David Stremme pointed to his No. 30 car – a fire-engine red vehicle with a noticeable lack of sponsorship – and gestured to the handful of crewmen working around it.
"That's the whole team, right there," Stremme said with a chuckle. "We've got eight guys and three dogs at the shop every day."
Logic says Stremme and his Inception Motorsports team have no business being in the Daytona 500. The team is underfunded, unsponsored, undermanned and less than one year old – not exactly a recipe for making NASCAR's biggest event.
But logic doesn't drive race cars, and Stremme's 26th-place qualifying effort during Sunday's Daytona 500 time trials turned out to be just enough to lock him in to the Great American Race.
Now, no matter what happens next week, Stremme's team will take home at least $250,000 in winnings.
"It's a big, big deal for us," Stremme said. "Now we can race some more races coming up and keep going."
With a limited budget, Inception Motorsports did not even bring a backup car to Daytona International Speedway. The one Stremme qualified is the only superspeedway car owned by the team.
Stremme and his investor partners were able to purchase the car after the team start-and-parked in 16 of the 18 Cup races it made in 2011.
"Some people criticize start-and-parks, but we do it to raise money to keep racing," Stremme said. "That's how we got through the winter, and that's how we were able to buy this speedway car."
"We had enough money to go to Phoenix and Vegas, but that's just money from last year that we won. I'm not taking a dime out of it; I don't get paid nothin'."
The former Chip Ganassi Racing driver, 34, believes he belongs at the Sprint Cup Series level. He decided to try and prove that point by starting Inception Motorsports with an investment group last year.
In the offseason, Inception switched from Chevrolet to Toyota after qualifying for 18 of the 23 races it entered in 2011. Stremme and the team arrived in Daytona hopeful they could somehow make the race – but it was far from a sure thing.
"We unloaded off truck, and right there we were borderline to get locked in," he said. "We said to ourselves, 'Well, we might have a chance.'"
The next order of business is finding a sponsor. Stremme said that interested parties can visit InceptionMotorsports.com for more information.
"We can give somebody the exposure a sponsor needs at a minimal value in a big-time area," he said. "We can operate a lot cheaper than other teams, and our goal is to try to run a full season at a minimal cost.
"I think it's a great deal. Hopefully, somebody will jump on board and believe in what we can do."