#99 26th at Darlington by Kellyanne Lynch
11 May 2007
Michael Waltrip Racing's David Reutimann finished 24th in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200, tonight's Busch Series race at Darlington Raceway. After spending 43 laps in the top ten, the #99 Aaron's Dream Machine dropped to the end of the lead lap following contact with a couple other cars.
The call to start engines came at 8:37pm ET. Denny Hamlin led the field to the stripe ten minutes later, with David rolling off 33rd. The Aaron's Dream Machine picked up four spots during that first lap and gained another position within the next two circuits. David continued moving up through the ranks by passing Jon Wood for 27th on lap 6 and Mike Bliss for 26th on lap 9. The Aaron's Dream Machine picked up another position on lap 10 and yet another two laps after that.
When Matt Kenseth took the lead on lap 18, David was up to 22nd. He had just passed Stephen Leicht and David Ragan when the yellow flag waved.
The first caution was on lap 23 for a shredded banner, flapping on the outside retaining wall. Teammate Dale Jarrett reported from the commentator's booth that a piece of that banner was on David's window. Kyle Krisiloff received the Aaron's free pass back onto the lead lap. Drivers made stops under yellow, and Hamlin was the first driver off pit road. Mike Wallace stayed on the track to lead a lap.
Hamlin led the lap 29 restart with David in 18th. Three laps into the run, Carl Edwards passed the #99.
Greg Biffle passed Hamlin along the inside and took the lead on lap 35, just before Marcos Ambrose's #59 spun.
The yellow flag waved for the second time on lap 36. He ran into David's rear bumper and spun off it when the #99 was passing him.
Racing resumed on lap 40 with Biffle leading and David in 18th. The Aaron's Dream Machine got around Steve Wallace two laps into the run and was still 16th when caution returned to the track.
Aric Almirola moved up the track, pushing himself and Todd Kluever into the wall. NASCAR brought out the third yellow flag on lap 44 and issued the free pass to Eric McClure in the #0. The first sixteen drivers stayed on the track while David pit with others further back in the pack.
Lap 49 saw the restart with Biffle leading and David in 20th. Getting around David Ragan advanced the #99 to 19th one lap into the run. David was 16th when the Brent Sherman spun.
Sherman's spin drew the fourth caution on lap 53. Front runners chose to make stops. David stayed on track and moved into the 3rd spot.
Regan Smith led the lap 59 restart. After a great deal of contact between Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, Newman's #12 lost a tire and spun.
The spin brought out the yellow flag for the fifth time on lap 66. Shredded tire got into the brake rotor on pit road and caused a fire in the #12's wheel well.
Smith led the restart on lap 71 with David running 3rd. The sixth caution came three laps later; Steve Wallace cut across Ambrose's #59 and spun down the track.
Racing resumed on lap 78 with Smith leading and David in 3rd. Jason Leffler jumped to the high groove and grabbed the top spot just after the restart. David Ragan and Kevin Harvick took him three-wide on lap 80, and David managed to hold them both off. Harvick continued to look to the #99's inside, and he passed. Denny Hamlin was hot on his heels next. With a bump to the Aaron's Dream Machine's rear fender, Hamlin took 4th. David was now 5th, with Biffle and Ragan both looking to pass. On lap 90, Edwards, Biffle, Burton, and Martin got around the #99. David was now 9th.
Hamlin took the lead on lap 95. Two laps later, Clint Bowyer passed David for position. Tony Stewart got around the Aaron's Dream Machine the next time around the track, moving David back to 11th. Casey Mears and Ryan Newman passed by lap 109. Jason Keller was all over his rear finger next, just as a wreck drew another caution.
The seventh yellow flag came on lap 112. Matt Kenseth spun, and Brad Keselowski got turned around while trying to slow and to stay off Kenseth's #17. Drivers made stops under caution, and Hamlin retained his lead by being first off pit road.
The green flag returned with 31 laps to go. Hamlin led, and David was 13th. He lost a spot just before the next caution.
The yellow flag waved for the eighth time on lap 121. Paul Menard got into David, turning around the #99 and giving himself a flat tire. David had to pit, costing him track position.
Lap 125 saw the restart with Hamlin leading and David back in 26th.
David Gilliland bottomed out going into a corner, bouncing off the wall and into Shane Huffman. NASCAR brought out the nineth caution for that accident. David stayed high to avoid the debris. Derrike Cope received the free pass back onto the lead lap.
With 12 laps to go, Hamlin led the field to the restart. David was 20th. Two laps later, the yellow returned for a tenth time. Bobby Labonte spun to the inside wall following contact with David. The #99 appeared to have hit the wall and bounced into the #77.
NASCAR red-flagged the race on lap 139, with eight laps left in the race. Once safety workers cleared Labonte's #77 from the track, the yellow flag returned.
Racing resumed with six laps left in the event. David was 25th. He lost the spot to Shane Huffman one lap into the run but regained it the next time around the track. David was up to 24th on lap 144. He finished in that position as Hamlin went on to win.
Coverage of the Nextel Cup's Dodge Avenger 500 starts tomorrow at 7:00pm ET on FOX.
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How was your car tonight and how much did getting off pit sequence hurt you?
"The tires really played a big role tonight and when we got off-sequence with some of those guys; it was tough to pass them even with eight or 10-lap older tires. But staying out did what it was supposed to do and gained us some track position. Getting with the 15 car and getting turned around put us back farther then we probably should have been and that gave away quite a bit of track position that we had gained. It's pretty disappointing because we were a lot better than where we finished."
Will anything from tonight's race transfer into tomorrow's NNCS race?
"The most important thing here is to have a car that will handle and turn in the corners. We had a great car here tonight and with the COT being run tomorrow and that being such a different animal - nothing really transfers over."