GOING BACK TO CALIFORNIA HAS SPECIAL MEANING FOR NATIONWIDE SERIES CREW CHIEF JERRY BAXTER CORNELIUS, N.C. (February 20, 2008) -- Last season, Jerry Baxter led his ...
GOING BACK TO CALIFORNIA HAS SPECIAL MEANING FOR NATIONWIDE SERIES CREW CHIEF JERRY BAXTER
CORNELIUS, N.C. (February 20, 2008) -- Last season, Jerry Baxter led his #99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry team to a runner-up finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship and guided David Reutimann to his first career victory. Baxter has come a long way with Michael Waltrip Racing and is proud to be going back to his home state to showcase his team's strength in the Stater Brothers 300 at California Speedway.
"Our team is intact from last year and we feel strong about our chances this year anywhere we go," said Baxter, who is from the San Diego area. "It's incredible to think how we have grown as a company. It's been a great ride for our Nationwide Series team so far and it's only going to get better."
For nearly a decade, Baxter has helped Michael Waltrip Racing grow and strengthen. He was with Michael Waltrip Racing when Michael Waltrip ran his team out of a 3,500-square-foot garage and won races. Baxter was one of five original crew members that referred to themselves as 'five guys in a garage' when he started out as a car chief for the #99 Aaron's Dream Machine NASCAR Nationwide Series entry in 2000.
"We had a small group, but we gave 100% and we were all serious about winning," Baxter said. "We did just that. We were very competitive."
Fast forward to today, the California native enters his third year as crew chief of the #99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry team now housed inside a 140,000-square-foot shop along with three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams.
"We work just as hard today," Baxter said. "We want to win the Nationwide Series championship and feel we have the driver and team to do it. We have to be consistent every week."
Tomorrow, Baxter prepares to leave for California with one thought on his mind.
"A win at California would be really special to me," Baxter said. "I think Reutimann knows where I'm coming from."
Reutimann understands because he has always wanted to win in his home state of Florida, but this weekend it is all about Baxter.
"I can relate," Reutimann said. "Jerry knows how bad I want to win in front of a hometown crowd. He wants to give me a win in Florida like I want to give him a win in California. This weekend it's all about the California guy."
Baxter may be focused on the race at hand, but he's got his eye on the prize.
"We've got a long way to go, but we are doing everything we can to be there at the end to contend for the championship," Baxter said. "We were able to finish in the top-15 at Daytona and that's a good start. Last year, we crashed out there and finished almost dead last and that hurt us from the beginning. We picked a lot of momentum at the end of the season, but Carl (Edwards) had such a huge points lead that we were not able to catch up. This year, we've started the season off with a respectable finish and we are expecting better results with the #99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry this weekend at California."