DAYTONA, Fla. – They've finally arrived in Daytona.
Thursday, drivers lined up to answer questions from the media in preparation for the 2009 Sprint Cup season, which begins Feb. 15 with the Daytona 500.
Here are the five things we learned:
1. Michael Waltrip will retire if things don't improve in 2009.
Waltrip said the three years of being an owner/driver have been the worst of his career, but that if Michael Waltrip Racing can survive and ultimately compete for wins, it will have been worth it. Waltrip's numbers the past three seasons: 0 wins, 1 top-five finish, 4 top 10s.
2. A.J. Foyt will be in Daytona to support Tony Stewart in the Daytona 500.
Stewart said he called Foyt, his idol, shortly after reaching a deal to become part owner of his own team. He also told Foyt he would be driving the No. 14 in his honor. Foyt, the four-time Indy 500 champion, won the 1972 Daytona 500.
3. It took five stitches to close up the wound on Jimmie Johnson's finger.
Johnson cut the middle finger on his left hand with a knife as he tried to poke a hole in his fire suit for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The stitches are out and he no longer wears a bandage, but Johnson says he has lost some strength in his hand.
Johnson said that won't impact his ability to drive on the track, but it does make it difficult to steer through the garage. To practice, Johnson said he's been driving his Corvette at home.
4. David Reutimann has full sponsorship for the season.
Waltrip, Reutimann's team owner, said Aaron's has stepped up to sponsor the team for the entire season, which is a huge load off his back. Reutimann didn't have a sponsor for the Auto Club 500 on Feb. 22. Now he does.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. stands behind his comments that track owners need to do more for the fans.
Earnhardt clarified that he wasn't coming down on track owners because they rely on drivers – he insists he doesn't mind doing his part to promote races – but that they need to do more than just rely on them.
The crux of his argument was that making races more affordable will go a long way in solving attendance issues. Earnhardt Jr. suggested track owners could open their own hotels with stable rates as opposed to the price gouging that goes on wherever NASCAR travels.
- Michael Waltrip Racing