Thursday, January 28, 2010

Truex and Tryson on Tonight’s Edition of NASCAR Race Hub on SPEED


NAPA Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. and Pat Tryson will visit the garage on tonight’s edition of NASCAR Race Hub. They’ll talk about how preseason testing and their expectations for the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as they become the new faces of NAPA’s NASCAR Sprint Cup racing program.

NASCAR Race Hub is SPEED’s new nightly report show that brings viewers closer to the inner workings of NASCAR than ever before. NASCAR Race Hub airs tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on SPEED.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Notes & Quotes - David Reutimann MWR Media Tour Event - January 20,2010


DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

What are your thoughts about the 2009 season and your first Sprint Cup Series win?

“I think we turned a lot of major corners and overcame a lot of major hurdles to actually get to that point. I’ve still got some work cut out for us, but I feel really good about what we have going on at Michael Waltrip Racing. With the progress we made last year, we just need to keep making that kind of progress and those kind of strides to get us a little bit better.”

What has changed to give you confidence as a driver?

“I think we continue to refine our cars -- our cars made all the difference for us last year. There were a lot of different things, but our cars -- we showed up with a better piece when we unloaded. That in itself was a major, major difference. It’s not like we got done at the end of the season and covered them up. They’ve gone back, they’ve cut things apart and redone things. They’ve reworked the front clips and done different things to continue to make the cars lighter, which is always a struggle. I feel like with the engineering support we’re getting from within and from Toyota Racing Development (TRD) -- again, TRD has given us more horsepower and that’s always a plus. With the addition of Pat Tryson (Martin Truex Jr.’s crew chief) and Martin Truex (Jr.) bringing a whole new perspective to our organization and looking at things a little differently, I feel like we’re a little bit farther ahead. Plus, on top of that -- every year since I’ve been Cup racing I haven’t had the same crew chief the following year -- this year I have Rodney Childers, so we won’t have to try to figure each other out like I have in the past. I’m welcoming that -- it’s going to be a nice change.”

Will it be different without Michael Waltrip on the track every week?

“Michael (Waltrip) still wants to race. If Michael gets in the right situation, he can still win races, hands down, no doubt in my mind or anyone else’s in this organization. Hopefully, he’ll be able run the races he’s going to run this year and more, be able to accelerate and add some more sponsorship to run more races. It feels weird knowing -- that when we’re all out at California that Michael Waltrip probably will not be in the field with us, that’s a little bit different but hard to take because Michael is my buddy and he’s been awfully good to me and treated me awfully well. I want to see him happy. I know it was his decision to step back, but I know he’s going to miss it and we’re going to miss having him there.”

What do you think about NASCAR saying they’re going to let you guys drive?

“As a rule, you try to take pretty good care of drivers around you. You try to take care of one another. Sometimes, you mess up and you don’t take very good care of them. The main deal, -- what you have to do is put some of the responsibility back in the driver’s hands and try to look out for one another a little bit. NASCAR was in a no-win situation with those rules anyway -- they couldn’t win. At the end of the day, if one driver runs over another one, then that guy is mad at the other guy, but at least they’re not mad at NASCAR. The fans are asking for this, they’re asking for less policing of the racing and I think NASCAR is listening. I don’t think any other sport can say they’re doing this. There is no other major league sport that listens to the fans the way NASCAR does and makes changes. They asked for double-file restarts -- they got it. There’s a lot of things they’ve asked for and I think NASCAR is trying to accommodate them.”

Have you gotten over the disappointment of not making the 2009 Chase?

“Yes and no. If you look back at it, you’re really disappointed in the way things went. But, at the same time, it’s a new year, new season with some new sponsors on board, you have to put that kind of stuff behind you. For me it’s difficult because we came so far and accomplished so much. Getting in the Chase and running well would have been a really good end to the year to come as far as we did, but it didn’t work out for us so now it makes you that much more hungry to go out there and try to do what we were supposed to do last year.”

What do you think of possibly adding a spoiler back to these race cars?

“I think it’s probably a step in the right direction. I think it’s a positive. Nobody really knows how it’s going to make the cars feel or handle. We’ll have an opportunity, I’m sure to maybe test a little bit -- I don’t know this for a fact, but I would think NASCAR would let us go to a mile-and-a-half race track and try it. Get a little bit of a head start on what it’s going to be like. They’re not just going to throw us out there and say, ‘Okay, we’re changing the wing, see what happens.’ They’ll have a good idea about how the car is going to act and we’ll have a better idea when we go to the first race. I feel like it’s going to be a good addition.”

What areas do you need to improve upon for 2010?

“Pit road, there were times we struggled on pit road and lost a lot of time. You know how hard it is to make it up. That hurt us some. Me, as a driver, me personally making mistakes, that certainly hasn’t helped us. There’s sometimes that the feedback with Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and I -- I was asking for something and he didn’t quite understand how much I was asking for. That’s all part of having a new crew chief. We finally got past that. There were sometimes when our communication wasn’t what it was, not because he wasn’t listening to me or I wasn’t speaking clearly, but when I’m yelling and it’s loose, sometimes Rodney would make a small adjustment when he needed to make a big one or sometimes it would just be the opposite. That all comes down to him getting to know me as a driver and knowing what I’m saying when I’m saying it. When you talk about Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief) and Jimmie Johnson, Chad can probably tell by the tone of Jimmie’s voice how much he needs. Rodney and I hadn’t had that opportunity yet. Now, for the second year, we’ve got that. We had meetings during the off-season, we talked about a lot of things we could have done better. Rodney did a phenomenal job. If I had my choice to go down pit road and pick anyone, I’d still pick Rodney Childers -- he's the right guy for me.”

How much will Martin Truex Jr. and Marcos Ambrose push you to be better?

“They will push me a great deal. It’s very important to have teammates that push you. You want competition within, but you don’t want the competition to undermine what you’re trying to build. You have those deals where Marcos (Ambrose) is trying this or they’re doing this, that or the other thing. You want to do it a little bit better, you want to step up your game. It’s important to have it within your organization -- drivers that challenge one another to get better. Also, at the same time, having drivers that try to help, i.e., Marcos Ambrose tried to help me on the road courses. The guy spent a lot of time with me trying to help me do things. Hopefully Martin (Truex Jr.) will also help me, I think he will. There are situations where I can help those guys. If we do that, then at the end of the day we could be one, two, three -- as long as I’m the guy that’s in the one spot, I’ll be happy in that area.”

How has Toyota progressed since entering NASCAR?

“Since I’ve been driving in a NASCAR series, I’ve basically never been with anybody but Toyota. I’ve been with them since their first race and testing the Truck to Nationwide to Cup. I’ve been with Toyota the whole way and seen the growing pains. We had part failures and have all those things that you have as you’re growing and building a program around something. It’s been neat to see the persistence that they’ve had and the work ethic that they’ve had. Motor engineers and the guys that build the motors, coming and sitting down with you and explaining to you what they’re doing and what they’re doing to rectify a situation. I don’t think any other organization has that. Toyota is very in the forefront. They don’t make a lot of noise, but they keep you informed and always refining things. Those guys never, ever quit. Every time you look at a Toyota motor, something seems to be moved or different, trying to get the weight lower and do all the things they do. They’re always thinking about what to make, how to make their mouse trap a little bit better.”

Were you apprehensive to start with a company like Toyota?

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that Toyota is a very American company. If you’ve been on tour with them, and been to the truck plant in (San Antonio) Texas and the places in (Georgetown) Kentucky, where you can see it’s basically a big part of the fabric of America. Going in, NASCAR fans don’t like change a whole lot. They like the same thing -- they like what they’ve seen for a lot of years. I think there was some resistance early on. In the Truck series I noticed a little bit and as time has gone on, I think fans realize that Toyota is not trying to take over. They’re just trying to race and be a part of the program. NASCAR has allowed them to do that. I think they, and us at Michael Waltrip Racing, are happy to be a part of it.”

Do you review your races on tape or do you have a photographic memory?

“Sometimes we do watch the races, but for the most part we have a pretty good idea where things weren’t going like they should have and where we did things wrong and should have done them different. We generally go over those things in the Monday morning meetings, when things are still pretty fresh or sometimes on the plane flight home. Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and I will sit together and (say) ‘This is what happened, this is what I was feeling when we changed that and it didn’t help. We went in the wrong direction.’ Rodney just writes things down and the next time we go back, you don’t make the same mistake if you did make a mistake. Sometimes you just try things and it doesn’t work. It’s not necessarily a mistake. It’s just the car didn’t react to it.”

What do you think about the addition of Pat Tryson to MWR?

“I think it’s important for any organization, a multi-car organization, to have drivers that challenge one another. We have Marcos Ambrose who is a separate team, but the same thing, we all work extremely well together so it’s just like he’s a teammate, because he is. I think it kind of raises the bar, so to speak, and I think the main thing is having a different crew chief that will look at things a little differently and Pat Tryson has won races with a lot of different kind of drivers, drivers with different backgrounds and mentalities. He gives a whole, fresh look to our organization and I think that helps us look in a different direction and find speed where we weren’t looking before.”

What do you think about Marcos Ambrose?

“That guy is phenomenal. Marcos Ambrose is just a talent. Everybody says he’s a road course guy, but you take him to Bristol and he runs good. You don’t just take anyone to Bristol and they run well, that’s a tough race track. He does good at the speedways. The road courses, obviously he’s one of the guys to beat. He’s very, very close -- it wouldn’t surprise me to see Marcos Ambrose win some races this year. It wouldn’t have surprised me last year, the way he was running. He’s an extremely talented guy and I learned a lot from him.”

What do you think of the progress Toyota has made?

“The thing that can be aggravating about the process is that sometimes it’s slow because they are so methodical about testing things. They want zero failures. They’re not going to give us something -- even though you hear about this new cam configuration or whatever it is they’re working on, it’s going to be better but they won’t give it to you until it’s been tested thoroughly. As a driver, you’re like ‘Wow, that’s going to be better, give it to me like now. It’ll be okay.’ That’s the mentality you have, that’s not Toyota mentality. They want zero failures when it rolls out there. That’s what you get. When you get something, it’s been proven to produce and perform or it won’t go on the race car. That’s just how they do it.”

What do you think of racing in Daytona?

“I love it because I consider that to be my home race track. Being from Florida and going over and watching races and being part of that. Early on I was trying to figure out how I was going to get from the stands to the infield without having to jump a fence or hide in someone’s trunk. That was pretty unique. I love going to Daytona -- that place is very special to me. It’s a tough old race track. It’s not the most forgiving place you go to, but it definitely has character and is one of the more cool places we go.”

What do you think of the expectations others have for your season?

“I think it’s a blessing and a curse. Early on, it was like ‘Wow, the 00 car finished in the top-10.’ That was a big deal. I noticed toward the end of the year if we were running in the top-10, it was like ‘Good job.’ They expected that. That’s how it should be, they should expect that. A bad race for you needs to be a 12th-place finish, that needs to be a bad day and anything else than that needs to be a miserable day. That’s how you have to do it, because that’s how the guys who are in the Chase are doing. That’s what the 48 (Johnson) is doing. Jimmie Johnson ran 12th one day and you would have thought that was the worst thing that ever happened. It wasn’t that long ago I would have been doing a back flip, an impression of Carl Edwards after finishing 12th. It’s kind of strange how your perspective changes as you have more success.”

When was the first time you dreamed of winning the Daytona 500?

“I can probably remember running my first go kart and thinking about winning at Daytona. I was probably around six or seven years old thinking about that. My dad was a dirt car racer, so all I wanted to do was be like my dad. Daytona seemed like, although it was only a couple hours down the road, it seemed like an awful long way away.”

When did you feel you could someday win the Daytona 500?

“Not until I sat there and strapped in for my very first Daytona 500. In the Truck Series and Nationwide Series I got to race at Daytona, but the Daytona 500, that’s something altogether different. Going down there and having to qualify in and do all those different things. Even when we made it in the show, this still doesn’t feel real until they give the command to start engines. ‘We’re going to at least start the Daytona 500. We don’t know what else is going to happen, but we’re at least going to start it.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BEST WESTERN AND MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING IN SEARCH OF STOCK CAR RACING’S FIRST-EVER “OFFICIAL TWEET CREW TEAM”


Three Internet-Savvy Race Fans Will Be Selected to Travel to Phoenix for the April 10 Race and Serve as David Reutimann’s Team of Twitter Correspondents

CORNELIUS, N.C. (January 21, 2010) – The World’s Largest Hotel Chain®, Best Western, has teamed up with Michael Waltrip Racing to conduct a national job search for stock car racing’s first-ever “Official Tweet Crew Team.” To help kickoff the 2010 racing season, the pair is “hiring” three qualified fans to travel to Phoenix for the April 10, 2010 race weekend and work as David Reutimann’s team of Twitter correspondents.

Fans who visit the Best Western “Official Tweet Crew Team” Web site, www.bestwestern.com/tweetcrewteam, starting today through Wednesday, March 17, will have the opportunity to submit an application, which includes a link to a creative video or picture, to become a member of this historic team. The selected three-person team will join David Reutimann in Phoenix on April 10 and spend the weekend with the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 winner, Tweeting about every twist and turn he makes on-and-off the track. Each Tweet Crew Team member will be provided with a smartphone that has camera capabilities to enable “Twitpics.”

The first-ever “Official Tweet Crew Team” will also give racing fans around the world an up-close-and-personal glimpse into the Sprint Cup Series Race in Phoenix by providing a written play-by-play of the race via Twitter from the team’s different vantage points around the track. Fans can follow all the heart-pounding and intimate action by logging onto www.twitter.com and following the team at @tweetcrewteam. Finally, race fans watching from home or following the team on Twitter will be given the chance to win great prizes throughout the race including official Best Western Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing gear, as well as rewards program points that can be redeemed for future hotel stays and a wide variety of merchandise. One lucky member of Speed Rewards, Best Western’s loyalty program for race fans, will also win a Travel Card valued at $500.

“As we’ve learned over the last decade, the Internet, particularly social media, is an increasingly important communication channel for our guests. We’ve also realized recently it’s no different for the thousands of race fans who visit our hotels each week, making it incredibly important for our brand to continue to reach our guests through creative and innovative digital avenues,” said Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “Our partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing, one of the most forward thinking race teams in the sport, allows us to execute fun and interactive promotions such as the ‘Official Tweet Crew Team’.”

Those selected as members of the first-ever “Official Tweet Crew Team” will receive roundtrip airfare to Phoenix, hotel accommodations, local transportation, as well as a Best Western/Michael Waltrip Racing- branded team uniform and VIP access to the track for the race. The winners will also have the opportunity to join Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann in a race day press conference for the unveiling of the Best Western and Michael Waltrip Racing “Official Tweet Crew Team.”

“I have one of the most loyal and active followings on Twitter and I’m hoping through the Best Western ’Official Tweet Crew Team’ promotion I’ll be able to find three likeminded fans who want to help me share the ins-and-outs of a race team with millions of people all over the world,” said two-time Daytona 500 winner, Michael Waltrip. “In the 62 year history of the sport, this is unlike anything that’s ever been offered to fans – a real chance to be a critical part of a successful race team.”

To join Speed Rewards log onto www.bwracing.com.

For official rules and to enter, please visit www.bestwestern.com/tweetcrewteam.

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL
Best Western International is THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN®, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000* independently owned and operated member hotels in 80* countries and territories worldwide. An industry pioneer since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000* worldwide guests each night. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, Best Western recently embarked on a mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. World Vision is the charity of choice for Best Western in building the world's largest family, with our hotels and staff sponsoring children in need around the globe. Our partnerships with AAA/CAA, Michael Waltrip Racing and Harley Davidson help guests make the most of every trip. For the fastest way to a free night, join Best Western Rewards®, the only hotel frequency program that's truly global. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.

*Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate.

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AARON’S, INC. ADDS SIX ADDITIONAL NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES


ATLANTA (Jan. 20, 2010) – Aaron’s, Inc. announced today it will add six more Sprint Cup races, plus the Sprint All-Star Race to its 2010 schedule. The additional races increase Aaron’s total to 24 races as the primary sponsor of the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine driven by David Reutimann.

The six additional point races coming in the first half of the season include: Auto Club Speedway, Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Michigan International Speedway, Infineon Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“We are pleased that Aaron’s expanded our involvement with David and the No. 00 team this season,” said Robin Loudermilk, Chief Executive Officer for Aaron’s, Inc. “We have developed an excellent relationship with David, Michael Waltrip and this organization over the years and they have continued to delivere solid results for Aaron’s. Adding these six races reinforces our commitment to this team and confidence in this sport. We look forward to another exciting year on the track.”

Reutimann said solid sponsorship is one of the most important ingredients to success in 2010.

“I feel like a Lucky Dog every time I get to work with the folks at Aaron’s,” said Reutimann. “They’re a great group of people and we have an amazing relationship that continues to grow. I take a lot of pride in my relationship with Aaron’s and I am excited to have Aaron’s and Lucky Dog on board for six more races. Michael introduced me to Aaron’s and into the MWR organization and I’m very thankful for all the people that support me. In 2010 we plan to reward that support.”

“I'm so lucky to have great partners like Aaron’s. We asked them to step up and they did again!,” said team co-owner Michael Waltrip. “We've been fortunate to win races with them over the years. Aaron’s business has grown exponentially since we joined forces in 2000. We couldn’t be prouder of their continued support of our organization and look forward to the relationship for years to come.”

Aaron’s is in the second year of a three-year Sprint Cup sponsorship agreement with Reutimann and MWR after serving as the team’s Nationwide sponsor since 2000.

In addition to Reutimann’s 24 Sprint Cup races, Aaron’s plans to sponsor nine races on the No. 99 Toyota for newly-formed Diamond-Waltrip Racing and 18-year-old Trevor Bayne in the Nationwide Series. Aaron’s will also sponsor Waltrip’s return to the Nationwide Series at the Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 24.

About Aaron’s, Inc.
Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), the nation’s leader in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of residential and office furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, has more than 1,695 Company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada. Founded in 1955 by entrepreneur R. Charles Loudermilk, Sr. and headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron’s has been publicly traded since 1982. For more information, visit www.aaronsinc.com.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Transcript from Martin Truex Jr. Daytona Preseason Thunder


DENISE MALOOF: Okay, everybody, Martin Truex, Jr., has joined us a little bit early and we were thankful for that. Big doings this year, new team, new car, new sponsor, new everything, I guess, except you still have the same haircut it looks like.


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, a lot of new things, an exciting off-season for me, busy off-season for me compared to what I've normally been used to. But so far it's been a lot of fun.


I'm really excited about the opportunity to drive the NAPA Toyota, and I've been very impressed with the organization in Michael Waltrip Racing and everything they've put into being a successful race team, and coming in this year with the No. 56 to have a great season. So things are looking great. I'm very happy with the team the way it's all came together, very much looking forward to the season. I think it's going to be a great one for all of us, and should be a lot of fun.

DENISE MALOOF: Any fun off-season things that were not racing related that you can share?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, I didn't get to do a whole lot this year. Probably the most fun thing I did was when I went home for Christmas to spend some time with my family. I had a good time up there in New Jersey, and that's about it. Other than that, I've been working a lot. It's been good.

Q. There's a lot of talk about doing away with the yellow line here and allowing you guys to bump draft and actually giving you guys a bigger restrictor plate. What side of the argument are you on with those kind of rule changes?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I think it'll be good. I think the bump drafting rule, settling down on those a little bit, letting us get after it a little bit more is a good thing. I think it'll be exciting for all of us. It'll be more fun for us drivers. I think we can kind of put it on the edge a little bit more.


The yellow line rule I think needs to stay, just my opinion. I think there's only six or eight feet from the yellow line to the grass. Where do you go when you get in the grass? You've got to keep the cars out of the grass somehow because that would be bad. Of course when you get to the corner, if you're below the yellow line and you come into the corner, you've got to get up onto the racetrack to make the turn. I just think it would be difficult, and guys would try to hold people down on the apron so they couldn't go and things like that. It would just be a mess without the yellow line rule. But the rest of it, I'm excited about. I think it's going to be great for the fans, great for the drivers, and it should be a lot more fun for all of us.

Q. With everything that's new this year, what's the biggest challenge you think you face in terms of making this transition, and what's your sense about how you and Pat are going to work together?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: You know, my thoughts -- I had thoughts about what was going to be challenging. I thought being with a new team, with a new crew, with -- like you say, everything being new, I'd have to get in there and kind of figure it all out. I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it actually turned out being. We tested in Atlanta last week, and things went really well, better than I could have imagined. I really enjoy working with Pat. I've known him for a few years. We've been friendly for a few years, but I didn't really know much about how he worked and how he went about his business. I've been really impressed with him and the way he takes care of the guys on the team, the way he interacts with them, the way he works in the shop and the way he kind of does his thing, so to speak.
I think it's going to be an easier transition than I thought. Everybody at MWR has welcomed me with open arms. They've been very good to work with, very straightforward, very fair, and a lot of fun. So it's been -- it's really going well so far. I've had a lot of fun this off-season getting ready. We've had a great test already. I think that their equipment is top-notch, their people are top-notch, and the way they go about their business is pretty impressive, to say the least. I think it's going to be an easier transition for us, it's just a matter of getting in the groove, starting off on the right foot, getting that ball rolling, and then just keep it going.

Q. Have you had a chance to spend any time yet with David, David Reutimann, talk to him about how things are going to go? Did you have a previous relationship with him or anything?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: We've spoken. You know, last year towards the end of the year we talked a little bit. You know, we haven't really sat down and said, well, this is the way it's going to be. Obviously we are teammates, we're going to pull in the same direction. I think working together will be no problem at all. David is a heck of a nice guy, easy to get along with, and from what I've seen of him, he's going to be a lot of fun to work with.


I've had conversations with him, with Rodney Childers, his crew chief, same with Marcos and Frankie Kerr and I've seen those guys around the shop and we've spent time together and we've talked. It's going to be easy to be teammates with all these guys. Hopefully we can all pull in the same direction, put all our thoughts together and make the team the best we can. But I think that working together and being teammates is going to be an easy thing for all of us.

Q. What did you learn about the team and the cars during the Atlanta tire test?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I learned a lot about them. You know, we kind of put together a test plan. We had a lot of things we wanted to try. Obviously with Pat, haven't worked with the race cars from MWR, I hadn't drove them. There was a lot of things we wanted to work through. So we did that for the first day, ran through a lot of things, learned a whole bunch, learned a lot of what not to do, what to do, all those things. You just kind of build your test plan and go through it.


That went very well. We accomplished a lot. The guys on the team did a great job of swapping the car back and forth, changing setups, geometry, front end packages and setups, and we went through a lot of things. For a team that's never been together before, for them to get through all that in the first day, like usually you make a plan and you get through about half of it and you end up not getting it all done, but they did a good job with it. They all worked together well, seemed to have good camaraderie. The guys were getting along really good. They seem like they understand each other's job and understand what they're supposed to do, which is great just coming out of the box. I think having an understanding of what your job is, although it sounds small, it's an important part of being part of an hour and a half practice session when you come into the garage. You need to know who jacks the car, when to jack the car, when to let the car down, things like that that sound easy but you have to practice and get in motion and know what to expect from the other guys around you.


So everything from that perspective went well. The car ran great, the car felt good, the engine felt really good, and I was just really impressed and happy about the way everything went. I thought we put together some great results on the track. We learned a lot about each other. Pat did a great job with the car. I felt like our -- like we'd worked together before. Our communication, it was just so easy. I'd just tell him what I wanted and he would give it to me. If we can do that every week, we'll have something. So it went really well.

Q. I saw Ryan at New Smyrna the other day, and I felt like he missed something. It was only the second time he'd be there in his first laps. Did you ever get a chance to race there? What's he missed with that, number one; and number two, either how nerve-wracked or how excited are you to be his teammate this year in 2010?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, you know, I had never raced at New Smyrna, either. I had just done some testing there. I watched a lot of racing there, modifieds and such. But I'm pretty excited about being teammates with him. It's special, you know, to be part of that. I've been a small part of his career, sort of a car owner for him for the last two years, and it's been a lot of fun. I haven't been able to spend as much time with him as I would have liked, though, and I think this -- even the last -- heck, since I moved to North Carolina, we haven't spent a whole lot of time together. For this to -- for him to be teammates now, hopefully he'll be down here a lot more. We can spend a lot of time together. I'll be not just his car owner but kind of be in his corner and try to spend time with him at the shop, help him with things that I can do a little bit better job than I do with the texting. It's going to be fun to be his teammate. I don't get nervous unless I'm on top of the trailer and he's in the race car and I'm watching. Only time I've ever been nervous in my life is when I'm watching his race.


It's going to be fun. Hopefully we get on the racetrack together before long, and it'll be a lot more comfortable for me.

Q. Will he be your roommate if he comes down?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, he can stay whenever he wants. He can come to the house and stay whenever he wants. But generally he'd rather sit in his apartment and text me that he's bored. (Laughter.) There's nothing to do here, I'm bored. Well, come on. No, I don't want to. Okay. So he usually just sits in his room and races on-line or something.

Q. Martin, I think I have perceived you as being a sort of mechanically-oriented kind of a driver and now you're in a position to be a star of TV commercials kind of driver. Talk about making that transition, how that's going to be different for you.


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, it's not really going to be different. I still need to know what shocks and springs are on my race car and what number oil filter I need to get when I go to NAPA. But the commercial thing is going to be a lot of fun. It's kind of new to me. I've done a few little ones. We did a Toyota spot earlier this winter that was a lot of fun. I've done a few of Bass Pros, so it's not anything new. These are kind of a lot bigger with national spots and everything. It'll be fun, something different. Got to know Ron Capps a little bit over the winter, and he's going to be in a few of them with us, too. It'll be fun to do it, and I think we've got one next week, so wish me luck.

Q. If you could just talk a little bit about how important it is to do events like this for the fans, especially in the off-season, generating a little excitement for them, just kind of a little appreciation weekend it seems like.


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, it is. Without having the testing here like we used to, that was kind of what that was. A lot of people would come down just for the test from out of state, all over the country really, and get excited about the season coming up, smell the fuel burning, smell the tires and hear the engines running. This is everything but the engines and the race cars. It's cool that everybody comes down, puts their time in and gives the fans something to get excited about, something to get that ball rolling for the season. It's good for us to come down here and see them all. We enjoy it. It's a lot of fun for us, and we get to see people, all you guys, that we haven't seen in a few months, and look forward to getting the season started.

Q. You've been a Chevrolet guy ever since you got to NASCAR, now you're in a Toyota. I went to the test at New Smyrna Wednesday, and Toyota had rented the track for two days and let 12 teams test. They've got a real -- we're all in this together kind of mentality. Are you getting that just in the limited amount of time that you've spent with these people?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, we had a lot of Toyota engineers at our test in Atlanta last week, and they were talking about some of the things they do, and I've been to their facilities in Salisbury at TRD, and they kind of showed me what they do and how they go about it.


One thing that's different, I think, is when you're with Toyota, when one person gets information, the other Toyotas get the information. They don't get parts and pieces of it, they get it all. They share everything. It's kind of like one big team.


It was different than that at Chevrolet, kind of the teams were always out on their own. You'd get small pieces of information here and there from Chevrolet. But the teams, if Hendrick went testing and got a bunch of information, they wouldn't send it to Chevrolet for Chevrolet to give to Earnhardt and Childress and whoever. In that sense it's a little bit different.


And the support that the team, the race team, gets from the manufacturer, from what I've seen, is far greater than anything I've ever seen before. So that's exciting to be a part of for me, and it's pretty impressive for Toyota.

Q. Just to follow up on the tire test in Atlanta, at the end of the session there, did you do long runs and feel like there's a tire there with lots of grip, or how did you sort of size up the tire situation once you left there?


MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, we did long runs. We weren't a primary test car, so basically we didn't get to run the tires that they were testing until the second day. We pretty much ran the fall Atlanta tire that we raced.


But the second day in the afternoon, they gave us two options that Mark and Carl both had liked, thought were better, and I thought they were better, too. If they do what they say they were going to do and bring back that tire, it should be better.


Now, it was 40 degrees, track was better than it's going to be when we go back, but there was no wear issues. There was no wear then, there won't be when we go back by any means. The durability was fine, they felt better, had better grip. The falloff was about the same as the told tire, but it just was a little bit faster and felt a little bit better the whole run. It should make for better racing and traffic, having more grip in the tire. Obviously Atlanta has always been a place that puts on some really good racing because of the way the grooves are and you can run all over the place. It should be very good. I was very happy with the tire, and I think they could have been a little more aggressive with it still. But I think it'll be head and shoulders above what we had before.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Martin Truex Jr. had a strong day of testing with Michael Waltrip Racing...


Martin Truex Jr. said Tuesday that he was happy with how things were progressing in his first Goodyear tire test since joining Michael Waltrip Racing.

Truex, who spent the first four years of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and its successor, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, is at Atlanta Motor Speedway this week to participate in a two-day, four-car tire test. Also testing are Mark Martin of Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards and Sam Hornish Jr. of Penske Racing.

The addition of Truex and new crew chief Pat Tryson are expected to strongly bolster the prospects of MWR, which enjoyed a breakout season in 2009. Truex was one of the biggest free-agent moves of the off-season, while Tryson in 2009 led Kurt Busch to a fourth-place points finish, best of any of the non-Hendrick Motorsports cars in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

During the first day of the AMS test, Martin posted the fastest lap with a time of 29.938 seconds (185.183 miles per hour). Edwards's fastest lap was 29.953 seconds (185.102 mph), followed by Truex with a 30.009 (184.744) and Hornish at 30.560 (181.413).

Truex was pleased with how the day went.

"So far it's good for our first time here together," said Truex, who won the pole for last September's Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "We're just easing into it and feeling things out. The car is fast and it feels good."

The team is hoping to get off to a fast start this season and land a Chase spot for Truex, who qualified for NASCAR's playoff round in 2007, but finished 15th in points in '08 and 23rd last year. MWR, which heads into it fourth season, has never placed a driver in the Chase, although David Reutimann came close last season.

And with NASCAR formally banning testing at tracks where any of the sanctioning body's top three series run, being able to participate in a Goodyear tire test is a huge benefit to teams and something they put an awful lot of effort into.

"It's a big deal for us to be able to get out here and get acclimated with each other and get into the swing of things," said Truex. "We've got a bunch of stuff to go through and try on our car: Stuff that Pat has done in the past, stuff they've done at MWR and ideas I have from what I have done. We've got a lot of stuff to try in the next day and a half and so far it has gone well."

NASCAR TO REPRESENT MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING LICENSING BUSINESS


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 13, 2010) – NASCAR and Michael Waltrip Racing announced today a new partnership in which NASCAR will become the sole licensing representative for the race team. The agreement includes all driver marks within the Michael Waltrip Racing team, including David Reutimann, Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip, as well as young future stars Trevor Bayne and Ryan Truex.


With this agreement, NASCAR’s licensing business, headquartered out of Charlotte, N.C. at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, will utilize its assets to grow the licensed product business and provide retailers with new and more comprehensive product options for the MWR team, including track merchandise opportunities, e-commerce channels and national retail outlets.


“The depth of NASCAR’s licensing group is only matched by its collective experience,” said Ty Norris, Vice President and General Manager of Michael Waltrip Racing. “The licensing and merchandising world is dramatically changing for teams and drivers, and this partnership has positioned MWR properly for the future. Our on-track success has led to off-track demand. This strategic move will increase the offerings and value to our fans.”
NASCAR will also provide retail development, new business, marketing, public relations and media assets in expanding the licensed product portfolio that includes apparel, collectibles, novelty, gifts, headwear and other non-traditional licensing concepts.


“NASCAR is very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Michael Waltrip Racing. We feel confident that we can leverage our resources to provide them with a comprehensive solution that addresses all of their licensing needs, including a complete merchandise and retail strategy, as well as additional exposure for their team and sponsors,” said Blake Davidson, managing director of licensed products for NASCAR. “There is a ton of opportunity with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010, especially given Michael’s historic career and their strong driver pool of David, Martin, Trevor and Ryan.”

About NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for one of North America’s premier sports. NASCAR is the No. 1 spectator sport – holding 17 of the top 20 highest attended sporting events in the U.S. and is the No. 2 rated regular season sport on television. NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 150 countries and 20 languages. NASCAR fans are the most brand loyal in all of sports, and as a result more Fortune 500 companies participate in NASCAR than any other sport.

NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,) four regional series, and one local grassroots series, as well as two international series. Also, part of NASCAR is Grand-Am Road Racing, known for its competition on road courses with multiple classes of cars. NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races at 100 tracks in more than 30 U.S states, Canada and Mexico. Based in Daytona Beach (Fla.), NASCAR has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Charlotte (N.C.), Concord (N.C.), Bentonville (Ark.), Mexico City and Toronto.

About Michael Waltrip Racing From its 140,000-square-foot shop in Cornelius, N.C., Michael Waltrip Racing fields Toyota Camrys in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Waltrip, David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. as well as a NASCAR Nationwide entry for Trevor Bayne and a Camping World East Series entry for Ryan Truex. The team also maintains JTG-Daugherty’s No. 47 Toyota Camry driven by Marcos Ambrose. MWR began more than a decade ago as a modest family-owned NASCAR Nationwide Series team in Sherrills Ford, N.C. and has posted five NASCAR Nationwide victories. In 2007, MWR served as a flagship team for Toyota Racing Development, USA’s entry into both NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide competition. Reutimann earned MWR its first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in May 2009 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. MWR announced the formation of Diamond-Waltrip Racing with majority owners Gary and Blake Bechtel for the 2010 season. The NASCAR Nationwide team will help develop young drivers for MWR’s Cup effort.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

AARON’S, INC. TO HONOR BCS NATIONAL CHAMPION ALABAMA WITH CUSTOM NASCAR PAINT SCHEME




Aaron’s Crimson Tide-Themed No. 00 Sprint Cup Dream Machine to Race at Talladega

ATLANTA (Jan. 8, 2010) – Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN) proudly announced today it will honor the new BCS National Champion University of Alabama with a commemorative Crimson Tide-themed NASCAR paint scheme. The Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) No. 00 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota, to be driven by David Reutimann, will make its on-track debut April 25 in the Aaron’s 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

As a corporate sponsor of Alabama and the University of Texas, Aaron’s supports both teams and wanted to celebrate the winner no matter who it turned out to be. With Alabama’s win, the racecar is sure to be a fan favorite as it will feature the school’s trademark Crimson and the official national championship logo when competing at the school’s home racetrack.

“Aaron’s couldn’t be more proud that two of its partner universities were represented in this year’s national championship game,” said Robin Loudermilk, Chief Executive Officer of Aaron’s, Inc. “While Alabama clinched the title, Texas put up a tough fight making the game one of the most outstanding in BCS history. We are honored and excited to take Alabama’s triumph a step further with the opportunity to put this commemorative racecar in victory lane at our race in Talladega.”

The program will kick off at the University of Alabama A-Day game scheduled for April 17 where the racecar will be unveiled and displayed prior to the football game. The car will then move on to Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron’s Dream Weekend, before starting a tour throughout the state making stops at select Aaron’s stores.

Fans and collectors can pre-order limited edition 1/24-scale collectable die cast replicas of the racecar at Aaron’s stores nationwide starting January 22. Quantities are limited and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. The replicas are expected to arrive in stores by the middle of May. For more information, details about how to pre-order and Aaron’s store locations, visit www.shopaarons.com.

About Aaron’s, Inc.
Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), the nation’s leader in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of residential and office furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, has more than 1,695 Company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada. Founded in 1955 by entrepreneur R. Charles Loudermilk, Sr. and headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron’s has been publicly traded since 1982. For more information, visit www.aaronsinc.com.

Michael Waltrip off to Dubai Jan 2010

Friday, January 08, 2010

Waltrip To Race In The Dubai 24 Hour Sportscar Race


CORNELIUS, N.C. – With more than 1,000 races in a quarter-century’s worth of NASCAR experience, you would think it would take a lot to get Michael Waltrip excited about an off-season race.

But Waltrip can’t wait for his first foray into the world of international sports car racing when the two-time Daytona 500 champion competes in the fifth-annual Dubai 24 Hour sportscar race at the ultra-modern Dubai Autodrome on January 14-16.

“I love racing cars,” said Waltrip. “The Daytona 500 is the ultimate race for a NASCAR driver to win. But how cool is it to go to Dubai on the other side of the globe and race a Ferrari? I never thought I’d have a chance to be part of such a unique experience.”

The Ferrari Waltrip refers to is a Ferrari F430 GT2 of the AF Corse team co-owned by Rob Kauffman who will be sharing driving duties with Waltrip, Marcos Ambrose, Rui Aguas and Niki Cadei.

Kauffman is also a co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing which fields NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries for Waltrip, Martin Truex Jr. and David Reutimann. The Waltrip team has a technical alliance with Ambrose’s team JTG Daugherty Racing.

Waltrip and Kauffmann tested the Ferrari at the ACI Vallelunga circuit in Italy. Success at the test led the pair to review options for sports car races around the world before deciding to race in Dubai.

The 3.5-mile track at the Dubai Autodrome is one of the most modern in the world; it is also one of the most challenging, as it has a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners.

The race expects to start about 80 GT and touring cars.

“I have always thought of myself as a pretty good road racer,” said Waltrip owns two top-five finishes in NASCAR road races. “But, this is different. This is an endurance race. This is 24 hours, not the normal three-hour NASCAR race.”

Race fans can track Waltrip’s progress during the race on his Twitter account MWR55 and watch video updates at www.youtube.com/24hafcorse

“I can’t Twitter while I’m competing during a NASCAR race, but I bet I can during this one,” said Waltrip who plans to keep fans in touch with in-race updates during driving breaks. “While I am on the other side the globe, I don’t plan on leaving my fans hanging.”

Track action starts on Thursday, Jan. 14, with practice, qualifying and night practice. The 24-hour race will start on Friday Jan. 15 at 2 pm.

Michael Prepares for SOUND AND SPEED

Thursday, January 07, 2010

AARON’S, INC. TO CELEBRATE BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING TEAM WITH COMMEMORATIVE NASCAR PAINT SCHEME



ATLANTA (Jan. 7, 2010) – Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN) is already a winner when it comes to this year’s BCS National Championship football game between the University of Alabama and the University of Texas. As a corporate sponsor of both universities’ athletic programs, Aaron’s is guaranteed a victory no matter which team wins tonight’s game and will create a celebratory race program for the winning school that incorporates Aaron’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team.

Aaron’s plans to produce a special National Championship paint scheme that will be featured on their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racecar driven by David Reutimann. If the University of Texas wins, the Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) No. 00 Sprint Cup Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota will sport the UT burnt orange and official national championship logo at Texas Motor Speedway April 18. If the University of Alabama collects the victory, the car will feature ‘Bama’s famed crimson along with the championship logo in the Aaron’s 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway April 25.

“Aaron’s is in a unique position to be able to commemorate the achievements of this year’s national football champion with our racecar program,” stated Robin Loudermilk, Chief Executive Officer of Aaron’s, Inc. “We look forward to unveiling this racecar during a celebration on campus just before it goes to the racetrack to compete. We can’t think of a better way to honor the winning team’s achievements.”

“This paint scheme is going to be a huge hit with fans, and it’s a privilege for me to be able to drive this car,” said driver David Reutimann. “But the pressure is going to be on me to win. Aaron’s is in a ‘no-lose’ situation with these two great football teams, so I am going to have to get this car to victory lane to keep the winning going.”

The racecar program will be supported with a traveling showcar that will make appearances at Aaron’s stores throughout the winning state weeks before and after the race. Aaron’s is also making available a limited edition line of collectable merchandise that will include a 1/24-scale die cast replica of the racecar and a racing t-shirt. The merchandise will be available exclusively at Aaron’s stores in the winning state, the winning university’s bookstores, the MWR trackside merchandise trailer and at www.shopaarons.com.

About Aaron’s, Inc.

Aaron’s, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), the nation’s leader in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of residential and office furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, has more than 1,695 Company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada. Founded in 1955 by entrepreneur R. Charles Loudermilk, Sr. and headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron’s has been publicly traded since 1982. For more information, visit www.aaronsinc.com.