Dropped cylinder costs David a top 5 by Kellyanne Lynch
5 April 2008
After leading practice, David Reutimann was the slowest on the lead lap to take the checkered flag. His #99 Aaron's Dream Machine lost a cylinder three-fourths of the way through the O'Reilley 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. He finished 14th and was the last driver on the lead lap.
The call to start engines came shortly after 3:00pm ET. Because NASCAR cancelled qualifying due to rain, the starting grid was setting according to owner's points. Kevin Harvick started on the pole with David in 5th. The #99 was 6th when the yellow flag waved.
A rolled-up T-shirt on the track drew the first caution on lap 2. "They were throwing them up into the stands to the fans," Dale Jarrett commented from the booth. "I guess somebody didn't want one."
Harvick led the lap 4 restart. David was 6th. On lap 14, David passed Carl Edwards for position. The commentators reported that he only ran eighteen laps in practice and could run wide-open throughout the session. David started the race tight, but now the car was free. Because cars have a tendency to tighten up while on track, the commentators noted that this could work to his advantage. A pit reporter also noticed that Michael Waltrip Racing made major gains in fuel mileage and that should not be an issue. Lap 44 saw the #99 lose a couple spots to Kyle Busch and to Dale Earnhardt Jr. David was now 7th.
On lap 54, Tony Stewart passed Harvick for the lead along the outside. Meanwhile, David had moved up to 6th. Stewart lost the lead the next time around the track but reclaimed it on the next circuit. Green flag pit stops began the same time with Kasey Kahne. Stewart pit on lap 56, allowing Harvick to reclaim the top spot. The Aaron's Dream Machine was 4th. Harvick pit on lap 59 and was incredibly slow leaving his box. Kyle Busch now had the lead. David pit around this time; he passed Harvick's limping #33 when leaving pit road.
Harvick was still slow on track. During the stop, the #33 team had broken the axel. He went to the garage. Stops cycled, and Stewart led on lap 60. David was 6th.
On lap 70, Stewart slowed with a vibration. Kyle Busch picked up the lead as Stewart's #20 pit. The crew changed the tires and found ripped thread on the right rear tire that would have resulted in a flat had he stayed on track. David was now 4th. Harvick came back on track on lap 81; he was twenty-one laps down.
Lap 91 saw the second caution for debris. Dario Franchitti received the free pass. Leaders pit under caution, and Jason Leffler picked up fourteen spots to come off first. David maintained 4th.
Busch led the lap 95 restart with the Aaron's Dream Machine in 3rd. David Stremme slowed and went to pit road; his #64 was stuck in second gear. By lap 120, David reported that the car was way tighter than this point in last run. The #99 team had made an adjustment that may have made the car worse, because now it would not turn.
Green flag pit stops began on lap 152, first with Steven Wallace. Robby Gordon came in next, as did Mike Bliss, Carl Edwards, and Clint Bowyer. The leader pit on lap 154, moving Jeff Burton into the lead and David into 2nd. The #99 had just hit pit road and Jamie McMurray was in the lead when the yellow flag waved.
The third caution was on lap 155 after Kyle Krisiloff spun. McMurray went to pit road; he was the only driver who hadn't yet stopped. Kyle Busch was back in the lead, and Jason Keller received the free pass.
Racing resumed on lap 160 with Busch leading and David in 3rd. Seven drivers were in front of them at the tail end of the lead lap. One lap into the run, Brian Vickers got around David; the #99 was now 4th. NASCAR blackflagged Kertus Davis' #01 for smoke on lap 164. One lap later, David lost two spots when Clint Bowyer and Bobby Labonte passed.
David was reporting that the car was flat on the restart. "Seven cylinders," he said on his radio. "Doggoneit!"
The Aaron's Dream Machine lost two more spots on lap 177 when Jason Leffler and David Ragan passed. Three laps later, Jamie McMurray got around David.
Krisiloff hit the wall again, drawing the fourth caution with eleven laps to go. He had been holding up Stewart, who ultimately bumped him. The #41 went right to the garage. Ten of the thirteen drivers on the lead lap pit; Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, and David Ragan stayed on track. David dropped to 14th with his stop.
Busch led the restart with 7 laps to go. David was 13th. Stewart's right front was smoking from his incident with Krisiloff. With two to go, Edwards passed David. The #99 finished well off the pace and 14th, the last car on the lead lap. Kyle Busch picked up the win.
Coverage of tomorrow's Samsung 500 begins at 1:30pm ET on FOX.