challenges. But I think NASCAR makes it as easy as they possibly can for families, and we certainly appreciate that. And for my child, she just thinks that's a normal life. So I'm grateful for that.

Q: This weekend, first off weekend of the year, how important is it for you to get away from racing, or is it more important to Lisa and Emilia. And the roll you're on, do you ever want it to end?

DAVID REUTIMANN: You always have the danger, you think if things are going well you have an off weekend, it's going to mess up everything that you've got going on.

But I think more important, it's more important I think for the guys on the crews, the road guys and the guys-they don't obviously get the time off. But the guys on the road actually get a little bit time off because for me as difficult as it may be for me sometimes, I think it's twice as bad for those guys, because those guys are just on the road working their guts out week in and week out.

I think it's more important to have maybe off weekends for guys on the crew to let themselves get recharged a bit. And most of those guys have been working insane hours just trying to get ready for Daytona. Once Daytona starts, it never ends, seems like.

It's cool. Obviously you want to be there every week especially when you have things going your way. But I feel like we have things in place to be able to have a week off and still be able to run well. I have the confidence in my team and the guys around me and everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing. It's probably nice to have a weekend off. But at the same time I'm ready to get-next week-it's good to have a good weekend off, but I'll be ready to go about Sunday to go back driving again driving something.

Q: What are you doing this weekend? Are you running a team car with dad?

DAVID REUTIMANN: No. Unfortunately, there's not enough left of my dad's car to actually have a team car anymore. So I'm actually thrashing around getting my car finished so my dad can come up and get it, so he can start his season, because he destroyed his car during Speedweek.

I have to prepare my car, get it finished, send it down to him so he can start his season. And I'm having a new car built for him, new chassis. I'll finish it out up here. And when I'm done with that, he'll bring my car back to him, I'll give him his new car. No telling what state of affairs my car will be in when my car gets back to me. It's all kind of being that team owner kind of role that I've taken upon.

So it wasn't supposed to work out like that. I'm not sure this is how Rick Hendrick started, but we'll have to see where it takes us.

Q: My question is about heading into the short tracks at Bristol and Martinsville. How different can your approach be when you're pretty solid up in the points, not having to worry about things, as much as if you were trying to stay in the top 35?

DAVID REUTIMANN: Seems like you're always trying to stay somewhere, whether it's inside the top 12 or inside the top 35. So I don't think your approach changes any.

You're still going to try to go out there and be careful and finish the races, because those type of things, racetracks can get you in trouble very quickly. Martinsville and Bristol, both, racetracks where you don't even have to do anything wrong and you can get caught up in a situation that happens five or six cars ahead of you.

I don't think your mentality changes any. I think you still try to be as careful as you possibly can and still make sure you have a car in a good enough situation at the end of the race, and I don't think it changes a whole lot. At least for me anyway. Maybe you're actually a little more careful at these places because you know things can happen so quickly. But my mentality doesn't change a whole lot.

Q: David, you mentioned early on about not being even close to this side of the sheet last year and how you're having fun driving now. What was it like, or what's it like when you're on that other side of the sheet and not as competitive as you are now?

DAVID REUTIMANN: I can assure you it's not any fun, remotely, at all. But what you end up having is just two definite-I'll say it correctly here in a minute-definitely different scenarios than what you've had in the past.

Being outside the top 35, you're sick to your stomach every time qualifying time rolls around. You know you have to go out there and you basically have one lap to try to get into the race. And it's going to make or break your weekend. And that's the mentality you have. You unload and you're just a nervous wreck from the time the practice starts until the time you get into the race.

And you still want to go out and qualify good. You still want to do all the things you're supposed to be doing, qualify good and have the practice and stuff like that.

But the pressure is, different kind of pressure. The pressure to go out and run good in the race, as opposed to the pressure to just get into the race. And it's pressure in the same being, but it's a different kind of pressure. Because even if you go out there and you screw up and you lap, you're going to go home. There's no worse feeling at all than having that pressure on you. And sometimes when it does happen, you end up having to go home, which I've had to do in the past, it's just miserable. And I'm a miserable person to be around.

I was aggravated. I wasn't happy because we just were in a different situation. Now different kinds of pressures, different situations, but having a lot more fun doing it this way.

Q: Do you ever blame yourself in those situations?

DAVID REUTIMANN: I do, yeah. I mean, because depending on how bad the car is off or if the car doesn't drive good, I still put the blame on myself in those situations because I'm the guy driving the car.

Whether that's fair or not, I don't really know. But that's just the way I look at things. I look at things maybe I could have done this different or could have done that different.

And sometimes you go out there. And even if the car is not even close and you were to miss the race, I think as a driver you always look back and think, well, maybe I could have done this different and it would have helped the car, especially if you missed it by a couple hundredths. And that's a little bit hard to take, makes it even that much more hard to sleep at night. As a driver, for me personally, no far how the car was off I would still blame myself. That may not be the same for everybody. That's the way it is with me.

Q: I'm assuming you're a better person now?

DAVID REUTIMANN: I don't know if I'm a better person. I'm probably a happier person in the situation I'm in right now. I think that would be safe to say. But I don't know that it's made me a better person or not. I don't know if I'm a good judge of that.

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , David Reutimann
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing