Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Reutimann wins the rain-soaked, rain-shortened 600, on a day of frustrations for everyone else

David Reutimann (L, here with his father Buzzie) gets lucky...and give crew chief Rodney Childers a tip of the hat (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Momentum? Well, that NASCAR balloon just burst.
   After four straight rock 'em, sock 'em races, at Talladega, Richmond, Darlington and here in the All-star, NASCAR ran into the brick wall of rain, which turned the legendary Coke 600 into the Frustration 340.
   Maybe NASCAR should invite the weatherman to those Tuesday meetings with team owners and drivers over 'the state of the sport' of stock car racing….because the weather, once again, stole the show this season in a key Sprint Cup event, Monday's already rain-delayed 600.
   As at Daytona in the season-opener, persistent rain finally washed out the last half of the 600-miler, the longest race on the tour, and one of the sport's crown jewels, a Memorial Day Weekend fixture now celebrating its 50th anniversary.
   And that's the 'momentum' NASCAR will now carry into its annual summer run, next to Dover, Del., Pocono, Pa., Detroit, Sonoma, Calif., Loudon, N.H., Daytona, and Chicago, seven straight weeks.
   David Reutimann was Monday's big winner  -- maybe the only winner -- by gambling on not stopping for fuel when the rest of the field did, just past the halfway mark.
   Reutimann, though he never led a lap under green during the nearly six hours of action-and-inaction, wound up with his first NASCAR Sprint Cup tour victory, in what has been a breakout season for the third-year driver with Michael Waltrip's Toyota team.
  "It certainly wasn't the prettiest win, but someone's got to win these things," a jubilant Reutimann said after delivering Michael Waltrip's race team its first win.
   And the rain thus denied Kyle Busch what looked like a clear-cut victory coming in the 600.
   Busch dominated most of the green-flag racing.
   However when the yellow came out for light rain at 4:15 p.m., just past the 200-lap halfway point – Busch and most other front-runners dived to pit road for routine pit stops.
   But not Reutimann or Ryan Newman or Robby Gordon, who all gambled on more rain.
  And they were – eventually – correct, which NASCAR officials, finally, and reluctantly, called it a day.
  "Our car was pretty good on short runs," Busch said. "We were making gains on it for the long runs too.
  "Getting stuck in traffic hurt us.
  "But weather, you can't do anything about it really. We knew it was coming, we knew it was here, but we weren’t going to be able to ride around under caution for more than five laps. That was all the fuel we had left.
  " We had to come down and put gas in it.
   "Fortunately, a lot of guys like us took four tires, so we didn’t lose that much ground. Carl Edwards and Brian Vickers took two tires, so they got out in front of us. It only hurt us two spots, so we finished sixth."
   For Reutimann, who had a run-in with Tony Stewart during the day, and then a pit road spat, it was naturally a big, big day.
   The race started at noon, and it went in fits and spurts, with persistent rain aggravating everyone, including the some 60,000 fans who returned after Sunday's rain-out.
   Newman had a bad pit stop, loose lugs, and fell far behind early, after starting from the pole. His crew's gamble put him second.
   Jeff Gordon, who started third, struggled all day and slipped to 14th.
   Jimmie Johnson was up-and-down. He wound up 13th.
   Busch himself wound up sixth.
   One of the day's hot runners, in something of a surprise, was Juan Pablo Montoya, who challenged for the lead but wound up eighth.
   Another hot runner was Brian Vickers, challenging Busch throughout the race, and finishing fifth.
   Three major disappointments were, again, the Richard Childress and Jack Roush teams, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
   Carl Edwards, with Roush, did manage a late rally and would have had the lead if the race were restarted, after Reutimann, Newman and Robby Gordon had pitted as eventually scheduled  in the following few laps. Still, for a man who won a league-leading nine races last season, Edwards' relatively slow start this season has been surprising.
   And even raw rookie Joey Logano not only outran and outfinished Childress' four men but Logano also outraced them, even Jeff Burton, who won here last October.
   But Earnhardt's woeful season continues. While his teammates, including new teammates Tony Stewart and Newman, were running well, Earnhardt again had a very disappointing afternoon. He was never in the game, and he wound up 38th, two laps down.
   One behind-the-scenes issue – Fox, which carried the event and insisted its affiliates carry it, even though 'Oprah' and the 6 o'clock news are their big money-makers, lost this Monday to NASCAR and the rain.


David Reutimann -- the only man to beat the rain (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com