CORNELIUS, N.C. — Few have enjoyed the growth of Michael Waltrip Racing more than No. 99 Pastrana-Waltrip Racing crew chief Jerry Baxter. The San Diego, Calif. native joined the organization in 2000 as part of Waltrip’s original “Five Guys in a Garage” operation that employed a few crew members in a small shop behind Waltrip’s Sherrills Ford, N.C. home.
Baxter, 52, became the crew chief of the No. 99 Toyota in April of 2006 and led the team to a 15th-place finish in the standings. Baxter’s team finished second and seventh with David Reutimann in 2007 and 2008. A combination of drivers won two poles and earned 10 top-10 finishes in 2009. In 2010, Baxter’s driver Trevor Bayne equaled a NASCAR record by winning three consecutive poles and finished seventh in points. In 2011, Baxter serves as crew chief for two-time K&N Pro Series East Champion Ryan Truex and the launch of action sports star Travis Pastrana’s seven-race Nationwide schedule that begins in July.
RYAN TUREX ON BAXTER: “Jerry is a veteran of the sport and brings a lot of knowledge to the race track every weekend. He knows what it takes to be successful. Jerry and I are still in the get-to-know you stage of our relationship but everything seems to be going good so far. Jerry is still learning how I want my cars to drive and I am still learning how to drive each race track. However, at the end of the day we both have the same goal of winning every time we show up at the race track.”
DAVID REUTIMANN ON BAXTER: “What makes Jerry (Baxter) a successful crew chief is that he has done about every job in the race shop that you can think of. He started his career as a general mechanic and then worked his way up the ranks. He did the natural progression so he knows every aspect of the race car. He is smart and he puts a lot of pressure on himself to race up front every weekend. When he started racing I don’t think really wanted to be a crew chief I think he just got put in that position and he really excelled at it. He is thorough and he knows his cars well. He has also surrounded himself with a good group of guys that help him be successful at the track.”
BAXTER ON RACING IN FRONT OF HOMETOWN CROWD: “I enjoy racing in front of all my family and friends. It brings a little added excitement to the weekend. I want to win every time I show up at the race track but winning at Fontana would be extra special. Fontana isn’t my favorite race track but for some reason I feel really comfortable there. Hopefully we can put on a good show for everyone this weekend.”
NOTES OF INTEREST
· Michael Waltrip Racing, Gary and Blake Bechtel and Travis Pastrana own Pastrana-Waltrip Racing that fields Toyota Camrys out of the MWR shop in Cornelius, N.C. The Bechtels have owned cars in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series since 1990. The Morgan Hill, Calif. residents’ teams have visited victory lane 10 times in the Nationwide Series.
· The Mayetta, N.J., native will sign autographs at the Michael Waltrip Racing merchandise hauler on Saturday 11:20 -11:50 a.m.
· On Thursday Truex will spend the day in Torrance, Calif. at Toyota Motorsports Day.
· Truex has made 22 starts in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East. He won five races, and has been in the top-10 in 77% of the races he has competed in, earning two consecutive championship titles.