Toyota Michael Waltrip Racing Media Tour day 1 quotes

Toyota Motorsports press release

MICHAEL WALTRIP, owner and driver, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Michael Waltrip and Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Michael Waltrip and Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Is there more pressure on your team with the changes this year? “I think if you break it down, there was more pressure last year because we basically had the same goals as we have this year. But, we didn’t have the equipment to go do the job with. So, now we still aspire to accomplish the same things but we have a better toy, you know -- we have a faster car. We have a more aerodynamically designed, we have a better Toyota Camry to go race with. I’m glad our expectations are high and I’m glad they were this past season, but now we have a car I believe we can go win with. My answer would be no, we’re prepared and we’re ready. I believe we’re going to do the job.”

How important is Twitter to your organization and how was hard was it to get Mark Martin on Twitter? “I was a little unfair to Mark (Martin), I kind of tricked him. I think he’ll love it though. I know Mark, he loves this sport and he’ll see. For example, this morning there was something on Twitter about a sponsor going with another team that I hadn’t heard anywhere before. It’s what’s relative to me, it’s things that matter to me that I can get my news from. It’s instant. So, I explained that to Mark. I said, ‘You don’t have to be controversial, just follow along and let the fans have a peek into who you are. He was happy he signed up. (Clint) Bowyer hadn’t got there yet, but hopefully we can convince him to do the same. I get it, I can tell customers to go to NAPA and get a brake job or an oil filter on a cheap price, for the best price if I choose to. Or, I can tell them to watch a movie that I like. We can share all kinds of different stories. I like it because I think it keeps me in touch with the fans. I get to hear sometimes good, sometimes bad, but I get to hear what they’re thinking. I just enjoy it. Part of my daily routine is to check Twitter, check what’s going on in the world and also see what’s going on in my world which is NASCAR.”

Do you feel it’s important to have drivers that mesh well with your personality? “I just love my lineup. I think that Clint (Bowyer) is a very energetic, engaging guy. I like the way he likes to have fun. That’s a good step up for our organization. Then you have the respected, savvy, tough, committed, dedicated veteran Mark Martin who has had the most fun today making Aaron’s commercials. He never dreamed he could have so much fun making a TV commercial, but the commercials are funny and he was really into it. I like seeing his reaction to the silly things that we asked him to do today. I think both those guys will revive Martin (Truex Jr.). You know, Martin is a really fun guy and he’s a guy that is very popular and won the Nationwide championship twice and made the Chase early on in his career, but he hasn’t had a whole lot to smile about lately. Now, with the cars that we’re building and the way he ended the 2011 season, we’re giving him something to smile about and we’re surrounding him with guys that like to smile and like to have fun. That will help Martin as well. Really cool driver lineup and a lot of fun feelings. I’m not making this up when I tell you all, a year ago to this day I was nervous about where we were going into 2011. I didn’t like our direction, I didn’t like the way our cars were being built, I didn’t like our philosophy on building them. You can’t change things overnight and we cracked toward a new philosophy, we cracked toward partnering closer with Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing), we worked hard at using our relationship with Toyota more effectively. If you look where we are today, it’s facts, it’s science, it’s black and white. We have partnered with Gibbs on the engines. We’re going to have the same engines that they have. We couldn’t say that a year ago. Our aerodynamics have improved to where our cars are as good as theirs, we couldn’t say that a year ago. Our driver lineup, if you just look at the numbers, we have more wins than we’ve ever had before. We have more Chase appearances than we’ve ever had before, so I love our driver lineup. Everything is pointing towards us having a banner 2012 season and I’m confident in that and I couldn’t have said that a year ago.”

Do you think the economy is starting to turn around in NASCAR? “Well, we added a team. Not many people have been able to do that. So, 5-Hour Energy came on board and we were able to go from two teams to three here at Michael Waltrip Racing. Obviously, we know how challenging things are, but NAPA and Aaron’s, Toyota -- our key sponsors, our key partners -- they see the value in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, they know how big of a sport this is and they continue to support our team. But, more importantly, they continue to be a part of this sport. Adding another quality partner like 5-Hour and going into this season with a more robust lineup from the number of cars to the number of employees, the commercials we’re making -- everything we’re doing is good for our sport. I agree, I think that things are heading in a really positive direction and we ended the 2011 season on an up slope in the ratings as a whole. With the new fuel injection going into 2012 and the amazing battle we had for a championship, I think that momentum will continue.”

What would be a successful 2012 season for your team? “We have to win more than a race, we can’t just win a race and finish 16th in the points. I think we have to win multiple races and we have to make the Chase. We have to be right there fighting for it at least to make it. We’ll reassess our goals weekly, see what we did wrong and see how we can do them better and look at going from Daytona to Vegas, how we can do that the most effective way possible. As a whole in general, multiple wins for our cars and hopefully in the Chase.”

What does Clint Bowyer bring to your team? “Just enthusiasm, excitement, but the main thing that he (Clint Bowyer) brings is a track record that is very impressive. A Nationwide championship, three Chase appearances in his few years that he’s been in Cup, race wins, sponsors love him, the media love him -- he’s just a guy that you’d want on your team. I think it’s important what you are when you’re not behind the wheel. Obviously, it’s more important what you are when you’re behind the wheel, that makes up for a lot of stuff, but when you have the enthusiasm and the attitude that Clint has, he’s engaging, people want to talk to him, people want to hear what he has to say. Then that helps the organization as well. I couldn’t be prouder that he elected to come drive our cars. Personally, I have this desire to give all my boys the tools they need to go win the races with. I think that Clint will find that we have done a pretty good job over the last five years building these cars to the point where he can take them into 2012 and do some special things with them.”

How has Mark Martin been with your humor? “He’s (Mark Martin) perfect. He is just enthusiastic and he’s all in. He’s, ‘What do you need me to do Michael? What are we doing?’ And, I said, ‘We’re going to make these commercials and it’s going to be a little goofy, a little silly.’ ‘No problem, I love it.’ So, today with him being here and making the commercials, he just genuinely loves the experience. I look at him as being pretty versatile while he’s really tight and proper, he’s also very willing to do whatever it takes for the sponsor and team and that’s the kind of attitude that I appreciate as an owner. That’s the way I’ve always been, whatever they want, that’s what I give them. Mark’s the same way.”

How special is it for you to continue to drive part-time? “I’m blessed. I get to run a Ferrari at Daytona. I’m going to get to race in my home state of Kentucky in a car that can win that darn race. Of course, last fall I finished top-10 at Talladega in my last race out. I’m thankful, I’m happy. I’m glad I don’t do it every week. I think that we have a better driver lineup than it would be if I was in it week in and week out. I think that the fact that I get to still race, I get to own this place, I get to still be on TV and I get to participate in NASCAR, all that is a blessing. I will take it. I will take it to any extent I can get it and right now it’s about the perfect mix for me between TV and racing over in Le Mans in Europe and then being able to get behind the wheel of a car of this caliber -- it’s special.”

How far has Michael Waltrip Racing come since 2007? “We started it up and it makes me a little sad today to look back and see how naïve I was and how unprepared we were and how much ground we needed to make up in order to be able to ever contend. We missed a ton of races in ‘07, we made them all ever since. We’ve been able to make races and consistently and steadily get a little bit better. But I really believe in my heart that we never have gone into a season like we’re going into ‘12, we’re ready. We have a great driver lineup, we have great crew chiefs. Our cars are better. The state of Michael Waltrip Racing is very, very positive because we added a team, we’re not two teams any more -- we’re three. We added people. We added a great sponsor in 5-Hour. I’m looking forward to this season.”


CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

Are you adapting to your new team and new teammates? “That is just kind of what you do -- everybody’s personalities and stuff are different. I’ve always been open and you know what I’m thinking because I’m going to tell you right off the bat -- Michael’s (Waltrip, team owner) kind of the same way in that aspect. I think Martin’s (Truex Jr.) kind of reserved, but I’ve known him and I’ve raced with him and had a lot of fun racing in the Nationwide days. We were part of that same rookie class together, so we’ve always kind of been together so to speak. I think Denny (Hamlin) was kind of that same class and when you have guys in that same class kind of going up through together, you kind of keep an eye on each other. Martin and I have talked about that and it’s going to be fun to work with him because I’ve always enjoyed him at the race track and been around him. Now Mark (Martin), here’s a guy that obviously have tons of respect for him, look up to him and I can’t wait to learn more. I love talking with him. It’s almost like you shy away from him -- this is Mark Martin. I don’t think I’ll ever race long enough or get far enough in life for that not to be a big deal to me, when somebody that means so much to any sport or anything else had the success a guy like Mark Martin’s had -- that’s a big deal.”

What has Scott Miller brought to Michael Waltrip Racing as competition director? “That was a huge reason that I was so comfortable coming over here. A lot of the same thought processes -- a lot of the same things that I have been used to over the last several years was already implemented in Scott Miller (competition director, MWR). He was the competition director at RCR (Richard Childress Racing). A lot of the things moving forward from here, I’m on the same page because of the relationship with him. I know his mentality, his work ethic, what he expects out of others, his organization -- I know the things that are taking place because I’ve lived them out the last several years as he’s been a competition director at RCR. I guess the comforting factor of coming to some place new and not really knowing much about anybody there was kind of put to bed because I know the captain of the ship is somebody that I got confidence in and have a relationship with.”

Do you feel like you are starting over in your career? “In this sport anymore, the cars are so much the same that the only real thing you’re starting over with is the group of people. Sometimes change can be good and bad. There’s no question that last year, I didn’t have the success that I expected and that I wanted. It’s not good enough. That’s the way that I look at that. When you’re thinking about making a change -- it wasn’t where I wanted to be standings-wise, statistics-wise -- all that isn’t what I wanted and expected out of me and racing. Maybe it was time to make a change and I’ll be able to answer that in a year or so. I really see a lot of potential here -- a lot of things coming together at the right time for me to make a change and ride that wave on into the future.”

What makes you feel good about being with Michael Waltrip Racing? “You see the speed in the race cars, the people on my team, the potential. We’ve got a good group of guys. We were able to take advantage of a not-so-fortunate time in this sport -- a lot of teams and organizations pulling back. We were able to go out and pick the cream of the crop so to speak and I feel like we’ve done that with our group of guys on the 5-Hour Energy car.”

What is it like working with Michael Waltrip? “It’s been fun and we’re quite a bit the same. It’s kind of weird sometimes and it becomes awkward because it’s like we’re both very outspoken and we kind of hit the same thought at about the same time on something that’s funny that comes up in your mind that somebody said. There’s an awkwardness sometimes in our conversations because we’re stepping on each other about the same thing that we were going to say. It’s been a lot of fun. There’s some history there. I called him the worst driver in NASCAR and I knew that was going to come up at some point in time and it came up the very second that I walked in the door of his office. He was like, ‘Do you still think I’m the worst driver in NASCAR?’ I was like, ‘Well, good way to break the ice.’ That’s when I told him yes, but he could be a very good owner. I hope that he is.”

What did you learn at the Daytona test session? “I’m not 100 percent sure what we learned. I’m not 100 percent sure what they (NASCAR) learned. Only time will tell. I know they did a lot of learning, but I don’t know what they’re going to use and put in place. I’ve heard a lot of things -- some things that might be changed and whatever else. I don’t get caught up in that. They’re going to give you a sandbox to play in and you have to go out and make the most of it and put on a show. They’re going to do the right decisions to make it the best show possible for our fans because ultimately, that’s what we’re in this business to do. Racing has always been a great show -- it’s always been thrilling to watch. The Daytona 500 has always been an incredible race -- always come down to the last wire to determine who is going to be the champion of the biggest race of the year. That’s got to be a good feeling if you’re NASCAR. It doesn’t really matter what you change -- somehow, some way that race always comes down to a crazy, wild finish that everybody is like, ‘Oh my God, how are we ever going to top that?’ Every year they do.”

How big of a change is joining Michael Waltrip Racing for you personally? “Obviously, I’ve been with Richard (Childress Racing) since my very first start into NASCAR so it’s a big change and it’s another chapter in my life, my career -- a fresh start, a new beginning -- new way to prove myself all over again. The challenge is there and it’s fun. It’s nerve-wracking all over again, I’m nervous all over again and worried about things. A lot of times, I perform my best in the early stages of my career when I didn’t know what I was doing and I was nervous about it. Usually, somehow, some way I got some of the best results I’ve ever had. I see a lot of good things, a lot of positive things and a good direction that they are headed at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing), TRD (Toyota Racing Development). There’s a lot of good things here and I think they’re all coming together at the right time. Timing in anything you do in life is so important, as it was when I got my start and my opportunity with Richard. This is a new opportunity to go out and to make things happen for myself again.”

What do you think of the current Chase format? “You can’t control what happens in that Chase. You can only put your best odds -- if I’m NASCAR, you can only put your best odds of putting on a good show for your fans out there and the only way to do that is to put your best teams out there. To qualify for that Chase, you have to be the top-12 best teams out there. The Chase finally paid off and did what they expected of it and intended for it to do this year -- what an incredible finish to our season that Tony (Stewart) and Carl (Edwards) had down there. How could you script a battle to a championship any better than that? It definitely made that Chase idea worth the wait and worth the effort.”

What have you learned about Brian Pattie? “I’ve learned a lot about Brian (Pattie, crew chief). I’ve learned that I’m super excited about working with Brian. I think that’s my best opportunity that I’ve ever had to work with a guy that I really, really can truly fit in with and get the most out of each other. Now it’s up to us to go out and make that happen, but from the very first time that I started talking to Brian, I just felt comfortable. I felt like the relationship was there right off the bat and can build so much more than I’ve ever had. I love Shane Wilson (RCR crew chief) to death and we’re very close, but we had a lot of differences. We just weren’t really the same person and didn’t share the same -- he liked asphalt racing and I like dirt racing. Brian likes dirt racing -- he speaks my language and we get along.”


MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

How does it feel to be with Michael Waltrip Racing this year? “It’s fun. I really do feel comfortable at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). Everybody here has made me feel great. We’ve got a lot of great sponsors here, teammates, crew chiefs and I saw a lot of faces here that I’ve worked with before at other places, so I think it’s going to be really fun.”

What made you choose to come to Michael Waltrip Racing? “This was the right opportunity because it gave me a chance to run the schedule that I wanted to run and they had really great people here and great equipment. Aaron’s has been a great sponsor of NASCAR for over 10 years, so that’s really important as well. Everything was just right. I never saw it coming. It happened really quick. Took me a minute to think about it, but when I started thinking about the cars, the people, the team and Aaron’s and Toyota’s support, every piece of it was the right fit for me.”

Is it hard for you to run a part-time schedule? “I love racing and I like to race for the events -- kind of old school, like (David) Pearson and Cale (Yarborough) did back in the day. Most of their careers they picked the races that they wanted to run and they raced those races and I like doing that.”

Are you enjoying Michael Waltrip’s humor? “I hope that Michael (Waltrip) can rub off on me a little bit. I am very happy right now. I’m so satisfied with the situation. I feel so incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to work with this many great people and have an organization that wants you there, and to work with Aaron’s and everyone here. Maybe he (Michael Waltrip) can teach me how to win a Daytona 500 because he’s done it twice.”

Can you and Scott Miller work together to help Michael Waltrip Racing grow as an organization? “That’s one of the really fun challenges. Challenge is what life is all about. It’s what makes you get up in the morning and it’s what drives you every inch of the way or it does me anyway. It wouldn’t be any fun if it wasn’t a challenge. They have the people here, they have the equipment, they have the sponsors, which I’m very proud to have and support, and Michael (Waltrip) has poured his heart and soul into this place. I could not do what Michael Waltrip has done and would not do it. I’ve got to give him props. You look around here and just think about the payroll every week. He’s built up quite an organization here and they want to compete week in and week out with the big boys and they’re working hard to get there.”

What are your goals at Michael Waltrip Racing? “I want to help those guys build a strong foundation so that they can be competitive week in and week out and realize their potential. I want to be their guy. I want to be the guy that no matter if I’m in their race car or not, I’m out here pulling for them and trying to make their program and their car better and they know that and they support me in the same way.”

Was this one of the first offers you received? “I was not in a hurry to do anything because I didn’t really think that there was really anything perfect out there for me. I didn’t want to race the full schedule anymore. Had I wanted to do that I would’ve re-upped with Rick Hendrick when he asked me about it and I told him he needed to go and get Kasey Kahne, and that 2011 was going to be enough for me. I just waited and waited and waited and all of a sudden out of the blue I got a text from Michael (Waltrip) and a day later we were meeting on it and it just happened really quick. It’s the right fit for me. I really feel comfortable within this organization. I’ve embraced the challenge that we have to make that next step on the performance side and feel real lucky to have the opportunity to work with Aaron’s and Toyota and everybody that supports MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing).”

How long did it take for this deal to come together? “It came together -- from first text to signed contract was two weeks. And, that was a signed contract. It took probably five days to get the contract or else it really would’ve been about 10 days, but there was a drag where there was some issues with timing where the attorney’s couldn’t get to it and then there was a weekend and then we were off, so there was some lag time in getting it signed. But, we agreed and shook hands in a week from the first text (from Michael Waltrip).”

Can you describe the difference between the atmosphere at Hendrick Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing? “It is a different feel, but it’s a fun change. As long as I live I will cherish my opportunity to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports as well as the opportunity to help Jack Roush build his organization from scratch and my time with Jay Frye and Dale Earnhardt Incorporated as well. This is another exciting challenge and challenges are what drive me. This is going to be fun. Michael’s (Waltrip) a different guy and if I smile a little bit more than usual that won’t be a bad thing.”

Why did you decide to join Twitter? “I’m new to social media and Twitter. I hope that I will not become obsessed with it, because I have plenty on my plate already and I know a lot of people really get into that. For me, I’ve got a full plate, so something has got to slide off the edge if I add a bunch more. I’m one day in and we’ll take it as it comes. I do want to connect with my fans. I’ve been so fortunate there’s so many great fans. I think we started a count at about 10 AM and as of 6 PM I think we had six-thousand followers already and that’s pretty amazing, but of course Michael (Waltrip) put it out there to his eighty-thousand followers. It’s growing really fast and I don’t think I’ll be the king of Twitter by any means, but I will try to do a good job. When I get a chance to thank some of the fans that are so supportive, I will because I believe in reaching out and touching the people that support me so much.”

How is your relationship with Rodney Childers? “I didn’t know Rodney (Childers, crew chief) personally and I hadn’t paid that much attention. I kept my focus on other things and I think possibly the biggest surprise of the whole organization or the whole deal for me has been my pleasure with getting to know Rodney. I think he’s got it and I really hope that I’m able to produce the kind of results that he deserves because he’s so committed. It’s been a while since I’ve noticed someone that was so far in -- he’s all the way in and committed with everything that he’s got and I’d like to see that pay off for him.”

Have you set expectations for yourself this year? “I do, but they are different than most people would expect. I don’t set numbers or whatever. What I really hope to accomplish this year is that everyone within this organization, especially my teammates -- the drivers, the crew chiefs and the upper management -- I hope that when this year is over with they’re happy, they’re glad that I was a part of their team. If they are, then I will have done well on and off the race track.”

Have you noticed a big difference in the race car between a Toyota and a Chevrolet? “Sitting in the driver seat looking out you probably don’t see much difference unless you see the Toyota decal on the dash, but hardware-wise NASCAR has the box so well defined that there’s not a huge difference in the shape of the car on the outside. The power plants are all similar and NASCAR keeps it that way. If one gets an advantage, the other manufacturers usually get a little extra bump to keep them close together. With racing as it is today, very much like it has been in the past, it’s what you do with what you have that makes a winner. It’s not what you have, but what you do with what you have.”

How concerned are you about the future of NASCAR and the possibly of having less than a 43-car field? “I had a pretty grim outlook on the situation back in the summer and feel very fortunate to have such an incredible situation fall in my lap. I’ve never seen this kind of shrinkage before because it never got so big before. Racing was more like this until the time through the late 90’s and 2007 or 2008. It was more like it is now, so it’s not alarming to me other than everyone tends to get comfortable and used to a certain way and now it’s much tougher and things have thinned out and opportunities are tougher and you have to work harder. You have to work a lot harder for less – everybody does. Everybody has to do more right now because it’s tightened down on everyone. I’m not as grim on the outlook as I was then. I believe that it’s going to hold where it is. I don’t think it’s going to get euphoric again soon, but I feel like we’ve hit our lower threshold there of where the effect of the economy -- it just took a long time for NASCAR to feel what happened with the economy because there were contracts in effect that last a long time, years out, and it just took a while for that. I think that has hit its floor and will go along probably where it is for a while. I’m not worried about short fields. I could be wrong, but I see an awful lot of teams and people viewing this as opportunity. You see a lot of new stuff springing up -- a lot of them won’t last, but it is an opportunity for some people that they didn’t see before. I think that will keep us from having short fields because of all of these new upstart deals because they are saying, ‘This is my chance to get in.’ From the drivers standpoint, there’s not a lot of rides. If you don’t have sponsorship strapped to your back, you may not get a ride. It was always like that before.”


MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

How are you improving on things from last season? “We really went through a lot of the races last year where things did go bad and tried to pick them apart and see, ‘How do we make sure these little things don’t happen again?’ I feel great -- I’m happy. My team is incredible and we’re all back together -- all the guys that we ended the year with last year, we’re all back together, which is a great thing. I’m really excited about that and I love driving the NAPA Toyota -- that’s all I can tell you. If all goes the way it should this year then I’ll be right back here driving again next year.”

Do you feel like you can make the Chase this year? “You have to look at some of the situations that I’ve been in -- in ’08 -- the team was kind of falling apart. We had some good runs and we were sitting on the cusp of making it and had a penalty, lost a bunch of points and didn’t make the Chase. In ’09 we switched teams and went to Ganassi and went to two cars, a lot of change and it was a horrible season filled with crashes, cars falling apart and just crazy things. Then I came here and it’s just taken a little more time than I expected it to. We had a performance easily last year to make the Chase. You look at our finishes, we had six finishes worse than 34th or 35th and without those we were in. I made just as many top-fives and top-10s at the start of the Chase as Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. did and he was sitting fifth or something. If you take a step back and really look at it -- last year we had the performance to make it, we just didn’t do all the little things right. If you ask Michael (Waltrip, team owner) -- he will tell you that we know what we did wrong and now it’s a matter of fixing it. I know what I’m capable of as a driver and I know what my team’s capable of. I know what we’re capable of here as a company and we can put fast race cars on the track, consistently. We just need to get the finishes consistently. That’s a whole different ball game. There’s a lot that goes into that. Every guy in here that touches that race car has to do a perfect job. You can’t have a bolt come loose -- you can’t have a truck arm crack and a shock mount fall off. There’s so many little tiny things. I tell people all the time that it takes a million things to go right and only one to go wrong. It takes a million things to go right to win a Cup race, but one little thing goes wrong and you’re not going to win it. It takes a lot and that’s the parts that we’re working on is being consistent. If we can do that, then I have no doubt that we have the speed and the capability to challenge for wins, which we did last year. There was a few races where we had the speed to win and we threw it away so we need to do better at that. We need to be smarter, better prepared and I know what it takes to do it. We just need to do it consistently and we will work on that.”

How do you feel about your chances to win the Daytona 500? “I’m really looking forward to it -- we’re not really sure of what the new rules will bring. I don’t know if we tested with the exact package that we’re going to race. At the end of the day, I think it’s going to be about hooking up with your partner and staying committed to somebody and hopefully we’ll have that worked out by that time and have a shot to put the NAPA Toyota in victory lane. It would be nice to start the year out with a win.”

How has your relationship with crew chief Chad Johnston evolved? “When you’re talking about the car and how you get better -- let’s say you need two-tenths on the race track and things aren’t feeling right -- he (Chad Johnston, crew chief) doesn’t say, ‘Well, are you tight or are you lose, I don’t understand.’ He goes deeper than that and pulls more out of me. He pulls more from me, he pulls information from me and he’s sitting at the computer and he understands how to take what I say and what the computer says and mesh them. That’s where we’ve really turned a corner with our engineering department, with the sims (simulation) stuff, which I feel like is one of the things that we do really, really well. He’s very good about transferring that information and putting two and two together. Integrating me with the computer and figuring out what we need to do to be faster. He’s done a good job at it. There’s been times where we’ve struggled throughout the weekend and he’s talked to me and asked the right questions and came up with the right solutions by doing that. In turn, making us run better on Sunday. That’s something that is hard to get. At the end of the day, the biggest thing for me is that I have a lot of confidence in his ability and how much he knows about race cars. I’ve never seen anyone who works as much or as hard as he does and that goes a long way too.”

How did you feel about testing with your new teammates? “I thought everything went well and obviously me and Mark (Martin) have been teammates along the way -- at DEI (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated). We’ve got a bit of experience working together and I kind of know his deal and how he likes his cars and things like that. I think Mark’s going to bring a lot to the company with his experience and working with a new team and brining in some ideas and some of the feel that he’s looking for with what he has had over the last few years. The same thing with Clint (Bowyer) -- we raced against each other for a championship in ‘05 and he’s a great guy, fun to be around. Obviously, I think Brian Pattie (No. 15 crew chief) and his whole team that they put together -- they have a great bunch of guys. Then Rodney (Childers, No. 55 crew chief) on the 55 -- I think we have good team chemistry already. One of the coolest things about the testing we did -- it normally takes a while with three teams getting together just to get along and trust each other and saying, ‘Okay, what do you think about this?’ Normally it’s just, ‘I will do my own thing and wait and see how this guy does it.’ It’s not like that here now. I think that’s probably one of the things that I’m most excited about this season is just the way our teams are already working together -- hearing ideas, getting along, trusting each other and I think those guys are as excited to work together as we all are. We’re all excited about it. Obviously, the best I’ve felt over the seasons of being at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). We’re pumped and ready to go.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Michael Waltrip , Kasey Kahne , Clint Bowyer , Jack Roush , Eric Gilbert , Mark Martin
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , Dale Earnhardt Incorporated , Toyota Racing
Tags bowyer, charlotte, martin, toyota, truex, waltrip