Reiser Shows The Way For The No 17 DEWALT Team
October 8, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Fresh off of capturing the prestigious 2000 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title and winning the Coca Cola 600 during their rookie season, the team expected the momentum of their freshman year to carry over into 2001. However, thus far the season has not resembled anything they projected.
How does the DEWALT Team answer the puzzling question of disappointing finishes and stay motivated when the performances have been sub-par?
They turn to a strong leader -- crew chief Robbie Reiser.
"One of the biggest reasons I am on this team is because of guys like Robbie," said rear tire carrier Bryan Dunaway. "He keeps us up. He tells us if we mess up and if we do well. He tells us when we should be proud of ourselves, and when we have some work to do. It's encouraging for us to be around somebody like Robbie. Also, Matt Kenseth is one of the most talented drivers around."
Even while NASCAR's notorious "Silly Season", a time when drivers and crewmembers play musical teams, churns at full throttle, not a single person on the No. 17 has left the team. One of the major reasons they stay is because of Robbie Reiser.
"Its hard to keep a team going for 20 straight weekends," said Reiser referring to the stretch of races from the last weekend off in July through the season-ending Atlanta race in November. "People start getting agitated with one another, and they start missing their families. Stress starts becoming a big player around the shop."
"I try to give them as much time off as we can allow. One day a week is not much, but racing is not just a job, it's a lifestyle. A lot of the guys on our team have supportive spouses, and that makes it a little easier.
"I'm a straight shooter with people and I tell them how it is. I tell these guys what they are capable of I'm honest about it. As far as on-track performance, we have a lot of faith in Matt's driving abilities and we need to support him. It's a team effort to win a race. He can drive his tail off, but if we mess up in the pits, that does not help our cause."
It's obvious there's still an element of hope among the members of this No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools team. The crewmembers still recall that the fruits of their hard work can, in fact, equal a win and they are not going to throw in the towel on 2001 just yet.
"We're in this thing until the end," added Reiser. "We still want to wrap this season up with a win, and I'm optimistic. I keep telling these guys to keep their heads in it because we have made it through some tough times, and I know it will pay off to persevere."