MWR Announces Driver For Atlanta, Stewart-Haas Drivers Looking Forward To Folds Of Honor QuikTrip 500
The Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom, NASCAR's annual season kick-off press conference, continued with Day 2 on Tuesday at Charlotte Convention Center in Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.
Michael Waltrip announced that Brett Moffitt will fill in for teammate Brian Vickers in the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing in the folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Waltrip also discussed his team's plan for Waltrip to drive the No. 55 car at the Daytona 500 and that plans remain in place for Vickers to return to full-time Sprint Cup Series racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the race following Atlanta, after offseason heart surgery.
Stewart-Haas Racing reiterated that it will move forward with its plans to swap crew chiefs for drivers Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch in 2015.
Danica Patrick, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver for Stewart-Haas Racing
Patrick finished sixth at Atlanta last year, her best finish ever in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. She enters her third full-time season driving in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2015.
"I think as time goes on and I keep getting better and doing a better a job and communicating better and being able to help out with the car more, I then start looking forward to other races more. I had some better races at tracks - Atlanta comes to mind. It's one of the toughest tracks and so to come down to the line for just about fifth place was a good race. Those are the ones I start to look forward to more and more all the time because of improvements and growing as a driver."
On the importance of beginning the season well at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
"Well, you have to do well to have momentum, so there's no promise there. With a new crew chief and new cars, it might not go well at all. It might be awesome, and we just don't know until we get there. I think that that's the case for every team. You really don't know how you're going to do. Until you really get out there and you everybody really has all their stuff, you never know. So we don't know those things until we actually get running, so we'll just have to see."
Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing
Stewart is a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion
He is also a three-time race winner at Atlanta Motor Speedway
On what NASCAR's first open team test of the 2015 season at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Feb. 26 will reveal:
"I don't think we know what to expect until we get there. It'll be the first time we've really had the opportunity to get those cars in that configuration. I think the crew chiefs probably have a better idea than the drivers do at this point, but they'll be prepared and ready to go."
Brett Moffitt, driver for Michael Waltrip Racing
Moffit made seven Sprint Cup Series starts last year, including a 34th place finish at Atlanta and will make his first start of the 2015 season at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1.
On the opportunity to drive the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing at Atlanta:
"It's an amazing opportunity. People dream about being in a race car of this caliber. This is a car that we can go out and we can win the race if everything goes right. People work their whole life to never have an opportunity like that. And I'm very thankful for it."
"To be in a winning-caliber race car is a dream come true for a lot of people, and I know it's one for me, myself, and I just hope to make the most of it."
"I actually don't have a lot of experience on the mile-and-halves. Last year was my first year, and so I got four or five of them in, which was a big learning curve and one of them was Atlanta, so that was very helpful going there and at least getting to know the track, getting to know what it's like. We'll have plenty of practice time once we get there to get the hang of it. That will be a big confidence booster."
On being told he'd start in the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing at Atlanta March 1:
"That was probably one of the happiest days of my life, just being able to hear that. From then, it transfers real quick to 'okay, now I need to go out there and perform,' so obviously there's a lot of emphasis to perform there."
"It's really an honor. It's a completely different world of emotions. As of right now, Atlanta is our main priority and that's all that's on the calendar right now."
Michael Waltrip, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing
"We're here to announce this morning that Brett Moffitt is going to get to drive the car at Atlanta. He's been doing a lot of testing for our team. He was the driver that everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing wanted to be in that car at Atlanta. They believe in his ability. We know how much he's helped us with our testing and preparation getting to the race track. Michael Waltrip Racing is going to reward him for all that work with a chance to drive a winning race car."
"He's raced there before, and he knows that you've gotta run right next to the wall and you're probably going to run into it a couple times. I think he has all the knowledge that I would have if I was going to Atlanta. But he's got a tremendous amount of talent, so we believe that he could be competitive, he can run up in the top five and hopefully have a shot to win."
On the preparations for racing in Atlanta:
"We also believe that you gotta run an inch away from the wall and that's a really difficult job to do, especially at a place like Atlanta, where the grip goes away and you're slipping and sliding. But he's tested for us at multiple tracks over the years and he has Cup experience, so we're really confident in his ability."
On what to expect with the new rules package in 2015:
"Well, we don't know. There's a lot of questions that we'll be answering in Atlanta."
AJ Allmendinger, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver for JTG Daugherty Racing
Allmendinger is entering his ninth season driving in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
He earned his first Sprint Cup Series win last year at Watkins Glen
On the importance of starting the season with early success:
"It's critical, especially for a team like ours. For us - to go have strong races - get to Atlanta and you've got that Thursday test day and really just kind of starts the season. If we can go there and have some good races early on, that just makes the momentum, the confidence so much higher than struggling. It just makes the season a lot easier. These first seven, eight races - that's really critical for us."
"Once you get to Atlanta, it really starts the true season."
On the role of the driver with the new rules package in 2015:
"It doesn't change much. For us, it's still about going out there and getting all the info we can. As a role, the cars may slide around a little bit more … so during the race, it's going to be a little bit more critical to be up on the wheel but it doesn't change. We've got to go out there and give the information we can - all the information to our race teams that we can to make us better."
Follow the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Tehcnocom live throughout each day of the media tour on Performance Racing Network by visiting http://www.goprn.com/shows/stream/.