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July 10, 2010
KERRY THARP: Let's go ahead and roll into our post race winning team here at Chicagoland Speedway. Our race winner, David Reutimann. He drives the 00 Tums Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. Crew chief Rodney Childress. Joining up here, Ty Norris from Michael Waltrip Racing is coming up as well.
David Reutimann, his second career victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Of course, he won the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. He also qualifies now for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race in Charlotte.
David, congratulations. How does it feel to win here at Chicagoland?
DAVID REUTIMANN: It feels great. Glad that part is over with for sure. We had a really good car from the time we unloaded till now.
The worst, we got really free that last run. The 99 started gaining on us. We kept pedalling. Thankfully he didn't have enough time to get to us.
Rodney made some great calls. Our team engineer, they just gave me a good car all weekend. Thank Tom for coming onboard. More importantly, Toyota, and Toyota Racing Development, we've been beating up on those guys pretty bad this year. They hunkered down and gave us some really, really good horsepower here and good fuel mileage and everything we need to win races. My hat is off to them, they did a tremendous job.
KERRY THARP: Let's hear from Rodney Childers. Congratulations on the victory. Talk about some of the changes you made during the course of this event.
RODNEY CHILDERS: Like David said, we had a good car right off the truck. Really we just tried not to do anything during practice that would get us off base. We tried a few things and knew that the track would come to us at night. We kept talking about that. It kind of did the same thing at Charlotte. We stuck with what our gut thought there. We never touched the track bar or the jack bolts. That tells us how good it was from the get-go. You just got to have track position. Kept fighting our way up there.
You know, we struggled a little bit on pit road, but those guys did a good job. Our jackman had a little tumble on his bike this week, had a concussion, had to have some guy fill in. Anytime you have one person change, it kind of gets everything off kilter. It was just a fun night and David did a really good job. Probably had the worst interview ever after the race. He doesn't know that yet.
KERRY THARP: We saw it.
RODNEY CHILDERS: It was a little emotional for me at Charlotte. Ever since then, I wanted to win one for him and do it right. It was a good night a lot of fun.
KERRY THARP: Ty Norris, this has to be a big win for the Michael Waltrip organization. Talk about the impact of tonight's victory?
TY NORRIS: One of the biggest things, I've been around for not as many years as most, but I've probably not seen anyone have to walk around for a year and a half and apologize about winning a race. Winning that Coca-Cola 600 because of rain, everyone sort of like had the asterisk next to that win. Tonight was a huge statement. It was largely, I feel, some of the Toyota Racing Development, the work that they put in, we came here with a little bit better package than we've seen over the last few months. We had a few issues at the beginning of the year running fifth a couple times and second at Bristol. When they were able to step up the package and come here, the car was right, the driver was right, the engine was right. It takes all three of those things to beat Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson, that crowd. I think, more than anything else, it's redemption for David. I'm probably most proud of that.
KERRY THARP: Let's take questions now.
Q. David, in your mind, did your victory at the Coca-Cola 600 have an asterisk to you or was it a victory regardless? Did you know Jeff started his 600th race tonight? Do you remember where you were November 15th, 1992?
DAVID REUTIMANN: No, I don't. But I was probably watching Jeff Gordon on television. A lot of times, that felt like that's as close as I was ever going to get to being a NASCAR driver.
To answer your other question, yeah, I felt like there was a cloud over it, no pun intended, but a dark cloud hanging over our head with that win at the 600. Everybody just says, Yeah, you guys won, but. Rodney Childers won me that race. He made the right calls. He won me the race tonight. We win and lose as a team. Now I'm just wondering like, Okay, here you go, just leave me alone. We won the race. We did a good job. Everybody did a good job. Everybody around me worked together to get us where we are.
I think a lot of times the guys at the fab shop, I wish each one of those individuals could be there and stand in Victory Lane with us together because those are the guys that wins races. When you come up with a racecar as good as we did from the shop, it makes life a lot easier.
Q. Good to see you got the man card back.
DAVID REUTIMANN: That's real nice.
Q. When you have guys like Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon go into Victory Lane, it says a lot about the character that you have. I think everybody knows you don't put an asterisk next to those wins. You're a winner nonetheless. What does it mean to have this? Does it give you extra confidence going into especially the Chase just a few races away from now?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I mean, all year, if you look how we've run, the fact we had some problems, our on-track performance has been better than it was last year. I've always had confidence in this team, knew if we get things going in the right direction, we could win races, regardless of whether everybody else we could. Ty knew, Rodney, everybody in the fab shop knew we could win races.
With that being said, it does help my confidence. Every win helps confidence. That's always going to be that way. But we still got some work cut out for us to get into the Chase. But we're a lot closer than were. That's going to be our goal, get in the Chase, then we'll move on from there.
Q. I don't know if this is up in the air or not, but can you clarify your contract for next season and beyond?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I may get fired after this. I'm not really sure.
No, we're in good shape. We're in good shape. We've basically shook hands on the deal and we got things all lined up. I'm not going anywhere. I'll be at Michael Waltrip Racing. I may be cutting the grass, but I'll be at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Rodney can't leave.
TY NORRIS: Well, put it like this: on Friday in Indianapolis, we're going to have an announcement, how is that? You know, it's a timing issue. But these guys proved tonight that they deserve a contract. They deserve to be around. David came when we had nothing. When I say 'nothing,' I mean nothing. David was there. When we had almost next to nothing, Rodney came. So these guys not only deserve the contract, but they're part of the foundation that built us to be able to sit here tonight.
That's the disappointment. You talk about the fun things. One disappointment is that Michael has a lot of obligations, since he's not a racecar driver all the time, he's in Iowa actually doing a SPEED TV deal with the ARCA race tonight because he's going to do the Truck Series tomorrow, and here is a guy that sacrificed everything. He put every dime he ever won in 25 years and then everything that the bankers would possibly let him borrow into this race team. He turned a movie theater into a winning racing shop.
In 2007 at the end of the year we were on the brink. Rob Kauffman came in and secured us. Toyota said, It's going to be okay because your success story long-term will be Toyota's success story.
So those guys believed in us. Then Kyle came over. After all these years he's been in racing, he came over and put in so much. I will tell you about one thing about Kyle, who is anal, he wants everything right. He doesn't want to hear when it's not. Take that as a compliment. When we think we're just okay, he's like, That's not good enough. He's been really driving these guys, Nick Hughes, Steve, all the engineering guys. He's been driving those guys so hard to get better and better because he's won races in about every division he's ever been in. He wants everybody in there to have the same feeling. Fortunately after tonight we have it.
Q. David, can you talk about that battle with Jeff Gordon. Looked like at one point you had him, then you slid back a few car lengths. Did you ever feel you can't get this guy, or did you know you had the car good enough at that point to get around him? Talk about your emotions when you finally did.
DAVID REUTIMANN: I mean, we were a little bit faster. But Jeff was in the same area my car was better at. He just wasn't going to move.
They're just like, Stay on him, he'll make a mistake. Are you kidding me, he's Jeff Gordon. When is he going to make a mistake? I'm really waiting right now because I'm making all kinds of them trying to get past him.
That being said, we kept going along. His car got tighter and tighter, snapped loose a couple times. I just knew if we were patient, just my spotter kept me calm, keep working with him, keep doing what you're doing, you're get past him. Once we cleared him, I felt like we could get away from him. Getting by a guy is one thing. You can catch a guy, you slow down, we've seen that happen time and time again. They kept me focused and calm. It was awesome racing Jeff Gordon. On top of that, he comes down to Victory Lane and congratulate me, as well as Carl Edwards. Those are the two guys I respect the most in the garage area, so that means a lot.
Q. David, you wish the Brickyard 400 was this coming weekend and you could take this momentum right straight down there or are you glad to have at weekend off?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I really think we should move it up a weekend, take off the week after. That's what I would hope to happen.
Our guys need a break. They've been working -- our road guys, we run those guys into the dirt. People don't realize they work all week at the shop, they work the weekend, may get Monday off. Not exactly a glorious road to be on the road with this deal. It's good to give my guys some time off. This is a good way to -- maybe hopefully they'll have a couple days off, enjoy, think about what a good job they've done. Somewhere down the road this is probably going to cost me some money. I don't know what's going to happen. We got to give those guys their due. I'm pretty sure we're going to have to open up the wallet. That's good with me because that's the only way to do it.
TY NORRIS: That was a provision you agreed to in the contract.
DAVID REUTIMANN: Read the fine print.
Q. David, what does it mean to go from one win to two wins? Regardless of the circumstances of the first victory, to be a multi-time winner, have you seen people who make that jump that they get a different look, different respect that people give them? Do you feel like this may be coming more now to you?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I think what happens is, I think drivers can either respect you or not regardless of if you win races. It's how you conduct yourself on the racetrack. I've made mistakes. Sometimes you lose the respect. It takes you years to gain any and one race to lose it it seems like.
I think what ends up happening in the eyes of some fans and maybe our sponsors and stuff, I think they know now -- I think they knew coming in they were make a really good investment in a really good organization. Now I think they know they have. To be able to go out there and fight for wins and have good finishes, shot at getting in the Chase, I think it makes you a little more legitimate in the eyes of a lot of different people.
As far as drivers are concerned, you can go out there and win races and people still not respect you. I don't think wins give you respect automatically. It's a combination of a lot of different things.
Q. David, were you anticipating a caution there in the last 10 laps or so? If there had have been one, did you feel confident in your ability to win?
DAVID REUTIMANN: At that point I was really worried. The slowest we were was that last run all night long. The car was really, really free. If there's anybody that you don't want to see in your mirror on a green-white-checkered deal is the 99 car. Carl Edwards, he'll put it up against the fence. The guy is pretty good.
I knew Rodney was giving me lap times, we'd stabilize. The last 10 laps we started getting freer and freer and freer. I knew we needed to be careful with it and kind of guard our position. I knew he was coming hard.
So, yeah, I don't know. We would have had to wait and see. If we would have had a yellow and get the tires a chance to cool down, we could have been good for a couple of laps. Anything can happen in that situation. I didn't want to find out one way or another.
Q. David, you have such a self-deprecating style, it's easy to overlook how respected you are. Are you aware of that? Jeff Gordon comes and congratulates you in Victory Lane, Carl Edwards says there's people he wants to hang out with away from the racetrack, you'd be on that list, Jamie McMurray says this is going to be a popular victory in the garage. What does that mean to you? Does it confirm what you already know or somewhat gratifying to hear that?
DAVID REUTIMANN: That's really nice to hear. Generally in the garage area, nobody tells you anything unless you're really screwing up. Then they come over and tell you. I've been on that end of it. I made Bobby Labonte mad. Who makes Bobby Labonte mad? I did that my rookie year. You know if you're making a guy like him mad you're probably doing something wrong. I've definitely been on the receiving end of it.
It feels really good to hear stuff like that. Generally as you go along, drivers are not all warm and fuzzy. We're all competitors out there. But to hear people say that, that's pretty special. It's not something I knew.
TY NORRIS: He's self-deprecating, but he's the only guy I remember walking through the garage and called himself the franchise.
DAVID REUTIMANN: An inside joke (laughter).
Q. David, after your last pit stop, you reported you thought you had a vibration. How long did it last? What did you think it might have been?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I don't know. I mean, I told Rodney. He said a couple guys last night during the Nationwide race talked about when their tire pressures were down they had a pretty good vibration. We didn't have a vibration the whole time. At some point it must have gone away, either that or I was just so freaked out that I didn't notice it.
But Rodney told me, probably around five to seven laps it will probably be okay. At that point I quit worrying about it. The guys said the lug nuts are tight. I knew it was a tire vibration. I think it was more due to low tire pressure than anything else. Goodyear brought an excellent tire here. The track rubbered up nice. We had good tire wear, great performance from the tire. I think they brought us a good tire. I think it had to do with low tire pressure.
Q. Was that true or were you BS'ing?
RODNEY CHILDERS: That was true. To be honest with you, I don't know what the deal was. There were four or five guys last night. It really comes down to the tire is so low the sidewall starts to wrinkle. It takes it a few laps to get going. I was hoping it was going to go away. All the guys said the lug nuts were tight and I was hoping it was going to go away.
Q. David, this is 11 straight lead-lap finishes for you and your team after you blew the engine at Texas. Is this a Chase team now? Can you make the run into the top 12?
DAVID REUTIMANN: I think we can. I've always felt that way. Even when we were 30th, I felt like we could. It wasn't looking like it was going to make it. Team-wise we were the caliber of team we felt like we could do it. Rodney, all those guys, that's the caliber of team we have. We may fly under the radar. But the people that matter know we can contend to do the things we need to do.
Again, we've clawed back from 30th to where we are now. Still got some work cut out for us. Aren't out the woods yet. From the word 'go', last year I felt it about five races in, felt really, really good. Didn't know how Rodney and I were going to work out. New crew chief and stuff like that. Our first race together, I'm like, Heck, this is going to be great. From that point on, I felt like we were the caliber of team that could get in the Chase.
I think that's what we've been working towards. With the addition of Martin Truex and Pat Tryson as well, the whole program has gelled together very, very well.
KERRY THARP: Guys, congratulations. Enjoy this victory. We'll see you in here again pretty soon. Thank you.
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