Road woes won't stop Reutimann from chasing

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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

David Reutimann is racing against the clock. As the regular season races wind down before the Chase, the No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing team's strategy was fairly simple — pad the points, survive Watkins Glen and work their way back into the top 12.
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And Reutimann was closing in. Following an eighth-place finish at Indianapolis, Reutimann jumped to 13th-place in the standings for the first time in five weeks and sliced eight points from his deficit. He was running eighth at Pocono last Monday when Denny Hamlin flat-out dumped him and collected his teammate Marcos Ambrose in the process. In just one lap, Hamlin — for whatever reason — pounded the rear bumper of the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota multiple times throughout the tunnel turn and as Reutimann was coming off the corner in Turn 3. Reutimann ended the day 29th, lost three positions in the point standings and fell 121 points behind the Chase Zone. When asked to describe the crime, Reutimann replied, "The crucial blow or the three leading up to it? I really don't understand it. We raced all day off and on. Sometimes you have a situation and you know why it's happening because you made a guy mad or aggravated him. You figure you've got it coming. "I'm still confused about what happened or why it had to happen." "Everyone is capable of making mistakes. I'm going to forgive a guy if he sincerely apologizes or says he's in the wrong. If we don't get in (the Chase) then that's when the real disappointment will set in."
At 39, Reutimann understands that dwelling on the incident isn't going to help. Unlike most of the drivers in the Cup garage, Reutimann didn't get the call to move up to NASCAR's top series until he was 37. As a former fabricator he has a unique perspective on what it takes to develop a winning team. The team has made tremendous progress over the first two years, most recently with the addition this season of crew chief Rodney Childers, who Reutimann personally selected for the job. Reutimann won his first Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May and has accumulated four top-fives and six top-10 finishes in 21 starts this season. Reutimann realizes what's at stake for the team and Michael Waltrip Racing and he refuses to allow the Chase to slip away without a fight. "As a race car driver you get greedy," Reutimann said. "Man, last year we couldn't even see the Chase. You didn't even know who was in it because you weren't even close enough to worry about it. This year you're close. You're just on the outside looking in. I've been in the running most of the year. And you're still aggravated because you're not in the position you need to be in. "It's been a really good year. It felt like last year things were starting to come together. Rodney came in and made a huge difference in our organization and our team. It's been a definite improvement and a step forward. I'm just a little bit short of where I need to be." Childers continues to replay the Pocono incident in his mind. Like Reutimann, he is still trying to make sense of the situation last Monday but also has reminisced about pit road miscues — Bobby Labonte colliding with Reutimann at Darlington and Brian Vickers taking out his driver with 50 laps to go at Richmond. "You can definitely go back and add up 100 points that was lost," Childers said. "I ask myself ¿What did I do wrong?' The biggest thing going forward is not to make mistakes — particularly this weekend — and keep four tires on the asphalt. David's not a road racer by any means. We just have to try to get as many points as we can this weekend.

Keeping track

David Reutimann
David Reutimann
Michael Waltrip Racing
Cup career on road courses

Top fives
Top 10s
Average finish
"It's going to be really tough. We just have to be smart and hope and pray the other guys do something stupid." Reutimann knows he has to remain positive this weekend. He readily admits he's not the strongest guy on road courses and would rather "have a root canal" than compete at either Infineon Raceway or Watkins Glen. He's worked overtime to quell his concerns with testing at both Road Atlanta and Virginia International Raceway and tutorials from his teammate Ambrose and Germain Racing's Max Papis, whose team buys race cars from MWR. "We've been practicing quite a bit — since Sonoma as well," Reutimann said. "We just need to get out of Watkins Glen with a decent run and concentrate on the ovals. You can't throw a race away. I think we had a legitimate shot to get in (the Chase) if it weren't for Pocono. But we have to concentrate on what's ahead of us and not get caught up in what happened a week prior. "I'm certainly not going to stop trying. We're just going to have to run really, really good and the guys in front of me are going to have to have to some bad races. We'll do whatever we can to get back in."
Tagged: Bobby Labonte, David Reutimann, Denny Hamlin, Marcos Ambrose, Michael Waltrip, Max Papis

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