Cheating Crew Chief Robbie Reiser to return After serving a four-race suspension for cheating, Robbie Reiser, the long-time crew chief of Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 DEWALT Ford team, returns to the track this weekend for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. By missing the Daytona 500 in February, it was the first race Reiser missed atop the pit box as Kenseth's crew chief since 1999, a steak of 255 races.
Reiser will return in time for NASCAR's much-anticipated debut of the Car of Tomorrow. With the introduction of the C.O.T., the No. 17 team was forced to retire chassis number 89, which had run every race at Bristol since the beginning of 2001, collecting two wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s, one pole and led a whopping 742 laps during that span.
IT'S BEEN SINCE FEB. 11 THAT YOU'VE BEEN AT A TRACK, AT LEAST FOR A NASCAR WEEKEND. HAS YOUR TIME AWAY FROM THE TRACK GIVEN YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON YOUR POSITION AS CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 17 AND REALLY, WHERE YOU'RE AT IN YOUR CAREER?
Robbie Reiser - "Well, I think that I pretty much wanted to do something else down the road and get away from the race track. But, going through the suspension I kind of realized that I enjoy the track quite a bit and still enjoy the competition and I want to do it for a little while longer."
THE TEAM HAS CONTINUED TO PERFORM AT A HIGH LEVEL IN YOUR ABSENCE. DOES THAT GIVE YOU A SENSE OF SATISFACTION OR PRIDE?
Reiser - "Well, no question. If it fell apart it would show that we hadn't done a very good job. But, seeing that we got a lot of quality people here that have been loyal over the years, in my absence they were able to step in and fill the roles and do the things that they need to do to run competitively."
SO, YOU'RE SAYING THAT'S THE REASON IT'S BEEN ABLE TO KEEP ITS LEVEL OF COMPETITION IS BECAUSE OF THE CONTINUITY OF THE TEAM?
Reiser - "Well, no question. I think if you look over the years, this team here has stuck together more than probably any other team in the garage. Chip Bolin, stepping in, he's been here since we started this program, and I have four or five guys, Russ (Strupp, jack man/mechanic), Todd (Millard, tire specialist), Dean (Rosenberry, mechanic), and Randy Slack (engine tuner) who came from our Busch program that have been a big part of this team over the years. Not only those guys, but then there's been another group of people that have been here the last three or four years and are able to keep this team running at the level it always runs at.
IS THERE A NEW RESOLVE OF COMPETITIVE FIRE WITHIN YOU RIGHT NOW?
Reiser - "No, I don't think so. I think that I come and do my job 100% for the last ever how many years I've been doing this. I don't think that this changes anything. I think it's just another deal that I have to go through and now that it's over, I'll go back to the racetrack and do my job."
SO, YOU'RE READY TO GO AND OF ALL PLACES TO OPEN UP YOUR '07 CAMPAIGN ATOP THE PIT BOX, BRISTOL, IN WHAT'S ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED RACES IN SOME TIME FOR NASCAR, WITH THE DEBUT OF THE CAR OF TOMORROW. WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING FROM THE CAR THIS WEEKEND?
Reiser - "Well, I think everybody went to the Bristol test expecting to see something different and when it was all said and done, it was basically the same racecar that we had in the past. I mean, you still have to get it to go around the corner and you still got to make it fast, you still got to do all the same things. It looks a little bit different, but other than that, it's the same stuff."
HOW DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE CAR WILL RACE?
Reiser - "I don't think I got an answer for that. I think everybody's waiting to see what that's like, including myself."
YOU GUYS WERE STELLAR AT BRISTOL BEFORE, WITH QUITE A RECORD OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS AND WITH A CAR THAT YOU REPEATEDLY BROUGHT BACK TO THE TRACK; WILL THAT (SUCCESS) CONTINUE?
Reiser - "Well, we hope it does. Obviously, we got the same challenges as everyone else does with this Car of Tomorrow. We've got to work at it to get it to handle like that other car did and having Matt behind the wheel makes a big difference at Bristol. So, I'm sure with our team and Matt, we can get that thing to work."