Hi Everyone –
The NAPA team finished 30th in the Coca-Cola 600 yesterday. I told the guys on SPEED’s “Victory Lane” that my mind was kind of confused. I didn’t perform the way I would have liked to so I am not happy — BUT — David Reutimann won the Coca-Cola 600. It’s his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win which also gives Michael Waltrip Racing its first NASCAR Sprint Cup race victory in our very short history. In one day, I am a winner and a loser. How about that???
I have to tell you in watching the rain fall yesterday, it reminded me of Daytona in 2003. It was a nice shower. The one we had yesterday was certainly a welcome one as well. David got himself a victory and I don’t think anyone really realizes just how hard it is to get a win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It didn’t matter that the race was shortened to 227 laps because all the cars in front of David had the exact same option. They chose to turn left instead of going straight. I think people forget that the NAPA team had a race won last year and on the last lap, my motor blew. The win was taken away from us. It wasn’t fair. We only had to run about a mile and you would think the motor would have been able to do that. Sometimes life isn’t fair in one direction and sometimes it’s not fair in another. In this particular case, David’s team did the best job out there. They made the best call and David is the winner of the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600.
I cannot tell you how special it feels right now. It’s been a real challenge to get to the point where we are now. We barely survived 2007. In 2008, we got our feet under us. Now, less than a third of the way into the 2009 season, we have a couple of cars that are contending for Chase spots. We have been racing against organizations that have done this for over 25 years. We started from scratch. We didn’t go out somewhere else and get someone else’s cars, equipment and motors. We just didn’t have that option. Our only option I had to become an owner was start my own team with Toyota. I always wanted to be an owner. It has been a real tough road to hoe but just sitting on pit road yesterday while it rained – knowing that I had a chance felt pretty good.
Today everyone that worked at MWR met in our theatre for a celebratory team meeting. David rolled the trophy in and it was pretty darn special. I told all of the men and women who work at MWR that we all made history. I joked with them and said, “This is big. We just didn’t win darn Pocono.” Granted, we’ll be proud to win there in a few weeks, but MWR won the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600. It’s a big race and it’s in our backyard. I couldn’t be prouder of my organization. I am really looking forward to going down the road with these people and winning more races. I think we have a pretty cool place to work and as an owner, it makes me feel proud because I have been with other organizations where it was a three car team, but in reality, it was three – one car teams. Our deal here is certainly a lot different than that. I see it. I feel it and I know it. I am thankful for it.
Another thing I am thankful for is NAPA. Thanks to them, I am able to race cars as an owner and experience a day like I had yesterday and the week I am having now.
Tomorrow night everyone from MWR is getting together for a big party. It is something that I feel is really important to have as my team’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory together. It is one to truly relish because you never know when the next one is going to be. We’ll just seize the day and cherish the moment. I’m looking forward to having everyone together and I wish all my fans could be there too. We’ll be away from the shop and we’ll just all hang out.
Here’s to more victories!