Since his Third Place finish at Daytona, Wimmer's rookie performance has lacked consistenc
SCR: Was that Third Place finish the best race of your career even though you didn't win?
Wimmer: It definitely was. That was one tough race. I was driving my heart out every lap. I was up there running with some of the best restrictor-plate racers in the business. We didn't have the best test session leading into the race, but to end up Third in the Daytona 500 was a great accomplishment.
SCR: What were your thoughts in the closing laps when you were following two of the sport's biggest superstars-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart-in the biggest NASCAR race?
Wimmer: That was very special. We went into the race with a game plan, and I was more concerned about finishing the race than winning. Then as the race went on, we were in a position that made us actually start to think about winning. When I was leading with about 20 laps to go, there were a lot of emotions running through my head. I ended up getting passed by Tony Stewart and Dale Jr., but I was still doing everything I could to get back around those guys. I knew if they had a little bad luck or had gotten together, I would have had the chance to win the Daytona 500 in my first try. Even after I got passed, I just never gave up.
SCR: You had a tremendous amount of success in the Busch Series with crewchief Robert "Bootie" Barker, and won four races during the '02 season. How big of a loss was it when he announced that he was leaving the team last season?
Wimmer: It was a huge blow because Bootie and I worked together for two years and finally started to get each other figured out. When I came into the Busch Series, he was a rookie crewchief and I was a rookie driver. We had our struggles at first, but in our second year, we really started to gel, win races, and do some great things together. What it all boiled down to was that Bootie had some other avenues he wanted to pursue, and I don't blame him for doing what he needed to do because it was a great opportunity. It was probably something I would have liked to have done with him. If we could have moved up to Nextel Cup together, I think we could have run real well and been strong. I learned a lot from Bootie and he is a great individual. He's a very smart man who is going to be in this business for a long time.
SCR: Was it a huge relief when you heard that Frankie Stoddard was going to stay on board as your crewchief after you'd watched all the success he had through the years with Jeff Burton?
Wimmer: It was a big relief to me. Frankie had a great track record for the last 10 years. He does a great job with all the guys back at the shop and all the guys on the crew. I'm excited about working with him because he's got a lot of great ideas, and he knows that with me being a rookie driver, there are going to be problem areas that I'm going to have to work my way through. Frankie is really trying to help me out as much as he can. I've never had a crewchief for more than two years, so hopefully we can stick together and reach some of our goals. We have a great relationship and I'm just looking forward to continuing that into the future.
SCR: How do you compare the contrasting styles of Bootie Barker and Frankie Stoddard?
Wimmer: Bootie was very aggressive with the cars, and Frankie is trying to take a little more laid-back approach. Frankie knows that to be there at the end of the year, you've got to be around for the long haul and can't be on the setups every week. On the other hand, Bootie and I would just throw stuff in the car. Sometimes we'd look pretty good and other times we'd look kind of foolish. Frankie does a good job on the radio of keeping me calm and getting us in a position to win races or finish as far up as we can.