Friday, March 05, 2010
David Reutimann - Atlanta Open Interview
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 Mitsubishi Electric/Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
What are your expectations for this weekend at Atlanta?
“This is a tricky race track. The tires fall off so quick because the track is pretty abrasive. It’s a constant adjustment on trying to get your car comfortable and to get it to do what you need it to do. We’ve got a pretty good Toyota Camry today. We have Mitsubishi Electronics on the car so I’m hoping if I sit on the pole that maybe they’ll actually give me a big screen TV or something like that. The car looks good and it’s a promotional deal that Aaron’s has done being that Mitsubishi has been their ‘Partner of the Year’ actually for the second year in a row. It’s something special that Aaron’s is doing putting them on the car, getting them some exposure and showing their appreciation for what they do for our program.”
Were the cars ‘bottoming out’ during practice in turns one and two?
“Yeah, the track is really, really fast. The temperatures are down so the track has got a lot of grip in it right now. In the meantime you’ve got more grip -- you guys know we run these cars so close to being on the ground anyway it doesn’t take much to put them over the edge. It’s a little bit different tire configuration and the track speeds being up and the track being rough in certain areas, the cars are getting into the race track pretty hard. Not only us, I think there’s a lot of other guys fighting the same things. When you have that going down the corner of the car, it gets in the corner in the splitter it hits the race track it just obviously moves up the race track and it’s hard to make any time. I spent the first half of practice trying to get the thing up off the race track, but the problem is you don’t want to get the car too high down the straightaway so you want to keep it low down the straightaways but you need to try to keep it off the race track through the corners in the rough spots. It’s a hard thing to do. And everybody says, ‘Well, if it’s on the race track we just raise the thing up.’ But it’s not that easy because you raise it up to get it through the corners and then it hurts straightaway speeds and then when you get into packing there’s less downforce, the car raises up more and I’m just glad I’m not a crew chief or engineer trying to figure all of that stuff out. I just come in and tell them either it’s hitting the race track or it’s not. It’s difficult. Again, most people think dragging the race track you just raise it up but you just can’t do that. There’s a lot more to it.”
Do you believe the cars ‘bottoming out’ will cause the track to break down like Daytona?
“I don’t think so. There’s probably a couple things that contributed to the Daytona surface breaking up. Probably the excessive amounts of water they had as well, leading up to it, and the colder temperatures. Not that it’s warm here. I don’t think we’re going to run into a situation like that. I think that’s something that might have happened even if the splitters weren’t pounded the race track. The thing about it is, at Daytona you can get away with that with our cars because the nose will come back up and you can make it on through the corner. Here, the speeds are so high and the g-loads are such that it really just slams the car in the race track and you hit the race track and it slides up there. I don’t think we got anything to worry about as far as tearing up the actual race track. Tearing up the race cars and being a little rough on the bottoms of them, that’s probably the only danger we got.”
Do you appreciate your success more considering how long you waited for your ‘break?’
“It may be a guy coming right out of high school and going Cup racing and doesn’t appreciate it maybe as much as a guy like me who’s done it a little differently. Nothing wrong with that. Trust me, I wish I would’ve been 18 years old, coming out of high school and had an opportunity to do Cup racing. I would’ve loved to have done that. Just wasn’t in the cards for me at the time. If you were 18 or 20 years old, or even mid-20s, you were too young. They wanted guys that were more seasoned because they didn’t tear up as many cars. Then Jeff Gordon shows up and all the rules changed. Everybody wanted a young guy because he was producing on the race track. You got a guy like Mark Martin, not saying I’m a Mark Martin, but when you’re out there racing that guy and he’s kicking butt, that makes you feel really good. It makes you feel like you maybe have a little bit of longevity. You never know. In the end, if you run well on the race track, they’ll probably keep you around no matter how old you get. Forty is the new 30, anyway. That’s what I’m going with.”