David Reutimann, driver of the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Michael Waltrip Racing, announced today that he has re-upped until 2012 with both MWR and his sponsor Aaron’s.
During the news conference in the media center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, MWR’s Ty Norris made the announcement, noting tongue in cheek that it had been a “well-kept secret.”
In another moment of levity, Norris also officially proclaimed Reutimann “stud," which Reutimann quickly encouraged all media to use as his new moniker rather than his former nickname, “The Franchise.”
“We are blissfully reporting that Aaron’s has agreed to extend their sponsorship through 2012,” Norris said. "They will pick up 30 primary races in 2011 and 30 primary races in 2012 and they will pick up the six open races that we have this year.
“When you have that type of support, then it really allows you to do what you really want to do and that’s hire your race car driver stud and so we’ve been able to extend our relationship with David Reutimann through that same period of time.”
“To me this is a great day,” Michael Waltrip, owner of MWR, said. “I’ve had a smile on my face since I got up.”
Waltrip agreed with Ty Norris, saying the MWR, Reutimann, and Aaron’s story is a “true NASCAR story.”
“I was driving the Aaron’s car and I called Ken (Butler) one day and said it would be cool to get a young guy in to driver for us some and I’d be the owner,” Waltrip said. “Ken loves giving people chances.
“The ‘kid’ that I wanted to give him was David Reutimann,” Waltrip continued, noting that Reutimann was 'my age.'
“Fortunately it takes that type of edge for Ken to buy into it,” Waltrip said with a chuckle.
“Ken said, so this kid’s your age? And I said yeah, but I believe in my heart that he can go race the heck out of this car.”
In addition to his sponsor, Waltrip also paid homage to Buzzy Reutimann, David’s father, saying that son David was a great racer thanks to the tutelage of his dad. Waltrip noted in another moment of levity that Buzzy Reutimann was also a product of the MWR driver development program.
“We’re looking for some good things out of him in the future too,” Waltrip said of the elder Reutimann with a chuckle.
“That’s David’s DNA right there,” Waltrip said more seriously. “Buzzy had him all lined up from the time he was able to walk around and talk and we just gave him a place to come and race his car.”
After once again encouraging all media to “freely use the stud comment,” Reutimann also chimed in as to his feelings about re-signing with MWR, as well as sponsor Aaron’s.
“It’s a phenomenal deal,” Reutimann said. “From the time I started driving for Michael Waltrip, Aaron’s has been the sponsor. The one thing that’s been constant is Aaron’s.”
“They took a guy that was slightly older, just slightly,” Reutimann said of his sponsor. “I appreciate the opportunity. I’ve never had a sponsor that’s gotten behind me and believed in me through the bad times and the good.”
Butler also noted that Reutimann has been good for Aaron’s as well. “We finally realized that David could talk,” Butler said. “So we’re going to let him do some commercials other than sitting on the bed eating chicken.”
Butler also acknowledged that the NASCAR partnership and MWR sponsorship has been a dream for Aaron’s as a company. In fact, the recognition received through NASCAR has allowed Aaron’s to grow their business, from 300 stores to 1,700 stores, with an eye to 3,000 stores in the future.
Reutimann also thanked Michael Waltrip, who he said gave him an opportunity to go Cup racing when no one else would. Waltrip also acknowledged that the MWR story has had quite a few ups and downs since its inception.
“It almost makes me cry,” Waltrip said. “It’s about saying how fortunate we are to be here. I know how fragile things were.”
In addition to the sponsorship announcement, Ken Butler, Aaron’s COO, made a generous gift to the Armed Forces Foundation in the amount of $20,000. Aaron’s also has provided furniture and other appliances to returning and wounded warriors.
Reutimann, fresh off his second Cup victory at Chicagoland two weeks ago, and his fellow NASCAR Cup Series competitors will race this weekend at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Brickyard 400 will run on Sunday, July 25 at 1:00 PM ET.