Stremme, Sorenson, Houser, Hamlin, Waltrip - NASCAR Nashville press conference, part 2 Continued from part 1 Q: Denny, I think out there you actually may have mentioned that you even volunteered to come to this event. This event helps Camp...
Stremme, Sorenson, Houser, Hamlin, Waltrip - NASCAR Nashville press conference, part 2
Continued from part 1
Q: Denny, I think out there you actually may have mentioned that you even volunteered to come to this event. This event helps Camp and children, also brings the fans closer to the sport of NASCAR and country music. Talk about this event, those two entities coming together, why you would want to be a part of it.
DENNY HAMLIN: The fun aspect of it. I mean, we're here in Nashville. With the testing being cut out, our weekends are a little bit more free, our weekdays, because we're not testing as much.
I heard from Michael, we have some mutual friends that have been here before, said it was a good time. I just wanted to participate in it. I really had nothing else going on. For me, you know, it just feels good to come back here. I raced here in the Nationwide race earlier this year. I didn't have to do that. But Nashville is a place I love coming to. It's a great town. They love racing here. They love country music. It's a great mix of what we got going on here.
Q: Reed, have they told you officially you're in the 43 at this point? Also, what was the most fun, exciting, best thing you did during the off-season?
REED SORENSON: Well, as far as the 43 goes, I don't want to make an official statement, but it's a pretty sure thing. I mean, wait for their press announcement, I guess. They kind of already announced it somewhat with the merger and everything. I think they want to make a final formal press announcement at some point.
The funnest thing I did was I tried to go on a vacation and ended up not going on it. Went snowboarding. Did that. That was probably the best thing I did. It was pretty fun. Fell a lot. It was fun, though. I like getting in the snow. West Virginia, it was a good time. That's about it. We're actually testing a bunch right now and stuff like that. I thought it would be an easy January, but it ends up actually being the most busy January I've ever had. We're testing a lot. A lot of sponsor events and things like that.
Q: Denny and Michael, same question, best thing you did during the off-season.
DAVID STREMME: I just came back from a wedding in Miami. Not my own. But that was fun. Spent New Year's in Miami. That was a good time. Probably our best trip is going to be coming up. Going to the Winter X Games in Aspen the end of January. That should be a rockin' good time.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I took my daughter, my mom and all my family bowling in Mooresville on New Year's Eve (laughter). It was awesome.
REED SORENSON: That's a good bowling alley.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I bowled from 5:30 to 12:30 and my arm hurt worse than you could imagine the next day. But it was perfect. My daughter loved it. It was cool to have the family together.
Q: What was your high game?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, the answer is 168. But the last time I went, I bowled 188. I thought I was getting toward a 200 game. That was the first time I had bowled in a long time. I'm looking forward to going again. But I had to let my right arm heal because it really got sore, very bad. I couldn't use it for things that I'm used to using it for anymore.
DENNY HAMLIN: Like writing and whatnot.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Writing and whatnot (laughter).
Q: Michael, we just touched on the testing thing here. We've heard some of the guys from Gibbs and Hendrick shops saying they really don't think the testing is going to affect their team too much. For a newer team like yours, not necessarily a start-up organization, what does this do to you?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: My philosophy on testing is that it's a colossal waste of time and money. We can go to the wind tunnel. These guys will tell you, the cars are set up so precisely when they leave the shop. The guys go to the seven-post rig and they shake them. They do simulation. They understand what the cars are going to do when they go into the corner in the wind tunnel. So everything about the setup, it can be done virtually or through wind tunnel and seven-post testing. So when you go to a racetrack to test, you're just basically burning up tires, burning up gas, and taking people's time, taking employees' time at home away, which is a negative, because the schedule is so intense.
So I think the testing ban that is temporary needs to last forever. I guess NASCAR will decide that is the case because of the fact the world has changed. We used to didn't know how to set up a car on the computer. We would blow a car in the wind tunnel, then couldn't wait to get it to the track to see how it runs. Now they blow a car in the wind tunnel, they know exactly what it will do. It's gotten that precise.
I'm happy about the testing ban. I'm not so happy about teams going to Rockingham, Atlanta, Texas, VIR. I think that's circumventing the spirit of the rule. The rule was to try to save the teams money. Jack Roush had a wonderful idea. He and I talked about this at length. He wanted to say all teams in the top 35 in points would sign an affidavit stating they wouldn't go anywhere and test a car on track, no on-road vehicular testing anywhere.
REED SORENSON: He was at Rockingham this week, too (laughter).
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, of course, he was there because no one would do it.
But to me the spirit of the rule is don't test to save the teams money and save your employees' time.
One thing I would suggest, and I'm going to quit talking because Denny is looking at his watch, he knows we have stuff to do, why not have a race in January, maybe a New Year's Eve race, middle of January, some sort of race in a cool location where it pays money. You go down there for two or three days, you're able to test what you've learned and you actually have like an unofficial race. NASCAR does it. It's like a pre-season game, if you will.
These guys, they're not quite as smart as me. Well have a pre-season game in January sometime. You get paid money for it. Fans get to come and watch it. It's a test for all the teams. Everybody gets to compete. We can start 50 cars. Whoever shows up gets to race. I like that.
Q: How about Hawaii?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Hawaii would be awesome, but there's not a track there. No, it's too far. Let's race at the Atlantis in the Bahamas.
REED SORENSON: I don't think you'd make it to the track.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Through the streets of Nassau.
Q: Michael, you guys are going to go from three teams to two teams this year.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: We're not.
Q: You're going to have three?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: That's one thing that I'm proud about MWR, we're exactly the same support in 2009 as we were in 2008. You know, the top teams, the Gibbs, Hendrick, Roush, RCR, they're exactly the same support system they were. That means engineering is intact. They're able to support their teams just like they did last year. We've accomplished that same thing.
Now, Tad Geschickter is the owner of the 47 car, but it is basically the 00 car that raced that past season. The same people, the same engineers, they same fabrication support that car next year as this past season. That's really big for us.
Q: Do you look as an owner at adding a team under the MWR umbrella, not Geschickter?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I don't think anybody in the sport this past year has thought about adding anything. They were trying to get their arms around what they had. If the world was perfect, we would do that.
What I'm most proud of is we were able to go out and say, We want three teams, how do we accomplish that? Tad is coming into the sport, he's going to race Marcos, but he doesn't have an infrastructure like we have at MWR. We've partnered with Tad. He's in there. Now he's part of our team. I would rather focus on survival right now than growth. I think most teams are like that.
Look at Joe Gibbs Racing. I love to use them as an example. They have three teams. It's working pretty doggone good for them. They have never gotten greedy, went out and started a fourth team just because. They've always tried to be responsible to their competition, to their performance. I really respect that.
That's sort of how I would like to operate. I get a little agitated at our place even if someone says, Well, if we could do this or this, we could have another team. I'm like, Let's not do this or this, let's focus on these three. That's really important to me.
Q: Reed, if you were to be officially announced at some point in driving the 43, could you talk about the significance of driving one of the most important numbers in NASCAR history?
REED SORENSON: Well, it's kind of hit me all at once here. It's going to be pretty awesome. Like I said, it's the only thing you could say about it. It's going to be cool. Richard was at the track the other day when we were testing, which was awesome to have him there. I think he's going to be around all year long. He's a real hands-on guy. He likes to know what's going on with the cars, with the drivers and everything like that.
I think if you ask anybody that's grown up racing or anybody that's in racing if they would drive the No. 43 in the Cup Series, I'm sure everybody would say yes. I'm excited about it. I think everybody on the team is, as well, whether it be the tire guy or the guy working up at the desk. I mean, it's an honor, I guess you could say, to represent the 43, the number, what it means. Hopefully we can get it back into Victory Lane.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.