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Reutimann Wins Rain-Delayed, Rain-Shortened 600

by Pete McCole
Monday, May 25, 2009


David Reutimann
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

David Reutimann outlasted Mother Nature to score his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in Monday’s rain-plagued 50th Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Reutimann and his crew chief Rodney Childers elected to stay on the track as the field came to pit road during a caution flag on lap 221 for rain, taking the chance that the weather would play in their favor.

After two hours of standing in the rain and waiting it out, NASCAR finally called the event official after 227 laps, giving Reutimann his first victory in his 75th career start at the same track he made his Sprint Cup debut in 2005.

Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon also elected to stay out and were credited with second and third, respectively. Carl Edwards and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five.

With the victory, Reutimann becomes the sixth driver to score his first career Sprint Cup victory in the Coca Cola 600, joining David Pearson, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Casey Mears.

And he did it all without leading a green-flag lap, the first time since Bobby Labonte pulled off the feat in the 2000 Southern 500 at Darlington.

“It certainly wasn’t the prettiest win, but somebody has to win these thing,” said Reutimann. “Rodney (Childers) made a great call and told me to stay out.

“We needed to come in and work on the car and make it as good as we need to anyway and we’re probably going to lose some positions on pit road so we just stayed out and took a gamble.

“When you envision yourself winning your first Sprint Cup race you envision it a little bit different. It’s so hard to win these deals that we’ll take them any way we can get them.”

A third generation racer, Reutimann made his mark as a modified driver, following in the footsteps of his father, Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame driver “Buzzie” Reutimann.

Reutimann’s win was the first for a Toyota in the Coca Cola 600, and the first victory for team owner Michael Waltrip, who knows a thing or two about winning rain-shortened events, taking the 2003 Daytona 500 in similar fashion.

“You got to be proud of the result because these things are really hard to win,” said Waltrip  “David and I both have been in position to win races before, had fate take it away from us.  So I like to think of this as payback.  David won the race, and I couldn't be happier.”

Monday’s race was postponed from Sunday due to heavy rain showers that blanketed the area all weekend. The race finally got started Monday afternoon under threatening skies with Ryan Newman leading from the pole position.

Kyle Busch moved to the lead from his outside pole position to grab the lead on lap three and led 64 of the next 70 laps before rain brought out the red flag on lap 80.

Racing resumed after nearly an hour delay with everyone eying the weather as the race approached the halfway point, which would make the race official.

Busch continued to lead as defending race winner Kasey Kahne pulled into second and began to close in, pulling to within several car lengths when the caution flag waved for the sixth time on lap 221, bringing most of the field to pit road.

Knowing the changes they would need to make to their car would put them deep in the field, Reutimann and his team took a chance on the weather and stayed on the track along with Newman and Gordon.

Edwards won the race off pit road, followed by Vickers, Kyle Busch, Kahne, Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth.

And that’s where they finished.

For Newman, the decision to stay out salvaged what could have been a disastrous race for the pole sitter, after being forced to pit early for loose lug nuts that put him near the rear of the field, although it was Newman, and not he crew chief Tony Gibson, who made the call.

“We talked about it down the back straightaway,” said Newman. “We decided if everybody pitted in front of us, we were going to stay out. Then at the last second, (Gibson) goes, Come in, we'll put four tires on. Me, I'm like, Come on, you can't chicken out on me. I stayed out. 

“In the end, it's the right thing to do. If it would have went back green, we would have had to come in, go back to last.  Who knows if it would rain 20 laps later. Just strategy. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't.”

Gordon’s third-place showing was his best finish since winning at Watkins Glen in 2003, and a big shot in the arm for a team that’s struggling to stay in the top-35 in owners points.

“For me this is a momentum builder for us,” said Gordon. “Success breeds success and I think this will only help us. We’ve been focusing really hard on our race cars and this is another clean race car that we get to bring home so that will help us as far as building up ammunition to go to the race track with.”

The top five in the point standings remains unchanged with Jeff Gordon continuing to lead over Tony Stewart by 44 points, followed by Kurt Busch, Jimmy Johnson and Denny Hamlin.


1 21 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 190/5 227 Running
2 1 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 175/5 227 Running
3 37 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Jim Beam / Operation Homefront 170/5 227 Running
4 19 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 160/0 227 Running
5 8 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 160/5 227 Running
6 2 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 160/10 227 Running
7 6 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 146/0 227 Running
8 9 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 142/0 227 Running
9 14 20 Joey Logano * Toyota The Home Depot 143/5 227 Running
10 30 17 Matt Kenseth Ford R+L Carriers 134/0 227 Running
11 13 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 130/0 227 Running
12 20 96 Bobby Labonte Ford 127/0 227 Running
13 5 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 129/5 227 Running
14 3 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 121/0 227 Running
15 10 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 118/0 227 Running
16 26 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 115/0 227 Running
17 4 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Carquest / Kellogg's 112/0 227 Running
18 18 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 109/0 227 Running
19 28 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 106/0 227 Running
20 16 16 Greg Biffle Ford American Red Cross / 3M 103/0 227 Running
21 33 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Irwin Vise-Grip 100/0 227 Running
22 35 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 97/0 227 Running
23 12 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / NWTF 94/0 227 Running
24 34 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 91/0 227 Running
25 40 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 88/0 227 Running
26 23 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Kingsford / Clorox 85/0 227 Running
27 29 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet Hyde Park Storage Suites 82/0 226 Running
28 25 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 84/5 226 Running
29 31 98 Paul Menard Ford Johns Manville / Menards 76/0 226 Running
30 39 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA 78/5 226 Running
31 15 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy 70/0 226 Running
32 38 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Hunt Brothers Pizza 67/0 226 Running
33 36 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 64/0 226 Running
34 17 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite "Taste Protector" 61/0 226 Running
35 42 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge U.S. Air Force 58/0 226 Running
36 24 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 55/0 226 Running
37 11 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota G.P.'s Enterprises 52/0 226 Running
38 43 36 Scott Riggs Toyota Cooter's Backyard Bar & Grill 54/5 225 Running
39 41 34 Tony Raines Chevrolet Taco Bell 46/5 225 Running
40 27 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 43/0 225 Running
41 22 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 40/0 224 Running
42 32 113 Max Papis * Toyota GEICO 37/0 219 Running
43 7 09 Mike Bliss Dodge Phoenix Racing 34/0 42 Vibration

* Denotes Rookie

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