Michael Waltrip responded to the decision to release David Reutimann from his team's No. 00 Toyota next season in favor of veteran Mark Martin.
Waltrip gave his side of how the change came down when he met with the media including PilotOnline.com Friday at Texas Motor Speedway:
On the decision to let David Reutimann go:
WALTRIP: "It was very difficult. I love David. He's a great man and he's always been there to do anything I needed him to do. We weren't where we were supposed to be in the points and our contract (with sponsor Aaron's) was winding up. It's important as a team owner to extend those relationships and give the sponsors what they want. Heck, the Wood Brothers fired me and they're my favorite people in the whole world. It's business. It isn't personal. Chuck Rider fired me and. I felt forever indebted to Chuck for giving me the opportunity to start racing. I know it was hard for David to get the news. That all didn't go like I had planned. I do believe that he will wind up with a great opportunity somewhere, and I'm thankful that he drove for me for so long.''
Did Reutimann know he was in jeopardy if he was at a certain spot in the points at a certain time in the year?
WALTRIP: "Yes. Most of my contracts in the history of NASCAR said that if you're outside the top 25 or whatever, the sponsor could leave or you could be terminated for those reasons. I don't want to discuss the specifics of his contract but that's not unusual.''
Why did it not go the way you intended in telling Reutimann?
WALTRIP: "He went to Vegas on Tuesday. I had to be out of town on Monday and when I got home Monday night, I thought I would meet him for breakfast on Tuesday morning and he was off early to Vegas. Poor planning on my part I would say. It was totally quiet Monday and it was totally quiet Tuesday morning and I thought, "Well, when he gets back, we'll sit down and talk about this,' and then it blew up. I called Rob (Kauffman, MWR co-owner) and told him I was disappointed the way it went down. He made me feel better, he said, "It wouldn't matter how it went down, it would be sad. There wouldn't be a good way to do this, so don't beat yourself over it.' We had a good conversation on the phone. I think my brother called as well. David was very professional and very focused on what's next.''
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