David 10th in Nationwide Atlanta race by Kellyanne Lynch
8 March 2008
After struggling during the early stages of today's Nationwide Series race, David Reutimann's #99 Aaron's Toyota finished 10th in the Nicorette 300.
"Everybody did a great job on Michael Waltrip Racing and the Aaron's Dream Machine," David said after the race. "We just had missed it today, unfortunately. They kept working on it and thank the lord we got a top-10 out of it. It wasn't looking like that for a long time, but I'm proud of my guys. The pit stops were good. We just didn't have the car we needed today so we'll go back and work on it and make it better."
The starting grid was set according to 2007 owner points standings due to snow earlier in the day. David rolled off 5th with Jeff Burton's #31 Holiday Inn Chevrolet on the pole. Wind and cold temperatures would continue to affect conditions at the track this afternoon.
The field rolled off pit road shortly around 2:15pm ET. As cars rolled onto the track, Dale Earnhardt Jr remained on pit road with the hood up on his #5 National Guard Chevrolet. He got the engine running during pace laps and joined the field on the track.
Burton led the field to the green flag with David in 5th. Kyle Busch passed along the outside groove to lead the first lap. Kevin Harvick passed David on the first lap, dropping him to 6th. Lap 5 saw DJ Kennington drop off the pace and head to the pits along the track's apron. He was slow but made his way to pit road without caution.
The yellow flag did wave on lap 10 for Kertus Davis' #01, who hit the wall. Larry Gunselman received the free pass back onto the lead lap. David was still running 6th.
Racing resumed on lap 16 with Busch's #20 in the lead. Clint Bowyer dropped back on lap 20, allowing David to move into 5th. The #99 was about four seconds outside the lead. By lap 24, David had passed Carl Edwards to gain another position.
Lap 29 saw the second caution. Dario Franchitti had gotten into his teammate Bryan Clauson. The #99 team gained David a spot on pit road; they got him out 3rd. Greg Biffle turned Kelly Bires on pit road.
Busch led the lap 33 restart. David was 3rd with cars jockeying for position behind him. By lap 40, he was dropped to 5th when Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth passed, and he fell to 8th within the next five laps. He was 11th when the yellow flag waved.
The third caution was on lap 49 for a wreck in Turn 4. Robert Richardson III spun, and Brian Keselowski got into him when he was coming off the wall.
Busch spun the tires when leading the restart on lap 53. The field went four-wide for the lead, and Kevin Harvick came out on top. David dropped to 18th. Bires passed by lap 57, moving the #99 back to 19th. He was 22nd by lap 60. Meanwhile, Busch reclaimed the lead.
ESPN2 focused on the Aaron's Dream Machine on lap 82. They reported that crew chief Jerry Baxter said they were "unable to put together an entire race". The car was so loose that they had to stop under caution for a trackbar adjustment. This cost them nine positions on the track. ESPN2 also aired some of David's radio chatter.
"If we don't get a yellow, bud, I'm afraid we're going to go a lap down as bad as it's getting," David reported. "It's horrible. I don't know if it's the tires or what, but it's awful. It's no better.
"Jerry, I can't turn," David continued. "I can't put any steering into it at all."
"We'll fix you. It's those tires, baby. We'll take care of you," Jerry replied.
David reportedly thought the car would come in within ten laps of the adjustment, but it hadn't. At the end of the race, he discussed his early issues. "The car got extremely loose, and it was either, I had to keep slowing down. Slow down. Slow down. It was evil loose, and I figured at some point we would have a chance of wrecking it, so we figured we better work on it when we could as opposed to getting ourselves into trouble."
Green flag pit stops began on lap 86. Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers made stops first, and Greg Biffle was next. Busch pit on lap 88, and Kahne had to return due to a loose lugnut. Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer both led during stops. Bowyer hit the committment cone coming onto pit road and was issued a pass-through penalty. David Stremme also had to return to pit road for a missing lugnut. Johnny Sauter led on lap 92 while Carl Edwards suffered what he felt was an engine problem. David was 23rd on lap 94; he'd pit just after Busch did. Kenny Wallace led two laps later. Busch was back in the lead when Wallace pit, and stops had cycled.
The yellow flag waved for the fourth time for Brad Coleman; this kept David on the lead lap. A few drivers chose to pit under caution, including the #99. Johnny Sauter received the free pass.
Busch led the restart on lap 107 with David in 14th. He was 11th within the first three laps of the run. By lap 116, he was 8th with his car running significantly better.
Brett Rowe spun and slammed the wall nose-first on lap 142, drawing the fifth caution. The leaders made stops. David came out 10th.
Racing resumed with 48 laps to go with Busch in the lead and David in 10th. With 29 to go, the #99 lost a spot to Mike Bliss.
With 25 to go, Kyle Busch hit the wall and brought out the sixth caution. He had lost a right front tire, just as he did last week. Leaders pit under the yellow flag. Kevin Harvick was the first driver on pit road; David Ragan was the first driver off.
Ragan led the restart with 20 laps to go. David was 12th. Jeff Burton took the lead shortly thereafter. David was 14th with 17 laps to go. Five laps later, Matt Kenseth dropped inside Burton's #29 for the top spot. He took it two laps later.
The seventh caution came out with 6 laps to go. Dale Earnhardt Jr got into the back of Eric McClure, turning him into the wall in front of Bryan Clauson. The field was red flagged with five laps to go.
Kenseth led the restart with 3 laps left in the race. David was 10th when Ragan got bumped, lost a tire, and slid back. NASCAR brought out the caution for sheet metal from his car. The field prepared for a green/white/checkered finish.
Kenseth continued to lead when the green flag returned. David was 10th. The two drivers maintained their positions to the checkered flag.
Be sure to watch Michael Waltrip Racing compete in tomorrow's Sprint Cup race! Coverage of the Kobalt Tools 500 begins at 1:30pm ET on FOX.