David 25th in Vegas Busch Series Qualifying by Kellyanne Lynch
9 March 2007
David Reutimann will start 25th in the Sam's Town 300, this weekend's Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He completed three practice sessions today in his Michael Waltrip Racing #99 Aaron's Dream Machine.
First practice began at 8:30am local time; however, NASCAR halted the session moments later to check the wall. During this pause, a member of the #99 team told David he needed to go see John Darby after practice.
The track went green at 8:37am, and David immediately took to the track. He ran his first lap in 31.49 seconds. Crew chief Jerry Baxter asked for his driver for oil pressures when he got the chance. He asked again, after telling David he had run his second circuit in 31.75 seconds.
"Yeah, I got it," David replied.
"31.13," Jerry read off the next lap time. "Nice save."
"Man, frickin' loose on entry!" David exclaimed. "Gosh dang!"
Jerry told him he ranked 9th at the time and asked him to get tire sheets.
David elaborated on the problems he was having with the #99. The valance was dragging, causing the car to go up the track. He said the car jumped sideways in Turn 1 and was fine in Turns 3 and 4. The nose of the dream machine was dragging across the bumps, costing him grip in Turns 1 and 2. Jerry said David was losing two and a half tenths of a second in those corners and that the car was sparking, which looked like a valance issue. David headed for the garage, and spotter Sean told him to go in the same way he does for trucks. The #99 was in the garage at 8:43am. Meanwhile, officials inspect the MWR #00 and #55 Cup cars.
At 8:50am, David returned to the track. After the #99 ran a 31.75-second lap, Jerry said the car was pretty fast getting going. David ran a 31.30, 31.08, and 31.07 before leaving the track.
David reported that the car was better, although he was still struggling in Turns 1 and 2. He wasn't stable in those corners and had bounce. He said the car floats a little when he got into the turns, and he didn't remember it driving like this during testing. Jerry reminded his driver they'd lost rear grip in the throttle during testing. Shawn informed everyone that thirty-five minutes remained in practice.
The #99 went to the garage at 8:56. Four minutes later, the engine in Kasey Kahne's #9 blew. The oil in Turns 3 and 4 took time to clean. Jeff Burton's #29 had the fastest speed at the time, and Shawn noted he was rolling out of the throttle a bit earlier than everyone else in the turns.
"I wish you could hear NASCAR," Shawn commented moments later. "It's hilarious."
"Why, what am I missing?" David asked.
"It's just the way he said it," Shawn replied.. "'We got piston rods back here.' One guy says the track's clear, the other says it's full of oil."
With fifteen minutes left in practice, someone told David that Mark Green wanted to know if David was feeling all right if he wanted Mark to come down and drive the car. David said he appreciated the offer.
Cars returned to the track at 9:16am, and David was cleared to return. He turned a 54 and a 12 before commenting, "It's dirty out here." Jerry told him to run another lap. After running a 35, David said, "I'm coming in. Screw that!"
Jerry said David was strong in Turns 3 and 4.
David described the car as "unpredictable." He said something was all over the track. He thought the second set was better but had a hard time drawing a comparison, because the track was dirty. The car was "way worse" in Turns 1 and 2 and was not rotating.
Kevin Lepage's #52 flamed from the right front at the start / finish line at 9:21am, pausing practice once again. Shawn said it was questionable the session would get started again. "It must have been a fuel line or something," he commented, "because that thing was blazing." He predicted that only three minutes of practice would remain by the time safety workers cleaned the track.
"That bad boy right there is toasted," David observed.
Cars came back on track at 9:28am. Shawn told David to keep to the bottom of Turn 2, as that's what NASCAR was saying. David ran a 31.18, 31.03, and a 30.97. David reported the set-up was much better than what they had before. He said the car still keeps the same characteristics, however, on all sets of tires. When Jerry asked if the car were tight on entry, David said the car doesn't do much on exit, and was not bad the more laps they ran.
First practice ended shortly thereafter. David ranked 12th with a 30.973-second lap at 174.345 MPH. He had turned seventeen laps in all in practice and was 0.711 seconds behind pace setter Jeff Burton.
Rookie practice commenced at 9:42am. David came out of the garage six minutes later and was the only driver on the track. He ran a 31.34.
"I'm coming to you, dude," David told Jerry. "I'm going to bust my ass driving around here." He said he hoped he was done scuffing tires.
The Aaron's Dream Machine was back in the garage at 9:51am. David was again told that Jeff Burton was quickest in the first sesson after getting out of the gas sooner in the turn and getting back in it sooner too. A team member suggest he try it, although the #99 was still the best in Turn 3.
David returned to the track at 9:56am. He ran a 31.04, 30.92, 31.05, and 30.89. He wanted to make a mock qualifing run during the next run and asked if anyone was behind him as he came to the garage.
He said the Aaron's Dream Machine stayed on the free side a little better as it went. His car was "over all not bad" and rotated well but was a little too free on the throttle and from the centre off.
After some time in the garage, the #99 team had two minutes left. "So buckle up there, David, if you don't get in trouble," Jerry said. He was cleared onto the track at 10:08am, and practice ended two minutes later.
"My radio sucked today," David commented. Jerry also acknowledged that the frequency had a lot of static. David agreed but also said that sometimes the transmission was perfect. Jerry said it sounded like somebody walked on him sometimes.
David was the fastest of the rookies. His best lap was a 30.896-second circuit in 174.780 MPH, which he ran in his seventh of nine laps.
Final practice began at 10:21am, and David was on the track four minutes later. He ran a 25 on his first lap.
"Coming in," David told his team. "Take those shocks off, please." He said he didn't know what he didn't like about it, but the rear shock was jumpy. He said it starts to rotate and then jumps sideways when he got into it.
Mechanical issues for another car drew the caution at 10:28am. The #99 team changed to channel at that time, attempting to escape the static. Jerry complained that a cab company was using their frequency, and for some reason, they got precedence when they had a local license and theirs was national.
The track returned to green at 10:32am, and David joined them a minute later. He soon reported that the car was a little too snug entering the corners and then too free.
A car spun on the front stretch at 10:44am, halting practice again. Practice resumed moments later with approximately thirty minutes remaining. The #99 team wanted to get in a quick qualifying line, but again, the session stopped. David Ragan had wrecked across the start / finish line at 10:55am. Shawn said Ragan had cleared the wall and then wrecked. Ragan topped the charts crossing the stripe backwards. During the clean up, David said, "This cat, I hear, is making a biger mess than it was."
David returned to the track when practice resumed at 11:00am. He ran a 42 before reporting that the car was really tight in the centre off, was tight everywhere, and was worse if anything.
Someone hit the wall in Turn 2, pausing practice for two minutes. Another car hit the wall a minute later, leaving the #99 team just enough time to do a mock qualifying run. NASCAR extended practice for three more minutes. The track was busy, but the Aaron's Dream Machine was fast, even though David did some passing.
David said the car was pretty loose in the centre and needed to be tightened up all around. Another car in the wall drew another caution at 11:22am. Practice ended. David ranked 29th. His best lap was his first of eleven, which he turned in 31.251 seconds at 172.794 MPH. He was 0.872 seconds behind Burton and was reminded that he needed to see John Darby when he went to the Cup garage.
In qualifying, David completed a 30.499-second circuit at 177.055 MPH. He will start 25th in the Busch Series' Sam's Town 300. The race airs at 2:30pm ET on ABC. Coverage of the Nextel Cup's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 starts next Sunday at 4:00pm ET on FOX.