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Wimmer taking his career one race at a time
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Rather than chuckle at the irony of Richard Childress Racing being his racing savior in 2011, Wisconsin veteran Scott Wimmer chooses to cherish the relationships.
“The biggest positive was just the people I met,” Wimmer said. “Richard’s just a great owner to drive for — he’s got so much history in the sport and he’s just a genuine great person, him and Will Lind and (son-in-law Mike) Dillon and (wife) Judy Childress — they’re just great people.”
Once the Wausau, Wis., native graduated from Midwest late models to NASCAR’s national tours, Wimmer found his greatest success in the current Nationwide Series’ predecessor; as he scored six Busch Series victories between 2002-08, including a career-high four in ’02.
And without question his series highlight came in 2007, when he and Cup Series veteran Jeff Burton won car owner Richard Childress his last NASCAR title to date, the final Busch Series owners’ championship.
While struggling to maintain a presence in the series, that’s one link that keeps the money flowing.
“I’m still very fortunate in that I do a lot of work for work for (RCR),” Wimmer said. “I do a lot of testing, and I’ve worked with Tim George (Jr., the most recent ARCA Series winner) and I’ve worked with Ty and Austin Dillon. They still rely on me for testing and helping other drivers and that makes me feel good. They appreciated the time that I spent up there and how hard I worked for that company — but really the relationships with everybody that I gained up there was probably the biggest (positive).”
And so it makes Wimmer’s 2011 even more stark. He’s made 13 of 14 Nationwide Series events but has nothing more than a couple of definite rides with a part-time team, ML Motorsports, in the future.
“I get along with (ML Motorsports) really well and I think that’s a really good situation for me,” Wimmer said. “It’s not full time but they do have nice equipment and they’re a team that hasn’t run real strong in the past, and they’re looking for a driver with some experience to hopefully help their program get better, so we’re looking at some of the standalone races — the Iowas and IRPs — and running with them again.”
An environment that’s made it hard for owners hasn’t made it any easier for drivers — no matter how good their track record.
“(The 2011 season) is kind of disappointing,” Wimmer said. “I thought I was going to go into the year running full time with primarily the same team — that hasn’t happened and really that’s that’s been my career, my story since 2009 (laughing). I keep trying to hang on and find competitive rides — full-time rides — but right now there’s just nothing out there; there’s very few.
“You kind of scratch some things together, but in the long run if you’re not there each and every week — and in good equipment — you’re not going to beat Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards and those type drivers. You’re just not going to beat ’em. It’s difficult but hopefully something (will happen).”
The chassis currently used in the Nationwide Series is a plus.
“I like (the new Nationwide car),” Wimmer said. “I don’t think it’s made the series as close as we thought it would. But in the long run I think it’s going to end up helping the owners out. I think it’s gonna make the racing a little more competitive (and) I think the cost is gonna stay down (because) there’s not as much gray area with these cars where you can really spend a lot of money (in development).
“They drive really good — almost too good, in some cases. I think some of the tracks we go to you’ve got to rely on horsepower because we pretty much run ’em wide open there. I think in some cases, if they could make ’em to where they don’t drive as good, where you had to get out of the throttle and things like that, it might make it a little more competitive. But so far I’ve been really impressed.”
Wimmer said when he was with RCR he did some of the initial testing of the Nationwide new car and “I was impressed with it back then,” Wimmer said. “Just like with the new Cup car, it took a little time but now guys are figuring it out and so far I’m pretty happy with it.”
And in the meantime, Wimmer said he’s trying to maintain a presence at the race tracks so as not to become out-of-sight and out-of-mind while working on sponsorship deals, “but it’s really hard to get any of those things locked down and moving forward with them.”
The biggest frustration comes when Wimmer pledges allegiance to the Nationwide Series.
“I’ve kind of focused on the Nationwide Series,” Wimmer said. “After I went Cup racing I thought I’d never leave Cup — I thought I’d be up there for quite a while. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened.”
Wimmer has made a couple of starts this season for Robby Gordon Motorsports, “here and there, just to do something on the weekends, but for the most part, most of my energy has been toward the Nationwide Series. I think it’s a great series and I think with the way sponsorship is now that’s kind of a good fit with the money you can find.
“I think it’s a lot of things,” Wimmer said. “Sponsorship isn’t that strong. We’re getting a lot of younger drivers in the sport, but I don’t see a lot of new sponsors coming in with them (chuckling) or things like that. So I think it’s a lot of different things. Really, right now if you want to race in NASCAR — and I don’t care how much experience you have or what you’ve done in the past — if you don’t have a sponsor with you, you’re not going to be able to race, and unless you have a really good sponsor, you aren’t going to be with a competitive team.
“It’s frustrating. I’m kind of at the (cross) roads — I’ve been down here since 2001 and can’t find anything and it’s hard to switch careers after 10 or 11 years at something. So hopefully something will come around, but the last three years, the way it’s gone, it doesn’t look good.”
Wimmer comes from a racing family, and recently he’s taken steps to insure a future in the sport. But rather than take advantage of his skills as a driver, which naturally would lend itself to spotting if Wimmer chose that route — or even working on cars, which he grew up doing — Wimmer might choose the route that best suits his family, including putting together a family-operated race team.
“We’ve got everything,” Wimmer said. “We’ve got tools and equipment and we’ve actually got some pretty good people to help us out. The new car definitely does that, because they’re not so specialized. I think earlier this year when I was running for Key Motorsports, we actually took one of our big speedway cars to Bristol (a half-mile short track) and ran pretty competitive with it.
“It’s not like you have to have a shop full of cars any more. You can use crossover cars quite a bit so it’s just one of those deals — of finding the proper money and sponsorship to do it. I know we’ve talked about it, but it doesn’t go too far because when you start putting together the cost of going to the races versus what they pay to start, and it’s just hard to make it work.”

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