David 3rd in rain-shortened Nationwide Bristol race by Kellyanne Lynch
15 March 2008
Rain cut short the Sharpie Mini 300, this afternoon's Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Clint Bowyer won, and Michael Waltrip Racing's David Reutimann brought home the #99 Aaron's Camry in 3rd.
The weather delayed the start of the race by two hours; the call to start engines came at 4:23pm ET. Because qualifying was washed out, the field was set according to 2007 owner point standings. David rolled off 5th with Scott Wimmer on the pole in the #29 car.
The green flag waved nine minutes later. Denny Hamlin pulled into the lead before the stripe and took the lead. David lost a spot to Kevin Harvick but gained one to Carl Edwards, who bobbled and fell through the ranks during lap 1. Kenny Wallace smacked the wall during the first run.
The first caution came on lap 4 for Bobby Labonte's spin. Brett Rowe also went around. Hamlin was still in the lead with David in 5th.
Racing resumed on lap 9, but the yellow flag returned five laps later. The second caution came when David Ragan turned Martin Truex Jr's #5. Truex spun low. While he was able to keep his car off the inner wall for the most part, he came back up the track and clipped Kyle Busch's #32 with his rear. Larry Gunselman received the free pass. Truex and Busch went to the garage, and Busch walked out of the track.
Lap 22 saw the restart with Hamlin leading and David in 5th. Brad Coleman scuffed the wall fifteen laps into the run, and racing continued. Clint Bowyer took the lead on lap 38 as Hamlin's #20 began experiencing problems. David took 4th from Wimmer on lap 40, but Wimmer took it back the next time around the track. The front runners were now battling lapped traffic as well as each other. Amidst the mess of cars, Kasey Kahne shoved into David to get by him after he put them three-wide on lap 44.
The competition yellow came on lap 46. Kertus Davis received the free pass, and the leaders pit. ABC reported that David complained that the car was tight in the centre and off the turns. His crew gave him four tires, fuel, and went up one round on the trackbar. Bowyer was the first driver off pit road. David lost a spot on pit road as Ragan gained three; he was now 7th.
Bowyer led the lap 51 restart with David in 7th. Four laps into the run, the #99 got around the #9 of Kahne for position. ABC reported that David had told crew chief Jerry Baxter that he wanted to be patient and to take care of the car, but Baxter told him to go because of the rain that could potentially move into the area. This Aaron's Dream Machine is the same one with which he finished 3rd in August.
The fourth caution was on lap 62; Jason Leffler had wrecked Bryan Clauson. Bowyer led the restart five laps later with David in 6th. Steve Wallace was blackflagged for passing to the left before the restart line. Hamlin lost a left rear tire on lap 70 and went to pit road. His woes allowed David to pick up 5th. Hamlin's #20 lost three laps for the tire change, and they lost more when Hamlin had to return to pit road for a missing lugnut. Kahne passed David on lap 87, moving the #99 to 6th.
Lap 92 saw the fifth caution when Kahne booted Dario Franchitti. Leaders made stops. Just before the green, Kevin Harvick's #33 had to return to pit road for a missing lugnut.
Scott Wimmer, who had stayed on track, led the lap 99 restart with David in 7th. The sixth yellow immediately returned when Mike Bliss spun; Marcos Ambrose received a little damage too. Steve Wallace received the free pass.
Racing resumed on lap 103 with Wimmer leading and David in 7th. Passing Ragan five laps into the run gained the #99 a spot. Baxter told David that they're looking at the race ending around lap 151 and told his driver to get everything he could out of the car. David picked up 5th from Carl Edwards on lap 115. Passing Greg Biffle eight laps later moved him into 4th. On lap 137, David picked up 3rd from Wimmer.
The seventh caution was on lap 163 for rain. Some drivers made stops. The race was redflagged at 5:43pm on lap 171 and was out for thirteen minutes before engines refired. Two minutes later, the engines stopped. The red flag resumed due to more rain. Meanwhile, Baxter was under a tent with computers giving information on the weather. He reported that the car was "pretty good" but said they would not make it on fuel if racing resumed. He was confident that the weather would hold and the race would be called.
The race was called at 6:29pm. Clint Bowyer was declared the winner, and David was 3rd.
Be sure to watch tomorrow's Sprint Cup race, the Food City 500 at Bristol. Coverage starts at 1:30pm ET.
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Are you disappointed that you couldn't have raced for the win?
"You don't ever know what's going to happen with the weather. I would've like to see it go green a little while longer, to see what we could've done with those guys. With the rain coming and washing us out, a third place finish isn't that bad, either. The race was going pretty good. We were working in the Aaron's Dream Machine. Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and the guys made some really good adjustments on our Toyota. That last long run we were pretty good."
Are you excited for Sunday's race with the car you have?
"I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's race. The downfall is that we have to start 37th. The key will be to just stay on the lead lap early."
What are your thoughts on your performance prior to the rain?
"We were pretty good -- we were just tight early on. That last run there, Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and the guys freed up the car and made it better in the throttle off the corner. I know those guys were going at it pretty hard up there, but we were running them down at a pretty good clip. I had some clear race track and those guys were racing pretty hard. I would liked to have been able to get up there and see what could have happened. At least I could have had a better view of what was happening. We were running them down and then the rain came. I never expected it to last as long as it did -- I expected that we would be going back to green, but that's pretty much irrelevant now. Jerry Baxter and the guys gave me a great car today and Toyota did a great job. Toyota Racing Development does a real great job at making sure that everybody who gets their motors from there gets the same motors with the same horsepower so we all have the same thing all the time and that's pretty cool to have."
How aware were you of where the rain was and how soon it would hit the race track?
"There's a lot of weather forecasters on the pit box at that point and some of them are better than others. My spotter told me that it was raining and I didn't really need him to tell me that because there was some on the windshield, but it wasn't bad. We could have kept going there for a little bit longer I think. At that point I was going as hard as I could to try to get those guys anyway so it didn't really make a difference, I was going just as fast as I could go to get to that point. The rain came and cut it a little short, but all in all I think it was a pretty good effort."
What gambles do you plan on taking tomorrow in order to gain track position?
"I don't really know what Ryan Pemberton (crew chief, NSCS) has up his sleeve on the Cup side, but I'm sure we'll have to do something. We had a very good car in all of our practices and feel like we have a good car for the race, but unfortunately starting 37th is a pretty tough road ahead of us. It may be a situation where we end up taking two tires or staying out sometimes just trying to gain that valuable track position because it's tough to come by here. We have our work cut out for us tomorrow, but I'm glad we had a good run today."
How closely do you watch the points at this point in the season?
"We always look at every aspect of the points. Most of the stuff that I look at is the driver points because I can relate to that easier than I can anything else. You're never really points racing, but you're always trying to gain the most points you can. You're always aware of what's going on around you and whose doing what and whether it's going to be a good day or a bad day for you in points. For the most part, when I go out there I'm racing and not concerned about points -- we're just trying to win the race and I let the crew chief keep up with the points. Hopefully at the end of the year we'll be where we need to be in that equation."